Jn. 1:1 π Jn. 14:6 π Jn. 16:13 π Rom. 8:9 π Rom. 14:1 π Rom. 16:17-18 π 1 Cor. 1:10 π 1 Cor. 2:10-14 π Phlp. 3:14-16 π Phlp. 3:15
That the Bible is a Book open to much misinterpretation is a fact that is very often misunderstood. Most often, the various interpretations and explanations are simply accepted as differing opinions and the matter is not pursued. However, this bland acceptance of differing doctrines being taught from the same Book is in direct contrast to Paul's instructions to the Corinthians. Paul wrote:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. ( 1 Cor. 1:10; top )
With this clear injunction, there is absolutely no room left for differing opinions and doctrines to divide the body of Christ.
And before I am labeled an extreme and unrealistic radical, let me place before us the balance that is brought in through God's grace. Though we are to be in agreement about everything, we are also to always lovingly receive those with weaker faith and those with more or less revelation than ourselves. (see Rom. 14:1 ; Phlp. 3:15 for example; top) This does not make us any better or worse than any other individual, only recipients of different portions of God's grace. The only individuals to be rejected outright are "those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned" - that is, contrary from the teachings of the apostles and prophets truly sent by God, not what you might have learned from some modern Diotrephes who distorts the word of truth to his own destruction and who refuses to receive those whom God has truly sent. Paul goes on to say, "Avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." ( Rom. 16:17-18; top )
The bottom line is that anyone who belongs to Christ will have the Spirit of Christ. ( Rom. 8:9; top ) If someone who has the Spirit of Christ has opinions and beliefs that differ from mine, what is to be my response? Even when I know that one to be in error, I am still to receive him or her as my brother or sister in the Lord. If I will not do so, I am exhibiting an extreme arrogance that says my choice of whom I will fellowship with is of greater worth than God's choice. And if it should turn out later that I was actually the one in error and not my Christian brother or sister, then my arrogance will be doubly apparent.
But let us turn to the question of: Why are there so many different positions regarding the Scriptures? And how does one know which one is the correct view? These are important questions which bring up many important aspects of one's practical walk with God and which are indeed lynch pins to essential parts of our faith in Christ.
The causes of differing opinions regarding the Scriptures stem from only one source. The misinterpretation or misapplication of Scripture occurs when any man, devoid of the Holy Spirit or simply turning a deaf ear to His ministrations, attempts, by his own natural intellectual and emotional resources, to divide the word of truth. This one is doomed to failure, but that fact doesn't prevent him from making the effort. And in the modern context, such a one is often a highly touted scholar or teacher in some "church."
The essential requirement of the work of the Holy Spirit to enable a person to rightly divide the word of truth cannot be overlooked. Without the Spirit to explain and illuminate the words which He inspired others to write, we have absolutely no hope of grasping the spiritual revelations contained within the words of the Book. ( 1 Cor. 2:10-14; top ) We will never meet the living Word of John 1:1 , the Person of truth of John 14:6 , until we have submitted to the work of the Spirit of truth who guides into all truth. ( Jn. 16:13; top )
The question remains: Were we to all submit to the Holy Spirit, would we instantaneously come into agreement on all things? No. That is a process that takes time. And there will always be those in various stages of maturity whose views will be different because of their level of maturity at this present time. But as Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Let us, as many as are mature, have this mind" which presses onward and upward to the high calling of Christ Jesus and, "to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind." ( Phlp. 3:14-16; top )
In addition, one's giftings from the Lord can also cause a differing emphasis upon different truths of the Scriptures. That is to say, we are not all called to be the same part of the body. What is most important to an ear is not what is vital to an eye or a foot. And if these differing parts are not careful how they express their particular emphasis, disagreement and even division can result. And for these reasons, we must again remember that we are to always lovingly receive those with weaker faith and those with more or less revelation than ourselves. Perhaps that foot does not grasp the bigger picture the way you, the eye, do - but you won't walk very far without that foot!
A question that often remains unasked in this whole business is: Well, if God caused the Scriptures to be written, and they are a complete record of all that we need to live and walk with Him, then why did He leave the Scriptures so ambiguous? Why are there those statements that can be twisted and distorted to support so many different positions?
Again, these are important questions that directly affect the quality of our faith. And the answers lie again within the work of the Holy Spirit. If the Book contained every answer to every situation in life in a format readily available to every man, not only would the Book be gargantuan, but we would have no need for the work of the Holy Spirit. We would have just another law - a list of do's and don't's in which there could not possibly be the life of God.
Don't misunderstand me. The Book does contain every answer to every situation in the life of a believer. But it is in a format that is only accessible through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Book is vastly important in the life of a believer - but it is not God Himself - and one can truly live a genuine Christian life without ever once seeing even one page of Scripture throughout his entire life. Consider the many Chinese Christians who, during the 50s and 60s when the Communists were in power, never had a Bible and rarely saw more than a page or two of it during their whole lifetime. Consider Amy Carmichael's friend Mimosa who was ministered to one afternoon and told of a God who loved her. Though Mimosa did not even know this God's name, she walked with this God who loved her for 26 years before coming out of the Hindu environment and back into Christian circles where the Bible was regularly read. No, we do not gain eternal life because we know or read the words of the Book. We gain eternal life because we know the Word, the Person about whom the Book speaks.
That the Book has fallen into the hands of the scholars is a mixed blessing. There are indeed many nuggets of truth which have been gleaned from the diligent pursuit of the intellectual properties of the Scriptures. One cannot objectively draw near the Book without being touched in some way by the important truths contained therein.
But the Book was not written for the scholars. If it had been, the New Testament, for example, would never have been written in koine, that is, common, Greek. In fact, because it was written in koine instead of classical Greek, the scholars could not completely decipher it for many years until a great cache of normal, ordinary documents were found which opened many of the missing keys to the depths of what various words meant. Bible scholars need to always remember that they are but a guest in the house.
The Book was written for every man who has the humility to turn to the Holy Spirit and admit that he has a need which he cannot meet by himself. He may hunger and thirst for righteousness and truth but he does not have the ability to decipher the buried meanings of the Scriptures. And precisely because there are so many varying opinions, views and teachings lying about waiting to confuse and entrap him, he has no one else upon whom he can rely to tell him the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Such a one is the only one to whom the depths of the Scriptures are available. The scholar who propounds rules and principles is blind in both eyes. The one who scoffs at those rules and principles and pulls out whatever he sees at the moment is deaf and mute. And the one who neither knows nor truly cares what the Scriptures say but rashly charges ahead anyway is lame in both feet. None of these are to be followed. They will only take you down into the ditch with themselves.
Only the Holy Spirit - who both works in you as an individual and who confirms what He has told you by revealing it to the corporate group of believers to which He has assembled you - can lead you into all truth. And only when you know the truth, the Person of truth, the Lord Jesus Christ, will you be free of the confusing, conflicting and ensnaring doctrines of men that are couched in the semantic phrasings and terminology of the Book.
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