Saturday, February 18, 2012

Understanding the Bible – Reasons Why Non Christians Don’t Comprehend the Holy Scriptures

Note: This message uses the word “Scripture” and “Bible” interchangeably

It is common for many people to equate "truth"
with "science," because (genuine) science can
be empirically evidenced by repeated observations.
However, it is easily overlooked that truth can be
found through recorded history. The Hebrew and
Christian Scriptures are documented history; and,
in addition, this composite [Bible] book claims to
 be different from all other books because of its 
divine revelation origin.

Some time ago, my wife and I viewed a history network (TV) special on the “Exodus.” Without exception, all the miracles recorded in Scripture dealing with the Israelite exodus, were explained by some sort of “naturalistic” explanation. What, by and large, our culture fails to realize, is, that the God who created the universe, needs no natural phenomena to take place in order to exact [create] the type of changes in human history which He desires to make.

The same God who created the universe is the same Triune God who created human history. [Genesis1:f] He is, by definition “supernatural.” And, what He does, He does, supernaturally. God’s supernatural behavior and acts supersede the scientific. I prefer to reference “science,” not so much as truth, but reality. When it comes to the truth, Christians who believe in the Triune God look to Christ who claimed (and still claims) to be the Truth. For us, the truth is a no-brainer. The Scriptures tell us that in Christ, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3

Non Christians, fail to understand “paradox”

Misguided souls often make the mistake of claiming
that the Bible is contradictory; when, in reality,
it can easily be understood and accepted by God-
gifted-faith. Once this divine spiritual enlightenment
 is present,"supposed contradictions" aren't an issue.
Rather, these alleged contradictions can be understood,
rationally; accepting them as Scriptural paradoxes.
Scripture is replete with examples, which, to the unregenerate mind, are contradictory. One example keeps “cropping up” with unbelievers. They will unfairly charge God with not being true to His loving nature. They ask the question: “How can a loving God be a loving God that He claims to be and then send people to hell when they die?” Somehow, they overlook that the Bible has [already] given the answer to that question. But, they have already dismissed the God-given gift of “free moral agency” (free moral will) granted to every human who has ever lived and who will live, upon this earth. Hence, people, end up rejecting God’s free “salvation” gift of the Savior Christ. They end up, in effect, rejecting God’s forgiveness for their sins against God and their fellowman, thereby (and, consequently) shutting themselves off from a God blest hereafter in holy heaven.

God is, a “God of Love” – but, at the same time, He is a “God of Justice.” He gives the unbelieving soul their “free will” choice. He will not force the sinner and drag him into His Holy heaven! This is not contradictory. This reality is more of a paradox. God loves the sinner. But God will punish the sinner if he does not believe and repent. No contradiction here -- only for the unregenerate mind.

Understanding Biblical Interpretation

Scripture, itself, claims to be God’s Word. God is the ultimate author who utilized His specific chosen people, (the ancient Israelites and Roman subjugated Jews and Gentiles) to pen what He so desired, to convey upon scroll and parchment, His written revelation of Law and Gospel. 2 Peter 1:21 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Scripture was written by various human authors, using a variety of literary styles – and, as such, must carefully be interpreted and understood “exegetically” in context. [Note: The Book of Psalms as compared to Proverbs] Scripture writings contain poetry, prose, history, prophecy, etc. And, they contain various literary “devices” such as hyperbole, figurative language and symbolism, etc.

Scripture, itself, claims to be without error, as the Triune God, by His holy nature, cannot lie. Psalm 12:6 ; Psalm 19:7 ; Psalm 119:144 ; John 17:17

Scripture is the primary “vehicle” (“means” of divine grace) to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Psalm 19:7 ; Psalm 119:144 ; Psalm 119:151-152 ; John 17:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Romans 10:17 ; 1 Peter 1:22-23 ; James 1:21

Scripture does not claim to be a science or biology book. Many people and skeptics throughout history have derided the Bible because they have found what they “think,” are contradictions. However, upon the passage of time and continuing archaeological and scientific discoveries, they have been proven wrong and have been exposed for having presumed Scripture to be just like any other human book.

One of the most abused principles of Biblical
interpretation, is that Scripture interprets itself.
So often people are found formulating Scriptural
teachings on isolated Bible passages rather than
allowing Scripture to explain itself in its
composite Old and New Testament books.
Principles of Biblical Interpretation
  • Scripture's purpose is to reveal the Messiah, the Savior. Isaiah 53:1f ; 1 Corinthians 15:1:f ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17
  • Scripture was [is] God’s revealed communication method to transmit what is necessary for sinful souls. It principally highlights the major (basic) problem of the human race and, the solution answer in the person of the (prophesied) Christ, whose life in the Christian New Testament Scriptures, fulfill  previous prophecies and also document the virgin birth, holy life, suffering, death and resurrection of the forgiveness of sins person of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:1f ; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:1f
  • Scripture must be understood as a historical document. Rules of normal interpretation apply. It was written to people (cultures) during a span of some 2000 years, - in their language. Hence, phrases, such as the “ends of the earth” are to be accepted as normal speech, - just as we (so-called) “modern” day people speak of the “sun rising” and “sun, setting.” Romans 15:4
  • Scripture must be understood, as a whole. Although it is compiled of 66 books [Protestant designation] its message is central – Sin / Savior. John 3:14-21 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17
  • Scripture interprets itself. Example: The major prophecies of the Messiah Christ, as divinely documented in the Old Testament, and divinely fulfilled in the New Testament Scriptures. [Principal example: Hebrew prophecy Scripture, Isaiah 53:1f and the fulfillment of it as illustrated in the Christian New Testament 4 Gospels, beginning with Matthew 1:1f and ending with John 1:1f]
  • Scripture is the divine revelation of God’s Law and God’s Gospel. Either confusing God’s Law and Gospel or haphazardly mixing God’s Law with the Gospel, can diminish both the force and effect of the whole of preached and taught Scripture. [Example: Galatians 5:22-23 – denying salvation and heaven for the disobedient sinner. Confusing the sin with the ongoing lifestyle of sin, as expressed in Romans 1:16-31]
  • Scripture must be (first) understood by its clearest passages. Other passages [verses, -- whether figurative, allegorical, or, whatever] then, are correctly interpreted in the light [on the basis] of the clear passages of Scripture. Example: Matthew 25:1f and Revelation 20:1f
  • Scripture must be understood as God "inspired" [authored] - See 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; 2 Peter 1:21
  • A person’s spiritual understanding must be “opened up” to grasp the divine revelation spiritual truths. 1 Corinthians 2:14 ; Luke 24:45
Note: The above principles of Biblical interpretation are just several. There are, of course, more, - too many to list for purposes of this topical message.

Original (inherited) sin corrupts a human soul from
truly understanding the Divine. Only through the
gifted intervention of the Triune God can a
person become "undisturbed." God the Holy Spirit
must "regenerate" that which is "unregenerate."
See the Gospel of John 3:1-21 - especially the first
part, concerning Christ and Nicodemus.
The major reason why a sinful soul cannot understand (comprehend) the Bible

Why can’t a sinner understand (comprehend) the Bible? The answer to that question is partially, in the question. The person is a sinner. Unless a sinner (and, we are all sinners), comes to the saving knowledge of Christ, His Savior, [“becomes saved” or, “is a believer"] that sinner is without the necessary forgiveness of sins which is the absolute requirement for a hereafter heaven.

The Bible teaches that all people born sinners. [Psalm 51:5] “Sin” is an inherited spiritual disease. [Romans 5:12] In fact, it is the worst disease anyone can possess. Why? Because, it not only results in physical death [Genesis 2:17 ; Genesis 3:19] and spiritual blindness while the person is living, but brings eternal (hereafter) spiritual death. This spiritual death is not something which cannot be sensed or felt. It is a forever death of insurmountable proportions – never ending, in torment and agony. Luke 16:10-31 ; Matthew 25:31-46

The reason for the physical and forever spiritual (hellish) death is that the holy Triune God cannot allow into his heaven, any human soul which has been tainted and stained with sin. Sin is a transgression (act) against God’s Ten Commandments. Sin also encompasses “sins of omission,” such as failing to do good and love our neighbor when it was within our realm and capacity to do so.

When the our first parents (Adam and Eve) sinned in the beginning, that sin set off a chain reaction which resulted in the condition of “original sin.” [Psalm 51:5 ; Romans 5:12] But, we humans not only are born with sin, we willfully sin. We sin against God’s holiness and His commandments – and, against our neighbor by our wrongful actions (practice). Genesis 6:5-6,11 ; Genesis 8:21


Beneath the rejection of Christ, part and parcel of the unbelieving soul, is that because of his [its] unregenerate state, there can be no understanding (comprehension) of Biblical truths. Scripture itself explains this "roadblock:"

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14

Note: The “they” in this [above] verse are the “[spiritual] blessings of God,” which, of course include forgiveness of sins and a right standing with God, both now, and in a heavenly eternity.

What then will you do, - you who actually realize your sinfulness?

I love the one hymn lyric from the age-old hymn, “Rock of Ages:”

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy Law’s demands.
Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone. - [TLH-1941-CPH]

Sinner – there is nothing you can do to gain God’s good favor, His forgiveness and His holy heaven

You can sadly attempt to manufacture some sorry. You can even adopt some type of 5 point formula and pray a “sinner’s prayer.” You can even attend church and walk to an altar. But, those actions without the Holy Spirit calling you to [genuine] faith will not make one (iota) of blest difference before God.

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling.
Naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly, - wash me, Savior, or I die! - [TLH-1941-CPH]

Friends, it takes the God initiated faith to even admit your sinful condition. It takes God’s Holy Spirit working in you to convict you of your sin before him and for you to come to an utter realization of your sinfulness and helplessness. Your priceless soul desperately needs to realize that Christ was born for you; that He lived the perfect life that you could never live; that He suffered and died, as God's perfect sacrifice for your sins; and that He rose from the dead to evidence His victory over sin and its eternal death consequences which grip your priceless soul!

He did all that for you! God's just wrath and punishment for your sins was poured out on Christ for you. And, as a result, Christ's accomplish work absolves you before a holy God. Because of Christ, your heavenly attorney, your guilty plea is dismissed in God's Court of Law.

When you, in genuine faith believe Christ; when you truly accept His sacrifice gift of forgiveness on your behalf, then He is truly yours for now and eternity. God will no longer damn you because of your sins, but, accept and receive you because of His only begotten Son, who lived and died in your stead.

But faith to believe all what God has done for you on your present and eternal behalf, isn't yours to glibly come by.

The Scripture says:

“……no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians
12:3

Also, Christ as recorded in the Gospel of John 1:1f said:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44

Note: See also Titus 3:5 ; John 1:12,13

It takes saving faith to believe in Christ, the Savior. Since the Scripture relates the obvious that we can’t drum up that faith (in anyway, shape or form) on our own, we must rely upon the mercy and grace of God. And, the good news, is that God says that faith comes by His revelation gift, the Bible. [Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; Acts 8:26-39 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; James 1:18] We are also told that those same Scriptures “make us wise to salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

May you, who are dead and dying in your sins [Ephesians 2:1-10] humbly put away from yourself all personal notions and biases that you have had, against God’s revelation book, the Bible. May you cast aside the skepticism of your "learned" past and eagerly search with child-like glee upon this wonder book which is God’s vehicle (through His Holy Spirit’s workings) to create saving faith within your needy and priceless soul!


Amen.

Alas, my God, my sins are great, my conscience doth upbraid me.
And now now I find that in my strait no man hath pow'r to aid me.

And fled I hence in my despair in some lone spot to hide me.
My griefs would still be with me there and peace still be denied me.

Lord, Thee I seek. I merit naught; yet pity and restore me.
Just God, be not, Thy wrath my lot. Thy Son hath suffered for me. - [TLH-1941-CPH]

Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins


Related Scriptures To the Above Message


Conversion - John 1:12-13 ; John 3:3 ; Matthew 16:17 ; Ephesians 2:8-10 ; James 1:18

Divine Mercy, Favor and Blessing - Romans 9:15-24 ; Matthew 20:1-16

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Please note: Topical Messages, by subject


Pastor (emeritus) Nathan
Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3
2 -- How the saving (believing) process of the Christian Faith takes place
3 -- What are the tell-tale signs that a person has been “Saved” [is a Christian]

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