|“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
KJV Gal 3:26-28
Before we get ahead of ourselves, since we are discussing very sensitive and strongly held views, it is proper that we establish some ground rules. We will only use the Bible as our source book and in doing so whatever we learn faithfully we shall apply going forward. I honestly realize that the Bible is deliberately written in a very hard to understand manner and that no one person can possibly have monopoly on the understanding of scripture. God gives wisdom very liberally and we do well to learn from each other as we humbly share what the Lord has bestowed upon us.
Contrary to what may be considered reasonable expectation by many, we can depend on the reliability of correctly understood spiritual principles much more than any concrete and measured physical principle. God assures us on numerous occasions in scripture that his word is as He is, eternal, unchanging and reliable beyond the confines of time. ( Mat 5:8) Obviously the tough part is to make sure that our understanding on the law of God as revealed in scripture is correct and faithful. We are not without help in this regard, though God encrypted his message to his chosen in proverbial language, figures and types, God in his infinite mercy included is the Bible the keys to unlock, correctly understand and test as much of His law as He would have us grasp. While these keys to unlock this immense wisdom that is held in the Bible text have been in scripture and available to all right from the beginning to present, these keys remain hidden to most because they lack the most crucial element, a Holy Spirit regenerated and indwelled heart. One cannot even hope to understand, let alone know for sure, the oracles of God in scripture without the humility that is brought about by salvation. Thus we can say that for we humans, our very nature, being that we are naturally prideful and hold a very elevated view of ourselves, is the greatest barrier and disablement we have when it comes to understanding scripture.
INTERPRETATION & APPLICATION
There is a marked difference between the attitude a true believer has towards God and that of a natural human being, this attitude difference ensures even more divergent interpretation of the text. When by the grace and purpose of God, are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we can begin to appreciate the grandeur of God and our relative lowliness, and are subsequently better prepared to tackle the theological snares , traps and tests commonly found in scripture. The typical result of improperly analyzing and interpreting scripture is bad doctrine brought about by erroneous conclusions that are based on elevating humans as opposed to attributing all glory and honor to God alone. Preconceived notions that we hold also play a great part in how we interpret scripture, these mostly formed by what we have already been taught or brought about by some life experience. We should be willing and ready to test any doctrine we hold against a standard that is proven and unchanging. This standard is holy scripture, yes, we can only verify our understanding of scripture by ensuring that our understanding will stand to the test of every verse without contradiction. This means we cannot pick and choose verses and doctrines, it is all or none.
Though Holy Scripture is enigmatic, it is written by a very purposeful God to convey a certain message. God is not capricious has everything laid out in precise order and for specific purposes. Yes, the most important message to human beings from the most important source comes to us in code. It is because of the importance and the immense difficultly in deciphering God’s intention embodied in the Bible’s text, that we have to work very hard and humbly with much prayer for guidance to find the intended message.
Once we have carefully extracted a teaching from scripture we test and retest this conclusion against everything else in the Bible. We never stop testing everything we have learned or have been taught from the Bible. We should remain humble students of the Word of God and never let anything else have authority over it. The Bible is the only trustworthy revelation of God and His will to his elect. While bible teachers and other believers may help us along, the relationship between a Christian and God is a personal and direct one, and any held doctrines must be personal and not by proxy. In essence all true believers must also be lifetime bible students, eagerly studying and researching the word to optimize the understanding of their master’s will.
Below are few basic test of doctrine and conclusions that you could use to examine what you may hold to be true:
- Universal Application: This means that since scripture is the word of Almighty God, the intended application and purpose cannot be limited to a specific region, nation or any other geographic constrain. The commandments should apply to all, always.
- We have to also ensure that our conclusions are not limited by time. If what we claim is the truth as taught by God, it should have always been so, is so and will continue to be so in eternity.
- Our conclusions should be consistent with all the others held to be true, there can be no contradiction with any other doctrine that we hold. If we have indeed come to truth, the results of applying our conclusions, or doctrine, if you may, should be reproducible in all pertinent cases.
- There are no special cases and no exceptions. The Bible is the law and it always applies.
- Once we have interpreted scripture, if we have done it faithfully, we should be able to apply our understanding flawlessly throughout the Bible where we find similarities in text and context. Our careful and faithful interpretation should serve as a key to unlock more scripture and hidden meaning.
- The most important rule, though, is that we find Christ and His Gospel, of redeeming undeserving sinners by his death, in scripture because this is the very purpose of all scripture. It is centered in Christ. This is plainly taught by Christ to his disciples on the road to Emmaus;
|Luke 24: 25 – 53
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 ¶ And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them. 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 ¶ And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Thus we must always acknowledge that Christ is truly the central figure in all scripture, and only he gets the glory. As we study the bible, we must be careful not to ascribe glory to any other. As we approach scripture in humility, it becomes readily apparent that the text cannot allow any interpretation that elevates humans, not even among each other. Among those humans that find mercy by the election of God, there is no rank or distinction, here, we only have undeserving sinners, saved by the grace of God. Only Christ stands out:
|Colossians 1: 12-19
12 ¶ Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
We can therefore check our conclusions against this standard: Any good or glory is only ascribable to God. Any conclusion that ascribes spiritual superiority to any creation due to its physical or earthly attributes is errorneous. For example, if a person could accurately trace his or her physical bloodline to Jesus Christ’s physical family, this would not afford the person and spiritual benefits nor would it count against him or her spriritually. Yet, if the person, like the repentant evildoer that was crucified with Christ, is included in the spiritual family of Christ by the mercy and work of Christ on the cross, there is much spiritual gain. Here we find a man that has let a life of evil that has led him to face capital punishment, yet as he hangs helplessly on the cross, unable to do much, we see the mercy of God change his heart, as it were, right in front of our very eyes;
|Luke 23: 32-43
32 ¶ And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
The physical situation is clearly never the focus of scripture, rather the spiritual reality. And this spiritual reality humans have no control over.
It is also very important to remember that a born again Christian is only born again in his or her spirit essence and continues through life as a dual personality having a regenerated soul in a sinful body and mind. This nature of believers is well recorded in Romans Chapter 7 verse 14 – 25 and in as much as it should serve as a warning to us because the fact that we have unsaved mind and body will lead to us harboring unsound doctrines, we, on the other hand have hope, because being born again our souls are created in the perfect image of God and thus have an alternate point of reference from which we can discern truth. A true child of God has the perfect law of God written in his or her heart and, though he or she may initially hold incorrect doctrines, will eventually be led by the Spirit to truth. The unregenerate person can only rely on what is referred to here as the law of sin. We may understand this as any system of thought or action not done expressly to the glory of God.
The importance of setting the gender issue right cannot be overstated, not only because the negative manifestations brought about by the traditional sexist application and interpretation of scripture, but chiefly because such theology typically elevates the male above the female, especially in the marriage relationship. Well, this cannot be so because in the Christian relationship only Christ Jesus is elevated. For those insisting on the natural order of things, yes, Christ is our spiritual husband and we the elect make up his spiritual wife. In the physical relationship there is no lordship among believers, but we are to submit to one another in Christ. In this study we will not shy from any portion of scripture, rather we will be readily discussing, considering and applying even the very verses that seemingly suggest a position the contrary of our conclusions.