Monday, March 16, 2009

Is the Bible Open for Interpretation?

From a Sunday school lesson, I had to expound after some prayer and research. We discussed the bible and its relevance, and also about interpreting the scriptures. There was great discussion with many opinions. Ultimately, it came down to what people had in mind for themselves. Now I am not challenging that because I am not God (Praise HIM!), nor do I truly believe my opinion is any better than any one else’s.

However, I have been seriously contemplating this topic since that session, and I had to look up some things. I consulted some lessons by John MacArthur and Perry Stone for some help. I merely felt the need to get this down while it is fresh in my heart.

Without doubt or question, I have come to the following conclusion:
I believe and testify (to believers and not) that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God. It is infallible and inerrant in its message and scope, and it is sufficient in its content and context for any one of my needs of faith.

I used to think differently, based on what I heard the world teach; that it was just a book of stories and fables with valuable lessons for an open interpretation. And that is where I believe the question, or rather “problem” of interpretation comes in. Our society has been inundated with so many different impressions from so many sources, both theological and secular, that it’s like when a goldsmith ads extra ingredients to gold to lessen its purity which cheapens it both in appearance and substance. The doctrinal differences based on biblical interpretation in the denominations are just like those impurities in blended gold. In 1 Timothy 1:3-7, Paul actually instructs Timothy to charge other believers not to stray from the teachings of the scriptures. The point is so that the primary focus be on what God’s Word says rather than that which causes dispute.

The bible actually has the answers to the questions and doubts we have about its relevance and value.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-7

“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:13

“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 Peter 1:19-21

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” – Luke 16:17

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” - Revelation 22:18-19

“Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.” - Psalm 119:97-105

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” - Hebrews 4:12

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You. - Psalm 119:9-11

Ultimately, the bible is a mosaic revelation of Jesus Christ and His part in the Holy Trinity:

In Romans, Paul calls it the mystery of the Godhead.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” - Romans 1:20

The Holy Trinity isn’t something that came about with birth of Jesus or His death on the cross. Nor did it come about with the writing of the New Testament. The truth of the Holy Trinity goes back to before the beginning of time as we try to understand it. But for the sake of definition, it is actually mentioned in the very first three verses in the Bible.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, `Let there be light’; and there was light.” - Genesis 1:1-3

(v.1) “God created the heavens and the earth.” This refers to God the Father.

(v.2) “…the Spirit of God was…” This refers to the Holy Spirit.

(v.3) [the WORD of] “…God said, `Let there be light’.” is about Jesus, the Son.

Remember that the sun, moon and stars were not created and there was darkness until day four. Why then does God call for light on day one?

It really isn’t the archaic mystery so many think it is.

Let’s take it from the time of Jesus’ earthly life.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. - John 1:1,5

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” - John 9:5

Get the connection? In the beginning of Genesis we are exposed to God and the Holy Spirit by name. In Genesis 1:3, God speaks and makes light. God’s Word becomes Light.

Genesis 1:3 is the revelation of the Word who was Christ.

We absolutely saw two of the three in the Holy Trinity by name. Because there is mention of a third faction, this completes the triune concept. Therefore, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are right there in the beginning AS God.

Still wondering how I make the connection between Genesis 1:3 and Jesus?

“And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” - John 1:14 (Amplified Bible)

“The WORD became flesh.” In other words, God’s Word has been Christ Jesus from the beginning. And since God’s Word IS Christ, isn’t it right to say that the bible, which is also called God’s Word, is a part of that Holy Union and therefore cannot be OPEN to interpretation, but rather application? When believers read and interpret the bible with an “open mind,” isn’t that where Satan’s influence can come in? After all, when the serpent approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, didn’t he challenge God’s word by challenging the interpretation of what God said (Genesis 2-3)?

“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’.” – Genesis 2:15-17

And now comes the interpretation:

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?
‘And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’.’
“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’.” – Genesis 3:1-5

Do you see the difference in what God told Adam and what Eve told the serpent?

God to Adam: Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Even to the serpent: We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.

And no, I am not trying to lay the fall on man only on the woman Eve. Because somewhere in there, Adam relayed God’s command to Eve with his interpretation and/or Eve interpreted what Adam told her. And Satan took that and helped Eve’s “open mind” interpret God. WE JUST CAN’T DO THAT. We need to take God at His Word.

So where do we draw the line? Where does God’s word actually stand?

The bible is the divinely inspired, perfectly sufficient, absolutely infallible and inerrant, wonderfully designed, and practically applicable Word of Almighty God. No ifs, ands or buts. Period.

Thanks for your time and attention.

May God receive all Honor and Glory for His purpose. PRAISES BE TO GOD!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i liked this article. Its the exact thing i have been saying. the bible is open to no mans interpretation but rather a revelation of his word through the holy spirit for the bible is the very word of God and it does not change with time as Jesus said "heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall never fade"