Home | Archives | Guest Book | Links | churches of Christ | Contact Us
Plan of Salvation
 | Correspondence Course | Daily Bible Reading | Store | World Evangelism
Gospel Gazette Online logo

Serving an international
readership with the
Old Jerusalem Gospel
via the Internet.

Vol.  10  No. 8 August 2008  Page 2
powered by FreeFind
Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20

Louis RushmoreEditorial

Prerequisites to
Biblical Interpretation

By Louis Rushmore

    One prerequisite to successful biblical interpretation is properly regard the Word of God respecting its divine origin, divine transmittal to mankind and divine preservation. The Word of God is to be revered because it is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16, lit. “divinely breathed” Biblesoft’s; Robertson’s; Vincent’s). After acknowledging the divine utility of the Word of God, one must determine to understand what it means and be willing to make any needed application to himself. “Because the Bible claims to be the Word of God to man, it behooves man to understand the Scriptures with precision” (Thomas 307). Properly ascertaining Bible authority through valid biblical interpretation materially affects the acceptableness of one’s conduct and worship on earth, as well as one’s eternal destiny.

    Failure to accept the divine origin of the Bible and that God has given us an authoritative message that he expects mankind to understand and obey derails effective Christianity. “…the strongest challenges presently [1975] being made to true Christianity are at the point of: … (8) the proper method of interpreting the Bible” (Warren, “When” viii). Even accepting the divine origin and authoritative nature of the Word of God (the Bible), but failing to understand it correctly promises mankind no good on earth or in eternity.

    Further, anyone preaching, teaching or otherwise affirming a doctrine is obligated biblically to defend that doctrine with a correct biblical interpretation of God’s Word. The apostle Peter affirmed, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15), whereas the apostle Paul likewise addressed the need for a child of God to prepare himself (or herself) to explain (from Scripture) his or her religious beliefs and practices: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

    Especially preachers and other church leaders (e.g., elders and teachers) ought to be able to practice correct biblical interpretation and have so prepared themselves ahead of time as to explain the Christian faith (Philippians 1:17). “To preach (or write) that a certain religious doctrine is true is to put oneself under the obligation to demonstrate that proposition (that is, prove it to be true)” (Warren, “Logic” 71). Irrespective of how inconvenient it may be, one needs to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

    One must be accomplished in successful, correct biblical interpretation before he can either teach the Christian faith or defend it from those who would misrepresent it. Elders, preachers, teachers and every child of God have the responsibility to warn fellow Christians about pending apostasy from true Christianity. Under Judaism, God considered His prophets (preachers) as though they were His watchmen on the city wall respecting the proclamation and practice of the Jewish religion.

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezekiel 3:17-21)

Likewise, the apostle Paul warned:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)

    The writer of Hebrews noted the special responsibility of elders respecting the (implied) biblical interpretation and application of the Christian faith within the Lord’s church. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). “If preachers in the pulpit, teachers in the classrooms, and elders ‘go to sleep’ (cf.: Eph. 5:14) in the matter of warning the people concerning these matters, not much time will pass until the church goes into almost total apostasy. The Lord commends those who oppose error (Rev. 2:2)” (Warren, “When” viii).

    Much disturbance within the Lord’s church could be avoided if when elders, preachers and teachers no longer believed the fundamentals of the Christian faith that they believed when appointed, that they simply remove themselves from those areas of responsibility. We agree with brother Gardner when he writes:

Honesty demands that one resign who no longer believes the biblical purpose of the church or school, and one who causes confusion and division. Designated officials should remove the person if it is evident he or she is at variance with the fundamentals, and this should be executed without hesitation. …One should resign if one promotes in any way the following: * The ecumenical movement and compromise with denominationalism. One who believes that the church is a denomination and one among denominations. * Instrumental music either acceptable as a practice in worship to God, or believe it is a non-issue, or believe that it is not a salvation issue. One must oppose the use of mechanical instruments in worship. * Acceptance and promotion of false teachers either at the university or at the congregation where membership is held. (Gardner 6).

    It is unfortunate that often those who have made shipwreck of their faith attempt to wreck the faith of their brethren (1 Timothy 1:19). Sadly, Christians sometimes turn from the straight and narrow pathway to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14) and look for doctrines more palatable to their sensuality (as opposed to spirituality) (2 Timothy 4:1-4). However, confidence in the Word of God as being divinely inspired, inerrant, providentially preserved, understandable and authoritative in our lives is a precursor to successful and correct biblical interpretation. After that, we must be willing to apply divine instruction to our lives whether we especially like it or not.

Works Cited

Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.

Gardner, E. Claude. “Time to Retire or Resign.” Firm Foundation. 123:2, 1, 5-6.

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville: Broadman, 1985. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft & Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1997.

Thomas, J.D. “Vital Principles and Practices in Hermeneutics.” Biblical Interpretation: Principles and Practice. F. Furman Kearley and others eds. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986.

Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 1997.

Warren, Thomas B. Logic and the Bible. Jonesboro: National Christian P., 1984.

- - -. When Is an “Example” Binding? Jonesboro: National Christian P., 1975.

Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20