Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Interpreting The Bible: Let The Bible Do The Work

Atheist: You can't believe what the bible says, it's been translated into Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, German, French, English...

Me: So was Lord Of The Rings but you never complain about that, so what's your point?

Atheist: But the bible is so old, you have to admit that something was lost when manuscripts were copied

Me: The dead sea scrolls proved to the world that Old Testament has been faithfully copied and translated over the years. Yet on the other hand there's no way to verify the veracity of Caesers "Gallic Wars" yet you believe them, so what's your point?

Atheist: So many people have been killed because of what the bible says, look at the Salem witch trials.

Me: Last weekend more people in Africa died for their Christian faith than in the entire decade of the Salem witch trials yet you failed to mention that. So what's your point?

Atheist: What I'm saying is, how do you know that the Bible is being interpreted correctly? How do you know that your priest or minister or preacher or what ever you call them is telling you the right thing?

Me: You read the bible.

That's it, that's all it takes to know if an interpretation is correct or not - read the bible. The bible does not contradict itself, the bible does not confuse an issue, the bible does not exist in shades of gray, the bible says what the bible says. The hardest thing for an Atheist to understand is that the bible is not of this earth but is a work of the Holy Spirit.
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
The bible does not lend itself to your interpretation because the bible interprets itself, in other words we don't interpret the bible, we let the bible do all that. Look at Ephesians 2:8, it clearly says that because of God's grace we are saved because of our faith. How do we interpret that? We don't. We turn to Titus 3:5-7 which repeats this and amplifies it. Sometimes the interpretation is found very close to the original statement in the text such as Jesus' parable about the sower and the seed in Matthew 13:3–8. The clear and definitive interpretation of this parable is found very close by in Matthew 13:18–23.

Then again many times the question and the answer are scattered far apart. When Moses fled Egypt (Exodus 2:15) and settled in Midian how long was he there when he was called out of Midian in Exodus 3:1-4? You have to go all the way to the other end of the bible, Acts 7:30-31 to find the answer. The answers are there, you may not find them close to what you need interpreting, but they are there. You may not find them today, you may not find them in this bible reading. When you are done reading your bible through this time (you are reading your bible, aren't you?) you may decide "Maybe this next time I'll read a more literal translation" or you may chose a plan that guides you through it chronologically, maybe then you'll find the answer."

I found that when I read the bible chronologically it makes much more sense, when I read it chronologically for the first time last year it was like a light lit up, so many things made much more sense. But anyone who regularly reads the bible, whether they do it studiously or just because they love to read the bible, they will tell you that every time they read it they get a little more with each reading, an answer will be found, a passage will suddenly make more sense, a new mystery unravels.

When people say the bible can be interpreted many ways, they're close to being correct. The bible can be interpreted two ways: correctly and incorrectly. Correctly is to let the bible interpret itself, the bible in its course will tell you what it says if you read it with an open mind and an open heart. 

It's very easy to interpret the bible incorrectly. Look at the story of the young man who read Matthew 27:5 where it says Judas hanged himself, then he read Luke 10:37 where Jesus says "Go and do likewise" is the bible interpreting itself to justify suicide or is the young man interpreting it that way? It's all context, Luke 10:37 is not about suicide, it's Jesus telling us to act like the Good Samaritan. Is Ephesians 6:5 justification for slavery or is it instruction on how to behave if you are in that situation? Reading it in context shows that both slave and master are slave to God and both are to treat each other with love. It neither encourages nor denounces slavery and does not interpret itself to do either.

In the same way some sects and congregations say it is fine for women to act as elders and ministers in church because Galatians 3:28 says we are all the same in Christ Jesus. However 1 Corinthians 14:34 says women should not act as elders in church. Is this a contradiction? No, because Galatians 3:28 taken in context is descriptive of how Jesus sees us when we come to Him and 1 Corinthians 14:34 tells us how to behave in church. The passages aren't related.

If the Bible says A and we do A, but later we find from the bible we should be doing B, does the bible contradict itself? Or did we misinterpret A ourselves? Back to Ephesians 6:5 where it says slaves must obey their masters, does this mean that we must own slaves? If I go to Romans 13:1-7 it tells me that I must be subject to my government and the laws of the land. At that time slavery was the law of the land and it was much different that the race-based slavery that was experienced in western Europe and the United States. Letting the bible interpret itself if owning a slave is legal then it's permissible to own a slave if the slave is treated as a fellow Christian, and if owning a slave is illegal then it's a sin against man and God to own one. Nothing in the bible says that the laws of man can't be changed.

While being a historical tome the bible is a spiritual document, the word of God and must be read that way, it can't be read as a cook book where the end result is a salvation souffle. It's not a technical manual. When reading the bible go to it with questions, write down the question and read all of the bible. Don't expect quick answers (that's why you write down your questions) and never look at isolated passages to answer your questions. If you think that the bible is difficult to read, that's because it is. Remember, it is God's word

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
Some questions will never be answered
29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)
And some things God has hidden from casual glance so they may be revealed through study
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)

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