I recently posted a blog here at KNI on the necessity of respecting the authority of Scripture. During a subsequent conversation on an unrelated topic, a related issue came up. That issue is the different interpretations of Scripture.
Two Believers, both claiming to respect the authority of Scripture, will point to the same passage in the Bible and use it to support completely different, sometimes even mutually exclusive, conclusions. These different interpretations of the same passage of Scripture can have massive and eternal consequences.
In fact, different interpretations of Scripture are the reason we even have different denominations of Christianity. Sometimes these differences are absurd and even comical, but it’s not so funny when one remembers that wars in which thousands of people died were once fought over these issues.
It’s also not funny when we look at our present situation, here in 2016, when entire denominations of Protestant Christianity (mostly the Mainline denominations, but even some Evangelicals) are doing things like ordaining homosexuals to be clergy, joining the movement to Boycott Israel, etc. and pointing to different passages of Scripture to justify it.
Obviously, it’s of vital importance to settle the question of whether or not there even is one correct way to interpret Scripture, because that would necessarily mean that any other way it is interpreted is incorrect. Or, is everyone entitled to their own opinion about how Scripture should be interpreted and no one can say that their interpretation is right and anyone else’s interpretation is wrong?
The answer can be found in the Gospel account of Jesus’ encounter with Satan in the wilderness. In that encounter, Satan used passages of Scripture to tempt Jesus to sin, and Jesus rebuffed him with different passages of Scripture.
Was one of them right and the other one wrong?
I hope anyone reading this would say yes.
Satan’s method of utilizing Scripture to make his point was the same method often used today by many people, including many who call themselves Christians. He was taking a passage out of context and presenting it as evidence to prove a point he had already decided was true before even turning to the Scriptures, conveniently ignoring other parts of the Bible which did not support, or even contradicted, his point.
Jesus’ method was to start with a comprehensive and holistic understanding of His Father’s will and character and when presented with a question/challenge He called to mind the passage of Scripture which was relevant to demonstrate that will and character in reaction to the question/challenge that had been made.
He repeated this method of Scriptural interpretation through the remainder of His earthly ministry, especially during his multiple confrontations with the Pharisees.
I have no doubt in my mind that this is what Jesus wants and expects His followers to do today.
There IS one correct way to interpret any Scripture, and that is to take it as God intended it to be when He wrote it. Any other method of interpretation, particularly one which serves the purpose of satisfying our own flesh and/or egos, is necessarily wrong and sinful.
So how do we do we do it?
In one very important way, God is just like anyone else. In order to get to know Him, to know His mind, His heart and His character, one must spend time with Him.
One must read the Bible daily, to hear from Him. One must pray daily, so that He can hear from us. Last but not least, one must be in fellowship with other Believers who also read the Bible and pray daily so we can reinforce, strengthen, protect and fortify each other.
The Enemy is constantly prowling around looking for a moment of weakness in which he can pounce in and steal, kill and destroy the Body of Christ. He preys on the weak, and one of his favorite tactics it to offer up BRILLIANT interpretations of Scripture, nearly always taken out of context, which allow people to indulge in their fleshly desires and/or pride.
So don’t be a weak Believer. Don’t paint a target on your chest for the Enemy to aim at. If you see someone who is weak, help them. Encourage them. Invite them to study the Bible and pray with you.
Strengthen each other. Pray for each other. Sacrifice for each other. Give of your abundance so that others will not lack.
Be ready at all times to contest for the faith by recognizing when someone is repeating one of Satan’s lies, point out their error and save them if possible, but if not, prevent them from dragging others into deception and error.
Because here’s what’s REALLY important.
Someday, every one of us, including me, you, and everyone we care about, will stand before the Throne and give an account for our lives in this world (Revelation 20:12)
On that day, no one will tell the Lord of Lords and King of Kings that they have a different interpretation of Scripture than He does and He can’t judge them because His interpretation of Scripture is no more valid than theirs.
That will not happen, and anyone who is counting on that happening needs to think again.
May God give us all the wisdom and humility we need to seek HIS interpretation of Scripture and not our own.