But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:14-17)
15And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:17-18)
I have deep respect for the inspiration and authority of the bible. It is my conviction that all scripture is inerrant. That is the platform from which I launch my study of the Word. If you want to argue that foundation, go do it on another blog. I have no interest here in that debate. For me it is settled.
However, it is not my belief that all translations of the scriptures are inerrant, nor does every sermon delivered portray an accurate reflection of what God has revealed about Himself and our relationship to and with Him. Bible translations are affected by the translators’ knowledge of the language, as well as their knowledge of God. A pastor or teacher’s deliverance of the word of God is affected by their study of the Word, and, most importantly, the submission of the heart, soul and ear to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
14Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness . . .
(2 Timothy 2:14-16)
In my forty-plus years of walking with the Lord, I have sat under a wide range of teachers. Some were skillful and anointed in their handling of the scriptures, delivering accurate interpretation and soul-piercing application. Many were not. I have sat in congregations and winced while the pastor or teacher proceeded to quote scriptures out of context, using them to proof-text their own opinions. I remember sitting in one service when the pastor preached from a scripture using the old King James Version, but applied the 21st century definition of the words to the 16th century language. BIG difference in the meaning. Too many rely on traditions to interpret scripture, delivering second-hand lessons instead of first-hand revelation gleaned from disciplined study and much, much prayer. We too often get taught from the soul rather than the Spirit. It does little benefit to the church in the pursuit of maturity in Jesus Christ. In fact, it does much to retard spiritual growth.
Well, what to do?
10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
Paul’s charge to Timothy to show himself approved as someone who rightly handles the word of God does not only apply to church leaders. It applies to each and every one of us. Ultimately, we are responsible before God for our own relationship with Him. We are not to sit dumbly in the congregation and swallow everything that comes from the pulpit without question. We don’t pray through church leadership, we have direct communication God through Jesus Christ. While the church leadership is there to help teach and exhort us to grow up, that is not our only source of instruction. In fact, Jesus did not leave us orphans. (I’ve quoted the following verses separately for the sake of brevity, but I encourage the reading of them in context).
16“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
25“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
We have the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. He will bring to our remembrance all that Jesus taught. For us in this day, that means we need to read the word of God in order for the Holy Spirit to teach us regarding it. How to do that will be a continuing topic of this blog.