The “Context and Flow” Series: Strict Interpretation and Legitimate Application

I’ve gotten some messages from folks who have been listening to the Context and Flow series. Most of them are good and encouraging.

But a few listeners complained that I am taking away “application” principles by my strictly sticking to the context.

Let me first of all say I have no problem with application. But I do have a problem with application principles in general because the method of trying “to apply” the Bible based on one’s desire “to get something out of it for me” (ie: the emotional devotional approach to Bible study), is responsible for turning the truth of God into a series of falsehoods.

There are few things that destroy Biblical truth more than devotional reading.

I go by this motto in my studies:

Strict Interpretation in the Context and Flow: We lose NOTHING when we follow this procedure.

Once we leave the realm of Context and Flow we begin to read into texts concepts that just aren’t there – except in our imaginations.

We only gain truth when we strictly interpret and legitimately apply. But the strict interpretation must guide our application. THIS REQUIRES EFFORT – it requires that we work hard to seek to understand God before we use His tools.

Search and see beloved!

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Should Those Who Believe In The Salvation of All be Complaining About Life?

I recently heard a believer in the Salvation of All extol the “virtues” of groaning and complaining about this “evil eon.” It’s as if he considers moaning about one’s lot in life a virtue. It’s amazing how many people gave their “amen” to the discontent. Yet these complainers all have a pretty good American life with vacations, wine filled dinners, and three meals a day in comfortable living spaces. It’s amazing what people consider “suffering” nowadays.

I was writing a story today for my history courses about a Jesuit Priest named Jacques Marquette. The man left the comfort and ease of a rich family of France to become a missionary in the dangerous wilderness of New France. Here’s part of what I wrote:

“Marquette has been called ‘one of the most zealous idealists in the annals of Illinois’. Life among the Great Lakes in the 1600s was rough, extremely rough. Only a joyous gentle man who always looked on the bright side of life could handle it. That was Marquette. No suffering was considered an inconvenience and he never complained with a “woe is me.” He wanted to reach people for Jesus Christ as he understood Him. Marquette loved his Savior and was willing to suffer anything if it meant reaching the natives of New France. The Story of Father Marquette is one of peace, hope and love untainted by political faction and corrupt business practices. That’s a lesson for all of us. Savage hearts and a wilderness can be conquered by love. May the simple-hearted goodness of a Marquette be a quality we all strive to achieve. The same self-sacrificing love that conquered the old wilderness can still tame the savage hearts of today!”

Marquette’s religion was the Catholic faith of France. He was a gentle and optimistic man who was loved by all he ministered to.

If this is what characterized a man who was a member of a corrupt sect of Christianity with its eternal hell, should it not be even more characterize us who know the Savior of All?

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Orthodox Christianity’s Family Values

What Orthodox Christianity teaches about infants:

“Reprobate infants are vipers of vengeance, which Jehovah will hold over hell, in the tongs of his wrath, till they turn and spit venom in his face!” Jonathan Edwards

What Orthodox Christianity teaches about families:

“Husbands shall see their wives, parents shall see their children tormented before their eyes…the bodies of the damned shall be crowded together in hell like grapes in a wine-press, which press on another till they burst…” Jeremy Taylor

What Orthodox Christians think about torturing their own families:

“The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardour of the love and gratitude of the saints of heaven.” Jonathan Edwards

Orthodox “Chrsitianity” teaches that when they “go to heaven” they will be given a gift they weren’t granted while on this earth- eternal sadism. People in orthodox heaven are given the gift of undisturbed Sadism so they can enjoy watching the torture of their loved ones.

Never take orthodox Christians seriously when they talk about family values — especially “evangelical” politicians who campaign on family values.

Remember this too – people imitate the “god” they believe in. When they ask, “What would Jesus do?” Respond, your “Jesus” would burn babies and mothers forever.

Yep – Orthodox Christianity is about peace and family values!

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God’s Experience

There’s a teaching in certain Christian circles that makes God an immovable force; a God with no emotions, no love, no regret, no sorrow, no joy, no hatred, no anything. Anytime the Bible attributes human characteristics to God the promoters of the emotionless “god” doctrine explain them away by claiming these are mere anthropomorphisms or anthropopathy. They are basically saying that even though God reveals Himself in certain ways, He doesn’t really mean it.

One TV preacher recently said, “God doesn’t have an IQ. Nothing has ever occurred to God. God determines everything.” This preacher was regurgitating Dark Age theology. In those days there were three basic classes in society; rulers, clergy, and serfs. Religion and the state were intimately connected, so, in order to keep the people in line, the clergy in cahoots with the rulers preached that everything was ordained of God. As a result, there was nothing the lower classes can do about their situation. God ordained it, so just accept things the way they are! God is static, so is life. It was a convenient doctrine for those who wanted the status quo. This theology has its origins in Greek philosophy. Eternal torment and determinism go hand in hand, they complement each other.

Scripture is contrary to Calvinism/Determinism. Scriptures say we are created in the image of God. Let’s talk about God and man; God first.

>>God’s Great Experience

Paul wrote this in 1 Cor. 8:1-3. I have literally translated the Greek words for “Knowledge” so we can get the drift.

“We perceive that we all have fragmentary experiential knowledge. This kind of knowledge merely puffs up, but love builds up. But if any man thinks he perceives anything, he should remember that he has not yet gotten to know things by personal experience as he ought to. But, what really matters is that if anyone loves God, that person God is getting to know by personal experience, that is to say, a harmonious growing relationship.”

There was a Christian emotional fad a few years back going by the title, “Experiencing God.” It was introspective Christianity with very little sound teaching.

But according to Paul, the great truth expressed in the above quoted passage isn’t “our experience”, but God’s – God getting to know those who love Him. God delights to be in relationship with us. God created a universe where He is involved. Paul denies the Calvinistic and Platonic idea of the fatalistic God.

In Acts 14, Paul traveled to Lystra where he healed a man. The people in response said, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”

The Greeks had two minds regarding the gods. There were those who followed the old views of Homer whose gods were very human like. These gods displayed human folly; they were jealous, erratic, deceptive, and involved in civil wars with each other. Plato and the Philosophers came along years later and took issue with Homer’s gods. The philosophers went the opposite extreme claiming the gods are far away with no human characteristics. They mocked the idea of anthropomorphisms.

The people in Lystra seemed to have revived Homeric theology when Paul performed his miracle. Paul told these folks to turn away from the Greek theological vanities, Homer’s and Plato’s, and turn to the Living God, the creator, who gives people fruitful seasons.

Paul was debunking both Plato and Homer in his appeal:

1. He called God the “Living” God who gives “Fruitful Seasons”. That’s contrary to Platonic theology of the far off, immovable, static gods. God is actually involved with man; He delights in the little things in life, even common meals. God enjoys it when we sit at table and feast! He’s living. Life isn’t static, neither is God.

2. Paul said God is the creator of heaven and earth. That’s contrary to Homeric theology. God as the creator is above human folly and the behavior of the gods of Mt. Olympus.

>>Man Created In God’s Image

“In the beginning God created…Let us make man in our image…let them have dominion…be fruitful…God rested from all His work which he creatively made.” Genesis 1-2

Evolution and determinism present man as a helpless being in an amoral universe. The universe isn’t relational, it’s pure data. The Bible, contrary to evolution or determinism, sets before us a moral universe, a relational universe.

Genesis presents God as the creative being. God created the originals; He gave man the responsibility to build on that work. God saw everything that He made and was delighted. His verdict was, “Very Good.” That means it’s useful, practical. God created a place where man created in His image could be creative.

We are created in God’s image. That means we have the tools to be creative. We are to use the materials God gave us for God-glorifying purposes.

Throughout Scripture God constantly calls upon man to use his creative intelligence. God brought the animals to Adam so that he could study them in order to intelligently name them. Adam came up with names, God approved them.

When God gave the law certain areas of its application were unclear. This was by design. God gave Israel the law but intended they work out the details through various cases, to use their creative common-sense. One day the daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses over an issue that was unclear. God told Moses, “Those girls speak right.” They used their brains, God gave further instructions.

>>Changing the Truth about Man

Scriptures are full of such occasions. The creative God made us in His image. That means we are to be creative problem solvers and inventors. We are to do this in every area of life. There’s no distinction between the “sacred and the secular.” Those who down-play normal life – work, marriage, recreation – are down-playing the sacred. That’s because all of life is “sacred.” Whatever we do we are to do it to the glory of God. God created people to act, to choose, to live. Our life isn’t the static life of the deterministic world-view.

>>Changing the Truth about God

That being said, those who down-play God’s attributes as revealed in Scripture in the name of “defending the diety of God”, are actually demoting God. After all, God revealed Himself to us the way He has in language He chose, so who are we to CHANGE THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD INTO A LIE and teach the philosophical view of the emotionless God to whom “nothing ever occurs”? Deterministic doctrine throughout history was always taught TO SUIT A WAY OF LIFE. Replacing God’s language with your own to promote a theory, to suit a life-style, or excuse complaining and discontent, isn’t reverence for God; it’s a delusional confidence in one’s imagined abilities and rebellion.

>>Responsive Love

There’s an article in “Unsearchable Riches” magazine volume one that begins with these words, “Love delights in love responsive!” Amen to that. There are no such things as “love” or “responsive love” in an Evolutionary or Deterministic universe – only cold un-relational data.

Be creative today to the glory of God. That’s our “responsive love” to God’s “love.” God enjoys getting to know us by personal experience.

Search the Scriptures
And you will see
Homer and Plato
With God disagree

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Acts 13:39-14:28 Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra

Paul brings God’s latest to the synagogues; Paul shows idolaters how the gods of Homer and Plato aren’t like the Living God.

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Acts 13:13-39 Justification – Is Justification a message for “heathen?”

Paul’s message of justification; Was Paul addressing heathen?; Paul proclaims the gospel of Grace in Acts; Why Paul emphasizes the entombment of Christ; AE Knoch’s blunder – Claiming Paul’s message in Acts 13 falls far short of his message in Romans; Was Abraham an “unbeliever” before he was “justified” in Acts 15?

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