Bible Study Pt 1.- Biblical Interpretation
Written by: Unknown Posted on: 05/06/2003
Category: Bible Studies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION (BIBLSTD1.TXT)
The Bible Alone and in its Entirety is the Word
Is All of the Bible the Word of God?
The Bible is to Be Obeyed
Is the Bible Alone the Word of God?
What about Direct Quotations from the Bible
Coming to Us?
What about Praying in a Tongue?
The Authority Which is Regarded as Divine
Establishes the Kind of Gospel Being Offered
Every Religion Has an Authority
Does the Bible Contain the Word of God?
The Authority of the Bible is Narrowed by
Some Who Claim the Whole Bible is God's
CHAPTER II THE BIBLE IS ITS OWN INTERPRETER (BIBLSTD2.TXT)
The Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to be the
Only Rule of Faith
For Example, How are We to Understand
The Bible is its Own Dictionary
The Bible is its Own Grammar Book
Red Letter Editions of the Bible
The Bible is One Truth
Interpreting Scripture with Scripture Helps Us
to Understand Matthew 12:36
The Bible is Infallible
To Paraphrase or Not to Paraphrase
CHAPTER III THE BIBLE HAS MORE THAN ONE
LEVEL OF MEANING (BIBLSTD3.TXT)
The Bible is Absolutely Accurate in its Record
of Historical Events
The Bible Teaches Moral and Spiritual Values
The Bible is the Gospel of Grace
God Speaks Directly to the Matter of Salvation
The Gospel of Grace is Frequently Hidden
The Ceremonial Laws Pointed to Aspects of
God's Salvation Program
The Gospel in the Raising of Lazarus
The Gospel in the Book of Ruth
Nehemiah, the Cupbearer of the King
Abram, a Figure of Christ
We and the Thieves on the Cross
Put Coals of Fire on Your Enemies
Don't Plow with an Ox and an Ass Together
FIRST PRINCIPLES OF BIBLE STUDY
. The deep and constant concern of the child of God who dearly loves his
Lord is to know and to do the will of God. He recognizes that the Bible is the
source book of Truth. It is the only authority that discloses the will of God
for his life.
. But the Bible is often difficult to understand. How can I, as a student
of the Word, reach into the treasures of truth that comprise the Bible? So
many verses seem irrelevant; so many seem impossible to understand.
. Not only that, learned theologians frequently come to great differences
of opinion concerning what the Bible teaches. How can I determine which
teacher, which preacher, which theologian is leading me correctly? Must I be
limited to blindly following a teacher I trust, knowing full well he is only a
fallible human and therefore subject to error?
. And what about the problem that arises from there being so many different
translations of the Bible? How can I know which ones are trustworthy? Do I
dare trust paraphrases, which seem to make the Bible so much easier to
. This booklet has been written to answer such questions and set forth a
few basic principles we should keep in mind as we study the Bible. May it be
that we might have a fresh appreciation of the wonderful Word that God has
given to us. This Word is the Bible.
. The science of biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics. Many
learned and scholarly books have been written regarding the principles of
hermeneutics. Every believer should be concerned about the subject, because it
relates to the process by which we can derive spiritual truth from the
. It is our desire that by means of this study the earnest student of the
Scriptures might understand more clearly a few basic principles that must be
kept in view for proper biblical interpretation. These principles are taken
from the Bible. The Bible itself requires that we keep these in mind. They are
as follows, and will be examined more carefully as we proceed in our study:
l. We must remember that the Bible, in its entirety, is
the Holy Word of God. Every word, every phrase is God-
breathed. "Holy Men spake as they were moved by the Holy
Spirit" (II Peter 1:21). It is imperative that we
remember that the Old Testament is just as holy and
important and uniquely the Word of God as the New
. The Bible is not just any book. It has no peer. God moved holy men of old
to write as He guided them. Thus, the Bible in its original autographs (that
is, in the original document which was written) is exactly the message that
God intended for man. Each book, each paragraph, each sentence, each word, as
well as each letter of each word is exactly as God intended it to be. The
inquisitive student of the Bible who desires to know the truth must,
therefore, approach the Bible with holy awe. This is God's message to man.
. Because the Bible is God's book, only God can open the stu- dent's eyes
to see the truths set forth in its pages. Sometimes those truths are very
clearly seen. Sometimes they are revealed only by the most diligent searching
of the Bible. But sometimes they remain hidden, regardless of the desire of
the student to know everything God has revealed in the Bible. Because God
reveals truth, the student must go very humbly to the Scriptures. Moreover, he
must beseech the Lord that truth might be revealed to him, for it is God, the
Holy Spirit, who leads us into truth, through the Bible.
. Furthermore, the student who wishes to know the truths of the Bible must
approach the Bible with an earnest desire to be obedient to the precepts and
rules set forth in the Scriptures. In all matters of doctrine and practice he
should be ready to be obedient to anything and everything he reads in the
2. The Bible is its own interpreter. We compare spiritual things with
spiritual (I Corinthians 2). To understand a word or a phrase or concept in
any part of the Bible, we must see how that same word or phrase or concept is
used everywhere else in the Bible. Thus the Bible becomes its own dictionary;
it becomes its own commentary. While such diligent comparison requires much
work on the part of the student of the Bible, it is the only sure way to come
to a true understanding of the biblical message. A concordance such as Young's
Analytical Concordance or Strong's Exhaustive Concordance helps immeasurably
in this respect, because it shows where words used in the original languages
are found in our English King James Bible.
. Because the Bible is its own interpreter, the student must leave no
stone unturned in becoming acquainted with the Bible. There is no short-cut.
He must spend much time reading the Bible. To try to learn its truths in
greater and greater detail without being exposed to all that God has written
in the Bible is foolishness. The Bible must be read and re-read. Moreover, any
conclusion the student of the Word comes to from his reading of a particular
verse or passage must be tested for its validity by checking that conclusion
against anything and everything the Bible offers concerning the sub-ject in
question. Only when the conclusion is found to be in harmony with all that the
Bible teaches can the student know that he is on the path of truth.
3. Additionally, as we allow God's Word to guide us in for-mulating principles
of Bible interpretation, we find that the Bible provides different levels of
meaning. When we study a verse in the Bible, we must remember that while it
may have only one level of meaning, it may also have as many as three.
. The first level is historical. It is true that when Jesus taught using
parables, He was not describing events that took place in history. But with a
few exceptions, such as these parables, we must understand that the Bible
gives us an exquisitely accurate account of events and conversations which
actually did occur in history.
. The second level of meaning frequently found in the Bible concerns moral
and spiritual teachings. When a particular historical event is viewed in the
light of the commandments of God as they are found throughout the Scriptures,
we may look upon this event as an example of an application of God's laws.
. The third level of meaning is related to the Gospel of salva- tion. This
is the dominant and most important message of the Bible. The whole Bible is,
in fact, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible reveals God's
wonderful message of salvation.
. We see, therefore, that there are at least three basic principles that
must be kept in mind as we study the Bible. These may be summarized as
1. The Bible alone and in its entirety is the Word of God.
2. The Bible is its own interpreter.
3. The Bible normally displays more than one level of meaning or significance.
. Our purpose in this study is to look at these three principles in greater
detail. By thoroughly understanding them we will be better prepared to receive
from the Bible the rich and wonderful truths that are hidden within it.
The Bible Alone and in Its Entirety is the Word of God
. The first principle we wish to examine in greater detail is that the Bible
alone and in its entirety is the Word of God. In examining this principle let
us ask the question: "What is the true Gospel?' As we answer this question we
will be able to see that the Bible alone and in its entirety is the Word of
God. It alone and in its entirety is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
. What is the true Gospel? Surely no evangelical believer needs to struggle
for an answer to this question. The true Gospel has everything to do with the
Lord Jesus Christ. If we recognize Him as Lord and Savior, we have the true
Gospel. The Bible declares that:
Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
And ÿevery spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh
is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, . . . (I John 4:2,3)
. Moreover, doesn't God say through the apostle Paul in I Corin-thians
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel . . . .
. . ÿhow ÿthat Christ died for our sins ÿaccording ÿto the
And ÿthat he was buried, ÿand that he rose again the third
day. . . ?
. Doesn't it follow then, that anyone who holds these truths must be a
follower of the Gospel and is to be accepted as a brother in Christ? Must not
we recognize as followers of the true Gospel any church or denomination which
is ready to make these principles a part of its statement of faith?
. Unfortunately, the question is not quite that simple. What are we to do
with the fact that Satan and the demons admit very candidly that all these
things are true of Christ? For instance, the demon in Mark 1:24 declared of
Jesus in the flesh: "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.' And in
Luke 4:41 God informs us:
And devils also came out of many, crying out, and
saying, ÿThou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking
them suf-fered them not to speak: ÿfor they knew that he
. Surely these devils are not saved, neither are they to become saved: and
yet, in their declaration, they apparently satisfy the criteria set forth in I
John 4:2-3 for those who are of the Spirit of God.
. Furthermore, Jesus speaks of false prophets in Matthew 7:15-23. In verses
22-23 He says of them:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
pro-phesied ÿin thy name? ÿand in thy name have cast out
devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And ÿthen will I profess unto them, ÿI ÿnever knew ÿyou:
depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
. These false prophets also appear to satisfy the criteria set forth in I
John 4:2-3. We can see therefore, that although someone may use the name of
Christ, doing his work in the name of Christ, and thus appearing to identify
with the Christ of the Bible, he is not necessarily a follower of the true
Gospel of Jesus Christ.
. This line of thinking leaves us in a shambles. How are we to recognize the
true Gospel if we can't trust those who preach Christ and who do their work in
the name of Christ? Does this mean that we can't trust anyone at all? You see,
the question, "What is the true Gospel?' is not as easy to answer as we may
. But we must find an answer to this question! How dreadful it would be if
we were following a false prophet who is bringing a false gospel, while we
were trusting that it was the true Gospel. We could end up in hell while being
altogether confident that we were saved, because we had placed implicit
confidence in something other than the true Gospel. We must therefore find an
answer to this question concerning the nature of the true Gospel.
. In seeking for an answer to this most important question, we might also
ask the questions, "How do we know about Christ? Where do we learn of Him?'
. Immediately and correctly the answer one would give is, "Of course, we
learn about Christ from the Bible. It, as the Word of God, is our source of
information concerning Jesus and the salva-tion He offers.'
. How true this answer is! The Bible is the only authority by which we can
know what to believe concerning Christ. This princi- ple is clearly set forth
in the Bible itself. Remember, we read about the nature of the Gospel in I
Corinthians 15:1-4. Let's look again at verses 3 and 4:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I ÿalso
received ÿhow that Christ died for our sins according to
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third
day according to the scriptures:
. Notice the emphasis on the phrase "according to the scriptures.' God is
declaring that the Bible is the authority under which the Gospel is set forth.
. In Luke 24:13-48 Jesus is discussing His resurrection with the two
disciples on the road to Emmaus. Significantly, He indicates to them that the
authority for His actions is the Scriptures. In verses 44-46 we read:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake
unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must
be ÿfulfilled, ÿwhich were written in the law of ÿMoses,
and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Then ÿopened ÿhe their understanding, ÿthat ÿthey ÿmight
understand the scriptures,
And ÿsaid ÿunto them, ÿThus it is written, ÿand thus ÿit
behoved Christ to suffer, ÿand to rise from the dead the
. This principle of the ultimate authority of the scriptures can also be
seen in the temptation of Christ by Satan. Again and again, as Satan tempts
Jesus, our Savior replies, "it is written" (Luke 4:4,8,10).
. We thus see that the Bible is the authority that tells us about the
Gospel. It is the source book of truth. Whatever knowledge we have concerning
Christ or God's plan of salvation must be firmly based on the Bible.
Is All of The Bible The Word of God?
. Having established the principle that the Bible is the authority which
sets forth the Gospel of salvation, we must ask ourselves the next obvious
question: "How much of the Bible must we trust in order to know that we are
following the true Gospel?' Restating the question in a more specific way, we
might ask: "Based on what we read in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and I John 4:2-3, if
we believe Christ has come in the flesh and trust in His death and
resurrection, can we be sure we are following the true Gospel? Can we have the
true Gospel regardless of what we believe concerning such matters as creation,
the end of the world, hell, predestination, etc.?'
. The answer to these questions is found in II Timothy 3:16. There we read:
All ÿscripture is given by inspiration of God, ÿÿand ÿis
profitable ÿfor doctrine, ÿfor reproof, ÿfor correction,
for instruction in righteousness:
. By this statement God is indicating that the whole Bible is the Word of
God. Therefore, it gives us, in its entirety, information concerning the
Gospel. The whole Bible is the Word of God. It, in its entirety, is the
revelation of God's will for man. Therefore, every doctrine taught in it is an
essential part of the revelation of the Gospel.
. Thus, the Old Testament is just as important as the New Testament. When
Jesus declared in Luke 24:46 or in Luke 4:4, "it is written,' He was using
that part of the Bible that we today call the Old Testament as His authority.
When God states in II Timothy 3:16 that "All scripture is given by
inspiration, . . . and is profitable for doctrine, . . .' He is speaking
especially of the Old Testament because it was the only Bible available to the
church at that time.
. The great importance of the Old Testament to the New Testa-ment church is
further underscored by the language of I Peter 1:10-12.
Of ÿwhich ÿsalvation ÿthe ÿprophets ÿhave ÿenquired ÿand
searched ÿdiligently, ÿwho prophesied of the grace ÿthat
should come you:
Searching ÿwhat, ÿÿor what manner of time the Spirit ÿof
Christ which was in them did signify, ÿwhen it testified
beforehand the sufferings of Christ, ÿand the glory that
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but
unto ÿus ÿthey did minister the things, ÿwhich ÿare ÿnow
reported unto you by them that have preached the ÿgospel
unto ÿyou ÿwith ÿthe Holy Ghost sent down ÿfrom ÿheaven;
which things the angels desire to look into.
. In this significant statement, God is emphasizing and underscoring the
principle that the Old Testament was written to be fully as important to us
today as it was to Old Testament Israel. Note in verse 12 the words: "not unto
themselves,' (meaning, the Old Testament believers) "but unto us they did
minister . . .' (that is, to believers even in this present day). Truly, we
must read and study the Old Testament as carefully as the New Testament.
. We have learned from verses like II Timothy 3:16 and I Peter 1:10-12 that
the whole Bible is the Word of God. We therefore must not countenance the idea
that we are to follow only the New Testament. Every word in the entire Bible
is the Word of God.
The Bible Is To Be Obeyed?
. Because the Bible is God's revelation, it is to be obeyed. God emphasizes
this principle in I John 2:3-4, where we read:
And ÿhereby we do know that we know him, ÿif we keep ÿhis
He that saith, ÿI know him, ÿand keepeth not his command-
ments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
. The Bible is the law book or rule book that sets forth the com-mandments
which are to be obeyed. This is the reason that the devils can believe and
acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ who has come in the flesh, and yet still
be subject to eternal damnation. They are correct concerning the doctrines of
Christ but by no means are they ready to be obedient to anything and
everything that is in the Bible.
. In I John 4:2 we read: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is
come in the flesh is of God: . . . .'
. The key word of I John 4:2 that must be clearly understood is the word
"confess.' We commonly use this word in the sense of simple open admission of
a truth, but the Bible's use implies not only admission of the truth in
question, but also implies identification with that truth. Therefore, only a
child of God, a person born of the Holy Spirit, in actuality confesses the
truths of I John 4:2-3, for only he is ready and willing to be altogether
obedient to everything contained in the Gospel.
. Remember, when we looked at the false prophets of Matthew 7:15-23, we saw
that even though they claimed to identify very closely with the Christ of the
Bible, they were still unsaved. In that context (v. 24) Jesus declared:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter
into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of
my Father which is in heaven.
. Notice the emphasis on doing "the will of My Father'. These false
prophets did not do the will of God, and therefore, we know their Gospel could
not be trusted. God is teaching that the true Gospel is intimately associated
with obedience to the Bible, for the Bible is the record of God's will.
. We may therefore set forth firmly and safely, two principles:
1) The whole Bible is the Word of God. It is the ultimate
authority which sets forth the Word of God.
2) A follower of ÿthe true Gospel is ready to be obedient
to ÿanything ÿand ÿeverything in the Bible. ÿÿIt ÿis ÿthe
authority to which we are to submit.
. God summarizes these principles in Revelation 22:19 where He warns:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book
of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the
book ÿof ÿlife, ÿand out of the holy city, ÿand from ÿthe
things which are written in this book.
Is the Bible Alone the Word of God?
. But now we must face another question: "Is the Bible alone the Word of
God? Doesn't the Holy Spirit lead men to truth by means other than the Bible?
For example, isn't it possible for God the Holy Spirit to speak to me in a
dream or by means of a vision?'
. As we examine this very critical question, we surely must be guided by
the biblical account of the experiences of the early New Testament church.
Their Bible was the part of our Bible which we now call the Old Testament.
From time to time individuals received additional revelations of the will of
God by such means as dreams or visions or angel visitations. For instance,
Peter received a vision concerning the proclamation of the Gospel to the Roman
centurion, Cornelius. By being obedient to this vision Peter, effectively
added to the written Word the information given in the vision. In other words,
the vision provided him with a more complete knowledge of the will of God.
. Likewise, the Apostle and the Apostle John received infor- mation by means
of visions. These visions, too, provided addi- tional help in knowing the will
. Interestingly, in the church at Corinth there were those who received
additional information regarding the will of God by means of a phenomenon
called "tongues.' Those who received the gift of tongues spoke in an unknown
language "mysteries' in the spirit (I Corinthians 14:2). What they received
from God could have been in the form of a praise, a prayer, or an additional
revelation. When this happened in the assembly, they were commanded to seek
interpretation of the message from God. Thus the whole congregation could be
edified. They were edified because this information was an additional
declaration of the will of God that could be considered to be an addition to
the written Word. The combination of the written Word and the Word received in
the "tongue' gave them more complete knowledge of the will of God, to which
they were to be obedient.
. Therefore, the question that faces us is: "Can it still be possible today
that God is supplying additional revelations of His will by such means as
tongues, visions, or dreams?' We must find an answer to our question in the
. We have seen that, while the Bible was being written, additions were being
made to it as holy men spoke being moved of the Holy Spirit (cf. II Peter
1:21). But then God completed the written Word. And when He came to the last
chapter of the last book of the Bible, He declared in Revelation 22:18:
For ÿI testify unto every man that heareth the ÿwords ÿof
the ÿprophecy ÿof this book, ÿIf any man shall ÿadd ÿunto
these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are
written in this book.
. With this declaration God effectively ended the possibility of any further
revelation from Himself. With the completion of the New Testament we have been
given a much more extensive revela- tion than that enjoyed by the church at
Corinth, for with the writing of the book of Revelation we have the whole New
Testa- ment, as well as the Old Testament. But to this Old and New Testa- ment
there is to be nothing added. Never again would God give divine information by
means of a dream, a vision, a tongue, or an angel visitation. God had given
the complete account of His will.
. Thus we may set forth another principle concerning the nature of the true
Gospel. The Bible alone is the authority under which the Gospel stands. The
true Gospel is circumscribed by the Bible. There is no other source of
divinely articulated or verbalized truth.
. We therefore may combine the foregoing principles into one statement. The
Bible alone and its entirety is the Word of God. The true Gospel is completely
identified with and has as its authority the Bible alone and in its entirety.
. Some might argue, "But Revelation 22:18 speaks of `this book.' This book
must refer to the book of Revelation. Therefore, this verse is not ending
further additions to the Bible. Rather, it is limiting further expansion only
of the book of Revelation.'
. A bit of reflection will show the failure of this line of reasoning. Even
if we assume that the phrase "this book' refers only to the book of
Revelation, we will see that in fact it must relate to the whole Bible. The
Bible is one cohesive whole. A verse or a chapter added to or taken from the
book of Revelation is added to or taken from the whole Bible. This is because
the book of Revelation is an integral part of the whole Bible.
Moreover, in Revelation 22:7-9 we read:
Behold, ÿI come quickly: ÿBlessed is he that keepeth the
sayings of the prophecy of this book.
And I John saw these things, ÿand heard them. ÿAnd when I
had ÿheard and seen, ÿI ÿfell down to worship before the
feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: ÿfor I am thy
fellowservant, ÿand of thy brethern the prophets, ÿand of
them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
. In these verses God speaks of those who "keep the sayings of this book." A
bit of reflection will make clear to us that we cannot keep the sayings of any
part of the Bible unless we understand the meanings of those sayings. And we
can not understand the meaning of any part of the Bible unless we view the
verses in question in the light of the whole Bible. Thus, to "keep the
sayings of this book" must mean to become involved with the teachings of the
whole Bible. Therefore the term "this book" must include the whole bible.
What about Direct Quotations from the Bible Coming to Us?
. Others will insist, "But the information I received in a vision or a
tongue was a direct quotation from the Bible. Therefore it was not an addition
to the Bible.' But this argument can also be shown to be invalid. For
example, in Acts 2:17-21 the Apostle Peter, under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, quotes from Joel 2:28-32. Could we then remove Acts 2:17-21 from the
Bible because it really is not an addition to the Word of God, inasmuch as it
is a duplication of that which was already set forth in the Word of God?
Immediately we sense that we cannot do this. Acts 2:17-21 is just as
important a part of the Word of God as is Joel 2:28-32. The fact is, many
verses or phrases and even whole chapters in the Bible are duplicates of
others in the Bible, but each one is an important part of the Word of God.
. By the same token, if someone believes he has received a direct revelation
from God in which only the Bible is quoted, he would be attempting to add to
the Word of God. He would therefore be guilty of violating the command given
in Revelation 22:18.
What About Praying in a Tongue:
. One observation commonly raised by those who are interested in tongues is
that, when they pray in tongues, they cannot possibly be adding to the
Scriptures. They fail to realize that there are many prayers in the Bible.
Extensive prayers by David, Solomon, and Ezra are found on the pages of the
Bible. As these men prayed, they were being guided by the Holy Spirit to say
the words that have been written in the Bible, the Word of God. While they
were praying to God, God was using them to write the Word of God.
. Likewise, if someone were claiming to pray today in a tongue which was
actively inspired by the Holy Spirit so that God was guiding them in what they
were praying, then this prayer would be just as certainly the Word of God as
were the prayers recorded in the Bible.
. Therefore, anyone who claims to pray in a tongue is adding to the Word of
God just as certainly as someone who receives a revelation from God in a
tongue or in a dream, or in a vision is adding to the Word of God. Therefore,
the principle set forth in Revelation 22:18-19 will be violated by anyone who
attempts to pray in a tongue.
. In Revelation 22:18-19 we have before us us a very clear statement by
which we can know whether or not we are following the true Gospel. The true
Gospel is circumscribed by the Bible. If anyone has a gospel that starts with
the Bible but then wishes to add to it whatever he believes to be divine truth
from other sources, such as dreams or visions, he is following a gospel other
than the true Gospel.
The Authority Which is Regarded as Divine Establishes the Kind of Gospel Being
. What is the divine authority that structures and determines the nature of
the true Gospel? The Bible. When we read any verse in the Bible, we interpret
it by focusing the whole Bible upon it. We are to interpret Scripture by
Scripture, or as I Corinthians 2:13 puts it, by "comparing spiritual things
. However, if one believes that the Bible is the Word of God, but also
believes that some other book is to be considered divine revelation, then that
authority is an authority wider than the Bible alone.
. Likewise, if someone believes the Bible is the Word of God, but also
believes that a dream, vision or tongue is a revelation from God, then the
authority of this person's "gospel' is wider than the Bible. He will
therefore interpret any verse in the Bible, not only according to the rest of
the Bible, but also in light of the dream, vision, or information received by
such a means.
. Reaching this, we can begin to understand why gospels other than the true
Gospel will differ in so many points of doctrine from those actually based on
the Bible. The doctrines we hold are always products of the authority under
which we have placed ourselves.
. The judge who tries a case by the law of the United States will come to a
different conclusion than the judge who tries the same case using the law of
Canada plus the law of the United States as his authority. The second judge
has a wider and therefore different authority than the first.
. Likewise, if I receive a vision which I believe has come from God and that
vision is related to a particular doctrine, it should be very apparent that I
will regard the information offered in that vision as being the latest,
clearest, and most important information concerning that doctrine. This would
be true regardless of what the Bible offers concerning that doctrine. Even
though it may disagree to some extent with what the Bible offers, I will see
this vision as a truth that modifies what the Bible has been teaching. I will
be following the same principle or interpretation as that which applies in the
case of the New Testament modifying truths set forth in the Old Testament.
Thus, my conclusion concerning the doctrine in question will be heavily
influenced by my vision.
. It should now be apparent how critically important it is that we know
what our authority is. If it is less than the whole Bible or more than the
whole Bible, we will no longer have the true Gospel, which alone is the Gospel
Every Religion Has an Authority
. We must keep very clearly in mind that each and every religion or gospel
is under an authority which its followers believe to be the Word of God. The
Muslim religion, for example, looks upon the writings of Mohammed as being of
divine origin. These writings, therefore, are for them the final authority in
all matters of doctrine and practice in that religion. Likewise, those who
hold the Mormon gospel believe that the Bible is the Word of God; but they
also are convinced that the writings of Joseph Smith, as set forth in the Book
of Mormon, are divine. Consequently, the authority that structures and
determines that particular gospel is the combination of the Bible plus the
Book of Mormon.
. We are living in a day when many believe that God is still bringing
revelation by such means as dreams or visions or voices or tongues. Those who
are interested in these kinds of activities have an authority that structures
and determines their particular gospel. Their divine authority is a
combination of the Bible plus those messages which they believe are from God.
Thus, this gospel, too, is structured and determined by what it considers to
be its divine source of truth.
. From these examples, we can see that those who hold that the Bible alone
and in its entirety is the Word of God have a different gospel than those who
believe the Bible is the Word of God but who also believe God is still
bringing revelations today.
. The latest revelations in such a gospel always have the greatest impact
upon its doctrines. For example, in connection with the true Gospel, we do
not dare to understand the Old Testament unless we carefully study the New
Testament. The New Testament interprets the Old Testament. It, for example,
shows us that the ceremonial laws have been completed in Christ, and therefore
we are not to observe the Old Testament Sabbaths or the Old Testament
Passover. It shows us that God's decree that adultery is sin has been
strengthened to include even thoughts of lust. The later revelation shines
more light on the older revelation and is the final word.
. Likewise, those who believe that God is still bringing revelation today
place very great weight on the content of these later revelations. For them
these later revelations are the last word and influence their view of the
Bible, which they also believe is part of the revelation of God.
Consequently, they will understand many biblical passages quite differently
from those who believe the Bible alone and in its entirety is the Word of God.
. The true Gospel has as its authority the Bible alone and in its entirety.
There is no other divine source. There can be no later addition to the Word
of God. Thus it whould be quite clear that the true Gospel, which has as its
authority the Bible alone and in its entirety, is entirely different from any
gospel which has included in its divine authority revelations which may have
come after the Bible was completed. While these other gospels may use the
ideas and phrases and words from the true Gospel, they are false because they
have a different authority than the true Gospel. Many different gospels
employ terms such as "the blood of Jesus," "the cross," "the resurrection,"
"heaven," "hell," "Holy Spirit," etc., but the use of these biblical words in
no way guarantees that the true Gospel is being taught. Only by following the
Gospel which has its authority circumscribed by the Bible do we know that we
have the true Gospel.
Does the Bible Contain The Word of God?
. Some theologians declare that the Bible contains the Word of God. This
statement implies that parts of the Bible are not the Word of God.
Effectively, they make themselves or their churches the ultimate authority,
for they are the ones deciding which parts of the Bible are the Word of God.
Rather than being subject to the Word of God, they are ruling over the Word of
God. Moreover, they have arrived at a narrower authority than the whole Word
of God. How important it is that we recognize that the whole Bible is the
Word of God!
. Early in this study we raised the question, "What is the true Gospel?' We
have seen that the true Gospel is circumscribed by the Bible. It is based on
the principle that the Bible alone and in its entirety is the Word of God. The
Bible itself is the complete written presentation of the Gospel.
. But this conclusion has ominous implications for many different
congregations and denominations; it has enormous consequences for today's
evangelical community. The importance of this conclusion is seen by the
warning of Revelation 22:18-19. There God declares that anyone who widens the
authority by "adding to the words of this book" is subject to the plagues
written in "this book." The plagues relate to God's wrath being visited on
those who are subject to hell. Thus God is saying that those who add to the
words of this book are still subject to eternal damnation. They are therefore
still unsaved. They do not understand the true Gospel of salvation.
. By the same token, anyone who narrows the authority upon which his gospel
is based, so that he believes that only parts of the Bible are the Word of
God, is warned by Revelation 22:19 that he, too, is still subject to eternal
damnation. Specifically, God declares, "God shall take away his part out of
the book of life, and out of the holy city..." How important it is, therfore,
that we recognize what constitutes the true Gospel.
. God restates this same warning in slightly different language in Galatians
1:8-9. There God declares through the Apostle Paul:
But though we, ÿor an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel ÿunto ÿyou than that which we have ÿpreached ÿunto
you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, ÿif any man preach
any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let
him be accursed.
. The double warning of the curse surely indicates the certainty of that
curse! It underscores and emphasizes the utter seriousness of being sure we
are following the true Gospel, for to be under the curse of God is to be
subject to hell.
. Incidentally, it should be emphasized that I might be a person who
theoretically accepts divine truth as coming only from the Bible; yet in
actuality I look upon certain doctrines or practices of my church or
denomination as being inviolate. That is, I insist on holding a doctrine
regardless of what the Bible indicates. In such a case, effectively, I have
placed that doctrine on a level of authority equal with the Bible itself.
Thus I have inadvertently widened the authority of the Bible. For this
reason, in regard to this doctrine I could never come to agreement with those
who more carefully practice the principle that the Bible alone is the ultimate
Authority of the Bible is Narrowed by Some Who Claim the Whole Bible is God's
. Likewise, there are those who narrow the authority of the Bible by
insisting that certain passages of the Bible apply only to the historical
situation in which they are originally found. For example, they conclude that
we are not to pay attention to 1 Corinthians 14:34, which teaches that women
are not to speak in the congregational worship service. They argue that this
verse is speaking to a problem unique to the culture of that day and,
therefore, is not applicable to the believers of today. They conclude that it
is not applicable because we belong to an entirely different culture than the
one that existed at the same time of the church of Corinth.
. But let us examine this conclusion. If the statement of 1 Corinthians
14:34 is applicable only to the culture of that day, then likewise the
statement of Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus that is found in John 3 has no
application for us today. This would be so because Nicodemus was an Old
Testament Jew, and none of us are Old Testament Jews. Then, too, the Old
Testament would have no application for us today because it was addressed to
ancient Israel or such nations as Babylon. They certainly were entirely
different cultures than those we have today! Moreover, the book of Romans
would have no application for us because it was written to the church at Rome
almost 2,000 years ago. Likewise, Philippians, Colossians, and all the New
Testament epistles would have no application for us. Moreover, all Jesus'
teachings must also be set aside in view of the fact that He was addressing
individuals who were part of an entirely different culture than ours today.
. I hope we are beginning to get the picture. Such a conclusion, which
allows us to set aside certain passages because they seem to be intimately
associated with a cultural problem of long ago and therefore have no
application to our lives today, effectively destroys the authority of the
Bible. It is a direct violation of II Timothy 3:16:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is pro-
fitable for doctrine, ÿfor reproof, ÿfor correction, ÿfor
instruction in righteousness:
. Futhermore, this conclusion has narrowed the authority of the Bible so
that no longer is the whole Bible the Word of God for today. The fact is, God
placed these accounts into the Scriptures so that principles would be laid
down for the Church throughout its entire history. Therefore, 1 Corinthians
14:34 is just as applicable to churches today as it was in the days of the
church at Corinth.
. The real question at issue is whether we are ready to be obedient to the
bible. If we are not prepared to be obedient, we can destroy the authority of
the Bible by such strategems as deciding a passage has meaning only for the
culture of the day in which it was written. We must never lose sight of the
fact that the whole Bible is the Word of God and is therefore to be obeyed!
. This principle underscores the importance of constant Bible study for all
who teach or preach God's Word. We should clearly know the biblical basis for
each and every doctrine we teach. Moreover, if we find that a doctrine does
not have adequate biblical authority, or that there are passages in the Bible
that appear contrary to the doctrine we are teaching, it is imperative that we
resolve these differences before continuing to teach that doctrine. We who
believe we have been called to teach or preach have taken upon ourselves a
very grave responsibility to be as accurate as possible in the Word of God.
Small wonder, then, that God declares in James 3:1 "My brethren, be not many
masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
. The seriousness of being a teacher of the Word of God cannot be emphasized
or underscored enough. Any teacher or preacher of the Word of God should
search the Word unceasingly so that what he declares to his congregation or
his class will be as true and trustworthy as possible. Moreover, he is to be
ready to correct his doctrine any time he finds it to be contrary to the Word
. May our Lord give all who love Him and wish to be obedient to Him the
wisdom and humility to submit altogether to the authority of the Bible.
. Thus far in our study we have discovered that the Bible alone and in its
entirety is the verbalized, articulated Word of God. Now we should look at
another principle that we must keep in mind as we investigate the general
subject of Bible interpretation. That principle is that we are to interpret
the Bible by the Bible.
Continued in BIBLSTD2.TXT
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