Five Qualifications to Interpret Scripture


hermeneutic

Introduction

         We know that God does not make mistakes; we know that his Word is without error. We know that even as the prophets and apostles God chose to write His Word, were not perfect themselves, every word they wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was. So neither God nor the original writers are the problem. The problem was, the problem is and, the problem will continue to be found in, the interpreter; that is… us!

         It is of fundamental importance that we develop a relationship with God, that we learn to hear from Him[1], that we study the Scriptures, that we grow in our knowledge of good theology and sound doctrine and, that we get a hold of hermeneutics as a tool to properly interpret Scripture. This post is designed to help us do just that.

Offer a list and description of the qualifications needed for an interpreter to offer a proper reading of Scripture.

     Klein offers five qualifications for the interpreter of Scripture. Klein adds that the following set of qualifications “put the interpreter in the best position to obtain valid interpretation of the biblical text.”[2] Those are,

  1. A reasoned faith in the God who reveals.
  2. Willingness to obey the message.
  3. Illumination of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Membership in the church.
  5. Willingness to employ appropriate methods.

Give the importance of each qualification for understanding Scripture.

A Reasoned Faith in the God who reveals

     Klein states, “all understanding requires a framework or context within which to interpret.”[3] As it refers to us as believers it is essential, as Klein also points out, “that we have a relationship with God in order to fully understand the book God has authored.”[4] Klein also includes faith as “foundational for a full comprehension of Scripture. It is not the only qualification, nor does it guaranty correct interpretation.”[5]

         As I read this portion of our reading assignment I am reminded of First Peter 3:15, “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” (New American Standard Bible)

         No doubts that we should be ready, able and willing to give a reasonable account for why we believe what we believe. However, I believe we must also keep in mind that ultimately, the gospel is foolishness to the world (First Corinthians 1:18). I am not saying that we can’t apply reason to our faith, but without scientific evidence how can we be considered reasonable to the world when giving the story of Eve speaking to a serpent, or Jesus born out of a virgin or demons, miracles, etc.?

Willingness to Obey the Message

         This is the “willingness to put oneself “under” the text, to submit one’s will to hear and respond to the text in a faithful manner. The truly faithful reader seeks to obey what God reveals in Scripture.”[6] This is true humility before God, refusing to be wise in our own opinons (Proverbs 3:7), dying to self (1 Corinthians 15:31), personal agendas, ideas culture, etc. and a willingness to submit ourselves to the truth of the Bible.

Illumination of the Holy Spirit

     Klein connects this third qualification with the first two already mentioned; “…is to allow the Holy Spirit to complement the process of exegesis. For this part, God provides the resources for an obedient understanding of his truth: the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.”[7] The Holy Spirit gets the job done; if the goal is to show the true principle and application of the text, that is Holy Ghost territory.

Membership in the Church

   We are indeed a family… a big family. There is nothing in Scripture that promotes or support individualism; no Rambo Christians. The church should be the primary place where the family of God is able to learn about God and these tools of Bible interpretation. If anything, it should be the place where we can humbly listen to what other believers have to say and as Klein adds, “Likewise, our conclusions, if they are correct, have importance for the other.”[8]

Willingness to Employ Appropriate Methods

     If we are Born Again believers, if we love God and if we love others, there will be willingness in our hearts to study and understand the Scripture. How can we love anybody and have no interest in listening to what he or she has to say? Impossible. However, I am at peace with the fact that, as Klein explains, there are different levels of proficiency from the uneducated Christian to the scholar,[9] I believe that God is able to reveal the necessary truth to each believer according to their call.

Which of these qualifications are most important?

     In my opinion, they are all important; if I have to place them in order of importance it will go something like this: 1) A Reasoned faith in the God who reveals, particularly because here Klein speaks about the vital importance of having a relationship with God. Everything starts there. 2) Illumination of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate goal of Scripture is to show us the way of God, his righteousness, the way he wants us to live this life, etc. Only the Holy Spirit is able to do that. 3) Willingness to obey the message. The flesh in us, we know is weak, but the spirit of a born again believer is willing (Matthew 26:41). That willingness to follow God is the fruit of the Spirit in the believers; it is Christianity becoming real in the life of a believer. 4) Willingness to employ appropriate methods. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (NASB) I believe that this kind of hunger and thirst for righteousness creates a willingness in a child of God to employ any method that will assist them in knowing God and his Word in a more intimate way. 5) Lastly, Membership in the church. Without implementing the first four qualifications when interpreting Scripture in our lives, I don’t think the church experience will be as rich and, worst of all, we may be unaware or desensitize to heresy, bad theology and false doctrines.

Which do you think are not as necessary?

     They are all necessary, in my opinion.

Give reasons for your choices.

     I chose “A reasoned faith in the God who reveals” with emphasis on cultivating a relationship with God. Jesus die, not only to save our souls, but to give us the precious gift of being able to have a direct relationship with the Father. We don’t need a priest to go to God in our behalf; we can go to God ourselves. That does not mean that we throw out the teachers, the need for pastors, the need to study and utilize these diverse tools such as hermeneutics, but we are aware of first things first, we are called to love God above all things.

What role does the Holy Spirit play in interpretation?

     I feel very uncomfortable with limiting the Holy Spirit in anything. As far as I know, the only thing God cannot do is lie. The role of the Holy Spirit is central and is vital in interpreting Scripture. The cultural, social, economical and languages spoken at the time the Scripture was written are of secondary importance.

     The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals the meaning and he reveals that meaning to whomever he wants; to children (Matthew 21-15-16), to uneducated men such as the original apostles, the humble man in the church that does not speak much and the old lady who prays a lot. We can’t forget that God choses the foolish and the weak to shame the strong (I Corinthians 1:27).

How do we determine the impact of the Spirit on an individual’s interpretation?

     The whole law of the prophets was summarized in two commandments, to love God above all things and to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). I believe that Augustine answers this question perfectly as he states, “the first principle of Bible interpretation is that it leads readers to love God and to love others.”[10] Furthermore, Professor Roy B. Zuck offer fourteen powerful points concerning the Holy Spirit and interpretation of Scripture, for the sake of space I will only quote one,

The role of the Spirit in interpreting the Bible does not mean that one’s interpretations are infallible. Inerrancy and hence infallibility are characteristics of the Bible’s original manuscripts, but not of the Bible’s interpreters. The manuscripts were inerrant because of the Holy Spirit’s guarding and guiding the writers to record what He wanted recorded, word for word. But such a superintending work cannot be claimed for interpreters of the Word. In inspiration the Holy Spirit superintended the authors in order to override any human error. In interpretation the Holy Spirit guides but He does not guard against infallibility. To elevate one’s interpretations to the level of infallibility would blur the distinctions between inspiration (a past, now completed work of the Spirit in the recording of Scripture) and interpretation (a present, ongoing work of the Spirit in helping interpreters in the comprehending of Scripture). Also it would ascribe to Protestants a level of infallibility for human leaders which evangelicals reject in Roman Catholicism.[11]

Conclusion

         I have no doubt that a non believer will be able to look at the Scripture and apply certain aspects of hermeneutics, perhaps better than some of us. Some of them perhaps would be able to explain the culture of the time or even understand the language in better detail that some Christians that are not trained in those matters. Nevertheless, unless the Holy Ghost reveals to them the principle, they will not be able to see it nor accept it; they are blind to the things of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Klein brings this point home when he states, “…full understanding comes only to the sincere follower of the God who revealed – the follower who diligently seeks to practice the message of the text studied.”[12]

         Klein is very cleaver in describing the arrogance of those that totally reject hermeneutics, exegesis or any other tool[13] and I agree with him. That arrogance also exists in the academic world. So the problem is not necessarily refusing to use those tools or using them diligently… the problem is pride! Not everybody is able to afford classes at Liberty University and not everybody is bless with a pastor that actually understands and takes the time to teach hermeneutics, but everybody has access to the Holy Ghost!

         Humility is indeed the key; when our opinions do not lineup with Scripture we must let it go; when we insist in doing things our way, then we are operating in pride and we know that “…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)

Bibliography

Klein, W.W., C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition. Zondervan, 2017.

Zuck, Roy B. The Role of the Holy Spirit in Hermeneutics, Biblioteca Sacra: 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017), 202

 

[2] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 202

[3] Ibid. 202

[4] Ibid, 202

[5] Ibid. 203

[6] Ibid. 205

[7] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 206

 

[8] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 208

[9] Ibid. 210

[10] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 87

[11] Roy B. Zuck, The Role of the Holy Spirit in Hermeneutics, (Biblioteca Sacra: 1984) 122

[12] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 206

[13] Ibid. 206 – 208

LEAVE!


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I believe that:

1) There is something out there that can be properly called the Institutionalized Church. This is a church that is set and unchanging. The problem is that is set on manmade traditions and not God’s. I believe this church suffers no persecution from the world because, at its heart, is a man centered church. The focus here is pleasing man rather than God and receiving the validation of the world. The modus operandi of this church is secularism.

2) Because of the abandonment of the apostolic teachings, the Lord will release many out of local churches. Many of these local churches are like boats that are leading God’s people away from the shore of truth. Many of you are going to have to jump out of those boats. 2 John 1:9-11 brings this point home nicely, Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (NKJV) For those who have the tendency to minimize the importance of teaching God’s Word over emotionalism, I have news for you; you are not even worth saying hi to. If you are in a local church that is not teaching the doctrine of Christ… LEAVE!

3) The Bible gives us a clear roadmap of how the church should look like (Stop with the NEW THING). We find our purpose in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The Modus operandi is clearly found on Acts 2:42 and Ephesians 4:12-16

4) In every Christian denomination you will find authentic Christians. As we read the 7 churches in Revelation, even those churches that were under severe judgment had true believers in it. For those true believers in those churches: You are there to insist in truth, to speak up and not to be a cheese ball and a coward. Don’t be afraid of getting in trouble (You will) and don’t be afraid of getting kick out (You will if they don’t listen). Remember that loves delights in truth! (1 Corinthians 13). Speak the truth in the mix of all those lies you are listening to Sunday after Sunday.

5) Moving away from God’s Word as the maximum authority in the search and recognition of truth, is a clear sign of not belonging to Christ. Christ demands that we remain in his Word (Teaching). John 8:31-32 tells us, Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word (Logos: written word), you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV) Our freedom is not found in laughing uncontrollably or barking like a dog or screaming like a siren or running up and down the sanctuary… Our freedom is found in truth. Any group that minimizes the authority of Scripture as a confirmation and compass of truth is either not of God or highly deceived. Wherever you find folks watering down the Gospel… LEAVE!

6) It is not about the building, I agree, we are the church. Meeting under a tree, in a parking lot, in a dinning or living room, etc. does not make you any holier or any more or less part of the church.

7) God did not call us to place our focus on criticizing the church, but to expose false prophets and teachers amongst us. For a list of Bible verses addressing this issue click here: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Exposing-False-Teachers/

8) Our focus is to make disciples, to teach them to abide in all that Jesus commands. How is it that the Great Commission has become the great omission? Because we continue to increasingly preach a gospel without responsibility, accountability, process and/or efforts. We have become enemies of good works. We are creating an environment where spiritual laziness is celebrated as truth. Never mind that we are call to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18), never mind that we are called to STUDY God’s Word (2 Peter 2:15)… never mind that we are called to EQUIP the saints for the WORK of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12-16) If these things are not happening in your local church… LEAVE!

9) We, as the church, are not called to change the world, we are called to evangelize. Why do we continue to insist in mixing with the world? Are we not call to be holy? Are we not call to get out of this Babylonian system? (1 Peter 1:16 / Revelation 18:4) Do you realize that God will destroy this secular demonic system in one hour? (Revelation 18:10). So our job is to bring them out of darkness into light by the preaching of the Good News. (Luke 4:18-19) And, lastly,

10) You MUST bring this church experience HOME. Notice that I am not saying HOUSE (Building), I am saying HOME! (Family). If you are not worshiping, if you are not studying God’s Word, if you are not praying, if you are not engaging in Godly conversations, if you are not loving Jesus and if you are not changing AT HOME, then YOU are FULL of MANMADE RELIGION! I implore you… Leave and rescue your faith! Leave and rescue your family… Leave and let set the captives free before it is too late!

 

Misleading Definitions of Grace


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Grace is the maximum expression of God’s love, His ultimate gift, the greatest manifestation of power and the most effective instrument of success. Grace is not the enemy of the law, but the fulfillment of it. Did grace not come through Jesus?[1] Is not Jesus the fulfillment of the law? In Matthew 5:17 Jesus tells us, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (KJV)

         For those who speak against the law as if the law is some kind of disease, you are dangerously mistaken. The law is God’s standard and his standard has not change.[2]

         The law proved the point that none of us is able to follow it. The law pointed straight at Jesus as our only Savior.[3] I have been reading and watching videos in social media with absolutely incorrect interpretations and definitions of grace. Boy, they sound good! But there is one major problem; the message is dangerously incomplete.

         If you listen to these folks, they make it sound as if folks under grace are exempts from any works. Let me make this clear, grace is not a reason or an excuse for us to be lazy, it is indeed the reason why we do good works.

         We do not do these works to gain or retain salvation; we do these works because it is what the Word tells us to do. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (KJV)

         This theme of good works and of being a blessing in this world, is not a new one; it is clearly established from the very beginning with Abraham. God raised the nation of Israel to be a blessing to the world.[4] So, if the Old Testament establishes God’s people as the instrument of blessing in the world, how much more, we, New Testament folks, ought to be a blessing, as we are partakers of a greater promise?[5]

         To these new evangelicals of grace I say, do not read beyond the Word of God in trying to find new definitions of biblical concepts. What you are doing is not new, Paul told the Corinthians Church, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” First Corinthians 4:6 (KJV)

         I heard a man saying, “Grace is more than an unmerited favor.” Does this man realize that grace is a word that already has an established Greek definition? John 1:17 tells us, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (KJV) The word grace here is the Greek Word cháris, meaning: “To rejoice. Grace, particularly that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude. A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor.”[6]

         Notice that, in listening to these Neoevangelicals, they say a lot of things with very little or no Scripture and when they do use Scripture, for the most part, is used out of context. Some, not all, are borderline inclusionist; that is the belief that everybody is going to make it to heaven.

         When you see folks going beyond the original meaning of the words, ignoring and minimizing Scripture and teaching private interpretations of Scripture, run from them.[7] In order for us to be Jesus’ disciples we must remain in His Word.[8] In other words, the Bible is the place where we find and confirm truth, not in Dr. Joe Blow’s fancy and private interpretations.

         The truth is that we as Christians are not called by God to be lazy; we are actually called to do many things; make disciples, teach Jesus commands, care for the poor, the widows, minister to those in prison and in hospitals and the list goes on and on. This idea that we are just floating around in this world doing nothing, is not biblical. We as Christians have so much to do that indeed, without God’s grace we won’t be able to accomplish anything.

         As Christians we should be equipping the saints to the work of the ministry according to Ephesians 4:12-16. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). As the direct result of all these lazy, hippie gospel promoters and these misleading definitions of grace, we have many saints walking with dead faith.

         We will be judge by Jesus for the things we did and did not do while on this earth.[9] Doing something is not a recommendation, is a biblical mandate. So I conclude with these words: Get up your BUTT and DO Something for GOD!

Biblical Reference:

[1] John 1:17

[2] Matthew 5:18

[3] Galatians 3:15-22

[4] Genesis 22:18

[5] Hebrews 8:6

[6] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[7] 2 Peter 1:20

[8] John 8:31

[9] 2 Corinthians 5:10