In many places the living Word of God has been dragged into the “swamp.” Do you share my concern about the often flippant attitude and less-than-faithful presentation of the Bible in our social media news feeds, so-called Christian homes, and professing Bible-preaching pulpits? I honestly think it has less to do with irreverence and more to do with ignorance. We don’t know how to keep “us” out of the proclamation of God’s Word. Peter is clear where to start in this area of faithful interpretation, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (I Pe. 1:20). How do we guard against take a portion of the Word of God out of context?
In the book When God Weeps, I came across a great quote:
“Peter warns us against distorting the Scriptures. Paul urges Timothy to ‘correctly handle’ the Bible. Apparently these men knew teachers who incorrectly handled it. We avoid this by comparing one Scripture with another— this always throws additional light. Parallel passages are like rails holding a train on course. They’re like canals giving direction and flow to teachings that our wishful thinking would otherwise let become swampy and vague.”
The safeguard against slipping into stagnant waters of murky misapplication is found in I Corinthians 2:12-16.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.
The two divine canals that keep us out of the swamp are:
- The Spiritual Enlightenment of God’s Witness-this checks our subjective emotions.
- The Spoken Commentary of God’s Word-this checks our subjective thoughts.
(A third place to look for “swamp avoidance” help is in Godly counselors. If we are not careful the two canals listed above are still skewed at times by our personal, subjective interpretation. Specifically, you and I must seek out seasoned believers who can steer us with their “oars” of deep study of the Bible and lengthy relationship/tender sensitivity to the Spirit.)
Not only is our God to be worshiped “in spirit and in truth,” but also His word is to be “rightly divided” between the consistent parallels of His Spirit and Scriptures. Plus nothing. Minus nothing. Should your Bible teaching or preaching being “fresh and original”-yes, but not autonomous! Not flying solo or by the seat of your pants. We must submit to these divine canals to provide direction, structure, and boundaries around our otherwise meandering minds and hearts. If your earthly parenting, teaching, or preaching is dead in the water, return to dynamic, sound exposition and exegesis of heaven’s LIVING revelation.