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What the Bible Means to You vs. What God Means in the Bible

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
July 26, 2019 8:00 pm

What the Bible Means to You vs. What God Means in the Bible

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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July 26, 2019 8:00 pm

If you have ever been in a group Bible study, you have probably heard an attendee say, “What this passage means to me is…”With all due respect, it matters not one whit what the Bible means to any given person but rather what God means in the Bible.  The goal of studying Scripture is to understand God’s intent via the human author whom He inspired to write the text.Hermeneutics is a theological term for interpreting Scripture.  Abner Chou, professor of Biblical studies at The Master’s University and Seminary and editor of What Happened in the Garden is our guest this weekend on The Christian Worldview.  Abner will explain what it means to interpret Scripture with a “hermeneutic of surrender”...

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What the Bible means to you versus what God means in the Bible. That is the topic we'll discuss today right here on the Christian worldview radio program where the mission is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to share the good news that all people can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

I'm David Wheaton, the host, and our website is thechristianworldview.org. 2 Timothy 2 15 says, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. What an important verse that is. Now if you've ever been in a group Bible study, sitting around in a circle, you've probably heard an attendee say, well, what this passage means to me is, well, with all due respect, it matters not one whit what the Bible means to any given person, but only matters what God means in the Bible. The goal of studying scripture is to understand God's intent via the human author whom he inspired to write the text. Now hermeneutics is a theological term for interpreting scripture. An Abner Child professor of biblical studies at the Masters University and Seminary, an editor of What Happened in the Garden, he's our guest today on the Christian Real View. He's going to explain what it means to interpret scripture with a hermeneutic of surrender, and he will also make the case that correctly interpreting the opening chapters of Genesis is critical to interpreting the rest of scripture. I hope you can join us for the entire hour for this important conversation.

Here's the first segment with Abner Child. What does this big word, theological sounding academic word hermeneutics mean, and why is hermeneutics actually really the actually really the bottom line of the bottom line when it comes to how we live out our faith or understand what the Bible says? That's a great question. Hermeneutics fundamentally deals with what does it mean to study our Bible? What are the rules involved in that? What are the principles that drive that? How do we make decisions? How do we understand what the Bible says? Hermeneutics articulates what we believe about how to read the Bible, how to actually read it in a practical sense, and why we believe what we believe about all of that. And the issue of studying God's word, the issue of knowing what it means is the issue in Christianity, because everything, as you mentioned, stems from that. How we live our Christian life is dependent upon how we understand God's word, what we believe about God, and how we love Him, and what does it mean to love Him, and what does it mean to know Him and His Son and the Holy Spirit? All of that is dictated by our understanding of what does it mean to read our Bible? How does that work, and why do we believe what we believe? When we think about the issue of hermeneutics or how we study our Bibles and what is at stake, in sum, everything in the Christian life is at stake.

When we appear before God and we desire Him to say to us, well done, good and faithful servant, well, to define that word faithfulness, we need to know how to read our Bibles rightly so we can please God rightly. Avner Chow with us today on the Christian worldview. He is a professor of biblical studies at the Masters University and Seminary. He is the author of The Hermeneutics of the Bible Writers, and also a book we're going to discuss in a second.

He's the editor of What Happened in the Garden. Now, if this is so important, hermeneutics, how to interpret scripture, how it applies, it seems patently obvious that's so important, it's going to affect everything about you and your understanding of God, why isn't the pursuit of accurately interpreting scripture, contending for sound doctrine, defending sound doctrine, why doesn't that seem to be such a high priority? Let's say, just take an example within the evangelical church today. I think one of the major reasons behind the fact that hermeneutics isn't carefully discerned through is because of evangelical emphasis on experience. We don't exactly believe anymore or strongly or with as firm conviction anymore believe that truth matters, and if you don't really have to get at the truth, and if the truth isn't authoritative, and if the truth isn't binding on shaping everything in our lives, then we don't really need to pursue the truth. And if we don't need to pursue the truth, then we're not going to really need to know and really be sharp and precise in how to study the truth, which is the scriptures. And so because we are bent on experience, that experience informs what we believe, and experience is what we believe, and experience is the outcome of good belief.

As long as you feel good, as long as you have a wonderful time doing whatever, then your beliefs and your activity must be okay. If that's the litmus test, and since that is often the litmus test in evangelical churches, truth is really marginalized, and with that, the pursuit of truth in hermeneutics. So give us an example of that in just everyday life, someone who doesn't take a really serious approach to understanding scripture, interpreting it accurately.

How would that play out? Give us a couple examples of how that would factor into a Christian's life. Let's use a kind of a trivial example, except it is massive because we're talking about sin.

Let's use a simple case study. We know that in the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about us being weak. He talks about how God's grace is sufficient, His power made perfect in our weakness, and therefore He delights in magnifying His humility and weakness as opposed to strength. Magnifying your arrogance, magnifying your exaltedness is actually contrary to the gospel of grace because grace is God doing it all, which means that we're nothing.

This is the truth in 2 Corinthians 12. This is what individual words mean, like power and weakness and grace, and we want to study those carefully. That drives a framework, that drives a mentality that when we're with others and we appear to be weak, we don't try to act pridefully. We don't try to fight back when we are personally maligned or insulted or put down.

We take it. We bear it because in our weakness, God's power is magnified. Well, when we don't read our Bibles carefully and we just rely on what we feel to drive whatever we want to do, well, what do we see sometimes even on social media nowadays? When people are insulted, they fight back. When people are hurt, they try to hurt back. When people are reviled, they revile back.

Why is that? Well, that's because we haven't pursued truth and said, the Word of God is authoritative. This is how I have to live my life. I don't have a choice. This is what pleases God. This is what serves an eternal gospel purpose, and so my life needs to be conformed to that.

When experience is the standard and what I feel is the litmus test for legitimacy, well, these are the kinds of actions you're going to get. Here's another example, and this is a grander one, and it's so tragic. We can observe in certain movements, sometimes in the extreme fringes of the charismatic movement, that they believe that they can raise people from the dead, even though the examples that they would provide come from narratives which record what God has done in history, and even in our modern day, even in American history, we know that while history may set certain precedents, may illustrate certain realities, it's not always repeatable in personal living. What God did by extension in the book of Acts is not a promise.

It's a story. It's not a guarantee. It's what happened in the past of what God has done, but nevertheless, they believe that just like Paul raised somebody from the dead, they can raise somebody from the dead, and we have read and observed times when they have claimed, oh yeah, if we just pray for your child who just passed away, we're going to raise them from the dead, or they're sick with a terminal illness. They're on their deathbed. We know if we have enough faith, they will not die, and then what they claim doesn't happen.

Why? Well, simply put, because the Bible never made that promise. It said this is what God did in the past. That's the claim.

That's the author's intent. They put words in God's mouth, and here's the tragedy. People are saying, I don't want anything to do with Christianity. I don't want anything to do with that because your God's a liar.

Well, wait a minute. Our God is not a liar. He is the God of truth. People put words in His mouth and defamed Him. That is a tragedy.

That is terrible. That is terrible for the families involved who are hurting, and that is ultimately terrible because it reproaches the irreproachable name of Christ, and so hermeneutics matters. We want to please God, and we want to represent Him rightly so His name is never defamed but glorified amongst us.

Thank you for that answer. Abner Chow with us today on The Christian Real View, talking about what the Bible means to you versus what God means in the Bible. He is the editor of What Happened in the Garden and also the author of The Hermeneutics of the Bible Writers. In your session at the Shepherds Conference, which I attended a couple years ago, you used a phrase, the hermeneutic of surrender.

What does that term mean? A hermeneutic of surrender means that we have to recognize who controls the meaning of the Bible. Sometimes people think, I control the meaning of the Bible. It's whatever it means to me. Some people say, well, the Bible means whatever it could mean.

Any phrase in the Bible, whatever it might connote, that's what I think it could mean, and I'll just take all the possibilities. But as Christians, we know that God is the author, the ultimate author of Scripture. It is called His Word. The biblical writers exemplify that because they talk about just as the Scripture says, just as Isaiah said, just as the prophet Jeremiah said, they are rooting everything in the original intent of the author.

The author, human divine author, working confluently in inspiration, He is the one who controls the meaning of the text. We don't get a say. Sometimes a preacher, and I'm being a little facetious here, thinks maybe I should just make this point because it sounds good. It'll preach.

We don't have that option. We have a hermeneutic of surrender. God is authoritative, and He has spoken in His Word, and we are bound as believers who are submitted to His Word and in whom God has transformed our heart so that His Word is on our heart, so we are always inclined to submit to His Word. We have to surrender to His Word. We cannot fight against the text. We cannot force our own ideas into the text. We surrender. What it says, we must believe. What it commands, we must do. We bow the knee to Scripture, and we can't just say, well, I don't like that. I want it to mean something else.

I think this would be a better idea. All of that must be excluded because we have a hermeneutic of surrender that recognizes God's Word is God's Word, and we don't have a right to interject. That's exactly right.

Abner Chow is so right. We need a hermeneutic of surrender. In other words, we need to surrender to what God means in the Bible. We don't worship the Bible per se.

It's not God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Scriptures, but we worship the God who authored the Bible because the Bible represents who God is and His mind and His revelation to us. It's what He wants us to know about Him and how we can follow and obey Him. We have much more coming up today on the Christian Rule of View radio program as we talk about what the Bible means to you versus what God means in the Bible. Abner is a professor of biblical studies at the Masters University and Seminary.

Stay tuned. You're listening to the Christian Rule of View radio program. I'm David Wheaton. The Prosperity Gospel is a prominent false gospel that God offers health, wealth, and prosperity if you just have faith and give money. Costee Hinn grew up on the inside of the prosperity gospel movement.

His uncle is world-renowned prosperity preacher Benny Hinn. Costee saw it all, the manipulation, staged healings, luxuriant lifestyles, and perversion of scripture before God opened Costee's eyes to understand sound doctrine and believe in the true gospel. Now a pastor, Costee has written an important book entitled God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel, which chronicles his own experience and gracefully points the reader to the truth of scripture. For a limited time you can order this 224-page softcover book for a donation of any amount to the Christian Rule of View.

Normal retail is $17.99 without shipping. To order, call 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. The next Christian World View Speaker Series event is on Sunday, September 15th at 7 p.m. at Grace Church Eden Prairie. It features Darryl Harrison presenting on how social justice impacts the gospel and the church. Darryl is a former fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute at Princeton Theological Seminary and an expository Bible teacher. He has a passion for helping Christians understand what they believe and why. He'll do just that with the issue of social justice followed by a Q&A moderated by host David Wheaton.

No cost, no registration, just come. The event will also be live streamed on the Christian World View Facebook page. For more information, call 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. The Christian World View Speaker Series with Darryl Harrison, Sunday, September 15th at 7 p.m. at Grace Church Eden Prairie.

Call 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. We have a very full program today with Abner Chow, the professor of biblical studies at the Masters University and Seminary. We're talking about interpreting scripture, very important topic today.

Let's get back to the second segment with Abner Chow. You talk about different ways of interpreting scripture and you point to the literal grammatical historical method, LGH as you call it, use the acronym, as the way we must interpret scripture. Talk about some of the common popular ways of interpreting scripture and why the literal grammatical historical way is the means of discovering the intent of the author.

That's a great question. In fact, that gets at the core of hermeneutics because as I said, hermeneutics is what are the rules about interpreting the Bible and why do we believe them? Well, to understand this, it's helpful sometimes to know the alternatives to the true method, the method I would argue the Bible establishes. Sometimes people read the Bible relative to themselves. They think the reader, and that would be us as readers of scripture, makes up the meaning of scripture.

Whatever it means to me is legitimate. People then go by their feelings, what I feel like the Bible says. They go by their sensations of maybe claiming that the Holy Spirit moved me to read the Bible this way. They would go sometimes to talk about what I feel like the scriptures say.

Others might not take such an experiential approach. They might take a little bit more textual approach and they say whatever the Bible could mean, whatever the Bible, whatever these words might denote on a humorous level, that would be like somebody saying, hey, all we like sheep. That means everybody likes little lambs.

That should be your favorite animal. That's what the Bible says because the word like could mean that. Well, that's true.

I'm being a little facetious here. However, cults all the time use what the scripture could mean, what the words could imply. Oh, yes, Jesus is firstborn. That means he must be born.

Well, wait a minute. What did the author mean by firstborn? Well, to the cults, it doesn't really matter.

If they say, well, Jesus is preeminent. He is only begotten. Well, that means he must be begotten. Well, wait a minute. What did the author mean by the term only begotten?

Well, that doesn't matter. Their mentality is what the scripture could imply. What it could mean is legitimate. That's a form of understanding the Bible. Others will say, well, whatever anybody says, any commentator, any creed or any church father or any person that they admire, what they say about scripture is what the scripture means. Now, in some cases, what people say about the Bible could be true.

Your favorite preacher, your own pastor is hopefully right most of the time, if not all the time. But that's not the reason why we believe what the Bible says. It says it is because we believe that God speaks. He speaks in his word. This is 2 Timothy 3.16. This is 2 Peter 1, verses 20 through 21. And when he speaks, he uses words.

And even the writers that he inspires demonstrate that they really believe the words they say are precise. That's how they read the scripture. That's how they write the scripture. It is fascinating to see throughout the Bible how even a term like rest, you have Sabbath rest and Noah, his name means rest. And in Solomon's day, there was a notion of rest. And in Joshua's time, there was not rest in the land. And in the prophets, they build upon that and they look forward to a time of rest.

And then you have in Hebrews 3 and 4, a discussion about all of that using the word rest. That is the biblical writers, even on one single word, they knew how it fit in scripture. And that means they believe words mattered.

They believe words mean something. God himself says that. That's why he says, do not add or subtract from the words of scripture.

He wrote the Bible through human authorship and perfect inspiration, carefully, correctly, precisely, inherently. And therefore, every word matters. And so, so far, if you've been thinking about this, we've said, hey, God is the author of scripture. It's his intent that matters.

That's what we call literal approach. And that is seen in a grammatical approach because every word, even every aspect of grammar that is embedded in scripture matters. And that is written in the context of history. If you look at how, say, Mark talks about certain customs, he does so Jewish customs to his audience, which is a Gentile audience.

He says, let me explain this custom to you. Let me show you what the Pharisees used to do in Mark 7-3, or Matthew will even explain a custom of what Pilate used to do at the crucifixion in Matthew 27, verse 15. And in light of this, the scripture cares about history. In fact, it is actually a book that traces God's plan throughout history. And therefore, you could put it this way, God writes using words in a historical context and the words of scripture link themselves to that historical context. Therefore, when God speaks, he speaks clearly and he uses that mechanism. That is why if we want to know God's intent, that literal idea, we have to go through grammar and history. God declares that and the biblical authors demonstrate that. Again, Abner Chow with us today on the Christian worldview, talking about how to accurately interpret scripture. And we're talking about the literal grammatical historical method may sound like a big unknown phrase, but it's very important to understand how to accurately read the Bible. Let's get into the ramifications of this and to the other book that you're the editor of, What Happened in the Garden.

The subtitle is The Reality and Ramifications of the Creation and Fall of Man. And here's a perfect example of a portion of scripture that is interpreted in so many different ways today. And the implications of that are huge. So let's start out with that question. You write on page 13, you say the story of Genesis 2 and 3 is the foundation for the rest of the story in scripture.

It's a big statement. Change one part of that and we will shift our entire theology. Even more, theology is not just ideas in an ivory tower like in academia, but the way we understand reality around us.

It intersects every point of life. And so a modification of this passage in the first couple of chapters of Genesis will have a snowball effect. It will rework how we understand the Bible and alter how we understand all of life. What would change when you reinterpret the opening chapters of Genesis in a word?

Everything. Now that's a big statement, but I believe it's totally justified in saying that. Why does the historicity of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and what occurred there with the fall of man, why does that have such major implications? Well, just even thinking chronologically through the scriptures, the creation of man and woman and the fall happen at the beginning. They happen in the beginning, which sets the agenda and the course of everything thereafter. And so when you make a change at something so foundational, something so initiating, the ramifications, the trickle down effect, the ripple effect is going to be massive.

And let me just illustrate it this way. When we start to alter, when we start to modify what Genesis says, what Genesis one through three describes, the ramifications on theology are tremendous. Take for example, the nature of sin, sin and death.

If we say, hey, we're going to allow an evolutionary framework into Genesis one and three so that death came before the fall. Well, we've just changed the nature of sin. We've just changed the nature of death. Is death good or bad? Because now death is part of a good creation where God says it's good. And that changes the nature of the cross when God kills his own son in punishment on the cross. Is that good or bad relative to the whole notion of sin? If death is good, then what's wrong with dying?

What's wrong with the consequences of sin? We have started to change the formula. Likewise, what about man? If we change what it means to be a man, especially created by God as Genesis two dictates, well, we have changed our anthropology. We have changed the way we view human beings.

And in fact, I would argue we're seeing the effect of that. God made man, specially created him, man and woman. He created them. That paradigm is being lost in our society because we're departing from the foundation, the strong foundation set of how God created mankind, human beings. And so we have changes in anthropology. We have changes in our theology of sin, also known as harmartiology. We have changes even in our soteriology because how you solve sin and what we are saved unto, and even the metaphors that God uses for that are actually creation ones. God says the way he saved us is the same way he said, let there be light.

And there was light. But if God never really did that to begin with, then how exactly is he transforming our heart? David prays, create in me a clean heart, oh God. And that word create is the same one used in Genesis one. But if God really never created in Genesis one, if evolution or something like that is true, what is that saying about the radical transforming nature of our salvation? Really bottom line is this, we need to realize that, and this is kind of a fundamental, hermeneutical issue, it really gets into the nature of the Bible. History is the foundation for theology. Okay, Abner Chow is our guest today here on the Christian Real View. History is the foundation for theology.

What does he mean by that? Well, you're going to hear him explain what that means after this next break of the day here on the Christian Real View radio program. We're talking about how to interpret Scripture today, not just how to interpret it, but how to accurately interpret it. God has one meaning, he had one authorial intent, many applications, but one intent, we need to discover what that is.

So we can accurately depict God and live in a way for his glory and obey him the way he intends. This is David Wheaton, you're listening to the Christian Real View, back after this. You're invited to the Christian Real View golf and dinner event on Monday, September 16th at Woodhill Country Club in Wiesetta, Minnesota. Golf registration includes 18 holes with cart on one of the best courses in the state, along with lunch and dinner.

Bring your own foursome or we can fit you into a group. Hole sponsorships are also available. Dinner event only registration includes a meet and greet on the lawn, a wonderful meal, a message by host David Wheaton, and a live interview with special guest Darrell Harrison. The fellowship content and setting combined to make this a memorable event in support of the Christian Real View radio program. We hope you can come. Again, the Christian Real View golf and dinner event is on Monday, September 16th at Woodhill in Wiesetta.

Registration deadline is Tuesday, September 3rd. For details and registration, call 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. 1-888-646-2233 or thechristianworldview.org. The mission of the Christian World View is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to share the good news that all people can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

For when Christians have a stronger faith and when unbelievers come to saving faith, lives and families and churches, even communities, are changed for the glory of God. The Christian World View is a listener supported ministry. You can help us in our mission to impact hearts and minds by making a donation of any amount or becoming a monthly partner. All donations are tax deductible. You can give online at thechristianworldview.org or by calling us toll-free 1-888-646-2233. When you give, we'd like to thank you by sending you a current resource.

Monthly partners can choose to receive resources throughout the year. Call 1-888-646-2233 or go to thechristianworldview.org. Thank you for your support. God exists and He speaks. That is what we find out in the very first sentences of the Bible. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

There He is existing. And then right there in God said, He speaks. And since He exists and speaks, we need to know what He says and what He means by what He says in His Word.

That is why we're doing this topic today. What the Bible means to you is not really important, but rather it's only important what God means in the Bible. And our guest is Abner Chow. He's the editor of What Happened in the Garden, a book we're discussing today and also a professor of biblical studies at the Masters University and Seminary.

Let's get back to the next segment with Abner Chow. Really, bottom line is this. We need to realize that, and this is kind of a fundamental, hermeneutical issue. It really gets into the nature of the Bible. History is the foundation for theology. History is the actualization and the grounding of theology in scripture. When we talk about the resurrection, we don't say, well, even if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, it's okay. Because the theology, the nice ideas about new creation and making all things new and right and overcoming death, they're all true still.

No, Paul doesn't tolerate that. He says, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, it's over. We have a fruitless faith, we're liars, we've misrepresented God, and we're without hope in this world. We're the ones who should be most pitied because history grounds theology, and the logic of history and the resurrection is the logic of scripture on all history. When the biblical writers, they talk about God's judgment and the flood, they don't say, well, even if the flood didn't happen, God is a God of justice.

No, because the flood happened, 2 Peter 3, we know God can judge. Their arguments depend on historicity. Likewise, when people are exhorted about God's wrath and accountability through Sinai, the logic is not, well, even if Sinai doesn't exist, you're still accountable. No, they point to that event in Hebrews and earlier in Kings and in the prophets and in Psalms to say, because God acted this way, you know who He is, and therefore you are accountable. History grounds theology. History is the actualization of theology in scripture, and as a result of that, when we start to take away the historicity of say Genesis 1 through 3, but we're putting in danger, is actually the grounding of theology.

Abner Child with us today on The Christian Real View. As you were talking about that, I was thinking of the organization BioLogos. This is a professing Christian organization that teaches theistic evolution that Adam and Eve likely are not historical figures. In other words, they weren't real. They also teach that perhaps God had something to do with creation.

I don't want to misrepresent what they're saying. You could probably articulate it better than I could, but basically that was an evolutionary process that God used in the creation of heavens and the earth, and there wasn't six literal creation 24-hour creation days. That's what BioLogos believes and teaches, and many within professing Christendom agree with that position today. What are the most compelling reasons, as you wrote this book about Genesis, Abner, that the earth that is thousands of years old, let's say 6,000 years old and not millions of years old, that Adam and Eve are historical, literal people, the first two human beings.

What are some of the best reasons you think in your own mind why the Bible can be trusted that, yes, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth the sea and all that is in them? That's an important question, because what we need to understand is we don't just want to hold to a belief because we feel like it's good. We want to make sure that we have not crazily mishandled God's Word. The world might think we are crazy for what we believe, but what we need to make sure is that we have not crazily handled God's Word.

My own thought process in this is similar to how C.S. Lewis talked about Christ. He said he's either a liar, lunatic, or Lord. Whatever he said could be totally wrong. He could be lying. What he said he didn't know, but he was crazy, so it is wrong.

Or what he said as he said it is true, and you have to accept him as Lord. In the same way, Genesis 1-3 could be either miscommunication. It tried to say something, but it failed to do so, or it was misleading to a Western mindset. It could be miscommunication, or it could be myth. It could be something that is only designed to teach a spiritual lesson like a parable, or it could be myth-busting. Its claims about what happened and why it happened, they are all historically grounded. They are all true, and therefore it must be seen as history actualizing theology.

It is myth-busting. And just to run through it really quickly, how do we know that Genesis is not miscommunicating in some way or we're misunderstanding it? The grammar of Genesis 1 is clear. We could look at the usage of the word day. When day is used by itself, when day is used with numbers, it is consistent that it means a 24-hour period of time. Even more than that, the term first day in Genesis 1 is actually not the word first. It's actually the word one.

It tells you what counts as one day, and that is evening and morning. God defines in Genesis 1 what a day means to show that He controls time, but subsequently we know what God means by the word day in Genesis 1. He's not ambiguous. On top of that, we could talk about the construction of Genesis 1-1-2. Sometimes people think there's a gap there. If you actually go through and search parallel grammatical constructions, what we're going to find is you can't really argue a gap there. In fact, Genesis 1-2 is the very circumstance of Genesis 1-1. And so the text is clear.

There's no grammatical ambiguities there. Well, maybe it's myth. Maybe it's meant to be a parallel. And when we compare though the book of Genesis to ancient Near Eastern myths, a lot of times people will point out the similarities. But the question is, how similar are the similarities? One of my favorites is they'll say, see, in ancient Near Eastern myth, there's a firmament above and a firmament below.

There's waters separated by the firmament. And we say, whoa, that sounds a lot like Genesis. But in actual ancient Near Eastern myth, it says this, that a god took a goddess, cut her in half, and spread her body one part in the heavens and one part on the ground. That's actually what they think is quite similar to what it says in Genesis. And when you stop and think about it, that's not similar at all. You don't believe in gods and goddesses and them getting split apart. The similarity might be there, but it is so different.

It is so distinct. And that's what anyone reading the text, both ancient and modern, should be overwhelmed by. That the narrative of Genesis, even in its grammar and style, ancient Near Eastern myths are written in poetry. Genesis is written in narrative. Moses made deliberate efforts to say, what I'm telling you is not the myths. What I'm telling you is not what you may have heard, Israel, in your pagan cultures that surrounded you in Egypt and elsewhere. I am telling you something completely and entirely different and distinct. They told you myth.

I'm telling you the history that busts the myth. And this kind of evidence, as well as the consistency of all scripture with the nature of creation. In Exodus, God says He makes the world in six days. Deuteronomy 4 talks about since the time that the first man was created. First Chronicles even begins with the name Adam. It believes that there was a real Adam.

Matthew 19, the New Testament affirms that there is a singularly created couple, specially created by God. That is reaffirmed in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Corinthians 4, as I think I mentioned before, talks about how God said, let there be light and there was light. The New and Old Testaments consistently, doggedly, precisely and accurately uphold the details of Genesis 1 through 3. It's as simple as this, even in Psalm 104, which is poetry.

It ironically upholds each day of creation and shows the beauty and details of how God laid it all out. There is no other interpretation of scripture about the nature of creation from Genesis to Revelation, from creation to new creation. There is no alternative explanation in the Bible and that means, and this is the great encouragement, the Bible itself is clear. There's a consistent interpretation and our job is just to follow along what the prophets and apostles and even Jesus himself have said. Abner Child with us today on the Christian worldview, a professor of biblical studies at the Masters University and Seminary. Let's get into a couple other ramifications of biblical interpretation.

What do you make of the current push within some aspects of evangelical Christianity, even some of the more traditionally conservative leaders or churches and so forth, reinterpreting scripture, again dealing with the interpretation of scripture, to sort of allow for Christians who are quote same-sex attracted Christians or gay Christians, this whole issue of homosexuality creeping into the evangelical church? We need to approach this issue by remembering that the Bible is authoritative and we don't just want to say that. We need to remember that the way it discusses things, it discusses it truly and it gives us truth. John 17, your word is truth. Psalm 19, Psalm 119, all affirm the truthfulness of scripture. God cannot lie. He speaks the truth.

We see that articulated in Numbers, for example. And so the Bible is truth as God is truth and truth is reality. Proverbs 8 says that when God founded the world, he founded wisdom and wisdom is the way the world is. Truth isn't just nice ideas or good helpful suggestions. Truth is the way that this world operates.

It is reality. In philosophy, we call that truth as correspondence because what is stated corresponds to or is a description, an entirely accurate description of the way the world works. And I say all that because the Bible comes with categories. The Bible comes with definitions. Abner Chow will explain those categories and definitions in the Bible after this break here on the Christian worldview.

Stay tuned. The next Christian worldview speaker series event is on Sunday, September 15th at 7 p.m. at Grace Church Eden Prairie. It features Darrell Harrison presenting on how social justice impacts the gospel and the church. Darrell is a former fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute at Princeton Theological Seminary and an expository Bible teacher. He has a passion for helping Christians understand what they believe and why. He'll do just that with the issue of social justice, followed by a Q&A moderated by host David Wheaton.

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Normal retail is $17.99 without shipping. To order, call 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. Final segment of the day here on the Christian worldview as we talk about how to interpret scripture with our guest Abner Chow. He's the professor of biblical studies at the Master's University and Seminary and before the break he was getting into answering what he makes of the move in evangelicalism that's going towards accepting homosexuality.

Let's get back to the final segment with Abner Chow. Truth is the way that this world operates. It is reality. And I say all that because the Bible comes with categories. The Bible comes with definitions. It defines the nature of sin.

It defines the way sin works. And what we have seen in evangelicalism is that people say homosexual behavior is wrong. Well, many evangelicals will still say that. Some won't. And we can point them out to Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and the like. And I think quite a few evangelicals will say, fine, we agree. But where things become murky is that people still want to identify as, say, someone as a homosexual, someone as gay or a lesbian.

And here is the problem. The Bible says in its category that we have one identity and that is Christ. And those behaviors are exactly that. They are behaviors. They are sins because they are actions, whether they be lust, or whether in our minds and feelings, or whether they be physical acts.

They're all sinful. And that means they can be conquered. They are not who we are.

They are what we do. The Bible consistently portrays that over and over and over and over again. As such, we dare not make up a new category on this issue that the Bible has definitively spoken on of trying to say, oh, yes, homosexuality, it's an identity. It's something that's a part of you. You can't really change it. It's just who you are. It's in your DNA.

It's in your nature, so to speak, in that way. Well, the Bible says, no, we're in Christ. And we have new desires. Does that mean we overcome every single sin perfectly all the time? No, but we call it for what it is. Like every other sin, this too can be fought against. This too can be conquered. And this too should not be identified with. We are baptized in Christ.

He is all in all. We have put off the old man, we have put off the old man, put on the new man, re-identified from Adam to the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has overcome. And so we need to have biblical clarity on these issues. Otherwise, we're going to allow people to fall into temptation and sin unnecessarily. And actually, by our lack of clarity, we're going to push people to the wrong kind of solution as well. I had one person saying, well, I want a person who is gay to become straight.

No, no, no, no, no. You want somebody who is lusting after things they should not lust for to actually be holy. That's what we want. We don't just want to trade one lust for another lust. We want people to be conformed to Christ and love what he loves, which is marriage in this context.

Abner Child with us today on the Christian worldview. Do you think God's intent was for the Bible to be read and studied by individuals primarily or for pastors who accurately interpret the Bible to preach it to regular people? I'm not saying it's an either or, but is there a primary way that you think the Bible is best understood? And secondly, part two of the question is, just give us some tips or advice on the best ways to personally study and understand the Bible. What's the best way to read it?

The answer to the first one is, like you said, it cannot be an either or. We need good preaching. God has gifted the church with teachers. We see that in Ephesians chapter four, because they are those gifted by God to have tremendous insight into scripture and tremendous clarity in instructing others so that they would know God's word, so that they would be equipped with God's word. But at the same time, from the earliest time, God has always intended his people to read God's word.

Let me just give you a simple example of this. In Deuteronomy chapter one, Moses is talking about the law and he says, God said to you, he uses the plural of you, y'all or all y'all in some places. He said, God gave this to you so that you would teach your children, so that you would know, so that you would understand.

That is punctuated from Deuteronomy one onwards. And so you need good preaching because we don't study scripture in a vacuum. We do depend on teachers who will not only instruct us, but preachers who also will say, as a church together, corporately, communally, we will do this together to honor Christ. We need that preaching as leadership and as instruction. But that does not negate, in fact, they fuel each other that people need to study their Bible individually.

It was always meant so that God's people individually would also meditate on God's word day and night, Psalm one. God's word functions both ways and both must operate. Without preachers and teachers teaching, you don't guard accuracy and you don't guard the unity of the church. Without individuals soaking in God's word and growing, you do not have any impetus, force, content, or substance in the living out of the witness of Christ in the church. You need both.

You need both. And the word of God is designed for that. And I think relative to tips and tricks along that line, one, we always want to be a good listener of good messages and good teaching. We want to hear God's word and listen well and learn what it says and learn how the preacher, a good preacher or teacher, came to their conclusions so we can continue to apply that in our own personal study. Along that line with our personal study, let me just say this. Of course, discipline is involved every day, opening our Bible and reading it.

Here's a piece of advice. Instead of reading fast, and there is space for reading through your Bible in a year, making sure we are familiar, as the word of God will put it, with the whole counsel of God's word. But at the same time, there is something beautiful about reading something slow and making sure we understand each word as it fits in context and how that applies to our lives and meditating on it all day, thinking about that truth all day, relishing it, seeing how it is beautiful. Sometimes people think, well, if I spend an hour and I go through 10 chapters, I feel like I've accomplished something.

That's true. But sometimes you can go in 10 or 15 minutes, know one phrase, one verse that the Bible has said, know it accurately and think about it all day. And technically at that point, you've had your devotions all day and it's transformed your life. And so my advice is, yes, it's good to get the breadth of God's word, but also going slow, thinking about each word in context. What does this mean?

How does this fit in the paragraph in the book that this author is writing? Answering those kinds of questions can yield tremendous joy and tremendous joy to the reader. I hope you enjoy the interview today with Abner Chow, and let's start interpreting the scripture accurately so we can think biblically and live accordingly.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Six four six twenty two thirty three. The Christian Worldview is a weekly one hour radio program that is furnished by the Overcomer Foundation and is supported by listeners and sponsors. Request one of our current resources with your donation of any amount. Go to the Christian Worldview dot org or call us toll free at one triple eight six four six twenty two thirty three or write to us at box four zero one Excelsior, Minnesota, five five three three one. That's box four zero one Excelsior, Minnesota, five five three three one. Thanks for listening to the Christian Worldview. Until next time, think biblically and live accordingly.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-22 01:40:17 / 2024-03-22 01:59:08 / 19

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