When we look at the religiously divided world, it is evident that we do not understand the Word of God alike. Too often men put their own interpretation on Bible passages, claiming the right to do so and thereby contributing to the religious division that exists in the world today. The only sound approach to Bible study is to let the Bible interpret itself. (1 Peter 4:11).
Two things are evident: Either God gave us a book that we cannot understand and therefore left it up to us to decide what he had in mind, or God gave us a book that we can study and come to a knowledge of the truth.
To understand it is to understand it right! There are those who have no respect for Jesus, who prayed that we all should be one through the word.
There are those who have no regard for the pleading of Paul that we all speak the same thing, be of the same mind and judgment and that there be no division among us. They will continue to divide the world religiously by their own theories and doctrines. (John 17:20-21) (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Why is it that in every other field we can see things alike? In simple math we say one plus one equals 2. It’s not a matter of “I think so” – it is a matter of “I know so.”
When weighing 16 ounces for a pound of candy, we accept it without question, because it is the standard of weight. When you purchase one yard of material and the clerk cuts off a piece measuring 36 inches, no one complains, because it is the standard of measurement.
Only in religion some think they have the right to put their own interpretation on a passage even if that interpretation contradicts other passages in the word of God. We will think that such a person is strange if he applies this type of “reasoning” to football, soccer, tennis or any other sport governed by a set of rules.
Jesus prayed fervently that we should all be one (John 17:20-21). This prayer can only be answered when we all subject ourselves to the authority of Christ, using his word as our only standard and guide. (Matthew 28:18). We are therefore obligated to let the Bible interpret itself.
The faith has been one time, for all time, delivered to the saints and we must accept and obey it to become “united” followers of Christ. (Jude 3). There is a vast difference between “unity” and “union.” You can tie two cats by their tails, and you will have union but you certainly will not have unity!
We are warned in several Bible passages to not “pervert the gospel” (Galatians 1:8-9); not to “go beyond the things written” (2 John 9); “be careful not to wrest the Scriptures in our destruction” (2 Peter 3:16); and not “to add nor subtract from the Word of God” (Revelation 22:18-19). Yet, in the face of these warnings, some will continue to teach doctrines contrary to the inspired word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Jesus did not say, “The truths will make you free” (John 8:32). He said, “The truth will make you free.” When Paul was instructing the brethren to give diligence to keep the unity of the faith, he did not say there were many faiths, bodies, Lords, Gods, hopes, baptisms, spirits, but one, and only one, God, Christ, body, etc. (Ephesians 4:1-6).
Since there was only one true church in existence then, Paul could say he preached the same thing in every church. (1 Corinthians (4:17;7-17). But he would not be able to do this today in our religiously divided world.
We have a common standard in the word of God. Division is not the result of this word; division was caused by those who were and are not satisfied with God’s arrangement so they substituted a materialistic gospel of social service for the blood-bought gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith, however, comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23).
On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” I do not find the people arguing with Peter saying, “This is just your interpretation of the great commission.” They received the word and obeyed the command. (Acts 2:38,41). When James wrote to the tribes of the dispersion, he said that “faith only” will not bring justification, (James 2:24-26). The people did not write back and say, “That’s just your view of it.”
You see, friend, the Bible does not need interpretation; it needs application. “He that looketh into the perfect law of liberty and so continueth therein, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man’s work shall be blessed.” (James 1:1:23-25).
Let us strive to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, by letting the Bible interpret itself.
“Through Thy precepts I get understanding, therefore hate I every false way: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pathway.” (Psalms 119:104-105).