Is your biblical theology biblical?


Every person who claims to be a Christian will tell you that he believes what he believes because it’s what the Bible teaches. Even the most over-reaching TV evangelists,  whose goal is to separate folks from their dollars,  lace their talks with passages of Scripture to lend legitimacy to what they say. It is uncomfortably common for even some well-known and well-respected preachers to use Bible texts out of context to prove up some point of doctrine they are pushing. It is a dangerous practice to cobble together a string of proof texts, lifted out of their contexts, and pass that off as Biblical doctrine or Biblical theology.

There are some ways to guard against over using your Bible’s concordance or Google searches to validate your beliefs.

Begin with prayer – God wants us to know his truth and the One who is Truth. This is the reason he gave us the Bible. It is his revelation to us so that we can know his heart, his will, and his ways. Only from Holy Scripture are we able to know who God is and what he has done for sinners like us. Begin each reading with asking God to teach you his truth from the texts you will read today. Be open to have what you believe challenged by what you find in the Bible. Trust that God will answer your request and read God’s words knowing that you have his attention and with the expectation that you are going to know God better than before. Come to the Bible with an open heart asking God to teach you His truth, not to prop up the truth you already are comfortable with. You might find your truth to be wrong.

Read whole books of the Bible – I often hear someone say about a current movie, “Did you read the book?”, and then some comment about it. Most people I know read posts on social media, news articles, magazines, etc. but likely never read a book of the Bible. Yet,  a long book like Paul’s letter to the Romans can be read by almost anyone in a fairly short amount of time. There are others that I read often that I can read in a few minutes. Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, 1 John, 1 Peter and others are examples. Even though many books of the Bible are much longer, even the longest books such as Matthew, Luke and the Acts are easy to read in no more than a few hours. It is worth the effort.

Only by reading whole books of the Bible (I have not forgotten the Old Testament…) can you get the full intended message of that book. If you only lift out a verse here and there, you will miss much of what is being said. I like to read a book, for instance one of Paul’s letters, 4 or 5 times in succession over a few days so that I become very familiar with who the audience was, what the issues were that Paul was addressing, and what solution he offered. It will be amazing how much more clearly you understand familiar verses once you see them in context. (Context includes, geography, culture, spiritual condition, and time among other things)

One of the last books of the New Testament to be written was the Gospel of John. Some time around 95 AD the great Apostle, and then elder of the church in Ephesus, wrote a summary of what he had seen and experienced. Some of the most profound truths in all of the Bible are found in this book that is focused on the person and work of  Jesus who is the Son of God. For many years I recommended that new believers read John first and then other books. Now, in my old age, I believe every Christian should read it and reread it until it becomes familiar. John was written for a major purpose. In the 20th chapter verse 31, ” these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” What better reason to read a book than this? It was written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by that believing we may have life in his name. Have you read this book? Read it now. It can change your life!

A proof text is often a pretext if taken out of context – You might wonder “What is a “pretext”? “Pretext = a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason“. To say it bluntly, it becomes a lie. Politicians do this all the time. A person making a speech will have every word scrutinized and often one sentence or phrase is lifted out of that talk and taken out of its original context and presented in a way that causes unsuspecting listeners to believe the person said something he did not really say or intend. Unfortunately both political parties use this tactic. And sadly, Christians use the same tactic to bash some minister or group that they don’t like for some reason. The way to avoid the danger of being caught up in such an ugly and unChristian activity is to give attention to context. When reading the Bible answer these questions the best you possibly can.

To whom was the statement addressed?

What was the culture like where those people lived?

Where did they live and why?

What problem, or problems, was the writer addressing?

Is the same idea or theme repeated in other places in the Bible?

What result do you think the writer hoped for?

The words you are reading are God’s words. What was (is) His message?

What principal(s) can I take away from this to apply to my daily living for God?

When you quote a passage of Scripture to prove a point you are making be certain, the best you can be certain, that you are being honest with God’s Word. Was the original speaker or writer making the same point you are trying to make? if not, be very careful.

After reading the Bible,  write out what you have learned – Writing might not be as helpful for you as it has been for me but I think it is a good practice. It makes you think. And, I believe what our churches desperately need are pews packed with believers who think! People are needed who have carefully sought out doctrines for themselves and have reasoned answers as  to why they  believe what they believe and can communicate it well. The only way to have sure footing, a solid foundation for your faith, is to know the Word of God for yourself. None of us is an island, we need community, we must have other believers to help make us the people God desires but our faith is personal and must be rooted in the revealed Word of God, not in what someone said about it.

Make it your business to know why you know what you know and believe what you believe and you will never fall. If you rely on “what we have always believed…” or “that’s what Brother Voidhead said” you are open game for the enemy of your soul. Find your own faith for yourself but thankfully you don’t have to do it by yourself. In our church there are men and women leading studies where books of the Bible are studied each week, line by line. Get involved, find a couple of trusted friends you can call on if you can’t decide how to interpret a difficult passage.

Do all you can to be sure your beliefs about God and His loving work for ungodly people is biblical. Read your Bible for all it’s worth. It’s worth everything!

May God bless those who read His book and cause them to treasure Christ above all others.

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

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By Royce Posted in Bible

The Intellectual Prophet


The first lie recorded in the Bible is found in Genesis 3 when Satan said to Eve though a serpent, “You will not surely die”. In essence he was saying to her, “You can’t trust what God says, trust yourself”.

In 2010, in pulpits and seminary class rooms, all across America there is a chorus of infidels who join with the evil one in his declaration that God’s words cannot be trusted. These sails with no wind have become so educated that they are convinced they can pick and choose which parts of the Bible record to believe and which parts to reject as only ancient myths, fables, and fabrications.

If Jesus Christ is not who the Bible says he is, and if he did not do what the Bible says he did, there is no Christianity, there is only religion. It seems in every church group there are those who cast doubt the reliability of the Holy Scriptures and the result is a message of good works, self improvement, religious ritual, and nice devotionals.

The most zealous legalist  does no more harm to the cause of Christ than those who teach that God will welcome anyone  into heaven whose morals are good, who helps the poor, has participated in certain rituals, and is a faithful church member.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17,18)

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)

Apart from divine revelation we have no message from God. These words from Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, make it perfectly clear why men would stand in church pulpits and tell the listeners they can’t really trust the Bible, certainly not all of it. God’s truth is “folly to him (them)”, or foolishness, and they are “not able” to understand it.

I once took a New Testament course at a seminary in North Carolina and the professor gave no illusions that he believed the Bible. One day as many of us waited in line to eat in the school cafeteria the unbelieving New Testament professor was near where I was standing. A young Christian Church pastor called out to him, “If you don’t believe the Bible why don’t you quit and get into some other line of work? Even the drunks where I live believe the Bible is the Word of God!”

May our Lord help us to be faithful to the revelation given us and to boldly reject infidelity where ever we find it.

Royce Ogle

The Silence of Scriptures


Tonight I received correspondence from a friend, a preacher at a mission church. A part of the statement that always appears on his posts says in part, “We speak where the Bible speaks and we are silent where the Bible is silent”. I just “googled” this phrase and 44,600 hits came up. Of course, this is a part of the “Restoration plea…..”.

Am I nuts? Wouldn’t almost all of the splits and quarrels among Restoration people not have happend if we practiced this principal? Lets be honest, I must agree with the preacher who quipped “.. and where the Bible is silent we have even more to say!“. How true!

It is most often those things the Bible does not address that become often as important or more important than the gospel.

What is it that drives people to place personal preferences and tradition on the same level of authority as what the Bible clearly teaches? I think it might be that they don’t really know what the Bible does say. Knowing  two dozen or so passages that are used over and over and over to prove up a few particular distinctives is a poor substitute for having  some understanding of the scheme of redemption revealed in the Bible.

NO! I don’t claim to know the whole Bible or even most of it. I do know that much of what some coC folks will fiight to the death over can’t be proved up by the Bible. What is needed in our churches is Bible preachers, not church preachers.

Royce

Reading the Bible with understanding..


“1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

 6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written,

    “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
   nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-14)

For the past several weeks I have followed the conversation at http://graceconversation.com between Todd Deaver and Jay Guinn (on the progressive side) and Phil Sanders, Greg Tidwell, and now Greg’s replacement, Mac Deaver (on the conservative side). As I read the posts and the dozens of comments one thing is clear. There is little communication going on.

For two or more parties to communicate they must be speaking the same language in terms that both understand or else nothing is understood by one or more parties. I sincerely believe that in the passage quoted above from 1st Corinthians there is an answer for the disconnect I have observed, especially the 14th verse.

It appears that some of the conservatives I have spoken to and have read, simply do not grasp the most elementary spiritual truths of the Scriptures. They define everything in black and white and what they teach requires no spiritual discernment at all to understand. It goes something like this.

A man called Jesus died for our sins and if you respond in a scripted way to that head knowledge and keep all of the many rules, (some are unwritten in the Bible) you can go to heaven. These rules include the name of the church you must attend, when you must attend, what you must do when you attend, and you must do it right or God will damn you. Also you must not only do the right stuff at the right time but you must also believe the right stuff as well. Never mind that one elder in Tenn. might say something is a “salvation issue” and an elder in Texas, or Alabama might add another or disagree with the first, it is your job to be “right” or you go to hell.

What a horrific hoax and a shame in the name of Christ! What kind of gospel (good news) is this? Paul had something far different in mind when he penned the words quoted above to the Corinthians. Read that chapter slowly and carefully and I think you might agree with me that only the “spiritual” person will understand the import of the message of grace.

Some men read the Bible as they would any other book. Those who are born again and have God’s Spirit living in them read it with supernatural understanding. There is a huge, life or death, difference.

Royce