Dt. 8:3 π Jdgs. 21:25 π Isa. 28:9-13 π Isa. 64:4 π Isa. 66:2 π Mt. 7:23 π Mt. 24:5 π Mt. 24:12; 2nd π Jn. 6:37 π Jn. 14:6 π Jn. 16:13 π Acts 20:27 π Rom. 7:4 π 1 Cor. 2:9-12 π 1 Cor. 16:10 π 2 Cor. 6:14 π Eph. 4:3 π Eph. 4:13 π 2 Ths. 2:10-12 π 2 Tim. 2:15 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 11:6 π 2 Pet. 1:19-21 π 2 Pet. 3:15-16 π 1 Jn. 2:24-27 π 1 Jn. 2:26 π 1 Jn. 5:7
It was once written:
“In reading a book, many times it seems the author has an idea he or she wants the reader to agree with, so the author picks out areas of scripture that support his or her claim. More often than not one could find a book with the opposite perspective equally supported by scripture.”
This piece of “conventional wisdom” is tossed about in certain circles and it is used to justify and rationalize believing or rejecting whatever one wants to from the Bible. But if this “wisdom” is a true analysis of all one can hope to glean from reading the Bible, why would anyone in their right mind ever want to read the Bible? Why would anyone ever want to read a book that can be used to “prove” anything and everything (and ultimately, therefore, nothing) that anyone would want to “prove” from it? Anyone who considers the above piece of “conventional wisdom” to be true about the Bible believes in a most untrustworthy Bible! And the sad fact is that this “conventional wisdom” is a truth – but it is an indictment against the many conflicting commentators and how we search for truth and not an indictment against the Bible.
The Bible, being a collection of ancient writings from over 40 different authors written across a 1500 year time span that tackles the most sublime of all topics – the identity and nature of the Creator God – is not just a book. It is an introduction, a window into a realm beyond time and space, through which we can see beyond the filth, degradation and oppressions of this world and glimpse a land were righteousness reigns and truth prevails. And the first and most important thing the reader of the Bible must know is that he or she is not alone in taking on and grasping the over 30,000 verses of the Bible. The Spirit who inspired the writings is still around to help the reader find and understand truth. All that is required to begin to rightly understand the Bible is faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ( Heb. 11:6; top ) Simple faith that He will reveal Himself goes a long way in opening up the truth contained in the writings of the Bible.
The question then arises, how can a book with such an Author (behind its 40 authors) produce such a multitude of conflicting opinions as the “conventional wisdom” above depicts? The answers to this question, believe it or not, can also be found in the Bible.
Paul quoting from the Old Testament, wrote, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” ( Isa. 64:4 ) Paul then goes on to say, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit [the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit of God] searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” ( 1 Cor. 2:9-12; top )
And John wrote, “Therefore let that [truth implanted in you by the Spirit] which you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us – eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” ( 1 Jn. 2:24-27; top )
The simple secret to understanding the Bible is to approach God in faith, believing that by His Spirit He will reveal truth to those who diligently seek Him. So why all the varying opinions and “doctrines” and “theologies” that abound in Christian circles? John said it plainly, “I have written these things concerning those who try to deceive you.” ( 1 Jn. 2:26 - emphasis added; top) Simply put, there are some, even many, who – whether intentionally or because they themselves are deceived – with their talks and their writings, will try to get you to agree with their deceptions.
Peter wrote that “Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” ( 2 Pet. 3:15-16; top ) Peter frankly admits that some aspects of the gospel are difficult to understand and that the “untaught and unstable” would twist and distort the truth. Though this verse is used as a foundation stone for every denomination, sect and movement to build their own “seminaries” and “Bible schools,” this is not what Peter has in mind.
Paul wrote to Timothy, his fellow worker in the work of the Lord ( 1 Cor. 16:10 ), “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” ( 2 Tim. 2:15; top ) Far too many young workers for the Lord (speaking here of those who even have been genuinely called by the Lord to work in the gospel) have substituted their call from the Lord for the approval and degrees and ordinations conferred by men and never realize that they are no longer able to rightly divide the word of truth. This does not prevent them from giving speeches and writing books, however, and it is these that have led to the current cacophony and Babel of confusion and conflicting opinions as to what the Bible teaches.
Peter himself spoke of this same phenomena – that very intelligent, very philosophical, very well educated people could still be spiritually untaught and unstable. At the beginning of the same letter, the context of Peter’s analysis of Paul’s letters, he wrote, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” ( 2 Pet. 1:19-21; top )
There are several things we should notice in this passage.
First, the role of the Holy Spirit is indispensible in receiving, interpreting and confirming any and all words that originally come from the mouth of God. ( Dt. 8:3; top )
Second, it is holy men of God who are moved by the Holy Spirit of God. This is not some special class of specially schooled, degreed and titled clergy class – rather it is anyone who has set themselves apart for the will of God. Holiness, though it is shrouded in legalistic confusion in many “churches,” simply means to be set apart to God and obedient to His will. Unholy men, women and even children can say whatever they please, even write books, but it will never be a rightly divided word of truth – even though it may contain genuine facts and accuracies interspersed among the falsehoods and misconceptions.
And third, genuine words of God, authentic words of truth, will be confirmed by several witnesses, not the least of which is the Spirit of truth who leads us into all truth ( Jn. 16:13 ) and who bears witness to the truth. ( 1 Jn. 5:7 NASB, etc.; top)
It is simply time to recognize that the vast horde of pulpiteers and talking-head TV and internet teachers and preachers are the fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4 ) It is time to recognize that the man who stands behind a pulpit or in front of a camera and declares that he is the one who is specially gifted and graced with an anointing from God and that this gives him the right and even obligation to draw followers after himself who routinely seat themselves at his feet so that they can hear what he says God is saying – it is time to recognize that this man, and currently there are many of these men, is the precise fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that “many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the anointed one’ and will deceive many.” ( Mt. 24:5; top )
The phenomena of deception is actually God’s way of both testing the sincerity of a seeker of truth and of judging the insincere. In the end times, God will finally and completely draw the lines between truth and error, righteousness and unrighteousness by giving men over to the deceptions they prefer over His way of righteousness. Paul wrote, “God will send them (those who did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved) strong delusion, that they should believe the lie [that they prefer], that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” ( 2 Ths. 2:10-12; top )
Most people, in part because Jesus’ prophecy of the end times was translated for centuries as “iniquity shall abound” ( Mt. 24:12 ), believe that those given over to strong delusion will simply become wild, uncontrollable criminals. But this is a misconception. The prophecy of Jesus really uses the word “lawlessness” – the Greek word is anomia  and it simply and literally means “no law.” Since we have been freed from the law because of what Christ did for us ( Rom. 7:4 , etc.), this should not be a major sin – but Paul writes that there is absolutely no commonality or fellowship between lawlessness and righteousness ( 2 Cor. 6:14 ) and Jesus said that because lawlessness would abound, the love (the primary characteristic of following Christ) of many would grow cold. ( Mt. 24:12 ) Since lawlessness is so contrary to the will and way of God and because it has extremely dire consequences – even being rejected by Christ on the day of judgment ( Mt. 7:23; top ) – it is definitely in our best interests to understand this concept.
What lawlessness really refers to is best summed up in the phrase used to describe the Israelites in the time of the judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” ( Jdgs. 21:25; top ) It refers to the complete absence of any outside source by which a person orders his behaviors and thoughts. When the significance of this definition is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and the truth of it “sinks in” to our hearts and minds, we will see that lawlessness is truly a primary characteristic of our age (and not just in “Christian” circles either – the “secular” version of it is called relativism). Indeed, most of churchianity is built on lawlessness as every “church”-ite chooses which man, “doctrines,” “theology” or denomination seems right or best (to himself) to attend and follow.
So what the polyglot of books and treatises that stand in contradiction to one another really represents is the authors’ expression of their own preferences, their own ideas of what is right and good, their own lawlessness. The mind-blowing thing behind this is that God, being much bigger than all the petty squabbling of mere men, is still able to express some truth of Himself to a sincere seeker of truth who is reading or hearing a corrupted or polluted work. The task before a sincere seeker of truth – and this applies to both current and historical writings – is to sift and sort that which is truth away from that which is error. This is not always an easy task – sometimes it is too difficult and the book or writing should just be thrown away! – and it is a job that requires our careful attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit or we can be certain to be deceived somewhere along the line.
The people who are given over to the strong delusion will not become wild criminals – most likely they will become avid students of the Bible. Long ago, God gave up the written words of the Bible to men to do with as they choose. God said to Isaiah,
“On this one will I look [with favor]: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (
) But God also said,
“Whom will [the priest or prophet] teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breast? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little. For with stammering lips and another tongue [God] will speak to this people, to whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,’ and ‘This is the refreshing’; yet they would not hear. But the word of the
Bible study that produces lawless men doing what is right in their own eyes is a judgment from God! And it is a primary characteristic of our time that most people do not recognize for what it is.
What is required of the sincere seeker of truth is that he find the whole counsel of God. Since there are very few like Paul who was diligent to declare the whole counsel of God ( Acts 20:27; top ), we must be certain that we hear from God’s mouth - for ourselves - everything God has to say on any given matter.
This does not mean that we will never get an insight or revelation from the words spoken or written by another man but it will mean that we will not embrace the words of men until they are confirmed by the Spirit of truth.
This does not mean we are to be “lone ranger” theologians concocting our own “theology” but rather that we will find confirmation of the revelations and insights God gives us from those others who truly seek God and hear Him. God still calls His people to unity of the Spirit ( Eph. 4:3 ) and unity of the faith. ( Eph. 4:13; top ) Anyone who forgets this is simply forging their own version of lawless “theology.”
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ( Jn. 14:6 ) He also said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” ( Jn. 6:37; top )
He is the rest by which the weary – those tired of having to reconcile every supposed contradictions found in “theology,” those tired of having to have every answer to every question, those tired of legalistic requirements to know and memorize the words of the Bible, those tired of arguments over what any certain Scripture means – can find rest. He is the refreshing because He is the way, the truth and the life. He is not a law or a religion or a philosophy. He is simply the God who, because of His own work – His death on the cross – made it possible for us to draw near to Him in Spirit and Truth. Any book or teaching that does not draw us to the rest and refreshing of His presence and Spirit is, at best, a work corrupted and contaminated by the lawlessness of men. Handle such works wisely, or better yet, set it aside and go read your Bible for yourself.
Let he who has ears hear.
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