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Pointers along the way #580

Misunderstanding the Bible
- Jacob Ninan

The Bible is one of the greatest gifts God has given to people by which we can get to know God and His ways. Most Christians accept the fact, which the Bible itself tells us, that it was written under the inspiration of God (2Ti.3:16,17). But it was not dictated to the human authors by God but written by the authors using their own vocabulary, grammar and style. Therefore, in order to understand what God is communicating to us through the Bible we need to look beyond the written words, to understand what the Holy Spirit is saying. This is one place where many Christians make a mistake; wrongly assuming that every word is a direct quotation from God, they try to interpret verses literally as if they are scientific or legal statements. There are many things in the Bible that can be understood literally, but when we deal with spiritual truths, they cannot be understood by human analysis but only by spiritual revelation (1Co.2:14).

Take, for example, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Ro.10:9). Can we take this verse by itself and interpret it as the way to salvation? No. The context of this verse is to show a contrast between the people of Israel who were trying to find salvation by keeping the Law and Christians who receive it by faith. But this is not a statement that is complete in itself. Where is the mention of repentance from sins when one hears of Jesus having to die for one's sins? Does it mention how one would be lost from God and in hell if one continues in hell and is not saved? So what happens if one takes this verse by itself and repeats with his mouth that Jesus is Lord? Even if he believes that God raised Jesus from the dead? He would deceive himself if he thinks he is saved. But the fact is that many people who think they have become children of God are basing their salvation on such flimsy assumptions!

If we want to understand salvation, for example, we need to understand the nature of God, how Adam and Eve sinned, what God has done to bring people back to Him, and what sin does to us and to our relationship to God and others. Then we will repent and turn to God, and find salvation by receiving forgiveness that God offers freely to us based on the sacrifice of Jesus. Where do we get this understanding? From the whole Bible. Of course, people do get saved by understanding verses like Jn.3:16 which is a very condensed version of the truth we have been talking about. But if they need to grow and become mature in Christ, they have to feed on the word of God more and more (1Pe.2:2).

In matters as important as our salvation, and even on other subjects, we can't afford to take partial truths which we get from some verses here and there. We need to understand the heart of God. That is possible only as we study the Bible more. Let's learn to study the Bble properly, in the right way, and not misunderstand it.


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