The Bible #5

Understanding the Old Test. in Light of the New Test.

The narrative of the Old Testament scriptures is man groping around in the darkness of sin and death, blinded by the Law, ever trying to come to terms with what the true and living God was actually like through several “covenant journeys.” Sadly, time and time again humanity/Israel would encounter certain truths of God only to distort them into gods of their own making or to outright reject Yahweh and worship the false gods of other cultures. We must understand this in order to have a proper and healthy approach to Scripture and view of God.

But, in the “fullness of time”, God came in man’s midst to set the record straight. The overarching story of the OT isn’t a vindictive, blood-thirsty, murderous, genocide commanding, infanticide committing god who suddenly got nice one day but rather it’s about a people who projected their own darkened-“fallenness” onto God as they believed Him to be just like them. And the NT story is God came in Person to show/tell exactly what He is eternally like. Jesus came to perfectly display God’s Image so mankind would no longer try to make God in their own image.

Much of the purpose of the fully inspired Old Testament scriptures is to reveal what God is not like against the backdrop of what He is precisely like as revealed by God Almighty Himself in the Flesh: Jesus.

-Matt. 11:27 – All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

-John 1:18 – No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

-John 14:9 – He who has seen Me has seen the Father…

-Col. 2:16-17 – Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

-Heb. 1:3 – And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…

The Bible #4

“I just read the Bible, believe it, and do what it says.” Wrong!!!

Just because something is recorded in Scripture that doesn’t necessarily mean that Scripture is teaching that as truth or something that is an instruction for us.

For example, you can read in Genesis where God instructed Noah to build an ark b/c of a coming flood. But, that doesn’t mean that you or I should read that as literal, direct instructions for us today. Or we can read in Leviticus all of the many instructions for the priesthood, the Temple, etc. but that does not mean that we are supposed to

So, when we read sacred Scripture we must, as Paul instructed, “rightly divide the word of truth” and discern what is directly applicable for us and what is not.

The Bible #3

“The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”

-When “Moses” and Stephen DISAGREE-

The author of Genesis says in Gen. 49:29-32 that the Jewish Patriarchs were all buried near Hebron in a place called Machpelah.

AND YET Stephen, “a man full of grace and power, [who] did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8) breaks with that Hebrew tradition when preaching to the Sanhedrin and instead follows the Samaritan tradition which said that all the Patriarchs were rather buried in Shechem (Acts 7:16)

So, Stephen preached a message that is recorded in inspired Scripture in which he makes a “factual” statement. And yet the “factual” statement that he made as recorded in inspired Scripture blatantly denies and contradicts another statement also recorded in inspired Scripture.

Is this in-and-of itself a problem? No. The only problem is the false paradigm that we’ve been given when it comes to sacred Scripture. The “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” paradigm falls apart quicker than a cheap suitcase when confronted with these kinds of facts.f

The Bible #2

“The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” WRONG!!!

When it comes to reading and interpreting the Bible it’s not just what the Bible says that comes into play but also how we understand what the Bible says. Given how many tens of thousands of different Christians denominations there are it’s abundantly clear that “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” isn’t a sufficient approach. Otherwise, we would all believe the same thing(s) when it comes to God and the Bible.

The absolute fact of the matter is that every single one of us have subjective filters that influence how we interpret and understand what we read in Scripture. Thus, it’s extremely important that we “STUDY to show ourselves approved” and “RIGHTLY divide the word of truth” as much as possible.

One great way to do that is to immerse ourselves in the world of the authors of Scripture as much as we can. Again, the Bible is a collection of ancient Eastern literature written by many different authors, in many different settings, with many different influences, with many different theological understandings and approaches, spanning thousands of years. It cannot be overstated that the Bible is not a modern Western book.

And for many scriptural reasons the most important approach to an accurate, overarching, systematic interpretation of Scripture is to use a “Jesus-Filter.” We should interpret the “word” itself through the Word Himself.

The Bible #1

“The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” WRONG!!!

While that is an accurate statement for many Christians, hopefully it’s not the case for most. It’s nowhere near good enough to glibly go with “the Bible says it, so I believe it.”

Why? Because, for one, what the Bible “says” and what it means aren’t always one-and-the-same based on a surface level reading. The Bible is an ancient, Eastern collection of literature with many authors spanning thousands of years of cultural influence, oral tradition, theological development and advancement, significant paradigm shifts, etc. And again, and very importantly, the Bible is an ancient Eastern collection of literature, NOT a modern Western book written by a single author. So, MANY of the words and idioms used by the authors of Scripture DO NOT mean the same thing(s) that they do to us today. For example, many times in Scripture when the phrase “heaven and earth” is used it is not referring to the physical cosmos but rather to the Jewish Temple. A few examples of this would be:

-Matt. 5:17 – For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

-Matt. 24:35 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

-2 Pet. 3:10 – But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

In all of these statements made and/or written by Jewish people they were speaking of the Jewish Temple and their Jewish audiences readily knew that “heaven and earth” was an idiom for their Temple just as we today in America know exactly what we mean when we say something like, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

So, is it good enough to always just know what the Bible says? No, not always. The Pharisees, for example, knew what the scriptures said as well as anyone. BUT, their knowledge of the scriptures completely blinded them from knowing the Word. Knowing the scriptures and knowing the Word are not one-and-the same. While we should know what the scriptures say, we should also be diligent to know what the scriptures mean.