Loving the Truth by Pastor John Samson
I know I am speaking for all the contributors to the site when I say that we embrace and exult in the sovereignty of God over all things and the activity and the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. This perspective, we believe, is the biblical one, and keeps the Gospel central in our focus and God's grace as utterly amazing.
Historically, these doctrines of grace have acted much the same as guardrails on the mountain of God's truth, helping the Church at large avoid the perilous dangers of false doctrine. Yet in saying this, we never want to neglect other central truths of the faith. These would include the full Deity and humanity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, sola scriptura - the belief that Scripture alone is the sole infallible authority for doctrine and practice, the Trinity, as well as the vitally important Gospel truth of justification by faith alone (sola fide), which Martin Luther described as â€œthe article upon which a Church stands or falls.â€
There are many other items that could be mentioned here, but something else that strongly unites us is the desire to faithfully exegete the text of Scripture. I would be hard pressed to think of anything more dear to our hearts than having a precious, personal intimacy with God and faithfully handling His holy word.
We are called to be lovers of the Truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 declares, "The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved."
There are three precious coordinates that enable us to determine what the truth is. The Bible reveals that Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6); the Spirit is Truth (1 John 5:6); and the Scripture is the Truth (John 17:17). If what we believe is the Truth, it will be always true to Jesus, true to the Holy Spirit of God, and true to the God breathed Scriptures.
As Dr. R. C. Sproul once noted, â€œNo Christian can avoid theology. Every Christian has a theology. The issue, then, is not, do we want to have a theology? Thatâ€™s a given. The real issue is, do we have a sound theology? Do we embrace true or false doctrine?â€ I would love to see all Christians unite in the love of the truth.
We would be horrified to hear of a surgeon who had just two weeks of training operating on someone's brain. As important as brain surgery is, I believe the job of the Gospel preacher is far more important.
Great care and attention is needed to ensure that a teaching is sound, healthy and accurate. A teacher of the Bible needs rigorous training in the science of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics). But that's not just true for the preacher; everyone of us needs to know how to gain an accurate knowledge of the Word of God.
Some people think that if God wants you to know something about the Bible, He will just reveal it to you supernaturally. Unfortunately, that's how a lot of cults get started. 1 Tim 5:17 says, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." Correct interpretation requires work; sometimes, a great deal of hard work.
We are also told to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15). Without diligent study, it is easy to wrongly divide the word; to believe and to teach error. The main way this takes place is because we draw illegitimate inferences from the text - when we read into the text things that are not actually said by the text, and draw out of the text things that are actually not there (known as eisegesis). Sadly, this happens all too frequently.
Though there may be many applications of a text or passage of Scripture, there is only ONE correct interpretation. In other words, it doesn't mean one thing and the exact opposite thing at the same time. Scripture is consistent. Scripture was written down by men, but in reality, there is only one Author, God Himself. God does not contradict Himself; He is not the author of confusion. Though, at times, we may be confused about what a passage means, God is never confused, and it is precisely because the Bible has a God inspired consistency that we can study it to find out what it means.
Because Scripture has only one correct interpretation, we can learn to be consistent in our interpretation of biblical texts by following some basic rules. These include reading any text in its context, finding out the meaning of the original words and grammar, and following the basic rules of English - verbs always stay as verbs, nouns as nouns, etc,.
Let us dispense with our traditions whenever we encounter them. What matters is not what we have assumed that a text says, but what it actually says. When the plain meaning of the text says something that challenges our traditional assumptions, we have a choice. We can say "it can't mean that because of..." (and we immediately take refuge in our traditional assumptions about what Scripture says), or we can be willing to bow the knee to God and His Word. Obviously, we should do the latter. The Word of God is right, when our traditional assumptions about it are wrong.
The law in this country gives us the right to interpret the Bible anyway we want to, without fear of prosecution. Thank God that we don't have to go to jail or be burnt at the stake if our interpretation is wrong (as in former eras). Yet we should always remember that God never gives us the right to interpret His word incorrectly.
We must allow the Word of God to sit in judgment on us, rather than for us to sit in judgment on the Word of God. When the Judge comes into the courtroom, lets not be found sitting in his chair!