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Interpreting the Bible Responsibly

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2020 12:01 am

Interpreting the Bible Responsibly

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 22, 2020 12:01 am

How can we become certain of what God is really teaching in His Word? Today, R.C. Sproul continues to set forth foundational rules for interpreting the Bible.

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When we interpret the Bible we have to be careful there was showing the right meaning to certain words. Take for example the word saved in first Timothy chapter 2. So when the apostle says that women are saved by childbirth and not saying that there two ways of salvation. One is justification by faith. For the men or justification by having babies for the women we have to be careful of our understanding of the meaning of the words of the Bible. We used to interpret the Bible determine what we come to believe our theology is based on our ability to discover what the Bible really says and when were in the middle of a crisis you like the one refacing. No need to understand Scripture becomes even greater friends and neighbors need to hear what God really says today on Renewing Your Mind. We continue a series designed to help us read the Bible and grow in the truths that we find there meanings. There are the text of Scripture, the correct meaning one may be 10,000 applications to your life of a single text in Scripture that's what you can read the same text 100 times and learned something new every time you read it and how it applies like there's only one correct meaning here's works out with me when I'm teaching.

I'm giving my understanding of a particular Bureau Scripture and somebody will send me well RC that's your interpretation of Scripture. Maybe they're saying this, that's your interpretation is a shorthanded way to completely refute what I've said because the unspoken premise and the syllogism is this everything that RC Sproul interprets in the Bible he interprets wrong. This is his interpretation ergo it's a wrong interpretation, selling out the good refute my view, is to identify that is my view, that's not what they mean is what people are saying let your interpretation and their interpretation hundred 80 different from my interpretation.

But that's okay were both right and you hear that every day in evangelical churches all over America that everybody's entitled to their own interpretation because the Bible can mean whatever you want me this is the word of God were talking and I were going to handle it.

We have to handle it soberly and with the spirit of humility before now written a book on this for the laity and called knowing Scripture in one section of the books called 10 practical rules for interpreting the Bible. Here's the first rule you read the Bible like you would read any other book like surely you mean that you don't mean that the Bible's just like any other.

Well, no, it's the only one that comes to us from the inspiration of God himself.

In that sense, the Bible is absolutely unique among books, but there's no such thing as Holy Ghost Greek in the Bible.

A verb is a verb and a noun is a noun, the indicative that is indicative of the interrogative is interrogative.

The conjunctive music and there's nothing spiritual, the changes, the basic grammatical historical sense in which the Bible is written in that sense you read it like you would read any other book you don't open the Bible and lucky dip it, you know, lucky dip is God. I don't know what your will is for my life speak to me through the Scripture. Judas went out and hung himself. I don't like that one go though and do likewise.

Their people do that all the time. They think that they're getting messages from God with that outer responsible way of reading the Bible.

It does violence to the text and insult to the Holy Ghost to inspired you read it soberly like you would any other written document. Second of all, you read it existentially.

Be careful here. I don't mean that you read it through the prism of existential philosophy. I made it more this way when you're reading the history of the Bible. Don't look at it as some distantly removed mythology from an ancient. But try as much as possible to get in the sandals of Abraham try to think what Abraham was thinking feel what Abraham was feeling that is your not remaining aloof from Scripture, but you enter into the reality of the Scripture as it is presented.

That's what I mean by reading it existentially, not simply as a detached spectator, but you become passionately involved in what it is your reading summary assessment question last week on California so we heard you say this somewhere on radio or something that you said that one of the things that you learn from your study of philosophy was the principle of critical analysis, whereas you read things you subject the truth claims in whatever literature your reading to certain critical tools before you just rush to judgment and accept whatever it is you read and there's a great value in that in the study of philosophy. I said, I've learned that I said to get the same time, I find that when I come to the Scriptures, the dynamic changes when I read the Scriptures. What I discover every time I read it is that the Bible is criticizing me what higher criticism does there that night finds it with a bow. They don't like it will change the Bible. That is, the bankruptcy of higher critical scholarship redux. Essentially, you put yourself not God under the microscope and you find yourself being judged by God rather than you being is judge thoroughly basic principle is that you interpret the narrative by the didactic Bible will explain something by telling you the story they tell you what happens and then later on in the didactic literature, like the epistles. For example, the apostles will set forth the teaching by explaining the significance or the meaning of the narrative you read the Gospel accounts of the cross and help all you know is what happened that day outside of Jerusalem. Dear there, watching the crucifixion. It's not immediately obvious to you.

To the naked eye that what's taking place. Here is a cosmic act of atonement, you need the didactic portions of the Scriptures to explain the meaning of those events for you know what happens if you interpret the didactic by the narrative.

My complaint with Pentecostal theology is that it interprets Pentecost in a way that is completely opposed to the New Testament's interpretation Pentecost. My complaint with Pentecostalism is that it's view of Pentecost is way too low because they submerge the didactic portions of Scripture to inferences that they draw from the narratives even worse. The scourge of evangelicalism today is open theism is now trying to persuade you that the Lord God, omniscient is not the Lord God, omniscient. He does not know all things he doesn't know what you're going to do before you do it. He doesn't know what you're going to say before you say it because there's no way can possibly know the future of free events done by moral agents in the Bible proves it because in the narratives we see Abraham offering Isaac and the angel coming sick. Now I know that you are going to obey and so they keep up these verses were talks about God's relenting God's repenting and I say see the Bible teaches that God changes his mind is not immutable that God learns things is not omniscient. This justifies our ghastly theology.

Never mind the didactic portions of Scripture that warn you that God is not a man that he should repent and teaches you didactic play that in fact, God does know what you're going to say before you say even though in the narrative, it may be told from a human perspective, as if God were learning things your corrected from coming to that conclusion by the didactic portions that's again another application of the analogy of faith that you interpret Scripture by Scripture. The fourth one is like unto the third one you interpret the implicit by the explicit, not the explicit by the implicit it's just this one rule of biblical interpretation were followed consistently.

I'm convinced it would be the death blow to Arminianism because this out happens and how many times I've talked about the doctrine of election only times I talked about these things in the first verse I get thrown up to me is what about John 316 for what about your 36 John 316 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever, that whosoever is underlined.

5.whosoever believe it shall not perish but have everlasting life and well that means that everybody has the moral power to choose Jesus and that anybody who chooses Jesus out of that moral power will be saved know I looked at a drug-free circuit. I can't find that in John 316. Where is that in that mission was obvious. It is no your drawing infringement tax all the text says explicitly is all who do a will not receive B and will receive see all who believe will not perish all in the category of believers will not be included in the categories of those who perish, but will be included in the category of those who participate in inherit eternal life. That's what the text teaches explicitly that tells us about what happens to those who believe, as opposed to those of the belief now what does it say to the question of who has the moral power to believe or need to translate that nothing.

What does the Bible say explicitly about natural man's ability to incline himself to Christ or to the things of God. What does our Lord say explicitly when he says no man, no man universal negative can come to me unless it is given to him. The father does the Bible teach that we in our fallen condition have the natural ability in our own power to incline ourselves to Christ to choose Jesus we know the Lord Jesus Christ said that's an ability to set unless God makes the necessary condition for us to be able to respond to the gospel. That's what the Bible tells us explicitly about our moral ability, but that explicit teaching that Jesus gives in John six is tromped by an implication drawn from John three from the same author just three chapters earlier and said John in contradiction to himself. Don't interpret the explicit by your implicit but you interpret the implications and test them by what's explicitly taught that Luther said you interpret the obscure by the clear, not the clear by the obscure fifth pay close attention to the meaning of words individual or this one reasons why we push so hard for as much is possible to get verbal agreement in English translations and away from this dynamic equivalency thing where you lose sight of the words because in semi times in the Bible. The Bates even debates of Jesus have with Satan or with the Pharisees are settled on the basis of the meaning of a single word so we have to be word merchants we have to be craftsmen of learning the biblical words were things I love about drum about every time he gives an exclusive Scripture is sprinkled not only with a bunch of scriptures but is one great term after another where he's explaining for us what those particular Greek words mean with the pay attention was because one of the problems we have in Scripture is that words are used in many cases the same word may have three or four or five or six nuances to it. Woman is saved in childbearing right we know it to be saved means to be reconciled with God to be delivered from the kingdom of God is a kingdom of light. Never mind that the Bible's meaning of the term save so so so to my is used to be any kind of rescue from any kind of peril or calamity so that you're safe from illness. You can say if you're rescued from defeat in battle you've been saved all kinds of ways in which you say that it must be distinguished from the ultimate sense of salvation where you're rescued from the wrath of God become so when the apostle says that women are saved by childbirth and not saying that there are two ways of salvation. One is justification by faith. For the men or justification by having babies for the women we have to be careful of our understanding of the meaning of the words of the Bible. Next went to be careful to observe the presence of certain literary forms, particularly in the poetic portions of Scripture which there are many, and one thing that we need to learn really are the basic types of parallelisms that are found in Hebrew literature and I give you one example where I quote from the old King James version.

Isaiah 4567 reads as follows. I am the Lord, there is none else I form the light, and I create darkness, I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things on how many students have come to me with this and say here right here in the Bible teaches that God creates evil stress as a source of the King James bad translation generally think different kinds of evil that the Bible speaks about in here and water translations you see that what is set apart here is a God, brings peace and prosperity. He also brings calamity. He brings we'll he brings well there's a contrast there and if you understand that this is a parallelism, you will see, you can interpret the second half of the verse by the first verse see the way these things are set in contrast, and you won't get full by that sort. So if we learn to recognize simple forms of parallelism.

It'll really help us from falling into traps of misunderstanding.

The Bible also need to understand the difference between Proverbs and law. In addition to the two kinds of law. Absolute law on case law that you find in the Old Testament. We also have Proverbs and here's what happens when you turn Proverbs in the law, you get hopelessly lost. Let's look at Proverbs chapter 26 verses four and five. Verse four of Proverbs 26 reads this, do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.

There's a good proverb for you words.

Paul you like these Proverbs don't answer a fool according to his folly would be just like you is the proper with the next verse answer a full according to folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes helped some people say the Bible is filled with contradictions and here's one from one verse to the next person says don't answer full couriers following essences do answer for grants will make up your mind Solomon what are you talking about, but you see the Proverbs give us general principles of wisdom that in some circumstances, show us what is the wise thing to do and sometimes it's wise not to answer a fool according to his folly, and other times it is the better part of wisdom to use ad hominem arguments reduce them to absurdity by showing the full folly of his folly, spirit and the letter of the law or this is a dangerous thing because I hear it all the time in Christendom.

The Pharisees were guilty of keeping the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of the law and really what God wants from his people is to keep the spirit of the law, not the letter. No what God wants from his people is to keep the spirit of the law and we excuse our violations of the law of God but say well I'm keeping the spirit will, and trampling all over what God actually said we pay attention, both of the spirit and the letter number nine take very special care with parables, remembering that the parables for the most part are not to be interpreted as allegories. One is at least most of the mark. Most parables have only one central meaning, and if you try to turn each part of the parable into some kind of hidden meaning you're gonna find yourself in all kinds of trouble. So there special rules that apply to interpreting parables. Be careful and finally, be careful with predictive prophecy take it seriously study diligently, very, very careful. Check your interpretation particularly of imaginative language by taking the laborious task.

If you see an image or symbol that may seem difficult for you to understand. Check out every time in the Bible that that you and see what is general usage is in the literature of Scripture, and that will keep you from falling into all these crazy futuristic views that we run into every day in the church.

Those are the basics.

They aren't all that difficult. Applying them can be, but we need to be careful. Finally I say this don't just rely on your private relationship with the Holy Ghost.

God has given teachers to the church when I prepared text. I read the text. I examine the text. I look up the Greek a look at the Latin. I do not stop it. Then I'll consult many commentaries on the text to see what the best scholars have the site because invariably I'm going to miss something because God has given us teachers who have spent years and years and years and years examining the minute issues of the text who can help us from distorting the Bible.

Finally, let me say this. When Luther spoke of letting the Bible loose like that.

The church that if you let the Bible go in the hands of the layman it will open a floodgate of iniquity. W. 2000 different churches all claiming to be scriptural every conceivable heresy will be let loose in the land. If you let unskilled laypeople read the Bible for themselves.

Would Luther say that you're probably right, but the basic message.

The message that is necessary for salvation is plain enough clear enough for a child to understand. I want to get that message in the hand of every person the way and if a floodgate of iniquity. The open Soviet well, let's not Joyce in the opening responsible of same. When an important call there from Dr. RC Sproul to be diligent in our study of God's word.

Thank you for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Wednesday. I believe web and this week we are looking at keys to spiritual growth versus message today shows the foundation of that growth, studying the word of God. Our resource offer. This week is a helpful resource to stretch us in our Christian walk is the new version of Dr. Sproles classic book 5 things every Christian needs to grow. Sometimes we feel as if our faith is in thriving in this book Dr. Spruill reminds us that God has left us the tools, the spiritual disciplines to help us mature for your donation of any amount to look at her ministries. We will be glad to send you this book, you can request it when you call us at 800-435-4343.

You can also go online to give your gift at Renewing Your Mind.or before we go. Today I want to tell you about a new weekly podcast from would get her ministries.

It's called ask Ligon here allows listeners like you to submit questions about the Bible theology the Christian life, apologetics, and more. Selected questions will be answered by one of look at her ministries teaching fellows or a special guest. Some of the questions that have been submitted and answered already are. What is grace what is the gospel and what should I do when I don't feel saved is a great questions and you may have questions of your own. We invite you to go to ask.Ligonier.org to find out more.

That's ask.Ligon here.org hope tomorrow will continue learning about keys to spiritual growth. Dr. John MacArthur joins us this message is titled how should we pray this Thursday right here on Renewing Your Mind


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