Skip to comments.Rightly Handling Godís Word (Protestant/Evangelical Caucus and Devotional)
Posted on 02/17/2017 10:38:59 AM PST by Gamecock
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. - 2 Timothy 2:15
Martin Luther is often identified as one who argued for the right of individual Christians to interpret the Bible for themselves. In large measure, this is correct. After all, Luther himself stood firm on the doctrine of justification by faith alone because he was convinced by his reading of Scripture that the doctrine was true even when much of the medieval church disagreed. Luther is also famous for translating the Bible into German so that laypeople could read it or at least understand it when it was read to them. He and the other Reformers did not believe the Bible was a closed book available only to the scholarly elite and the clergy but was rather the possession of all Christians.
Luther and the other Protestant Reformers, however, did not believe that Christians had the right in their private interpretation of Scripture to interpret it incorrectly. The doctrine of sola Scriptura does not mean that Christians are to pay attention only to their personal understanding of the Bible or that we can make the Scriptures mean whatever we want them to mean. After all, Martin Luther is often quoted as saying, The Holy Spirit is no skeptic. The meaning of Scripture is not so uncertain that we can all come up with our own views and never know the truth. That would be a skeptical view of divine truth that says it is wholly subjective and objectively unknowable. Scripture is the only infallible authority for the church, but it is not the only authority. There are other authorities that may command us insofar as they agree with Scripture. Church tradition, including the teaching of councils and individual theologians, as well as ordained teachers are lesser authorities that help us understand Gods Word and provide a measuring stick against which we can check our personal interpretations of Scripture. As a good rule of thumb, if we think we have come up with something new, it is likely that we have read Scripture wrongly. The Reformers, after all, did not claim to teach any new doctrines, and they regularly appealed to church fathers and others in support of their views.
With the right of private interpretation comes the obligation to interpret Scripture correctly. We must work diligently with the text in order to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), as Paul tells us in todays passage. Let us follow sound interpretative principles and read the Bible within the community of Gods peoplethe churchso that we do not go astray.
For millennia, godly men and women who are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit who dwells in us have been reading and interpreting Scripture. We would therefore be foolish to ignore their writings and their teachings. It is good for us to have access to the writings of some of the best interpreters in church history, such as John Calvin and Martin Luther. They err at times, just as we do, but they are a helpful guide to understanding Gods Word.
Passages for Further Study
Ezra 7:1 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest 6 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. 7 And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants. 8 And Ezra1 came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
Acts 20:Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,4 which he obtained with his own blood.5 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Thou canst fill me with Thy Spirit,
Though I cannot tell Thee how;
But I need Thee, greatly need Thee;
Come, dear Lord, and fill me now!
I am weakness, full of weakness;
At Thy sacred feet I bow;
By Thy blest, eternal Spirit,
Fill with strength, and fill me now!
Cleanse and comfort, bless and save me;
Fill my broken spirit now!
Thou art comforting and saving,
Thou art sweetly filling now.
Oops! The above hymn is titled “Fill me with Thy gracious Spirit” by Elwood Haines Stokes.
Please use the correct translation:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet 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. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, 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
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For 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. 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. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
The dispensationalists say “dividing” the Word of God is the only way the verse can be translated. They say it proves their system of “dividing” the Word of God into seven dispensations, is scriptural.
Should it be rightly “handling” or rightly “dividing” the Word of God? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.