On Interpreting the Bible

Some religious leaders have the idea that only certain people have the right
to read and pray to God in order to understand what God is saying to them through
the Bible. For this reasons in some churches the Bible was kept for centuries
untranslated in the language of the people. In this way religious leaders could
claim to represent Christ and teach the truth without people being able to check
them out. Just as Jesus said to the Pharisees, so we say to such leaders: “Hypocrites!
For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves,
nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13).

We do not need to have a perfect interpretation of all things in the
Bible in order for God to able to speak to us through it. Those who want
to do God’s will shall be guided into all truth (John 7:17), step by step.
We are commanded to be filled with the Word of God, and we must begin.
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).

All who want to be disciples of Jesus (i.e. true Christians – see Acts
11:26) must remain in His Word. “If you remain in my word, you are my disciples
indeed.” (John 8:30-32; John 15:7; John 14:21,23). True believers must
know what they believe and in whom. It is not just a matter of believing
that Jesus existed and is somehow a saviour.

Religious leaders who tell us not to read the Bible are telling us to
disobey Jesus. They cannot show that they teach all of God’s Word themselves.
Noble hearted people will verify the teaching of any man – even if he is
an apostle – against the Scriptures (read Acts 17:11).

The Holy Spirit created the Scipture,
not the Church (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20).
The 4th century church merely ratified what the Holy Spirit had already
written. The church has no right to modify the eternal teachings of Jesus.
God has exalted His Word above all his name (Ps. 138.2). This means that
the Word has the ultimate authority – not traditions of churches. Traditions
can only be good when they don’t contradict the Bible, and when they don’t
seek to replace the need for a personal dynamic relationship with God.

The Scripture is never superseded by man’s tradition (Mt 15:1-9; Mk
7:8,13). Jesus condemned those who put there own traditions before the
written word of God. We are commanded to test all things. (1 Thessalonians
5:21). How? By the Standard of God’s Word, the Scripture. “To the law and
the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because
there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).

All church leaders and those claiming to be Christians who reject Christ’s
words will one day be judged according to the words of Christ which are
recorded in Scripture (John 12:48)

God reveals the truth about doctrine to those who want to do his will.
(John 7.17). We cannot trust those who willingly and consistently disobey
God’s Word to interpret the Bible correctly to us. Such men do not have
the Holy Spirit. They are blind leaders of the blind.

Thus, everyone who wants to follow Christ must seek the first hand knowledge
of the Scriptures diligently. Laziness and indifference are not excuses.
The matter is urgent. Our response to God’s Word has eternal consequences
and must be attended to now! 


Principles of Interpreting the Scripture

Being the Word of God, the Scripture is consistent with itself – Scripture
interpets Scripture (2 Peter 1:21; Ps 12.6-7). We cannot build a doctrine
just based on one verse taken out of context. This principle gives us an
important safeguard against false interpretations and doctrines. So we
must know Scripture well.

The Holy Spirit, as author, is ultimate interpreter. No man can say
that he is always right about Scripture and its application simply because
he claims a position of religious authority. Even Peter the apostle was
wrong at times and had to be corrected. See Galatians 2:11-14.

The Holy Spirit never contradicts himself. So if an interpretation of
Scripture contradicts another part of Scripture, taken in the context of
the whole Bible, it cannot be right.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16.13).
We should therefore ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our search for truth
in the Bible, without being afraid. The Holy Spirit is given to those who
obey God (Acts 5.32). Let us therefore seek to please God by believing
and acting on what He has already revealed to us through the Bible and
our consciences.

Daniel studied Jeremiah to understand it (Daniel 9:2). Likewise we are
commanded to study it (2 Timothy 2:15). We should ask God for wisdom in
our study of the Scripture (James 1.5). God promises to give us the wisdom
we need.

Everyone must be fully convinced in his own mind about issues of importance
(Romans 14:5). Much study, prayer and listening to godly men will help
us to know the truth. We should not allow ourselves to be full of doubts
on issues of major importance such as salvation.

The concept of present truth (2 Peter 1.12) shows that the church may
grow in its understanding and application of the Scripture as history progresses.
Therefore we must not reject an interpretation just because no one has
preached it before in the last centuries. A more relevant question is whether
there is evidence that the apostles could have accepted that interpretation.

God judges us according to the light we have, or the light we claim
to have (John 9:41; Romans 2:11-16). This means that it is more important to
submit to what we understand God wants, than to understand all the finer points
of doctrine that men argue about. 

Copyright (C) 1996, Michael Fackerell.

What do YOU think?

comments

About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Comments

  1. Rahul M. K. says:

    Mark 9:1

    ….”Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power”‘

     

    I would like to know  what this death in the above verse meant.

    kingdom of God present with power– what does that mean?

     

    • I don’t believe it refers to the Second Coming. I believe I refers to spiritual senses open to perceive the mighty power of the Kingdom of God in a particular stuation.

       

      Jesus is saying some of them won’t have to die before they receive such powerful revelations and experiences of Kingdom power.

    • horns4plenty says:

      Very good questions Rahul,

       

           I am going to attempt to answer your questions as briefly as possible! And evryone who knows anything about me is laughing at that statement right now, but I am going to try. What was Jesus ministry about for three and half years? He proclaimed and preached God’s word. All of it, not just bits and pieces of it as most doctrines have chosen to do. He preached a message of salvation that required whole hearted repentance and a turning away from all sin. Every bit of it. Jesus repeatedly told us to do it exactly like Me. He told those who wished to be his disciples to leave everything and follow me. He was saying do and live exactly like Me. Jesus was the complete fullfillment of the law and the prophets while he lived on this earth. So when He preached repentance and walking in love, not only was he preaching the right gospel but because He was fulfilling the law and the prophets by His own life the power of God and the Kingdom of God was present everywhere He went. So often times most places He went, He was casting out demons, healing the sick, right along with preaching and discipling. Delivering people of demonic activity in peoples lives is tied directly to the Kingdom of God. It can only be done by the power of God operating through those who have whole heartedly submitted themselves to the kingdom of God. In other words. If someone has laid down their old way of life and has truly become a new creation and is discipling others to do the same, then they operate under the same power and annointing that Jesus did when He walked this earth. And a by product of that power and annointing is they will speak with new tongues, In Jesus name they will cast out demons, and they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. That is what that scripture is refferring to in Mark 9:1.

           How do I know this Raul? Turn in your bible to Mark 16:15. And Jesus is speaking to his Eleven disciples who remain. Jesus has already died on the cross at this time and has already risen from the dead. 15: And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. What gospel? The gospel of healing, deliverance, and true salvation, which is returning to God with all your heart and turning away from your old lifestyle of sin and those who you did it with. 16: He who has believed and has been babtized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. Who are the believers? Not who all the church denominations say are believers, but who are the true believers that Jesus said are believers? 17: And these signs will accompany those who have believed: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues. 18: They will pick up serpents, and if they drink deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. I am not going to go into detail here but on the serpents and deadly poison,but I will tell you the serpents is talking about demons and the deadly poison is referring to false gospel teaching that comes from the antichrist spirit, which is a spirit of harlotry, which is prevalent in most churches and does not conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.

           But Jesus just told us what a true believer will be doing is right there in your bible and this has been ignored and not preached in the church. And if someone calls themself a believer and is not walking in this manner, in the kingdom of God present with power, then they are not a true believer. They have been deceived into a false security gospel message that is going to lead many, many so called believers straight to hell. It is not enough to walk a ailse, say a little prayer, profess Jesus Christ as Lord and get dunked in water and call that salvation. That is not salvation. That is only the beginning of Salvation for a believer. That is day you start the race that Paul referred to running. The race that Paul refers to is the sanctification process of taking every area of your life that does not conform to the image and likeness of Christ and putting these things to death one at a time. How do you do this? Being filled with the Spirit and being delivered from the demonic spirits that had ruled your life prior to coming to Christ, then submitting to the Spirit taking all of God’s word to heart, even the parts your flesh does not like, then teaching others to do the same. That is the race. Paul said run the race to win. Most professing believers have not even left the starting blocks yet. Time is running out quickly to run the race.

          I hope this helps.

      God Bless

      Corey

  2. I do not believe the doctrine you quote is correct. It probably stems from wishful thinking. If true, it takes away somewhat from the urgency of preaching the gospel, since it proposes that everyone is going to get another chance after the millenium to live a physical life and be converted.

    I cannot see the Scriptural basis for this in the texts quoted. They are going way beyond Scripture.

    As I read the Scripture, everybody will be resurrected, but the wicked will have a resurrection of condemnation.


    John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
    John 5:29 and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

    Jesus did not say – those who WILL THEN DO EVIL, to the resurrection of condemnation, but THOSE WHO HAVE DONE EVIL.

    Yes, it is sad that so much deception plagues the church. Our only defense is to trust Christ, and then major on the doing the majors – prayer, listening to God’s Word for ourselves, talking about Christ, loving the brethren and those outside.

    • Pastor Steve says:

      Outstanding text on interpreting the Bible. So much truth is great to see on the net these days. Even when the truth of the Sabbath was mentioned there was no knee jerk reaction.

      I’m sure God would say “Well done my good and faithful servant”. Stay with the Word and feed His sheep.

      God bless;

  3. GodsGrace says:

    This is my story:

    I am a born-again Christian, have been for many years. Throughout my life the fruits were in contradiction to what I believed. Throughout my journey, especially as of recently, I discovered a deadly, but blessed truth! While attending many different denominations, watching Christian TV, reading Christian books and hearing the WORD in various versions I started to have doubt! Not doubting the Word of God, but doubted what I was being taught, the interpretations. I stopped going to church because every denomination claimed to be the TRUE CHURCH. I was seeing and hearing what the Bible teaches us in contradiction. I was so frustrated. I decided to research different websites. This can be dangerous too. You know, I have already counted 4 stories about the RAPTURE alone? Saturday IS the Sabbath. Easter and Christmas are not scriptural etc….Everything that I thought was to be of the truth was a great big lie! My future fiancee and I were reading the bible. I grew up with the KJV just like him but I switched over to the NIV because the last church I belonged to used it. While reading the bible while listening to it on my CD’s we noticed the words in our bibles were different. I figured it was just that my bible made the meaning a little easier to understand. Now here comes the fun….I took out the trusty concordance and now the words were different in meaning. I felt like I didn’t have the Holy Spirit living within me and I was depressed. I didn’t give up. I know the WORD is perfect, but why am I suddenly questioning everything. You may think I was being condemned by satan…on the contrary, The Holy Spirit was teaching me. Bring me toward Jesus and to remove the scales from my eyelids. I decided to look for the bible in Hebrew…It gets better….I don’t read it! I started to learn God’s language. The OT was written in Hebrew. Its a work in progress for sure. Its been a journey for me. I have learned so much form the Holy Spirit over these several months. Why all of a sudden? Because the Lord doesn’t want me to be deceived. Satan had made me believe a lie, but I chose at the time not to seek and search the truth for myself. I am accountable for myself to The Lord. He doesn’t want to hear His child state, “The devil made me do it”! I’d be like Eve. I am truly blessed. I shared my story with you because I know The Lord put in on my heart to do so. To show many here that their struggle in knowing the truth that they are not alone. READ YOUR BIBLE. God commands us to check what we hear. If we don’t, we end up interpreting the WORD the way we want it to read. Thus ending up like all the other confused Christians out there. I have been to so many different churches and they all have fallen short of what the EARLY CHURCH was preaching. Paganism has entered, false doctrine has been intertwined with the TRUTH. Its hard to find a church these teaches the true doctrine of the early church. I did happen to read about a church in my area that worships on Saturday. they also claim to teach what the early church taught. But there was one thing I noticed there as well….(I never heard of this before):

    The Resurrections

    We believe that the only hope of eternal life for mortal humans lies in the resurrection through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We believe that at the return of Jesus Christ a resurrection to spirit life will take place for all who have been God’s faithful servants. We believe that, after Jesus Christ has ruled on earth for 1,000 years, there will be a resurrection to physical life of the vast majority of all people who have ever lived. We believe that, after these people have had an opportunity to live a physical life, if they become converted they, too, will receive eternal life. We also believe that those who reject God’s offer of salvation will reap eternal death (1 Corinthians 15:19, 42-52; Acts 23:6; John 5:21-29; Romans 6:23; 8:10-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Revelation 20:4-5, 11-15; John 3:16; Matthew 25:46).

    Is it me or does this not seem right?

    Everything else that I have read seems to be correct, except for this. I omit the name of the church because I am not here to throw stones. I know every church has its flaw. I haven’t attended this church as of yet. I am still researching.

    I want to add here that I have enjoyed this website and may it continually bless those who are mature in Christ and those who are new to the faith. Its a gift to have a relationship with Jesus and not belong to a religion.

    Amen to all! I look forward to all the comments and support of my story. May all the Glory be given to Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    • DeepSeeker says:

      My Brother In Christ ( GodsGrace)

      I found your article refreshing. You have found the same things I have found over the years; man’s teachings in place of God’s word.

      I have been studying the word of God for about 50 years now. I do mean DEEP STUDY ! You are correct; if one seeks to honestly understand the word of God they must begin by first opening it up and read it . This with much prayer and study brings one to understand many of the depths of His word.

      To many read it in the English translations which do no give a very good understanding in it self. I am not a Greek or Hebrew scholar; but I have, like yourself, been given much insight by hard word and prayer. Men do not love hard work !

      As stated in Ecc 12:12 — “… an dmuch study is a weariness of the flesh. ”

      The reward however is much spiritual treasure.

      It seems a shame that there have been so little is reply to your writing.

      Blessing in your studies. May God contiue to bless you.

      DeepSeeker
      In The Christ

    • ignatius of antioch says:

      Has anyone ever researched the belief of the early Church on the rapture? The rapture in its current frenzy is a modern interpretation of a couple of passages in scripture. Darby in the 19th century is the guy who got it all started from an idea started by a fringe group of “christians” in the early centuries of the Church. The Church regected the idea. My question for all the pastors out there is, “Why on earth would Christ come back to earth to sit on a throne? He is GOD. He was interested in saving us from our sins and he did that with his perpetual sacrifice of himself for all time. He said he will come as a thief in the night and thats the end of earth as we know it. I doubt seriously he is interested in an earthly experience again. Been there, done that.
      God does not exist in time and so, yes he can see the sacrifice forever as if it was happening now. Its like looking all at once at pictures of your entire life. Yes that’s Catholic theology and it is why we celebrate the mass of this ongoing eternal sacrificial act which happened once on golgotha in TIME. God still sees it and we enter into it at the mass. Do this in rememberance of me.
      As for the 1000 years, does anyone study the culture of the days of Christ? Jews used many numbers symbolically. The number 7 was perfection and the number 6 was evil or the opposite of 7. The number 3 was special, the number 12 certainly and yes the number 1000. It represents an incomprehensibly large number. Christ’s “1000” year reign is started with the arrival of you guessed it, Himself. He was and is King. He was king in the manger. He was king as a carpenter. He was king as a sacrificial lamb.
      His Kingdom has come with him and it is made manifest in his Church. The Church he started was the Catholic Church on the rock of PETER. Scripture is clear on this and you can check out the whole 1000 year thing. Check the Early Church fathers writings and you will not find strong support for the far fetched and illogical idea of another stay by Jesus on the earth!! Guess what else, the Jews abandoned Jesus and though they are Gods chosen people(chosen to bring us a savior) the new israel is the Church of God’s new covenant. The jews are lost and need to return to the Church of the new testament. This Church is the Catholic Church. One more thing: scripture is clear that ” no prophesy of scripture is a matter of personal interpretation” and that ” the pillar and foundation of truth is The Church. Singular. It also teaches that if there is a dispute and you take it to the Church, and the parties won’t listen even to the Church, let them be anathema. You are searching for the truth and wonder why so many pastors don’t agree. Its because they are their own popes. They take the scriptures and twist them to their own biases. They are human and fallible. We have a pope who is guided in a special way by the Holy Spirit in matters of FAith and Morals only. Peter was guided in the same manner and was clearly the leader of the apostles. He was mention first in almost all listings. He is mentioned more times than all the other apostles combined. Why? He was special!! Pope means papa. He is our spiritual earthly father, who Jesus left as a sign of unity for all time.
      We have only one pope, the clear and visible sign of all christian unity since Christ resurrected. He doesn’t support the rapture. Neither do I.

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