With so many different interpretations of the Bible, how can we know which one is true? Afterall, every different group quotes scripture to prove their view is correct. Is there actually one true meaning to a particular passage or is the Bible full of contradictions so that there is no right way to understand it, just a number of possible wrong ways, anyone of which is just as true as the others. Havent we all had the experience of listening to a teacher and thinking, that sounds right! and then hearing someone else on the same subject tell us something different and thinking, that sounds right too! Anyone who steps into the religious world quickly discovers there is a vast array of opinions on any subject you name. In fact, the competing voices are so confusing some people become frightened and withdraw from God altogether. This is particularly true of those who at one time believed something deeply only to later discover they had been misled. This problem is not new. Competing religious voices have been around since the beginning of time, and they have especially been a problem for Christianity. In fact, I can think of no other religion more consistently assaulted by competing voices than the one Jesus began. This clamor of opinions was at work even while He was still ministering on earth (Mt 16:13-16), and its only gotten worse with time. So how can an honest person in the 21st century know whats true and whats not? How are we supposed to obey the author of Hebrews command to not be carried away by varied and strange teachings
? Today well try to answer that question.
What does this verse say?
Verse 9: Not only should believers model their lives on the conduct of the early apostles (v 7), they must also be careful not to depart from their teachings. In particular, no one should accept a teaching that undermines the doctrine of salvation by grace. The struggle for these early Jewish believers was to distinguish between those parts of the Law of Moses which they should continue to observe after becoming Christians and those parts which they should cease. The process requires much wisdom and discernment because the moral laws are eternally binding but the ritual laws are not. And if a believer chooses to practice one or more of the rituals they must do so with a very different attitude toward them.
Pauls warning to Timothy sounds similar (1Ti 1:3-7)
Why are there so many false teachings?
Ultimately, all false teaching comes from demonic deception. There is nothing more important to the devil than to pervert the truth that would save a person. In fact, he is aggressively engaged in a war of disinformation. Hes not opposed to religion by itself, but desires to strip it of essential elements. In fact, non-salvation producing religion is his ideal. It means false security with no atonement or transformation (Phariseeism). This is the best possible scenario for him. Yet, there must be reasons why he can be so effective at inserting his lies into the minds of so many people. What weaknesses are present in us that give place to false doctrine?
1) Unregenerate mind: Jesus said a person must first be truly born-again or they simply cannot comprehend the truths about God (Jn 3:3). In other words, transformation must precede education.
2) Low character: Im willing to bring God down to my level. I chose to believe what appeals to me. (The question isnt what do I like, but what does it say.)
3) Mental pride: I refuse to believe what I cant understand. I create a god that makes sense to me.
4) Personal insecurity: I want to know deep spiritual secrets that others dont know.
5) Emotional transference: I project onto God the perverse attitudes and motives Ive experienced at the hands of sinful people.
6) Legalistic impulse: Surely I need to do more than just repent and believe.
7) Competition for control: I look for a way to attack a prevailing doctrine in order to pull people away from another leader so I can gather a following of people for myself.
8) Novelty: I get bored and want to hear something new. (Gods way is not to teach us new truths, but to take us to new levels of understanding and obedience in the basics.)
9) Generate income: Ill tell people what they want to hear and then take an offering.
Why does it matter what we believe?
1) Salvation: Without accurately targeted faith, no salvation takes place.
2) Transformation: Without real repentance and a lifelong embrace of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ the inner miracle of the New Covenant does not take place. I may call myself a Christian, but Im still the same old me to the core.
3) Reflection: We become like the God we worship: cruel, arbitrary and angry or kind, faithful and holy.
4) Blessing: God blesses those who obey the principles of His Word. The more I learn, the more I obey, the more things work out for my life.
How does God reveal His truth to us?
1) His Word: God gave us His Word to understand. Its not a cryptic book of magical sayings. He will help us understand if we really want to.
2) His Son: By incarnating His Son God showed us exactly who He is.
3) His Spirit: The Holy Spirit wants to reveal Gods truth to our minds.
4) His pastor-teachers: God sends us people to help us understand
- Ephesians 4:11-16
- Ezra 7:9, 10
the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel
How do we keep from being carried away?
1) Become born-again
2) Study Scripture in its context
- Biblical theology vs. systematic theology
- Study the Bible for yourself. Dont trust your soul to anyone else. Satisfy yourself as to what it really says.
- Let Scripture interpret Scripture. Dont isolate texts and then build a teaching on it.
3) Stay humble
- Dont sit in judgment of the Bible. Let it sit in judgment of you.
- To be answered later file
- Billy Graham at Forest Home
4) Test everything against Christ
- Always remember the true nature of God is seen in Jesus
5) Choose your teachers carefully
- God does send us teachers and we all need to hear the preached Word. These are gifts of God to us.
- Being an effective speaker means nothing.
6) Dont let anyone steal your treasure
- Hebrews 13:9 carry you away
- Acts 4:19 dont be overly impressed by peoples titles
At Northwest Church we study through entire books of the Bible. I personally believe that you and I need to be constantly confronted by Scripture because theres something in each of us that distorts Gods truth as soon as we are left too long to ourselves. We need Gods Word in as pure and understandable form as we can get it to teach, reprove, correct and train us (2Ti 3:16). If were not diligent our natural minds will warp Gods truths until they are comfortable to us (or others). Can we be absolutely certain were 100% right on everything? Of course not, but frankly if we honestly and humbly study the Word and let it say what it wants to say (dont cheat by twisting what it says to say what you want it to say), well find the Bible is remarkably clear and consistent from beginning to end. There will always be parts we dont understand, but after all, we are trying to understand the mind of God.
Heres our simple plan:
1) Daily Bible Study: Im trying to do the research necessary so you can understand it for yourselves.
2) Sermon: What eternal truths are being revealed here that are as true today as they were then?
3) MiniChurch: What does obedience to these truths look like for people like us? What blessings will come to me if I obey?
Describe how you study the Bible. When youre not sure what a passage means, where do you go to find out?