Is this really possible?
Really, we all know this is a rhetorical question. We all know that 2+2 cannot equal 4 and 5. It has to be one or the other, it cannot be both. This principle can be found all over and really should be considered as solid as the law of gravity. What I am talking about is the law of non-contradiction. Simply stated an answer can be one thing and not another. An apple cannot be an apple and an orange. An oreo cookie cannot be a oreo, and a chips ahoy. This is something that very few would take the time to argue. However, when it comes to the Bible many people willingly accept the premise that it can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Furthermore they accept that it is okay, and that those different interpretations should be acceptable…the phrase “we are all Christians” comes to mind. However, this simply cannot be the case as it would break the law of non-contradiction.
A couple of points from the Bible.
Mark 11:23 has only one meaning. Either Jesus is saying that we literally have the power and authority to make a physical mountain actually change locations, or Jesus was proving a point in a non-literal way.
Jesus is either God (part of the trinity), or He is not.
God is either King and Lord of this world, or He is not.
There is no middle ground. The point that I am trying to make is this, there are a number of church’s and religions that preach a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different God from the one held to in orthodoxy. One of us is wrong, and the other is right. The differences are so
vast, that there is no middle ground.
Trying to discern which is true can be a daunting task. However, we have all been given the Holy Word, and have been given the singular truth.
What I am talking about is a little known word called hermeneutics. Never heard of it? Simply put hermeneutics is the study of
interpretation. It is understanding the context of what you read in the Bible. By context I mean using knowledge of the following items to determine what God is actually trying to say: who did God use to write it, who did they write it to, why did they write, what is the historical perspective and what light does other scripture (especially the surrounding scripture) shed on the passage.
The first thing you have to remember is that the Bible (though inspired by the Holy Spirit) was written down by men. This is important to know as you read the Bible. It helps to understand that Romans, was recorded by a real man named Paul…who had some of the same frustrations that you and I have, who got sick, experienced pain, and disappointment very much like we do. These things are reflected in his letters. It is also important to remember that the letters of the New Testament were directed to a specific audience. Very much in the same way that you would
write an e-mail to a dear friend, Paul wrote 1 Timothy to Timothy. Much like we’d write a memo or letter to a church, he penned Romans to a group of people in a church in Rome.
As you listen to sermons your radar should always be up to examine what your pastor is saying (cf. Acts 17:11). Always compare what they are saying about a verse in the Bible with its context. A good rule of thumb is: if a pastor pulls one line out of a Bible verse to illustrate a point, without adding context, there is a good chance that it has been taken out of context. This is not 100% guaranteed, but it happens more often than you think (Especially with word of faith preachers).
Be sure that you are examining Scripture for yourself. First and foremost I highly recommend gaining a better understanding of hermeneutics.
I would recommend a book called “how to read the Bible for all its worth” by Gordon D Fee and Douglas K Stuart. This is the book I read when I began my journey.