Some Internal Insights on Scripture

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How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

by Evan Wheeler

Introduction

The Word of God can be and should be trusted; God commands us to trust His Word. The credentials of the Bible have constantly, through time, been under attack by liberals, skeptics, and other religious followers. There are many reasons to explain why the Bible is constantly attacked and why it has stood the test of time, but one could argue the reason for such attacks is because of the Bible’s content.

The Bible, consisting of the Old Testament, mainly composed of the origin of creation, the covenants and law of God, the prophets, the blessings promised to God’s people, and the shadow of Christ, and also consists of the New Testament, which is largely an expansion of the Old Testament laws and concepts, as well as the fulfillment of the old covenant in Christ and the prophecy of the future of the church.

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

By What Standard?

In order to come to a conclusion as to whether or not something is true, we must have a basis to determine truth from error. Every person assumes something and this assumption leads them to determine what is actually true, otherwise known as a presupposition (to suppose something in advance). There are two schools of thought in determining the credibility of the Holy Bible, that is reason-based and Scripture-based.

Typically these two schools of apologetics can be reduced to the Clark and Van Til controversy. Yet, without the testimony of Scripture testifying itself, one would have no basis to say the Scriptures are true because the Christian’s very authority would have never even claimed to be objectively true. This concept can be understood in summation by stating that knowledge requires faith. Every person, no matter what worldview one adheres to, requires faith to claim to know anything.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

What Would Jesus Say?

If one should look towards an example of how a Christian should argue his case for the truth of Scripture, then Christ would be the greatest example. Jesus Christ Himself quoted the Old Testament Scriptures as His authority and the authority for all men. The most commonly quoted book by Jesus was Leviticus. The only time Jesus spoke anything new was simply to expound on the law of God, which is found in the OT (Old Testament) texts.

Jesus Himself confronted those who had abandoned God’s Word as authoritative, in order that they may create their own worldview in which they could claim to be from God. Jesus, many times, corrected the traditions of the Pharisees that were utterly opposed to God’s law and He did that to point them to the truth, which is from God.

John 7:17-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him, this one is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you seeking to kill me?”

Jesus always pointed to the authority of God’s law that was given to His covenant people, so we as those in the new covenant should do the same. Christians accept His Word to be true based on faith, yet it establishes itself with consistent evidence and historicity. The Scriptures contain the testimony of Christ, prophecies that are fulfilled, and concepts and laws that are applicable. The Christian believes the Bible because the Bible claims to be true.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Early Church Perspectives

The early apostolic church had always accepted the OT texts as infallible and inspired; the true Word of God. For a few centuries, the majority of Christians only had the OT texts to read and study from. “For the Church as a whole it was a Christian book which spoke of the Savior on every page.”[1] The OT is not separate from Christ; rather it establishes the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom.

Since the OT was already accepted as authoritative, one must ask “Why is the New Testament (NT) authoritative?” The validity of the NT was not something originally introduced in the 3rd and 4th centuries, rather something that had already been accepted and taught by Christian communities. Shockingly, the NT writers did not introduce anything radically different than the OT had taught the people of God. The NT was simply an expounded version of the OT, as it made clear the testimony of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing about the kingdom of God and the fulfillment of the promises found in the OT.

The inspiration of Scripture is taken for granted, the church had to work out the methods of exegesis to be employed in interpreting it. The fundamental issue here, as was very soon perceived, was to determine the precise relation of the Old Testament to the New, or rather (since at the earliest stage there was no specifically Christian canon), to the revelation of which the apostles were the witnesses. As has already been mentioned, the solution arrived at consisted in treating the Old Testament as a book which, if it were read with unclouded eyes, would be seen to the Christian through and through. In adopting this attitude Christian theologians and teachers were merely following the example of the apostles and evangelists, and indeed of the Lord Himself.[2]

As was stated earlier, every position and belief is based on faith. Whether one has faith (synonymous to trust in this context) in their five senses, reason, logic, etc., or one has faith in God’s Word. As soon as the one who says, “I am reasonable” begins to give someone a reason for trusting in their reason, they have shown where their faith lies. All worldviews are circular to an extent.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

The Means to an End

One commonly misrepresented concept held by orthodox Christianity is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The OT and NT were both written by men, yet God used men to accomplish the writing and preservation of His Word. Man, the means of infallibility, inspiration, and preservation were all a work of the Holy Spirit. Historically there are two views as to how this occurred.

Athenagoras of Athens, an early Church father from 133 – 190 C.E., held the view that the authors of Scripture were possessed by the Spirit, in a passive unconscious manner. This also was a common view among Alexandrian Jews and the sect of Christians called Monatists, a charismatic group that claimed to practice this same possession. However, the orthodox view at the time, held by fathers such as Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235 C.E.), taught that man was not purely passive in inspiration, rather was conscious and cognitive during the process of writing the words given by the inspiration of the Spirit.

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

Conclusion

The Bible can be trusted, not just because that is its claim, but because evidence of infallibility, unity, and preservation through restoration speak in accordance with its testimony. A Christian should have the boldness to build their house upon the rock of Christ, trusting in His Word and loving God by obeying Him. The Bible has been, and always will be under scrutiny as long as the body has forgotten what they once held dearly to, that is the faith in God’s Word to properly expose the stupidity of unbelieving worldviews and to adequately teach the full counsel of God. Proper interpretation of the Scriptures is to get at what the authors meant by the words that

[1] J. N. D. Kelly, “Early Christian Doctrines”, pg.52

[2] Kelly, “Early Christian Doctrine”, pg. 64,65

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