Yesterday, we looked at deception. We only really scratched the surface, but 2 things emerged: 1. We can deceive ourselves. We project our own lusts and passions upon an object we call “god”. We try to create a god in our own image so that we can pursue the lusts and desires of our hearts. 2. There is an archdeceiver who would like nothing more than to take our lusts, desires and passions and convince us they are “truth”. He will tempt us with what we desire, try to get us to justify our desires and cause us to sin.
Why not Listen To Jesus?
Many try to justify various beliefs and doctrines by saying the Law was done away, we are under grace or that the Law was nailed to the cross. In effect, those who hold this view are saying, we are without law. Yet, Jesus condemned those who practiced “lawlessness” (Mt 7:23 NASB).
In fact, it seems that many of Jesus’ words get ignored. Do the red letters in some Bible have any meaning? Or, are they there just so we know which words to ignore?
You know, Jesus said that not the slightest mark of the Law would pass until all was fulfilled (Mt 5:18). In fact, He said He did not come to do away with the Law (v 17), and if anyone teaches others to break even the least of the commandments, then that man would be called “least” in the Kingdom (v 19).
Jesus said that at the time “of [His] coming, and of the end of the world” (Mt 24:3) that there would still be a Sabbath day (v 20). Jesus even kept the Sabbath in a regular manner (Lk 4:16).
Even what Jesus did not say is revealing.
It is interesting that when the Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples were breaking the Sabbath (Mt 12:1-8), He did not tell them that the day of worship no longer mattered. Later, when He healed on the Sabbath, He gave yet another example from the Law itself to show that healing on the Sabbath was not breaking it (v 9-14), rather than telling them it was done away.
In the Great Commission, Jesus even said to teach disciples throughout the world to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). What exactly did Jesus command?
1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Matthew 23:1-3, King James Version)
You know, I wonder if the scribes and Pharisees ever told them that the “Law was done away”, or that “We can worship every day of the week”, or “Every day is a day of rest”, or “We no longer are required to keep the holy days.”
The Basic Rule For Interpreting the Bible
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Almost every Bible teacher I know of that is worth anything at all will tell you to start with the plain Scriptures to interpret the harder ones. You don’t make a doctrine from the vague or esoteric or hard to comprehend and use that to interpret the plain passages of the Bible. No, you start with the very plain and use those to interpret the more difficult ones. As HWA used to say, “The plain things are the main things, and the main things are the plain things!”
The Bible contains many verses on many subjects, and some of them are easy to understand, while others are more difficult. Usually, it is the case that there are many more clear verses on a subject than difficult verses. Proper exegesis requires that difficult verses must be interpreted in the light of the many clear verses on the same subject. The scope of the entire Bible must be the final judge of what constitutes truth and error.
~ “22 Principles of Biblical Interpretation: How to Eliminate Apparent Bible Contradictions”, Truth or Tradition.com
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar. You don’t have to learn Hebrew and Greek with some Latin on the side. It helps to lean on scholarly works from time to time for a better understanding, but proper discernment means looking out for biases in their writings that contradict Scripture.
We must always remember that the Bible was written for common people.
~ "Goal of Proper Interpretation", Bible-Interpretation.com
Breaking the Rule
Yet, how do so many people approach Scripture? Backwards! They start with the more complex and work backwards trying to retrofit them onto the simpler.
Did you know Islam claims there are no contradictions in the Koran? The general rule is if you come across a passage that seems to be a contradiction of a former, then the latter verse takes precedence.
Sound silly? Well, that’s how many approach the Bible. They will begin with the writings of Paul and work backwards. The writings of Paul are among, if not the, most complex passages in the Bible. Yet, so many will take his writings and try to interpret the Bible from his writings without understanding his background or the context in which he wrote them, and then they will try to retrofit them onto even the sayings of Jesus.
You know, there are those of the Messianic bent who totally reject Paul. Why? Because of the apparent contradictions he wrote. The truth is, though, they have bought into the popular lie that Paul came to do away with, disannul or liberalize the Law.
Peter even wrote:
15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16, King James Version)
Now, if “proper exegesis” means interpreting the hard Scriptures from the clear and plain Scriptures, does it make sense to start with what Paul wrote? Yet, that is exactly what so many in practice do! Even if it contradicts the words of Jesus Himself!
However, as Paul himself asks in 1Co 1:13, “Was Paul crucified for you?”
What Would Jesus Do?
It is popular to ask, “WWJD?”, but why not do what He said? In fact, why ask “What would Jesus do?” if we are just going to ignore what He did?
Jesus pointed to the Father over and over again. He also pointed back to the beginning. “At the beginning made them male and female” (Mt 19:4). To prove Christ had to die, He began at the beginning. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). Even when speaking of Satan, he stated, “He was a murderer from the beginning”.
The Bible is written a specific way for a reason. It starts at the beginning and ends, well, at the end. While the way it is put together isn’t necessarily chronological, there is an orderliness to it. The first parts set the stage for the latter parts.
Yet, mainstream Christianity in this postmodern world makes it seem as though you need no foundation. Basically, it takes the attitude that what Paul wrote is what’s important, and the rest is fluff. Even the words of the Savior, the Son of God, Who willing died an excruciating death for us are marginalized.
However, if the Bible truly does not contradict itself, then we cannot start making all sorts of exceptions. We cannot say, “Well, if there are contradictions, we’ll just supersede what came before with the later.” No, that’s what the pagans do with their gods. That’s what violent extremist Muslims do (in fact, it is the later portions of the Koran that are more violent). Either the Bible does not contradict itself or it is a bag of lies. Either we can trust God in the beginning as much as the ending, or it all for nothing.
The Bible contains progressive revelation from the beginning until the final chapter. Many would agree with that statement, but they don’t really mean it when you analyze what they are thinking. “Progressive” means adding to the clarification of what came before. However, when many pastors and theologians talk about “progressive” revelation, they start talking about “primitive Christianity” and how Paul expounded upon doctrines and how they supersede previous beliefs. Maybe they won’t call it “supersede”, but that’s exactly what they are doing in practice. Even arguing that such-and-such law “isn’t repeated in the New Testament” is a variation of this mindset.
God says He does not change, and that it is for our benefit (Mal 3:6). Jesus has always been the same, is the same today and will be tomorrow (Heb 13:8).
So, even if there were such a thing as Paul writing something that contradicts Jesus, who wins? Does God change? If Paul changed his mind later on, then does that make him correct or an apostate?
8But though we [which would include Paul himself], or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8, King James Version)
The Unjust Leader
God is in control of everything. He is just, He is good, and He is righteous.
Unless, of course, he is like a supervisor I once had. Another story for another day.