I recently was thinking through some childhood friends of mine who were reared by parents similar to mine in many ways, but my friends have gone in a totally different direction both theologically and practically. Ever wonder why?
Looking out at the vast range of those who call themselves by the name of “Christian”, we can see many major differences between such individuals – differences ranging from lifestyle choices and worldviews in how we approach life to how we get to heaven and how major sins are to be viewed.
How can all of these many versions of the Gospel and different views be so different? And how can we know that we have the proper beliefs and that we are truly living for Christ? How many people care? Who really wants to read the Bible or live it? And what will that cost them eternally? Why don’t they care?
Most would probably love to have discernment, great habits in their lives, and lots of rewards including heaven in the next life. Most won’t have this. Most will burn including perhaps some reading this article. Others will be in heaven with little or no rewards including perhaps some reading this as well. Few will be in heaven with great reward. Very few. Why?
They know everything to do. They just don’t want to read the Bible or do right, because they have no passion for it. Why? They don’t see the consequences, because they lack the Spirit’s leading in their lives. Why? They don’t spend time with GOD. How do you do this? You read His Words. Then you pray back to Him. That’s called a conversation. If you don’t read His Word and pray to Him, you won’t have a passion for reading His Word. It’s the chicken and the egg thing. The more you do it, the more you’ll do it. It’s like many things in life.
If you are one of those who doesn’t want to do it, then join the crowd in heaven who have very little reward for all eternity. If you don’t even have Christ within you, the hope of glory, then without the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you will burn in the lake of fire. Your first step is to repent, believe in Christ, and ask His Spirit to indwell you.
If you’ve done that, then make sure you don’t neglect your salvation as Scripture clearly says. What does it mean to neglect your salvation? The Bible talks about shipwrecking faith, neglecting your salvation, and continuing in faith until the end in order to be saved all throughout its pages if people read it instead of trusting a preacher, who oftentimes tells people what they want to hear in order to pick up his paycheck at the end of the month.
If you overcome by faith, then you will be saved as Revelation says. Some think they said a “sinner’s prayer” and they’re all set. After all, works can’t save, so they figure they don’t have to do a thing. That’s where faith is needed; in fact, that’s where faith is not only needed but is required for your salvation. Without faith, don’t expect to enter heaven. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of GOD. That’s what the Bible says. It’s the Book full of all the facts on heaven and hell.
If you don’t read it and you just trust your pastor who needs your satisfaction to keep making his paycheck, then you might be trusting the wrong person. Haven’t you ever wondered if he was telling the truth about how you need to run around and do all those activities for the church in order to be “spiritual” or whether GOD really does require you to give all your money to help pay the mortgage of a giant “church campus”?
Have you wondered if perhaps your weekly fellowship alone was sufficient since that is what GOD required all throughout the Bible or if your money wouldn’t be best spent on helping fellow Christians and in ministering to the lost instead? The Bible has answers on all these matters. You will be amazed at how much easier GOD’s way is compared to your local pastor and church’s ways in many matters of money and requirements. On the other hand, you may be amazed at how holy GOD requires you to be and how that also makes your life easier in certain regards as it frees you from sin. Have you ever had questions about politics, economics, and family issues? The Bible has answers.
You should really read the Bible for yourself. It says that only through faith can we inherit salvation – faith that is trusting enough to obey. No works involved. Just faith. But faith is needed not only initially when you pray a “sinner’s prayer” asking for the Spirit’s indwelling and forgiveness and restoration with your Creator, but also faith ongoing in your life. Is this perhaps why so many think they don’t need to read the Bible? Because some pastor told them “once-saved-always-saved”? That’s not what GOD says, and the continuous Present tense in Greek confirms what I’m saying.
Preachers who say “once-saved-always-saved” and who preach an easy-believism often quote verses out of context and without conveying the Greek tense. In other words, “if you believe and continue to believe”, you will be saved. It all makes sense why so many people act today like they’ve already gained heaven through a “sinner’s prayer” and can now live their lives without Bible reading or prayer. In fact, many live with books about witchcraft and such.
They are false brethren in many cases, but there are also those who may have faith but see no reason to continue in faith. Here’s a great one – salvation. And here’s a great verse that ties together Bible reading with faith:
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17
Think about how many conspiracy theories have been found to be true, and how many have been found to be false. How do you know which is which? In a similar manner, how can you know if the pastor who says “once-saved-always-saved” is telling the truth or if I’m telling the Truth in saying that faith saves us, but that faith also keeps us? You need to know how to read and interpret the Bible yourself. Isn’t salvation too important for you to get wrong on Judgment Day?
How do we know we have proper beliefs and that we are truly living for Christ? There’s a simple way to know these things, but first we must determine who or what is our source of belief. In the case of Christians, the Bible has already told us who and what that should be. Jesus Christ said that His Spirit would lead us into all Truth, so He is the “Who” leading us into the Truth of which belief or practice is right. Jesus was also called “the Word” in the first chapter of John which showed how closely He was tied to His Word. Furthermore, we see that His Word is considered to be “the What”. Jesus told false teachers that they were in error because they did not know the Power of GOD or the Word of GOD. We see this theme throughout the Bible. The Bible also claims exclusive rights to these two for Truth.
The histories and traditions and rules of men outside these two sources are proclaimed by the Apostle Paul to be adding to Scripture. Making additions to Scripture is against GOD’s Word. Therefore, if anyone teaches you that the Bible is true, but leads you to “additional sources” to supplement Scripture, they are actually contradicting Scripture. “Let GOD be true and every man a liar” says the Bible. That includes all religious leaders, no matter how much they are admired.
What is this simple method for knowing that our beliefs and practices are correct as opposed to masses of others claiming to be Christians today? In order to live and believe the Truth, we must first be able to read the Truth, then interpret the Truth properly, and apply the Truth. Then and only then can we properly live and believe the Truth. The difference between myself and my childhood friends dawned on me today. Our fathers made the difference. My father devoted himself to the Bible and the leading of the Spirit. Their father was more about “good sermons”. I see this truth a lot in most denominations including fundamentalists who sometimes are the worst for emphasizing what they call “preaching”.
In reality, the term “preaching” in the Bible is the term for sharing GOD’s Word. With urban and rural traditions, many have come to think of preaching as someone talking about the Bible (i.e. ‘sermon’) or someone shouting from a podium in their cathedral or on a street corner. However, publishing, sharing, and proclaiming is the true meaning of the word “preaching” and “preaching” is nothing unless it is a sharing of Scripture. After all, even Satanic priests could “preach” in that sense of the word (i.e. yelling, lecturing, etc). Telling funny stories or telling people to live “good” or telling people to pray and read the Bible is nice, but that’s really not the preaching that will help people grow strong roots.
Preaching and teaching are to be centered upon this one method of reading, interpreting, meditating in the Spirit, and applying the Bible to everyday life and belief systems. I watched my father do this day after day. He wasn’t just someone who told funny stories or who gave illustrations from the newspaper or who shared other entertaining thoughts or who lectured a dry lesson of moralism. My father loved the Word. Today, I love the Word. My childhood’s friends love ‘sermons’, books, and ‘messages’ and enjoy keeping up with the latest popular preachers. Their father was the same, although in his day, books, messages, and sermons were more conservative. Today, his children are more liberal, but that’s because they were rooted in the wrong source – so-called “Christian” pastor’s, author’s, and other men’s thoughts rather than GOD’s thoughts.
I am so thankful for the heritage that I’ve been given by my father and both my grandfathers who all loved to read the Bible, study it for interpretation, meditate upon it, make application of it, and then form their lives and their beliefs based upon their final conclusions with the aid of the Spirit. Those who follow the “spirit” without the Word are unable to do what the Bible says and “test the spirits”; thus, they may be following a crafty demon instead of the Holy Spirit. Those who follow the “Word” without the Spirit are unable to understand what GOD says in His Word. Look at false teachers who have not the Spirit. They may know the Bible like Jesuits, Mormons, and cult leaders, but they do not have proper beliefs or practices and may therefore even kill people thinking they are obeying the Bible. That’s why the Spirit and the Word are needed. One is the Message. The other is the Interpreter of the Message who indwells in all who give their lives to Christ in repentant faith.
A Christian high school teacher recently asked his students how many had read the Gospels. Only one in eight had read the Gospels. Are not the Gospels the very core of Christianity? The teacher exclaimed that he understood why Christian school teens are leaving Christianity. I believe those young adults are a reflection of their parents, and this was in a strict fundamentalist school that was strong on Bible memory, yet it appears these high school students seldom if ever read the Bible of their own accord and expect the school to tell them what to think and what the Bible says (much like the papacy did to people).
Most congregations operate the same way. The pastor does not read or teach the Bible in most congregations, but gives his thoughts on a couple of verses from the Bible instead for most of the hour or in many cases during whatever time is left after the music of the enchanters is finished. The pastor does not teach his congregation how to interpret, to research the Scriptures, to use rules of interpretation or to dig into the original Greek and Hebrew from whence their translation was derived. Instead, they expect their congregation to trust whatever they say. In this way, the churches in America have begun to reflect the Romanists. I genuinely wonder how many pastors could teach their congregations the rules of interpretation and language and how to apply them to Scripture studies if they were asked to do so.
Most pastors in America do not apply the Scripture to daily living, cultural choices, lifestyle, or to how they conduct “church” which has become a social club in most towns.
I’m convinced by my observations that few pastors apply Scripture to daily living, and one reason is because they don’t know the Scriptures. Their congregants don’t either, since most expect the pastor to do this for them. The Bible teaches that we all should know how to study the Bible. We can’t blame the pastors. By the way, most godly pastors on this planet who do teach and apply Scriptures are underpaid, overworked, and are treated like a “stress ball” and “pin cushion” by their congregants. That’s why most pastors prefer to just fulfill their congregants’ desires instead. However, keep in mind that there’s a Payday Someday.
If congregations did read the Bible, interpret it, and apply it, then would it not be easier for congregants to live the Bible in front of a lost and dying world whose vast majority will burn with eternal fire (while being ignored by most churches today in America)? Yet, I also wonder how many in America’s churches think their intellectual belief in Jesus will get them into heaven. I wonder how many have actually prayed to Jesus Christ and committed their lives to Him, asking for the Holy Spirit to indwell them? I even wonder how many pastors have done this? The devils believe there is one GOD and tremble. Saving belief or true faith is willingness to give one’s life to GOD, to repent and carry their cross and follow Him. How many today are doing so? Have you ever prayed to Jesus in repentance and told Him that you want Him to take your life as His own and indwell you with His Spirit? If not, you are without salvation. Salvation is only through giving our lives to Christ. Is it possible that many in congregations do not care about learning the Scriptures and applying them to their lives, simply because they are not true believers, but are only going through the traditions they have learned with only an intellectual acknowledgement of Jesus Christ’s Truth?
Imagine your congregations reading several chapters every week in their congregational meeting, followed by interpretation, and then application. Let me show you an illustration of what this all means. I will read, interpret, and apply two verses from the Scriptures for you below. This is from a Bible study I did with my family which we conduct on Sunday evenings together where we usually cover around three chapters every week (according to my family’s estimates when I asked them). Let me first share a photo of the first of these two verses found in Deuteronomy 18 along with the original Hebrew language and each of the key Hebrew words to the right of the passage as seen at the Blue Letter Bible (www.blueletterbible.org) website.
Now using the rules of interpretation which I have clearly outlined in the article at this link, I have rendered the interpretation (not “MY” interpretation but what I believe is “THE” interpretation) of this verse below. Does that mean how I render the passage’s interpretation is always right? No, but I am not trying to tell you what “I think about it”, but instead I am showing you exactly what the passage says and means based upon the Hebrew word definitions given to us at each of the links to the Strong’s IDs for each key Hebrew word. Also in RED, I have given to you several applications of the interpretation below. Here’s what is being said.
When Israel comes into the Promised Land, they are not to learn of the way of the pagans there. Not one of the Israelites were to be:
- One who passes their children through fire (much like abortion today)
- A diviner (one who uses demonic insight such as a fortune-teller, fortune-cookies, astrologer, palm reader, zodiac/signs, crystal-ball-reader, psychic, tarot card reader, Ouija board reader, divining rod user, or other objects to foretell or inform others of things through spiritism)
- A conjurer (such as a rain dancer, magician of black magick like the men of Egypt who cast their rods on the ground and turned them into snakes or like the False Prophet will do in the end of time or like shamans and witch-doctors do through their sorcery (false medicine), false healing, or even Satanic televangelists do today).
- A “serpent” (could mean a demoniac since the Hebrew word “nachash” means serpent and this word is associated with demons or spirits or “pythons” as some historically have called demons; it could also mean one who hisses like serpents such as hypnotists or who writhes like serpents such as mediums who are possessed and serve as channels or mediums to demons; it could also mean one who “observes diligently” since this Hebrew word is translated as such throughout the Old Testament and this is a characteristic of a snake; in fact, one of the best possibilities is a hypnotist since this Hebrew word is for “snake” and also since it is used elsewhere in Scripture as “observes diligently”, because it is the serpent who charms it victims by slowly hypnotizing them first; as you can tell, the word has some ambiguity and it is interesting that the translators of the Bible tend to translate it “enchanters” which is a word rooted in the Latin which connotes an altered form of singing – as opposed to “chanters”; the writhing of the serpent can be construed to be likened unto certain forms of dancing and the hissing can also be interpreted as sounding like certain forms of singing; spell-casting is another possible interpretation of the word “enchanter” that they chose since this word is akin to “incantations” and “enchantments” which appear to be an altered state of mind and music differing from cantillations by cantors which is proper singing identified with the Biblical music of Israeli and Gentile Christian worship songs)
- A Witch which was one identified with worship of demons or idols which were rooted in ancient Baal or Bel worship (Satanism aka paganism); the definition in the Lexicon also described this person as being given to enchantments or magical songs
Now let’s take a look at the second verse.
- A Charmer (this Hebrew word “Chabar” is defined as someone who through entrainment unites a confederacy and in this context is one who leads a group into a united league with the spirit world such as a séance leader or a shaman known for thousands of years as being identified with their spirit drumming such as the modern rocker who as Mickey Hart, the famous rock drummer, wrote in his book “Drumming at the Edge of Magic” described as a body of people who in his concerts who became entrained or united together by the power of the spirits as his drums beat – he also describes how the drums could be used to either bring about either fellowship or possession with the spirit world; Joseph Campbell, the famous occult leader, also taught similar beliefs in which he explained how the spirit drummers could communicate with the spirit world and use their drums to travel into the world of the spirit world; entrainment or unity of such a group spell or chain is seen in spirit drumming circles and in séances where the spirits unite into a chain using the people in the group as a confederacy).
- A requester of spirits (one who asks spirits for insight through prayer or ritual or other means such as a medium or spirit guru or yogi)
- A Wizard (one who has Satanic wisdom into the ways of the spirit world, whether it be the rituals, chants, mantras, implements, or other occult spells, spell-casting, or occult knowledge; also, one who may have insight into knowledge through such spirits much like modern occult masters, grandmasters or psychics who have clairvoyance or have been used to supposedly see an enemies’ war strategies or the perpetrator of a crime or other supernatural events or knowledge; a “wise man” or “Wise-ard” or wizard in matters of carnal knowledge, occult lore, or spirit powers and “visions”)
- A Necromancer or one who requests the “dead” for a conversation such as the host of an occult television show “Crossing Over”; one who communicates with the “dead” upon behalf of others; through the rule of context and the insight given by passages such as Saul’s visit to the witch of Endor, one sees a witch that seemed surprised to see Samuel appear; this may have been because GOD actually let Samuel appear instead of a demon impersonating “Samuel” which may have been what she was used to seeing (i.e. demons shape-shifting to appear like a dead loved one)
How do you access the Blue Letter Bible site to look up each of these Strong’s IDs yourself for each word? Here’s some direction.
I like to use a large video screen to show those I teach the words in the original language and their definition when I come across a more difficult passage, so they can see for themselves what the Bible says in the original language as well as what it means by definition which is the first rule of interpretation. Here’s an example:
Also, while these tools from the Blue Letter Bible are convenient and therefore great to share with you for your Bible Study, it is always wise to read several different Lexicons and Bible Dictionaries, especially the older ones. I also encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Hebrew and Greek alphabets as seen on Wikipedia at this link and this link. I teach my own children these alphabets and how to pronounce them, so they can view the original language and verify what each letter is saying in the original manuscripts. Many tools exist on the internet, YouTube, and Bible Study websites including the Blue Letter Bible site for learning to pronounce the original Hebrew and Greek words. It’s also very much worth your time to watch Chris Pinto’s well-researched documentaries at this link and this link on the importance of using translations that originate from the Masoretic Hebrew Text (Old Testament) and that originate from the Textus Receptus (New Testament) due to the occult Romanists who introduced fraudulent manuscripts and forgeries in the past couple of centuries which they claimed were ancient. Chris Pinto’s documentaries can be found on his website at this link along with many other documentaries on the intrigue of Rome. His research complements much of my own. The translation that I have chosen for this exercise is the Young’s Literal Translation, because it translates some words better than the King James Translation. By definition of “translation”, any translation isn’t going to be a complete replica of the original language, because certain Hebrew and Greek words do not exist in some languages, and therefore substitute words describing the concept or message of the Hebrew and Greek words must be used. In this way, the message of what GOD is saying is still communicated if the translation is accurate. In fact, written language is only a system of symbols which represent concepts or messages. Thus, the key is to convey the message within a translation and not to use the same exact word since that word may not be available in the target language.
I also used the Rule of Usage which is the second rule of interpretation. As you can see below, it helps to know where a particular Hebrew or Greek word was used throughout the Bible and to see how it was used in each of those verses.
Also, one who reads throughout the entire Bible and is familiar with it contents is able to have a great understanding of context and can compare a verse with others in their head. For those who may not be as advanced in their understanding of the Scriptures, the Blue Letter Bible also has a “Cross Reference” tab which can be used to see other passages related to the verse they are reading in order to establish context. Other Bible study tools and even study Bibles have similar cross-reference aids.
Precedent, unity, and inference are three other rules of interpretation that are also aided by a knowledge of the rest of Scripture and its context to determine if there is a precedent by which this word has been used or translated a certain way before, to see if this adheres to the unity of the rest of Scriptural truth, and if a word has been used in a certain way before, then by inference one can feel comfortable using it in such a way in the verse which they are studying.
A knowledge of logic, syllogisms, and history are also useful to ensure one is not making completely illogical determinations or developing interpretations that completely contradict other passages. History allows us to understand the context in which a book or passage was written. In fact, the Bible contains a great deal of history right within its own covers and that history is an infallible, inspired, and excellent source for historical assumptions to be made. I would love to someday to create an article or even a YouTube video in which I can step you through all the various research that I do in order to arrive at my interpretations above, but for now, we will conclude this article with the simple helps given above. Sometimes “too much” can confuse and frustrate those who are struggling as it is in their Biblical studies.
In conclusion, using the rules of context, usage, definition, logic, history, precedence, unity, and inference to determine interpretation is very important instead of standing unprepared in front of a congregation without any idea of what the Bible is truly saying and sharing what’s “on your heart” or what “you think”. Even worse is the Bible teacher or pastor who must ask his class what “they think”. On the other hand, a pastor or teacher who allows different men to give a reading, interpretation, and application of a passage while coaching them behind the scenes throughout the week would be a great way of the pastor mentoring more men and would fulfill the caring nature of a true under-shepherd of GOD.
Keep in mind that much of application and also even some of interpretation is made possible by the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit who indwells true believers is essential to being true to GOD’s Word and being able to apply it to our everyday lives. In fact, I have found that He tends to apply Scripture to my life during my daily routines if I’m listening to His direction and to His working on my conscience. If we do not come to the same conclusions on interpretation or application, it is usually because one of us is not hearing the Spirit’s voice although it could be that we’re seeing two different complementary thoughts as well. Or it could be because we’re both off-base with our studying habits or we are both lacking the Spirit’s filling. Also, as men following Christ, we can learn from each other and from the older Christian men among us especially. Women are told in the pastoral epistles to learn from each other as well with the elder women taking the lead.
In closing, one of the greatest ways to teach the Scriptural applications that you flesh out of the Bible is to live the applications out in front of your congregants and children daily. Sometimes a ‘show and tell’ on the spot is helpful. For example, if you read about the Biblical mandate to care for widows who need financial care, you may apply it by starting a fund for widows (instead of a fund for sports teams) in your congregation. You may want to start with the wives of pastors and ministry workers. I recently had an older Southern Baptist pastor’s wife telling me of her concerns. She had called the Southern Baptist office and had asked what would happen if her husband passed away. She was told that they might help her out with her utility bills. I could tell this lady was weary from years in the ministry and from working full-time herself to ensure they could survive financially. Also, I noticed the pastor’s wife didn’t feel comfortable asking the congregation this question. I understand. I was a pastor’s son and I worked in the ministry myself many years ago before I realized that GOD doesn’t require us to depend upon self-centered, fleshly individuals for a full-time salary. Wouldn’t it be great if this lady could ask her congregation to care for her? Wouldn’t it be great if her congregation not only took care of her but also all the other widows who might need help if they had exhausted all other means of survival and could just not work any longer? The Bible teaches that congregations are required to not only take care of widows, but also orphans and other helpless congregants. This is called application not only in the abstract, but in the concrete living of a people. Furthermore, in the above two verses, I could have continued my application by pointing to the dangers of Harry Potter who promotes witchcraft, the television show “Charmed” that promotes “charming”, the book and movie by C.S. Lewis “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” that exalts wizards doing incantations for the “good” side, the television show “Psyche”, movies like “The Craft”, or Tolkien’s trilogy “Lord of the Rings” that promotes a “good” wizard and concepts such as the gods creating the world, pantheism, and more. Such applications may anger some of the congregants, but it also may awaken them from their daydreaming or playing on their iPhones. It may also rid your congregation of false brethren who can hinder the congregation from being united and in one accord with the Holy Spirit. Remember that the Apostle Paul said the congregation should have no fellowship with darkness. Congregations were only for the people of GOD. Never were unbelievers yoked together with the fellowship of believers for “evangelism” or “seeker-friendly” activities.
I hope this article has been a help to you as you read, interpret, and apply GOD’s Word to your life, so that you may then live your lives as written epistles before men and show forth your good works in glory to GOD.