Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lesson 2.2 (Part 1) of Bible Interpretation

This lesson is borrowed from the booklet “Seven rules for Bible Interpretation”, written by REV. M. L. LOWE, D.D. with supplemental material by David W. Holden.

Rule number two is composed of two parts, both equally important.  Here, for the sake of clarity, we shall examine each separately, and in detail.  For this second link is not by chance intertwined with rule number one and rule number three; verily, it is the link which binds the two together, and makes the entire seven links so dependable.
Apparently, one of the favorite tricks of The Evil One is to cause people to take a verse here and there to prove their point.  Such a procedure is not only wrong, but unethical.  We see examples of this in everyday life.  In a political campaign, the favorite trick of the politician is to take a statement made by his opponent, quote it out of context, and from that build up an entirely different inflection from what was plainly stated originally.  Pity the voter who bases his decision on the connivering of such a rabble-rouser—he’ll never see proper legislation enacted by that man.
Or, take the case of tampering with tape recordings.  Suppose the original message says, “I am not going down town.”  All that is required is to snip out the word “not” and splice the two ends together—that crucial adverb has now been deleted.  In a murder trial the jury is persuaded that the perpetrator of the crime was never at the scene. 
From these two illustrations we can easily comprehend how Satan would stir our minds to forge evil intentions by taking a verse from the Word and making it a proof “text” for some spiritually- illegitimate action.  But let’s look at this more thoroughly:  Brother Lowe dictated the following to that class in Bible school: 
There are two outstanding examples in the Bible that illustrate this rule well:
1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 3:9, taken by itself, would teach a sinless perfection; but the context (the entire epistle) clearly shows the truth of this verse is referring to the spiritual seed (which cannot sin) now abiding in this physical body (which, being flesh, does sin).
Of whose “seed” is this speaking? If it is merely the seed of the believer, yes, then there is a problem.  However, carefully look at the text in light of its context:
1 John 3:8—immediately preceeding the text:  “The Son of God was manifested” for the express purpose of taking away our sins.  In place of the “seed” of Satan, we have the “seed of the Son” and His seed cannot sin!  Satan’s seed can do nothing but sin!
1 John 3:6—the third verse preceeding the text:  How can we keep from sinning?  Simply by abiding!  We know from previous experience that we get into sin when we step out of the abiding presence of the Lord.  This is the same truth as expressed in John 15:1-7, where fruitbearing is emphasized.  Abiding bears fruit; abiding prevents sin!
1 John 3:5—the fourth verse preceeding our text:  concludes with this statement:
“…and in Him is no sin.”
So, the seed—His life—is without sin, it cannot sin; this seed abides within the believer—it is a spiritual seed; there is no possible taint of sin in Him or His seed!  Therefore, the spiritual seed of Christ Himself within the individual believer cannot sin.  He is the sinlessly perfect One; His seed abiding in us should be our greatest incentive NOT to sin!
This text does not teach a doctrine of sinless perfection; it does teach that our Saviour is sinless, and it does teach us that we must abide in Him to keep from allowing sin to rule us. 
Another example:
1 Corinthians 15:2 “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:2, taken by itself, places salvation as dependent upon the memory of man, at the threat of having “believed in vain.  The whole chapter, however, tests the professed believer.
The concern about such a teaching as this reaches greater magnitude as we get older, and memory tends to fail.  Consider a typical case:  Here is a child of God, one who has lived for the Lord for many years—could he now lose his salvation he is not as mentally alert through the natural degeneration of his memory?  Most certainly not!  Every other passage within The Book contradicts such a conclusion.  Once a sound basis for the assurance of salvation has been given, we rely (if such a case should arise) on this:
2 Timothy 2:13  If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
Even if memory should fail, He would not fail!  If confidence languishes, His faithfulness to His Word abides forever—not only for all eternity, but for any time lapse between our last lucid comprehension and that moment when we are with Him!  The true believer does not rely on his faulty, failing memory, but on the unchanging Lord!  He will never let His child down! 

Now, before leaving this text, consider this:  We always think of 1 Corinthians 15 as “The Resurrection Chapter”—and that is the logical name to append to it!  But 1 Corinthians 15 should also serve another equally important purpose.  It is a chapter on testing—testing the relationship of anyone, whether he is truly born from above, or merely a professor of religion (even, the Christian religion!) 
The believer sheds his tears at the open grave of a loved one, it is true, but we witness that he…

1 Thessalonians “…sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”

because his hope is in the Christ of the resurrection.  Although this is an established truth, Satan would have the mere professing Christian, along with the liberal, the denier of the integrity of the Scriptures, all dote on the familiar Bible quotations about death and resurrection. The minister’s “little black book” takes these out of context, and arranges them to be read at all funerals—even for the most unrepentant sinners, such as…

…Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life…
…Let not your heart be troubled…
…The Lord is my Shepherd…

along with the familiar passages of 1 Corinthians 15!  However, if the unsaved would read these Scriptures for themselves, they would not try to comfort their hearts with false hope!  1 Corinthians 15 is designed to separate the true believer from the pagan unbeliever, and from all who cherish false hopes!

It would be well at this point for each of us to look again at the Resurrection Chapter regarding the Lord’s discrimination between those who truly are born again and those who are mere professors!  Could it be that this time should fall into the hands of a reader who will one day fulfill…

Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Yea, it could be so!—and what a tragedy!  A word of advice:

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves…”

Let it be settled, therefore, in the reader’s mind and heart: A text MUST be interpreted in the light of its context! No exceptions!  The next post will be the counterpart for rule number two in Bible interpretation.

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