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The PLAIN Meaning Of Scripture

August 18, 2017

When I was first converted from the Baptist church, I thought members of conservative churches of Christ always took the plain (most obvious) meaning for passages, and didn’t shy away from that because of family, circumstances, consequences, feelings or emotion, or any extra-Biblical factor. But I have since found out I was wrong in many cases. Instead many Christians are now interpreting the Bible using the “hermeneutic rule that says to not construe a passage in such a way that it has consequences that are not acceptable” (Robert Waters, Christian, Facebook, 1-31-2017).

Taking the obvious meaning for a verse ought to be one of the top rules of hermeneutics (after “the Bible does not contradict itself”). Notice how this is expressed in David Cooper’s Golden Rule Of Interpretation: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages, and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.” In other words, we should always accept a text at simple face value, unless something else in the Bible forces us to do otherwise.

As we know, the Bible is to be understood just like any uninspired document written by men. Eph 3:3-4 says “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge.” Also II Cori 1:13 reads “For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand …” (NASV). To understand uninspired literature, we take what it says at face value unless something dictates otherwise. Clearly we should do the same with inspired texts. After all, God is communicating with us in our language.

Notice further this quote from D.R. Dungan’s book “Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures” (pg.184,195-203): “All words are to be understood in their literal sense, unless the evident meaning of the context forbids. – Figures are the exception, literal language the rule; hence we are not to regard anything as figurative until we feel compelled to do so by the evident import of the passage. … here great caution should be observed. We are very apt to regard contexts as teaching some theory … in our minds. And having so determined, anything to the contrary will be regarded as a mistaken interpretation; hence, if the literal meaning of the words shall be found to oppose our speculations, we are ready to give to the words in question some figurative import that will better agree with our preconceived opinions. Let us be sure that the meaning of the author has demanded that the language be regarded in a figurative sense, and that it is not our theory which has made the necessity.”

Having said all that, what is the plain meaning of the following? …

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved …

Matt 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

I Cor 14:34-35 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience … And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Matt 5:22 … I say unto you, … whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of h-e-l-l fire.

Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting ….

Matt 12:31-32 … All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Luke 17:3 … If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Matt 27:46 … Jesus cried with a loud voice … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

James 4:15 … ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that

Matt 5:33-34 … I say unto you, Swear not at all

Tit 2:4-5 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Why do many Christians try to get around the plain meaning of the above passages instead of just accepting and applying them?

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The Big Bang Theory

August 11, 2017

The Big Bang theory says a small particle of dust exploded and then expanded to become all of our whole infinite universe. Does it even sound reasonable that all the universe’s mass could have previously been so compressed into one speck of dust? And does it sound reasonable that after jillions of years of nothing whatsoever happening, something all of a sudden happened to make that speck of dust explode? And where did that original speck of dust come from anyway?, and how was it surrounded by absolutely nothing?   And since science says that life never comes from non-life, does it sound reasonable that somehow life came from non-life (that exploded speck) just that one time?

Doesn’t the following sound much more reasonable/likely? …

· Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

· Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Me thinks most people don’t believe the obvious because it would require answering to a creator for their actions (II Cor 5:10).

I Peter 3:21 – Baptism is Not the Figure

August 4, 2017

I Pet 3:21 says baptism saves us, referring to water baptism. Some say it only saves figuratively since the word “figure” is in the KJV version of the verse. However if you read the text carefully, you see that the word “figure” is not referring to baptism, but to the eight souls being physically saved by water in Noah’s day which prefigures our spiritual salvation via water baptism.

So to be clear, the passage does not say that baptism is a figure. The figure is Noah and his family’s salvation by water. Baptism is the real or antitype (defined by The Random House College Dictionary as “something that is foreshadowed by a type or symbol, as a NT event prefigured in the OT”).

Notice these translations and definitions that make that fact abundantly clear:

· NKJV – There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism

· New Testament in Modern Speech – And, corresponding to that figure, baptism now saves you

· The Good News Translation – Which was a symbol pointing to baptism, which now saves you

· The New Living Translation – And this is a picture of baptism, which now saves you

· Thayer defines the word as, “a thing resembling another, its counterpart; something in the Messianic times which answers to the type prefiguring it in the Old Testament, as baptism corresponds to the deluge.

· Vincent’s Word Studies says that it is to be read as “which, the antitype or as an antitype; i.e., which water, being the antitype of that water of the flood, doth now save you, even baptism.”

· Arndt and Gingrich’s Lexicon – Thus in I Peter 3:21 … means baptism, which is a fulfillment (of the type), now saves you, i.e., the saving of Noah from the flood is a …, or ‘foreshadowing’ …, and baptism corresponds to it.

· NIV – “and this water symbolized baptism that now saves you also” (notice that baptism is not the symbol, but is what is being symbolized, the real).

· The King James translators indicated this with the word “whereunto,” which according to The Random House College Dictionary means “whereto” or “to what or what place or end.” So the passage is saying the figure (Noah’s family’s salvation by water) is to the place or end of water baptism. The figure points to baptism, not that the figure is baptism. See the difference?

Notice also, that if baptism is the type here, then the eight souls being saved by water is the antitype. Water baptism symbolized the flood – who believes that?

The NASV translates it, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you.” That’s easy to understand, isn’t it?

Conclusion: We are saved by the death of Christ when we are baptized in water, and not before.

God’s Favor Upon A Nation Is Conditional

July 28, 2017

Jeremiah 18:7-10 reads “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”

This passage shows God’s favor upon a nation is conditioned upon its attitude and actions. And it couldn’t be unchangeably set beforehand (like the Calvinists say), else it makes no sense to say God repented of his intentions regarding them. Unchangeably set would mean that God could never change His mind.

Calvinism says everything that happens is unchangeably set by God, but the Bible teaches God’s promises and favors are sometimes conditioned upon how we behave.

Is Bragging About Our Unrighteousness Showing Humility?

July 21, 2017

It seems many (including some Christians) feel it is more humble and Godly to brag about their unrighteousness instead of coveting righteousness. Former Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze seemed to glorify unrighteousness in this way with his recent tweet – “Because of Him, you don’t need to fear unrighteousness. It’s our delusion of righteousness that we should fear.”

Instead of glorifying unrighteousness we should apologize (primarily to God) for our unrighteousness and diligently seek righteousness – which is defined by I John 3:7 as “… he that doeth righteousness is righteous ….” Never be ashamed of following God’s commands (John 14:15) and asking that out of others.

Make no mistake about it, obedience is required for God’s salvation. Heb 5:9 drives that point home well – Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” I Pet 1:22 also – “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth ….”

This attitude of glorifying unrighteousness is specifically condemned in Rom 6:1-2 – “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” And “because of Him” we should certainly “fear unrighteousness” because passages like I Cor 6:9 state “… the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ….”

Could Jesus Have Sinned? – I Peter 2:21-22

July 14, 2017

Some say it was impossible for Jesus to sin, but consider I Pet 2:21-22 – “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”

Our text says Jesus’ perfect life is an example for us to try to follow. But how could He be our example in avoiding sin if it were impossible for Him to sin in the first place? To be our perfect example, Jesus must have faced real temptation to sin like we do (Heb 4:15), and overcome it. That should be our goal – to do the same thing as He did – face temptation and overcome it.

Some People Never Say They’re Sorry

July 8, 2017

James 5:16 reads “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Unfortunately, some Christians obey that verse next to nothing. It is not that they never do anything wrong to hurt another person. It is more that they are insensitive to their own faults (Prov 16:12) and/or are not humble enough to admit wrong (Luke 18:14, Col 3:12, James 4:6, I Pet 5:5, etc.).

Similarly, some Christians never say “thank you” to others, but they ought to (Acts 24:3, Col 3:15).

Admitting wrong to others is very important (Matt 5:23-24), but confessing wrong to God is even more important. I John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What About The Gay Church Argument That Old Testament Censures Against Homosexuality Are Not Binding Today?

June 30, 2017

First, I agree 100% that none of the Old Testament laws are binding today, including the prohibitions against homosexuality. But I would ask – does that mean sex with animals (condemned in the very next breath in the Lev 18:22-23 and 20:13-16) is not wrong?

With their argument, the Gay Church is admitting homosexuality was wrong under the Old Testament for Israelites. This then admits:

• Saying “I was born this way” is not a valid excuse. If any Israelites were “born homosexuals,” they would still have had to abstain. Of course Rom 1:26-27 proves nobody is born that way.

• God would have required Israelites with a homosexual “orientation” to go against their “nature.” This contradicts the Gay Church view that as long as you go with “your nature,” you are okay.

So really the Gay Church’s admission on the Leviticus passages proves wrong its position on the New Testament passages that do prohibit homosexuality today:

· Rom 1:24,26-27 – Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

· I Cor 6:9 – Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers. Neither homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. (NKJV)

· I Tim 1:9-10 – We also know this: The law was not made for a good man, but for people who are lawless, rebels, ungodly, sinners, unholy, not religious, father-killers, mother-killers, murderers, sexual sinners, homosexuals, slave traders, liars, and those who break promises. These and other things are against the healthy teaching as found in the glorious gospel of the blessed God which He trusted to me. (Simple English New Testament)

The Little Word “If” Proves Salvation Is Conditional

June 23, 2017

The word “if” means – “on condition that … a condition, requirement, or stipulation” (Random House College Dictionary)

Illustrations:

Bobby, if you eat your carrots, Mommy will let you have some ice cream.

If you finish your homework, you may go out and play.

If you take this medicine, it should make you feel better.

Now notice some verses that use the word “if” to show our salvation is conditional:

Matt 6:14-15 if ye forgive men their trespasses, your … Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Rom 10:9 if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

I Cor 15:1-2 … the gospel … By which also ye are saved if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you

II Peter 1:10 … for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall

Conclusion: Salvation/Election is “if” (conditional)

II Cor 5:21a – For He Hath Made Him To Be Sin For Us

June 16, 2017

II Corinthians 5:21a (“For he hath made him to be sin for us”) is saying the same thing as Isaiah 53:6c. God “made him to be sin for us” is the same as God “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Suppose a Mob boss ordered a small potatoes underling to take the rap for a crime some more important mobsters did. The mobsters let off the hook could accurately say – “For the Boss hath made him to be dirty for us.” Wouldn’t that mean the low man on the totem-pole substituted for the big wigs, he took their penalty for them?

In a similar way, Jesus was “made … to be sin” means he was literally treated like a sinner by God:

· not in the sense that Jesus sinned or was made guilty of sin – not in any shape, form, or fashion – He was the most innocent lamb that ever lived

· we see this in Isaiah 53:5 – Jesus took our chastisement so we could have peace with God

· I like the way David Lipscomb put it on page 81 of his Gospel Advocate commentary on II Corinthians – “God had made Jesus who committed no sin to suffer as though he had sinned.”

Jesus made to be sin for us = took our sins in our place = Substitute