The sad truth is most Christians can't even defend their faith because they themselves are ignorant of God's word.

Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. -- Colossians 2:8
"My people are being destroyed for lack of knowledge..." Hosea 4:6


Monday, November 7, 2011

Bible Interpretation for Average Readers

2 Peter 1:20
King James Version (KJV)
 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

When you heard a preacher claims that he or she had been given a vision to interpret the world of God, immediately be suspicious because it is more likely that they have no authority coming from God at all but are impostor. 
  After St. John have finished writing the last book of the Bible, this sealed the entire old and new testament books... 
Revelation 22:18-19
King James Version (KJV)
 18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
 19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
   It simply means there is no more added gospel.I can not interpret the Bible on my own way. I can not share what I think it means. I must tell what The Bible said as it is. 
   With the help of the Holy Spirit who will interprets and show things to us...

In 2 Timothy 3:16, the apostle Paul wrote:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
   If the Bible is profitable for a Christian, why was it that it is confusing and it seems different denominations have it's own interpretations? How can we an average believer comprehend or at least recognize a false teaching?

The Variant Meanings and Interpretations 
   With so many different interpretations available, how is anyone supposed to know which is the correct one?
   From Paul's epistle he assured his readers that he faithfully handle the Word of God...
2 Corinthians 4:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:2
King James Version (KJV)
 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
   Above two verses are the same but are rendered comparison of the two, this could lead into different directions. So what do we do? Listen again to Paul how he advise Timothy...

2 Timothy 2:15
King James Version (KJV)
 15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The Key
   The key therefore, is that we study the word of God not for the approval of any man, woman, denominations, traditions, self, organizations or personalities...but for whom? God. 
   What most denominations wont tell us is that they share only those things that will sell or uplift their church...Not those things that will expose their fraudulent practices. The Mormons will teach you that the Bible is not complete, the Jehovah Witness will find hundreds of ways to tell you the proper name of God, the Catholic will teach you that bowing down to idols is not a sin, etcetera....
   But that's not the case we are suppose to defend our faith. Our ultimate purpose for reading the Word of God (and of course having understanding and not just for the sake of reading...because we are told to do so) We have genuine love for God. Period. We read because we want to know more of God. Not to discredit other faith and practices...we aim for the approval of God.
   Further, Paul liken Biblical study into a workman that is not ashamed...dividing the word of truth. 
   The Bible alone is sufficient. An average man can understand some part of the Bible without any "Authoritative teachings" the same way early believers when they first heard Jesus preaching during his ministries. 
There are the obvious truth
   Unbelievers even without the Bible as basis  have their idea of what is good and bad. Human beings are pre-programmed to functions as social beings. We need other human to survive and that is a fact. Some species of Monkeys (if not all) after just few minutes from birth  already had some ability to survive even with only little care coming from their parents, the same with most animals. That is to say, we need to learn other abilities from another human being. From other adults we discover and adopt "worldviews" and beliefs. Those beliefs does not necessarily mean they are the ultimate truth. As we grow we discover that some are just fable or old-wives tales. Some to scare us or simply told to prevent us from being hurt even if they are just imaginary things. What I mean to say here is that there are truths that eventually wore out to be non-truth. Truth that we no longer need as we mature. But there are truth that are unchangeable. 
   Most real truth can be determined by the five senses and on this area, we can easily agree. The problem arises on the so called spiritual realm. This is where our realities vary and to some, the spiritual realm does not exist at all. 
   Now, I elaborate on the above illustration to make you focus on Truth that are obvious and need no further discussion. I suggest,you take the same method in reading the inspired word of God. 
   Christians who sincerely seek God will in time discover the truth. As I've said, truth have their level of revelations also. So, if you feel certain area is hard to grasp, wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you. Do not assume and I mean NEVER assume you knew. 
   I also strongly suggest that you make some research. That is why we go to church, to hear other people's knowledge about the Scripture and their personal experience with God. Again, some of the people knowledge may not be the truth nor his experiences may not be applicable to you. So here is where discernment needed. I also advise that you conduct a Comparative Study. 
   Compare one Bible version to other versions.
   Compare one teaching to another sermons. (Avoid Bias Remarks)
   Compare one church to other churches.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.-- 1 John 4:1
    It is very clear here that Christians need more that just faith. He need more than just One Book. If he is not to be deceived he must work hard. Give extra push because the serpent we are are dealing have some spiritual advantages. That is why we need God more than ever. 
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.-- Ephesians 6:12

Remove Paradigm
   One thing I've learn in my research is that most materials tend to shroud certain beliefs or written to protect its own religion. Although they are not bad at all because we have windows of opportunities to discover more, the tendency of most preacher is to exaggerate the truth that will magnify their order but play soft or ignore those that are in conflict with their principles. 
   Listening to both sides will give you a better picture than just listening to your Local Pastor saying "They are wrong...we are right." How can we know they are wrong if we only take other people's opinion from them? 
   A paradigm is according to A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
   The first thing we must have in mind is to discover the intentions of the Book. Remember the Bible is a collections of books and letters written by different authors therefore writing styles may vary. For example it's wrong to interpret a parable from a historical note. The same way to make literal reading with prophesy compare to how to behave in a church. 

   Lastly, avoid argument...the word of God is there to clarify not to create divisions. It is hard to remove scars, often times it leaves a permanent mark and it would need some surgery to be totally invisible. That is the same with paradigm or concepts, we can not change a person's mind if he had made up his mind. The least we could do is to pray for that person and let the Holy Spirit reveal the understanding. So, in the same way, as you read this blog, there are some things you may not agree with what I am saying. Therefore, I pray that God will let me see the truth also if I am wrong. 

Other helpful sources:

The Eight Rules of Bible Interpretations by R. Rhodes and R. Anthony
How to Interpret the Bible by Matt Slick
Rightly Interpreting the Bible by Ron Rhodes

   Again above resources are just suggestions, and this mean we need to make a thorough research if we want to grow in our faith.

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