Using and misusing Scripture
God didn't give us Scripture to make us smug.
He gave it to make us holy.
Is it working?
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
He gave us Scripture so that we could come to know Him. Becoming holy is just the byproduct of really getting to know Jesus.
Christians misuse Scripture a lot. I'm with you there, Nathan.
But I can't agree that if we stick to really good Bible study methods, and make sure that we never cite Scripture out of context, and are really careful in our thinking about Scripture (and guard against self-righteousness), then we're safe. We're where God wants us to be.
No. There is nothing safe about being a Christian. Aslan is not a tame lion. And what He asks of Lucy is not what He asks of Edmund.
Many of the arguments I know of showing that Jesus never cited Scripture OOC are effectively circular. It's only in hindsight, we know (or more accurately, believe) that Jesus' interpretation of the OT passage is the correct one. Most of the time the Pharisees, who knew the Scriptures in context inside and out, couldn't recognize that the interpretation underlying Jesus' application of the Scripture was the correct one — because they weren't open to the Spirit.
For example, in Mark 4:12 Jesus cites Isaiah 6:9-10. But that was a word to Isaiah directed at Judah about the impending exile. Jesus use is exactly OOC. How does Jesus get to apply it to Roman era Judea? Because that application is validated by the Spirit of God. This is not a matter of logic; it is a matter of hearing God.
Yes, many will quibble on this point. But there are some lulus in the New Testament. Ones that you cannot get around. My favorite is Matt. 2:23.
Mat. 2:23 “and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” (NIV)
The only OT passage it could refer to is Judges 13:5.
Judges 13:5 “‘... because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’” (NIV)
My point is not to question the infallibility of Scripture. In fact, I’m assuming it. My point is to call into question our blind confidence in our kind of hermeneutical logic. We have been drawn into believing in humanist modes of thinking. We believe that with the right Bible study techniques, “rightly dividing the Word of God”, we will be where God wants us to be.
This is the mistake of the Pharisees. Do not make it.
The only safety in Christianity is in the meeting of Word and Spirit in Jesus. And that means that from time to time the Spirit of the Lord will light up a Scripture to you irrespective of its meaning in the original context. That's what He did with Matthew. That's what He did with Jesus. He will say, “This is my word for you today. This is what applies here.” And thus will draw you closer to Himself.
We are so taken by the eternal Truth of the Word of God, that we miss the intimacy of the particular truth of His relating to us moment by moment. It's a heart thing not a head thing.
I was teaching a Sunday School class a few months back about getting ourselves to a place where we can recognize God's voice (John 10:4,27). We were in the lesson about hearing God speak in Scripture and the pastor's wife shared this story. Her father, David, a retired pastor, had just recently died suddenly and unexpectedly. In her grief God had comforted her by “lighting up” a passage to her in the OT.
I Kings 3:6a “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart.” (NIV)
Imagine the downer when the Scripture police — at the funeral — got on her case about taking the passage OOC! We helped her get some of the comfort back as the whole class could affirm that, yes, this was God's rhema to her.
This is where the checks and balances lie. The congregation of the faithful, listening to God will keep you from running off thinking you hear God, when you are really responding to other voices in the inner dialogue.
So what does this mean to the translator?
We have to get the original meaning right. We can't tell how God is going to use His Word to talk to people. That’s His business. In particular, we can’t twist the meaning to get OT and NT to align to our theology of what it means to be inerrant. To do so is to put ourselves above Scripture. Instead, we have to take each passage in its own context. The OT informs the NT, but not vice versa. It's God's job to make the Scripture speak to the reader.