On Wednesday evening, we started looking at the subject of biblical authority and how we can properly establish biblical authority regarding a particular subject. After one obeys Christ by putting Him on in baptism (Galatians 3:27) and learns the basics of how to serve Him faithfully, I can think of no other subject more important to a Christian. To faithfully serve God, we must understand what we need to do to obey Him and how God want us to do it.
Through the years the church has been pulled in many directions by those who have charged off in a wrong direction, intending to serve God, however through their poor hermeneutic (interpretation of God’s word) did damage to the kingdom. In the last 200 years, we can find many cases of those going either to the right or the left of God’s intended direction for His church. Both Liberalism and that termed “Anti-ism” came about by those who wanted to do good but either willfully or ignorantly did not understand what God wanted, and ended up dividing the church and taking others along with them in their error.
The question before us becomes, “how do we use the Bible to correctly understand God’s will for us and the church”? As we move from those who need milk, to those who use meat, we encounter more difficult questions about the faith (and practicing the faith) that we must answer. As we grow as a Christian, we must grow in our understanding of God’s word and in the proper use of God’s word. Our Wednesday evening study for the next few weeks will help us in that growth.
I have divided the material into the following key areas:
A) Can man correctly understand the Bible?
B) What did the inspiration of the Bible mean to the writers of the Bible?
C) To what authority are we to submit?
D) What does faith and knowledge mean in the Biblical sense?
E) Proper use of logic in understanding the Bible.
F) How the Bible authorizes.
There are a number of wrong approaches to this subject that we see spread in the church. Everything from denigrating the use of logic and denying that we can know anything, to the misuse of examples being used to restrict several of our Christian liberties. In recent times it seems that these have become very popular with many.
God expects us to use our mind to reason through the scriptures. Consider: Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Notice the use of the word reason, we are to reason together with God to understand His word directed to us. We must use our minds, use logic, and reason about the scriptures. The Hebrew word here carries the idea of to argue to convince, in other words to use logic to understand God’s teachings.
Even the New Testament writers expressed this point: I Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” Peter said the we were to use reason (logic) in establishing God’s authority. We must not fear logic but use it, to teach others and to understand God’s word. That word reason which Peter used is the Greek word from which we get our English word, logic.
As it has been said, logic doesn’t leave man, man leaves logic. There are those who embrace a position and when they are shown to be wrong assert “that is just your opinion”. They would rather hold to an untruth, than follow God’s teaching. Eventually one hears from them that we cannot infer anything from the scriptures because we are people and we can be wrong, that we can only bind direct teachings (commands). A position which is fundamentally flawed from the beginning. If it is true then there must be a scripture that gives us such a command or direct statement, that we are not to use our own reasoning. There is none and the position falls flat out of the chute. Compare: 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things? hold fast that which is good.” Yet, we still hear that we are not to use logic to determine Biblical implications, parroted from those who misuse the scriptures.
On the other hand, we find those who attempt to bind items that they don’t like, for some reason, on others. They want to make their opinion equal to God’s word. In their exuberance to follow God, they try to bind their own opinions. This happened early in the church, note those that taught: “Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). These Jews wanted to bind Judaism, with all of its various laws, upon Christians. The book of Galatians was written to address this error. The early church, when faced with this error, pointed out in verse 24 that they “to whom we gave no such commandment:” about binding the law of Moses regarding circumcision and keeping the Law.
Since, from the very beginning, we find those who wanted to bind burdens upon Christians that God did not bind, is it not surprising to find those today, who misuse the scriptures in an attempt to bind their teachings upon the church.
In the 1800’s, there were those who taught against “located” preachers. That a congregation could not “hire” a preacher to stay and work with a congregation. There were those that taught that Christians could not start up a college for any reason. Even up to recent times, we have seen those rise up and push whatever their favorite hobby horse was and try to bind their position to the point of it being a test of fellowship.
So how do those positions take hold? I believe it is mostly due to a lack of understanding by Christians of how to properly apply Biblical teachings. We don’t dig deeply enough into the scriptures. We don’t carefully look at how Jesus, the Apostles, and even the early disciples reasoned using the scripture. Jesus Christ made great use of logic regarding the scriptures. He was able to defeat all of His enemies that came at Him through great use of reasoning with the scriptures. We need to look at His use of logic, as well as the writers of the Bible. We will see that Paul, Peter and others made great use of God’s word by reasoning from it.
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at several ways that the writers of the Bible reasoned. We will examine significant errors being taught today, in light of Biblical teaching. We will consider ways of breaking down those teachings to their basics, so that one can then compare them with the Bible. As we will see, if we are willing to lay aside our biases, we can know what the Bible teaches on a subject, John. 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.