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Topic: Faith

How To Interpret the Bible

by Darrel Cline

The Bible is the only Word of God. God does not speak with sufficient clarity to bring a person to salvation and eternal life through any other Truth-source. Religious organizations (churches, para-church organizations, etc.) that do not found their teachings upon the Bible are faulty representations of God's true Church.

Now, the next critical issue is how shall we interpret it? If we accept the Bible as the only Word of God (which eliminates all of the extra-biblical utterances of so-called churches who posit a present-day prophetic ministry, such as Pentecostalism's modern day words of prophecy, Catholicism's papal pronouncements ex cathedra, Mormonism's introduction of the Book of Mormon, Islam's Koran, etc.), we still have a problem. The Bible is a sufficient revelation from God without modern-day distortions, but how are we to understand it?

Here the door must be kept firmly in hand because there are numerous salesmen outside who will not only stick their foot in it to keep you from closing it, they will also try to force their way into your theological house and bring in their wares with persuasive speech designed to get you to buy. What should the guidelines be for deciding what the Bible says? Should we accept what the preacher, priest, evangelist, or Bible teacher says? Should we accept the consensus of traditional understanding? Should we accept the dogmatic position of the church which we attend? Or, should we simply throw up our hands and forget the whole thing? What should the guidelines be?

First, we should be firm in our expectation that the truth-promoter be able to show us from the Bible that what he/she claims is true is actually what the Bible is saying. If he/she has to admit that the Bible doesn't actually say something, but that many godly people of the past have understood this to be the case..., the red flag of warning ought to go up. We are about to be sold a bill of goods.

Second, we should take the words of the Bible just like we would in our everyday conversation--in their normal, conversational sense unless the context clearly reveals an abnormal meaning. God had the Book written by men who wanted those to whom they wrote to understand them. This means that they used language just like we do. God's message isn't difficult if we are willing to take the words at face value.

Third, we should recognize that God didn't move men to translate the Bible into our language just so scholars would have an easier time of pursuing its trails of thought. He moved men to translate so that each one of us could have His words within our grasp. He is going to judge the world (including you and me) by His Word.

Fourth, we should recognize that judgment will not allow my pastor, priest, or rabbi to take what is due me just because I believed the errors they taught. God will judge each of us by the truth--not by what we were taught is the truth. There is a significant difference. God is not afraid of our having His word in our hands. We shouldn't be either.

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This is article #071.
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