How to Study the Bible (part 4 and conclusion)
“The Bible is an organic whole in a spiritual unity.”
In article #1 of this series we started out by stating that Scripture is an “organic whole in a spiritual unity”. What is meant by "organic"? The root word is "organ".
Genesis 2:7 says that God made man out of the dust of the ground. When God formed man, did God make a complete body? Did God place everything the body needed in order to function? Did He put in all the organs? Did he put in all of the bones, the muscles, the veins, and the skin? Yes, everything the body needed, in order to function was it in that body. In other words, it was an organic whole.
What was more important – the right lung or the left lung? What was more important – the brain or the heart? What was more important – the right foot or the left? What was more important – the white blood cells or the red?
The point is, the body is an organic whole. God put in the body everything that it needs to function. It is all important and vital. Likewise, the Bible is a spiritual unity.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” (Gen. 2:7)
At this point, what happened with all the parts of the body – they started to do what? The parts of the body started to interact.
“…and man became a living soul.”
What does "interact" mean? It means that one organ started working with another organ. The brain started sending messages all throughout the body to move your hand this way or maybe not that way. In other words, when the spirit of life is given the body interacts in perfect harmony.
THE BIBLE AND JESUS
Is this the same process that God followed with Jesus? Did God the Father create the body of Jesus? (see Heb. 10:5) Who gave the body of Jesus life? Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
So, the process of the birth of Jesus also followed the process of creating a body and giving that body the spirit of life so it could function.
That is the Word of God in person. Can we apply the same principle to the written Word of God? Is the written Word of God any less the Word of God than Jesus was when he was here in person?
Let us ask ourselves some questions:
· Did Jesus make mistakes?
· Does the Bible make mistakes?
This is why we do not accept the Apocrypha – those books that the Roman Catholic Church includes in their Bible. These books are inconsistent with the rest of the books of the Bible. That would be like transplanting an incompatible liver into another body.
Someone might say, "But it's consistent with their theology!" And it might be, but the Jehovah's Witnesses have their own Bible too – because it is consistent with their theology. Any church that needs to have their own Bible is in big trouble. The Seventh-day Adventist message can be proven from any Bible (even the JW and Mormon Bible). If one passage is twisted you can always find others that correct that one.
Is the Bible an organic whole? Is everything there in the Bible that is needed for the Bible to interact, to function, and to explain itself? The answer is yes.
Is the Bible a living book? Just like a body the Bible is the living Word of God. The Bible is not just a collection of 66 books. Like the body receives the breath of life, so the Bible is like an organism – but it was inspired by God.
Is the Bible complete in itself as Jesus was complete in Himself? Do you think it would be a good idea to transplant a third arm onto your body, or an extra head? We do not have to add anything to the body because the body is perfect – it has everything it needs to function. Just like the Bible does not need anything added unto it.
The Bible is an organic whole because God put in it everything that it needs in order to function, interact and explain itself. It is also a spiritual unity because it is a living book that can bring life because it was inspired (or God-breathed) by the Holy Spirit.
A JIGSAW PUZZLE
Which piece of a jigsaw puzzle is the most important? If it has 1000 pieces, which of those 1000 pieces becomes the most important? Have you ever put together a puzzle only to have a piece or two missing?
Which book of the Bible is the most important? The Bible has all of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Is it easy to put a jigsaw puzzle together sometimes? No, it takes time and effort – and even patience. Bible study is the same way.
Every part of the Bible is as important as the other parts of the Bible. If you take any part out you get an incomplete picture. The Bible has everything possible answer that we need in order to meet a particular situation either in the life of an individual or in the life of the church.
Danger comes in when we start playing with the Bible and start trying to mold the Bible according to what we think should be done or what it should say.
As Adventists we are familiar with Uriah Smith and his book Daniel and the Revelation. Back around the 1870-1880s, in the newspapers, the country of Turkey was playing a very important role in politics. Turkey was in the news every day. So, Uriah Smith got the idea and thought that Turkey being in such an important position, and being in the newspapers every day, that this conflict in Turkey must be found somewhere in the Bible. “It must be there,” Smith said.
Smith looked in the Bible over and over and he came across Daniel 11 and came to the conclusion that the king of the north is Turkey. Uriah Smith also started interpreting the battle of Armageddon as a literal battle centered in the Middle East. This is what most Protestants teach today. But why do they teach this? It is because they are interpreting the Bible in the light of current events instead of taking the Bible and letting the Bible explain itself first from within its own pages and then looking for the fulfillment in the newspapers.
NOTE: We are not looking to cast a negative reflection on Brother Smith because he was a tremendous scholar and writer and a very loyal member of the Seventh-day Adventist church, but let us face the obvious – scholars can be wrong sometimes.
A SECRET-RAPTURE SCENARIO
What if we woke up one morning and the news is reporting that a whole bunch of people suddenly are missing from planet earth and they could not be found anywhere – what would the churches say to us? They would say, "The Rapture has taken place! This is proof because all these people are missing and you Adventists are wrong." What would you say? Would you still have the courage to say – even though these people have disappeared – that they are wrong?
Then imagine that whole prophetic scenario that Protestants believe and teach started happening and the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt. Imagine the Russians, the Chinese, and the Arabs all ally together and they are going to attack Israel and then a bunch of people disappear from earth – what do you think would happen with many Seventh-day Adventists and their faith? I am telling you many/most would switch camps.
I really believe this whole false prophetic scenario is going to be fulfilled. God is going to allow Satan to fulfill it. Is it possible that this could be the devil’s great delusion that if it were possible that even the elect could be deceived?
But the question remains: Will we have the courage and faith to say, "Yes, everything seems to have happened just like you've been saying for years but there is just one problem – that's not what the Bible teaches"? This will test your faith and it will test mine. Will you interpret the Bible to what is happening out there according to your eyes, or will you find what is out there based on what you have studied from the Bible first?
We do not allow the news to tell us what the Bible means. The news is subject to the Bible.
Within the Christian churches today there is a movement that says homosexuality might not be as bad as we once thought. Do you know why they are saying this? Even some Adventist scholars are saying this because they say it is a proven fact that there are gay couples who live together and have a loving relationship. They now reinterpret the Bible to say that when the Bible condemns homosexuality, it is not condemning when two men or two women live together and have a relationship – it is only condemning homosexual "lust" and not a "loving" relationship.
The Bible is crystal clear on the LBGT lifestyle but people are conditioning the Bible to a modern society and submitting the Bible to culture instead of culture submitting to the Bible. Everything must submit to Scripture.
Andrews University came out with a study concerning evolution some years ago. The president of Andrews at that time (and vice-president of the General Conference) stated publicly and said that it is a proven fact of geology that animals were dying for millions of years before man even came into existence. But is that what the Bible says?
So, a leader in our church says we have to reinterpret the Creation account that these days were long periods of time, but it is clear that when you read Genesis 1 that it is speaking literally and not symbolically.
We should trust God over geology because the "voice" of the earth has been distorted by sin, and only the Bible, which is inspired, unchanged and unaffected by sin, can interpret the record of the earth.
Seventh-day Adventists cannot allow science, history, geology, medicine, philosophy, or any of these types of things to mold and fashion or interpret the Bible. We will run into spiritual trouble if we do.
THE SMALL CHILD
It is best to be like a child in these matters, not childish, but child-like. When you tell a little child the story of the flood you do not have that child raising their hand and saying something like "Pastor, or Elder – do you really believe that is scientific?"
Do children ask stupid questions like that? No, that is only "sophisticated" people like us. Some of us think we are so intelligent that we are beyond the plain simple words of the Bible and we think to ourselves, "I have outgrown that idea." In other words, we are saying we are wiser than God. When we say these things and have these doubts we are committing the same sin Eve committed as she wanted knowledge and wisdom beyond what God had given her.
The bottom line is this: we live by faith and by what the Bible says – even if it contradicts what our senses tell us. That can be difficult sometimes because we are so accustomed to go by what we hear and see, and by our reasoning.
We are told in the Great Controversy that the devil will be allowed to appear to Seventh-day Adventists as dead relatives and friends. She says the counterfeit will be "perfect". What does "perfect" mean? It means you will absolutely not be able to tell that it is a fake. It will be like the real thing in every possible way. There is only one thing that will give them away, and without a doubt you will know that it is fake. They will teach things that are contrary to the Bible. It is coming. Are you prepared to deal with a fallen angel coming back as your mother or father or departed son, daughter or good friend? Are you prepared for a fallen angel to come and talk to you in such a way that it makes you feel so good, that you will be thinking "Man, this is so real!"
Will we have the faith to say “I see you, I feel you, I hear you, and I can even touch you, BUT the Bible says, "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing." (Eccl. 9:5)
As Adventists and students of the Bible we quote Isaiah 8:20 constantly, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” But have you ever read the previous verse? It gives us the context of verse 20.
(vs. 19) “And when they shall say unto you, seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?”
The context of not speaking according to what the Bible says, but fabricating the Word, is spiritualism. Satan will come to you as a departed loved one and misquote Scripture. We see how important it is to study the whole Bible.
THE LORD’S DAY
Revelation 1:10 says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day.” And someone comes along and says, "Everybody today knows that the Lord's Day is Sunday." How do we answer that?
We could say, "Instead of letting 21st Century man tell us what the Lord's Day is, wouldn't it be much more reasonable to let the Bible itself explain as to which is the Lord's day?"
We would go to a concordance and look up "Sabbath" and we would come to Matthew 12:8 where Jesus says, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” So, if Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath day then that must mean the Sabbath is the Lord's Day.
We must interpret the Bible from within and from inside its own pages.
In order for us to make these connections, what do we have to do? We have to know our Bibles. We have to be able to cross reference. This involves reading the Bible – and reading it again, and again, and again, etc… We have to memorize, look at the marginal references, and look at a concordance. We have to look at the Spirit of Prophecy side by side as we read our Bibles.
The reason studying the Word is not too exciting to people these days is because they are dedicating all the time they have to things that appear to be more exciting, but really, they are a mockery. These things will not last forever and they spoil our Christian experience.
I am not a prophet or even the son of a prophet but there is one thing I can guarantee you – and that is all these things that are keeping you from serving the Lord and studying his Word – they will come back to mock you at the Sunday Law. You can guarantee it.
Our absolute source of authority is the Bible. The Bible is its own interpreter. No church, no catechism, no philosopher, no historian, no scientist, no geologist can give the definitive explanation as to what the Bible means. The Bible must be taken on its own terms and the Bible must be allowed to explain itself from inside its own pages.
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