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Handling the Scriptures Accurately, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
January 13, 2023 7:05 am

Handling the Scriptures Accurately, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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January 13, 2023 7:05 am

Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots


When studying the Word of God, it's important to remember that scripture is God-breathed, not man-made.

When a particular passage makes us uneasy, we don't have the liberty to shape, fashion, or twist the words to our liking. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues his series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. In this study, we'll be reminded that every believer has the responsibility to become his or her own Bible student, and it's critically important to approach God's Word with extreme caution and care.

Chuck titled today's message, Handling the Scriptures Accurately. Life has many disappointments and perhaps there is none any greater than the feeling that you have been biblically abused. By that I mean you feel that you have been the victim of someone's twisting scripture, forcing it to mean something it does not mean, and then believing it with all your heart only to discover in later times that the information was fallacious, it was erroneous, it was in fact dangerous to your spiritual health and growth. We have seen all kinds of victims of abuse in this generation, but I don't hear much about biblical abuse. I think quite frankly it's one of the major problems of the church today. People who are abused.

I think we could call it the ultimate rip-off. The realization that the information you were given allegedly from the Bible was true when in fact it was the result of the mishandling of scripture. Now this has nothing to do with sincerity.

Many people who mishandle many people who mishandle the word are very sincere. It really has little to do with theology. Some who have their theology straight still mishandled scripture. It has very little to do with personality. Some gifted charismatic type of teachers who can sway an audience and hold them in the palms of their hands mishandled scripture.

It has nothing to do with popularity. Famous well-known personalities who can draw large audiences can still mishandle scripture. So let's put to bed once for all the idea that if a person is sincere that'll cover for the problem of mishandling scripture.

It's not true. Or if a person is well-known or if a person has sound theology. We can all at times slip into the problem of mishandling the Bible.

I think there are problems unique in every country. Ours is not the availability of scripture. We have many many copies of the Bible.

I looked on my shelf the other day and I counted 16. About 12 different versions of the scriptures on one shelf in my library. We have plenty of Bibles. In your home there are probably several copies of the scriptures. Our problem in our day in this country it seems is not a lack of scripture.

It is a lack of people who carefully handle the Word of God either personally on their own or teaching the scriptures. This is the real disease and I don't think we ought to skirt it. I think we ought to address it.

Reminds me of a joke one of the rare ones that James Packer ever told. A doctor was called in to a patient who had acute abdominal pain. He quickly gave him a pill and the friend standing by said, oh doctor is this going to make him better? The doctor responded no but it's going to give him a fit and I can cure fits. I think we have tried to declare the problem to be one thing when in fact it's something else entirely and we have no business going around it but dealing with it directly.

The doctor is going around it but dealing with it directly. The direct issue of concern to me these days is the mishandling of the Bible. I want us to become not simply sincere students of the scriptures, sound in our theology. I want us to become careful in our interpreting the scriptures and the more we teach the greater that need.

This is nothing new. You will find the problem in the New Testament often and I want to take several passages just to show you how common the problem was then and you'll see if it was true then it certainly is true today. Matthew chapter 9 is the first place I want us to stop. Just several occasions where where people didn't maintain the meaning of the Bible and in each of these cases these were people who knew better. They were professional clergymen. They were the scribes and the Pharisees. People in that day who took the scriptures seriously. They were not liberals. They were not people who were critics of the scriptures. They would in fact die for the scriptures. The scriptures were their lives but they mishandled them. Matthew 9 10 and it happened that as he was reclining at table in the house behold many tax gatherers and sinners came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table and when the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples why does your teacher eat with tax gatherers and sinners and when he heard this he said it is not those who are healthy who need a physician but those who are ill didn't Jesus have a marvelous way of addressing the real issue as he cut through all the other fog but now the point go he says to these Pharisees go and learn what this means and he quotes to them from Hosea chapter 6 I desire compassion and not sacrifice for I did not come to call the righteous but sinners notice the the uh the rebuke go and learn the meaning of the verse you know by heart I desire compassion and not sacrifice I'm sure they had taught that and many related passages I'm sure they had it tucked away neatly neatly in their hearts but they didn't know the meaning of it so he said go and learn it from Matthew chapter 9 look at Matthew 12 you'll see a similar situation Matthew 12 1 at that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grain fields his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat but when the Pharisees saw it they said to him behold your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath and he said to them have you not read now I have that underlined in red in my bible he's saying this to people who have much of the old testament memorized but he says to them have you not read what David did when he became hungry he and his companions and he draws an illustration from the old testament that they knew so well but never saw the meaning in how he entered the house of God and they ate the consecrated bread which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him but for the priests alone or have you not read he asks again in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent but I say to you that something greater than the temple is here but if you had known what this means and he quotes again that verse I desire compassion and not sacrifice you would not have condemned the innocent the son of man is lord of the Sabbath now just look for a moment at his rebuke verse seven if you had known what this means Hosea 6 verse 6 you would not have condemned the innocent Alfred Plummer writes our lord doesn't deny that rest on the Sabbath is commanded and he doesn't protest against the rigor which would make plucking and eating corn a violation of the command he points out that every rule has its limitations and that ceremonial regulations must yield to the higher claims of charity and necessity they hadn't thought that through they had learned a line from from the scroll they had committed it to their minds and then they went on went about the business of looking at people who were breaking it and they miss the deep meaning of the passage of scripture and it goes on today all the time by well-meaning sincere people he said to them if you had known what it meant you wouldn't have condemned the innocent once again Matthew chapter 15 you can feel the increase in intensity look at verse 1 look at verse 1 then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem saying why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders for they do not wash their hands when they eat bread you know those those Pharisees were so busy watching everybody else they were so all fired petty constantly looking through keyholes constantly looking through the drapery and windows constantly checking out everybody's life watching like like dogs for just a little piece of meat that they could pounce on and here's another case they don't wash you don't wash their hands when you eat bread he answered and said to them why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition for God said honor your father and mother and he who speaks evil of father or mother let him be put to death but you say and now he points out a false teaching notorious among the Pharisees you say whoever shall say to his father or mother anything of mind you might have been helped by has been given to God he is not to honor his father or his mother and thus look at this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition talk about a rebuke the scripture says honor your father and mother but you say under these conditions I have given this to God and you have no part in it mom or dad you have taken the very lines of scripture and you have twisted those lines so that they fit what you want them to say and I'm calling your hand on it says our Lord you invalidate what the scripture says for the sake of your tradition he isn't through verse seven for those who say Jesus was sort of meek and mild I love to read verses like this you hypocrites rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you saying this people honors me with their lips but their heart is far away from me in vain do they worship me teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men and he called to himself the multitude and said to them hear and understand not what enters into the mouth defiles the man but what proceeds out of the mouth this defiles the man now I love the next statement the disciples came and said to him do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement isn't that great you know you made them mad he answered and said every plant which my heavenly father did not plant shall be rooted up let them alone let them alone they are blind guides of the blind wow and if a blind man guides a blind man both fall into a pit I call that strong now you might wonder what Jesus felt strongly about there's an example there's a perfect example they have my book and they're taking God's word and they're making it say something it was never meant to say and it still goes on to this very day maybe you don't need the warning but maybe someone you know needs it just because a person opens a copy of the scripture and calls him or herself a teacher of the bible don't you believe everything they say just because they are well known just because people hang on their every word just because they have great followings and just because they travel the world over taking the bible and teaching the bible doesn't mean they're right it may mean all the more they need to be watched be careful about people who take lines from the scriptures and adapt them to what they want those passages to say what was their problem they mishandled they missed the meaning of scripture now sometime it's the hearers fault sometime it's the other problem over in Matthew chapter 16 next chapter verse 5 we have a case in point Jesus didn't mishandle the scripture they misinterpreted what he said what he said Matthew 16 five and the disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread Jesus said to them watch out beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees and they began to discuss among themselves saying it's because we forgot the bread that's what he's talking about it's because we took no bread Jesus aware of this said you men of little faith why do you discuss among yourselves because you have no bread do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves or the five thousand and how many large baskets you took up or the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many baskets you took up how is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread but beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees then it clicked oh then they understood he did not say to beware of the leaven of bread but of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees now the reason I camp on this is because sometime teachers work very very hard to speak the truth from scripture and to maintain its meaning and sometime the meaning is a bit symbolical and there are folks who take things so directly and so literally they miss the meaning behind the symbol the significance of what is the what the passage is trying to teach or what the passage is teaching they miss it all together these guys thought he was talking about bread he was talking about the leaven which is always a symbol of evil sin of the Pharisees so our goal and keep it in mind is always to maintain the meaning of scripture you want to know one of the major secrets of that when you teach pay attention to words when you listen pay attention to words now you might say how elementary can you get obviously you pay attention to words no a lot of people don't a lot of people speak in what I call vague paragraphs and they kind of tie together a whole lot of thoughts and kind of like a pile of dough and you dig through it to figure out what's there but good teachers are students of words one of the finest things I've ever read came from the magazine entitled eternity back in 1960 you can believe it by a man named bernard ram entitled he called his little piece but it isn't bible study and in this fine piece he talks about sensitivity listen to this teacher the good interpreter never looks at a word without a question mark in his mind he may consult his greek lexicon or his websters or a commentary or a concordance but he fusses around among his books till the word upon which he has fixed his attention begins to glow with meaning an experienced doctor has a wonderful sensitivity in his fingers he has spent a lifetime feeling lumps swellings growths tumors he knows their textures their shapes their peculiarities their peculiarities where our fingers tell us two things a doctor's finger fingers may tell him a dozen things just as a doctor's fingers to have a feel for lumps and and growths so a bible teacher must have a feel for words he must pass the fingers of his mind over their shapes and textures and peculiarities isn't that good this means sensitivity to phrases clauses paragraphs and idioms a good bible teacher is restless he takes nothing for granted he is the detective whose victim is the meaning and the words in their various combinations of phrases sentences and paragraphs are the clues out of the various configurations of the words he delves for the meaning he looks for the the train of thought and tries to follow it throughout the passage he works and digs and meditates and ruminates and studies until the meaning of the biblical text shines through it is right at this point where the poor teacher fails he is content with his efforts even though his thoughts are vague and his impressions are indistinct as soon as he gets a good exhortation or practical application he's content and he rests at that point he does not sit with a restless mind and dig and sweat until he has achieved the meaning of the text when you study the bible look at words find significant words pull out your dictionary trace the meaning of the words talk the words through think the words through compare that word with another word and another place in scripture where a similar word is used so that you will begin to see the meaning of the passage now i want to show you an illustration a wonderful example of all of this happens back in nehemiah chapter eight it's been a while since we've been over in nehemiah it won't take us long to go through this story but you'll see as we go through it how appropriate it is so turn with me back to nehemiah chapter eight this is one of the clearest illustrations i know of in all of the scriptures where the bible is handled accurately where it's correctly rendered for the people let me set the stage all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the water gate and they asked esra the scribe to bring the book of the law of moses which the lord had given to israel so we have the scriptures bring the scrolls bring the book of god then esra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men women and all who could listen with understanding on the first day of the seventh month and he read from it before the square which was in front of the water gate from morning until midday in the presence of men and women those who could understand and all the people were attentive to the book of the law and esra the scribe stood at a wooden podium this is the first place in all the bible where even a passing reference is made to a pulpit he stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose and on his side were these men who helped interpret the law and they are named for us here accurately handling the scriptures number one starts with reading the scriptures accurately handling the scriptures starts with reading the scriptures you will observe that they read from the book of the law verse three and those who understood verse three were attentive to the book of the law verse five he opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people the reason i read that so laboriously and tediously is i want you to see the focus of significance was upon the book of god not some performer not some scene that they came to applaud not the opinion and wisdom of this wise man esra that's not important we are reading from the law of god this is god's book and if we're going to carefully handle the book of god then the scripture must be the basis of our thoughts of our thoughts not my idea not my plan not even my teaching lesson but the book of god that's what they open and that's what they gave attention to this is insight for living chuck swindoll is addressing one of his favorite topics today handling the scriptures accurately there's much more teaching ahead so please stay with us to learn more about this ministry you can visit us online at insight world dot org well if you'd like to take your understanding of this topic to the next level let me remind you that chuck wrote a book that parallels this teaching series it's also called growing deep in the christian life and the book is our featured resource today embarking on a personal study of the essential doctrines of our faith will surely accelerate your spiritual growth in the new year to purchase a copy of growing deep in the christian life by chuck swindoll go to insight dot org slash store or call us if you're listening in the united states call 800-772-8888 as we conclude another week of daily bible studies i want to remind you this teaching series represents a deep archive of sermons that dates back nearly five decades this longevity in bible teaching this heritage is due in part because of the faithful friends who financially sustain insight for living and if you're among those who give we are deeply grateful for your generosity in fact thousands of people around the world call and write to thank us but their gratitude should really be directed toward you we couldn't provide insight for living without your faithful giving one of your fellow listeners said this good morning i'm just reading your book growing deep in the christian life and i'm blessed by it and this note was signed by a pastor from gana africa to those who give generously to this bible teaching ministry we are deeply grateful in fact it's not too late to make an impact by giving a donation right now to give a contribution today you can call us if you're listening in the united states call 1-800-772-8888 or give generously online at take it from chuck swindoll there's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier wide open skies pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise mingled within them towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife i'll tell you alaska is truly a masterpiece of god's creation i've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things but honestly nothing compares to the beauty in alaska god is awesome come with us on the inside for living ministries cruise to alaska july 1st through july 8th 2023 when i'm in alaska i feel like i'm in an amazing painting created by god let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty spend quality time with those you love allow god to refresh your soul as you reflect on his word and his goodness in your life to learn more go to slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444 the tour de alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend i'm bill meyer inviting you to join us when chuck swindoll continues his message about handling the scriptures accurately that's next time here on insight for living the preceding message handling the scriptures accurately was copyrighted in 1985 1987 2005 2008 and 2011 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by charles r swindoll in all rights are reserved worldwide duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 14:15:41 / 2023-01-12 14:24:23 / 9

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