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Friday: Further Thought ~ Dealing With Difficult Passages — 7 Comments

  1. I was out photographing birds the other day when a gentleman who I see occasionally on the bush tracks stopped for a chat. I am pretty well known in the area for my birding activities and this often happens as the locals catch up on the latest birds I have seen or photographed. In the course of the conversation this man told me about his church experience. He was an altar boy is a well-known church and one hot summer Sunday morning, while he was doing his duties he fainted. To teach him a lesson he was caned by one of the nuns. Now in his 70s that epsiode raised serious doubts in his mind about the relevance and meaning of Christianity.

    It is probably fair to say that many folk who have rejected Christianity first doubted Christianity, not because of doctrinal disagreement or the interpretation of scripture, but by the unfair or worse treatment by people calling themselves Christian. The biggest single cause of doubt about the truth of Christianity is the mixed message received from those who misrepresent Christianity. That sort of doubt is far more damaging than the doubt we sometimes have when trying to resolve some of the issues of the difficult passages of Scripture.

    But if any of you causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose his faith, it would be better for you to have a rock tied to your neck and be thrown into the sea. “Woe upon the world for all its evils. Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but woe to the man who does the tempting. Matt 18:6-7 NLT

  2. S.Y.B. I spent 6 years at boarding schools and often on a Friday we would look at the food and say SYB 'seen you before' because it was made from the weeks left over, never the less it still was good for us.
    How often we look for new and exciting ways to interpret the Word of the LORD. I was eavesdropping on a discussion between two committed Christians, one said your thinking on salvation is out of date, now we understand it this way. I wondered is one right and the other wrong? Or is it possible they are just different ways to reach the same end? What is the critical issue? It is - how does it affect your understanding of the character of the LORD and your relationship with Him?

    I read a startling (to me) thought recently, when Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus He said "you must be born again" but no where else is this concept used although we use it all the time now days. To the woman at the well he spoke of the water of life. Different ways to different people!
    Back to Nicodemus, why did He say you must be born again to him and to no one else? Because Nicodemus believed that he was righteous because he was born a Jew a member of God's chosen people!
    If Jesus had said the same thing to the women at the well it would have meant nothing to her.
    Jesus spoke to people in terms of their background and experiences but always conveying the Everlasting Gospel which is the Good News of the Everlasting Covenant He is offering to all-
    I will be your God, you will be My people and I will dwell with you

  3. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven....a time to keep silence, and a time to speak
    Eccle 3:1-7

    A time to embrace- Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-24; 1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10.

    A time to refrain from embracing- Lev 25: 23-55; Eph 6:9; Col 4:1;

    Dealing With Difficult Passages

    It is true that many theories and doctrines popularly supposed to be derived from the Bible have no foundation in its teaching, and indeed are contrary to the whole tenor of inspiration. These things have been a cause of doubt and perplexity to many minds. They are not, however, chargeable to God’s word, but to man’s perversion of it.

    A time for everything under the sun.
    Listed about are some texts which supports having slavery in the bible. How was masters supposed to own and treat their slaves as well as how slaves were supposed to live and behave with their masters. Many Christians once embraced modern day slavery and thought they were doing what the bible says and supported.
    Abraham had servants, servants and slaves can be intermixed at times to mean the same. Sarah had her own servants.
    Joseph was a slave in Potiphar house, but was Potiphar a christian/Jew, No. He, Joseph was then liberated but his descendants later again became slaves, then liberated by God through Moses.
    But was modern day slavery the same as ancient slavery? Were people treated the same way? No.
    God gave Moses clear guidelines about slaves and how they were to be treated lest any master took advantage of the situation. Ancient slaves were divided in two categories-the bond slave and the hired slaves. Read Lev 25:23-55.
    There were also slavery in the new testament era. The Epistle to Philemon. Phil 1:1-19. short but powerful. Philemon was a slave master who owned Onesimus, he was also one of the leaders in the church who had a church in his house. Onesimus ran away and went to Paul, Paul wrote to Philemon to take back Onesimus not as a servant but as above a servant. Why did Onesimus ran away if he was treated well? was he, was he not treated well?

    After years of serving your master you had two choices, to stay or leave as a free man/woman or family. Modern day slavery choose to leave, to cut all ties from the masters. Their masters hunted them down for years. Some were captured, some were not. Some masters bored the name of Christianity. Is freedom Free, or does it come with a price?
    Are those who were once slaves paying a price now?

    Many still grasping with difficult passage of the bible. The passages of slavery are very difficult to some to either understand or comprehend. Many times the church is uncomfortable to either preach or discuss these topics. When the church keeps silent, some members look outside the church for answers to difficult passages.

    EG White was not silence about these passages.

  4. IMO, many difficulties come from a belief that scripture is verbally inspired and infallible. Sr. Ellen held neither view. The Bible writers were God's pen men not His pen. God and heaven alone are infallible. If Bible writers disagree on some detail what does it matter? The Bible was given for practical purposes - to show us what it means to love one another.

  5. God's word is instructive by nature, for He has given us through patriarchs, prophets, wise men and apostles all that is needed to give us profitable doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. He also "shows unto His servants" things that will soon come upon the world. How do we come to understand what we need to know?

    "...none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" Daniel was told(Dan 12:10). The wise man tells us "wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom, and in all your getting, get understanding"(Prov 4:7). Jesus taught that any who hear His sayings and does them, will be "like a wise man who builds on a rock"(Matt 7:24). Obedient = wise.

    Scripture contains the keys for understanding the Word of God if we would be among those who understand and obey God's "good, acceptable and perfect will"(Rom 12:2). As Jesus taught, those who obey the will of God "shall know the doctrine/truth"(John 7:17; 8:31,32) If we meet the conditions set forth, God will be able to "instruct...and teach"(Ps 32:8)

    If we would follow Jesus' life of perfect obedience, He has told us how(Matt 11:28-30; 16:24, John 15:5, etc).

    The difficult passages will become clear, as long as they are what God wants us to understand. Some will remain a mystery until we see Him face to face.

  6. How did Christ regard the Word of God? Christ considered His Father’s word to be Eternal Life. He did not “mess” with it. He declared it exactly as given Him. He meant everything He said.
    “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.... If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him ... He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the Word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is Eternal Life; therefore the things I speak, I speak JUST AS the Father has told Me (Jn 12:44-50)
    “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world. When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am, and I do nothing on My own, but I speak these things as My Father taught Me (Jn 8:26,28).
    God did not leave it up to His inspired ministers to use their own words to declare His messages: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual (thoughts) with spiritual (words).(1 Cor 2:12,13).
    The Scripture was influenced by God/Spirit not human culture. Caiaphas prophesied the true word of God through the Spirit. Balaam’s language/culture had absolutely no influence on his prophesying (Num 23;20; 23:5,16,26; 24:2,13). The words of Scripture are the Words of God, not the words of man (2 Pt 1:20,21; 2 Tim 3:16,17). They are Eternal Life.

    God is absolutely Sovereign over His creation (Ps 103:19; 115:3; 135:4-6; Dan 4:17,34,35; Isa 40:15-18 etc). He governs the inanimate and animate; all creatures: animals, humans, angels (good and evil) and all their activities. Angels are God’s servants (Heb 1:14;1 Chron 21:15,27; Acts 12:11; Rev 22:6; Matt 13:41). Evil spirits fulfill God’s sovereign rulings. An evil spirit was sent by God to stir up rebellion in Abimelech’s camp (Judges 9:23). Another evil spirit God sent to be a lying spirit In the mouth of Ahab’s prophets (1 Kings 22:23). Another was sent to trouble Saul (1 Sam 16:14). The legion of demons did not leave their victim until Christ gave them permission to enter the swine. Angels, good and evil, are under Gods control and willingly or unwillingly carry out God’s purpose.
    Satan is absolutely subject to God’s control. God created him a servant and he was never promoted... He was unable to touch Job until God allowed it (Job 1:12; 2:6). He had to get God’s permission before he could sift Peter (Lk 22:31). God was angry/wrath with Israel and commissioned Satan to try David and accomplish His purpose (2 Sam 24:1; 1 Chr 21:1). Christ commanded Satan to depart and the Devil left.
    The wicked does wickedly and God must govern their activities. God used Joseph’s wicked hateful brothers to get him to Egypt to save lives (Christ type) (Gen 37:26,27; 45:5,7; 50:19,20). The evil spirit, which God allowed the witch of Endor to “bring up”, spoke the words of God to Saul.
    God delivered up His Son for our salvation through wicked beings (Rom 8:32; Acts 2:23; Jn 13:21; 19:11).
    In the end Christ will cast Satan into the Lake of Fire prepared for him and his angels (Rev 20:10).

  7. Friday's 'Further Thoughts' lesson - provides the link: 'Methods of Bible study'. I read it and found it to provide great insights, especially as it relates to the need for the Holy Spirit to guide our study and interpretation of the Word of God. I could not find section 8, though.
    Adventism rejects the 'Historical-critical' method, because 'it minimizes the need for faith in God and obedience to His commandments'.

    The following is a contracted excerpt, highlighting the Holy Spirit as the singular Light to reveal to us the Truth of God's Word:

    "Presuppositions, Principles, Methods":
    2. Presuppositions arising from claims of Scripture.
    a. Origin -
    (2) The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers with thoughts, ideas, and OBJECTIVE information; in turn, they expressed them in their own words. (capitalizations mine)
    (3) All scripture is inspired and came through the work of the Holy Spirit.
    b. Authority -
    (1) The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the clear, infallible revelation of God's will and His Salvation.

    3. Principles for Approaching the Interpretation of Scripture.
    a. The Spirit enables the believer to ACCEPT, understand and apply the Bible to one's own life as he seeks DIVINE power to render obedience to all scriptural requirements and to appropriate personally all Bible promises.
    b. Scripture cannot be correctly interpreted without the aid of the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit who enables the believer to understand and apply Scripture. Therefore, any study of the Word should commence with a request for the Spirit's guidance and illumination.
    c. Those who come to the study of the Word must do so with FAITH ..

    The New Testament has many passages refering to the Holy Spirit. We can also see that the Holy Spirit was at work through Prophets, Judges and others 'beloved by God' in Old Testament times.

    Reading about the many encounters of God with man in the Old Testament, we can easily observe that at the core of this struggle was the difficulty of staying obedient to God. Our heavenly Father knew our inablility to 'understand' Him.

    Man is flesh, God is Spirit - this divide had to be bridged because He, being long-suffering, desired in His love for us to be saved.
    Therefore, our Father made it possible for all to receive His Holy Spirit with which we are able to understand His Word as well as communicate with Him.
    No more was the power of our 'will to be obedient' the only deciding factor in our Salvation.

    'Becoming born again is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the difference between religion and a relationship with God'.
    References to 'born again':
    1John5:4; Rom.8:9; Rom.6:4; Rom.6:6; John3:23; John3:1-8; John 1:12,13; John6:63; John5:24; Acts2:38; Acts1:8; 2Cor.5:17; Titus3:5; 1Peter1:3; Joel2:28; Eph.1:13,14; Col.3:10-12.

    With the indwelling Holy Spirit, WE ARE A NEW CREATION:
    2Cor.4:16; 2Cor.5:16-18; Col.3:9-11.

    God's Holy Spirit has given us a NEW heart and mind:
    Heb.8:10-13 - v.11: 'And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying 'know the Lord': for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
    Eze.36:21-27 - v.26: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (a heart that can be inspired).
    Jer.31:31-33 - v.33: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law IN their inward parts, and write it IN their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    God's ultimate goal of renewal (making us a new creature) is to reunite us with Him. The indwelling Holy Spirit speaks the language of God - a spiritual language - which reveals His Truth to us.

    Jesus was the Father's Spokesperson whiles on earth with us. Now, He is back in His Father's Kingdom in Heaven and does not directly communicate the Truth about the Father with us any longer. He gave us the Holy Spirit to take His place. Now, the Comforter, God's Holy Spirit teaches all things.

    References to the work of the Holy Spirit/Comforter:
    John 14:15-31 - v.17: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
    v.26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
    John 7:39; John 16:7; Rom.8:26; 1John 2:27; 2John 1:2

    The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, is the exclusive and only Light which fully reveals to us God's Holy Word. God's Love provided us with a lifeline - enabling us to communicate with our heavenly Father through His Spirit.
    All we are now asked to do is, by faith, accept the Holy Spirit as God's voice which He promises will lead us into all Truth!


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