The task at hand is how are we to understand the Scriptures? There are so many different denominations and sects, each one with its own particular interpretation. Some Christians are dispensationalists and some are not. Some Christians believe in a rapture and some do not. Among those that do some believe it will take place before the tribulation and some after the tribulation. Some Christians are premillennialists and some are amillennialists, that is, some believe the coming of the Lord will take place before the millennium and some after. Then there are the preterists who believe that the coming of the Lord took place in 70 A.D. So what do we do? Do we just pick one and go with it? Do we study the different beliefs and choose the one we like the best? Why are there so many different beliefs anyway? Which one is right or is any of them right?
So the task at hand is to come up with some answers. Christ is not divided and God is not confused. The problem lies with the people and their mode of interpretation. A number of Scriptures came to my mind as I thought on this task at hand. They are all very familiar passages of Scripture, so we shouldn’t have any problem following the thought presented by them. Afterwards I am going to read an excerpt from the book THE PAROUSIA concerning the Coming of the Lord. His error is the basic reason for all the different beliefs of interpretation. Now, to our task at hand.
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
To be carnally minded is to be worldly minded. The life of a carnally-minded person is wrapped up in the things of man’s world. A spiritually-minded person is more involved in the world of God – the realm of Spirit. To be spiritually minded is life and peace. The Greek word translated “life” is zoe. Zoe is not natural life; it is spiritual life. If you are spiritual, in this sense, you are sharing the divine life of God to some degree. Scripturally speaking, one is alive when he is spiritual, sharing in the life of God. If he is carnal (worldly minded) and not spiritual, he is dead. Therefore, to be carnally minded is death.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The carnal mind of man is God’s enemy. The reasoning of your natural mind will not lead you to God. Not only is it not subject to the Word of God, it is impossible to be subject to it. The worldly mind can not and will not receive the things of God. It is God’s enemy! It is also the enemy of anyone who desires a relationship with the Lord. So if you are trying to find God or to understand the Scriptures with your natural mind, you have lost the battle already.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.
It does not say to trust the Lord with your mind, but with all your heart. Your heart is not the organ that pumps blood; it is your spirit. Also it says to trust the Lord with all your heart, not just a part. God does not like half-heartedness. Have you ever tried to trust the Lord with your whole heart? If you do, you will discover the anti-God nature of your mind. Then He says to not lean upon your own understanding. Why? Because it is anti-God; it is God’s enemy and yours. To the extent that you lean upon your own understanding to that extent you are opposed to God.
Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
One of the most difficult things you will ever do is turning away from the guidance of your own reasoning. Acknowledge the Lord as your Lord in all your ways and He will direct your paths. The biggest problem of Christians is listening to their own reasonings instead of letting God direct them. Do you suppose this could be one reason why there are so many different interpretations of Scripture?
Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
What is the evil God wants you to depart from? It is the evil of being wise in your own eyes.
John 10:27, 5 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
5 And a stranger they will not follow; for they know not the voice of strangers.
In describing His sheep, Jesus says they hear His voice, they know Him, and they follow Him. Who are His sheep? The answer of most people would probably be Christians. Christians are His sheep. However, we have already proven that to be incorrect in the very fist paragraph of this message. All Christians cannot hear His voice. Most of them are doing their own thing according to the reasoning of their own minds. They do not agree on what the Lord is speaking in His Word and are not following Him. Most of them have chosen their own path.
Jesus also says that His sheep will not follow a stranger or heed his voice. Who is the stranger that His sheep will not follow? What is the stranger’s voice? The stranger is the worldly mind. The sheep of the Lord Jesus Christ will not listen to the voices of their own mind; they will not follow the directives of their own reasoning.
II Corinthians 3:6 God has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
That is as plain as the nose on your face. When you read the Scriptures if all you get is the surface information of the letter, you are dying spiritually. If you reach below the letter of the Scriptures, you will receive life. You ask, “How can the information in the Bible kill?” Listen to what God said through Moses. I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life that both you and your seed may live (Deuteronomy 30:19). Jesus said, The words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life (John 6:63). The words in the Bible are black ink on white paper and they are written in man’s language. Hidden within them are the Words of the Lord, which are Spirit and Life. Words of Spirit and Life cannot be seen with man’s natural vision or heard with man’s natural hearing. If all that you receive when you read the Bible is what your natural reasoning can understand, then you are receiving death. If you have the spiritual capacity to see and hear the hidden Words of Spirit and Life, then you are receiving life. Let’s look at one more verse in Corinthians.
II Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
That which you can see or receive from the Scriptures with your normal, human reasoning is temporary and you will be, too. But if you can see the hidden, invisible Words of the Lord, which are eternal, then you have found the doorway into the eternal Kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.
It is impossible for anyone to know the things that God has prepared for them that love Him with their natural, human reasoning.
I Corinthians 2:10,14 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit: for
the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.
14 The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Do you grasp that? The things that God has prepared for them that love Him are revealed through the Spirit. The natural man cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned. It is not what you see or understand with your natural mind that is important. It is what you see with your heart and your heart is your spirit, not your mind. Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8).
There are many, many other passages of Scripture we could refer to, but I think we have accomplished our task. Now, let’s read the commentary I mentioned at the beginning of this message. It is taken from the book The Parousia by James Stuart Russell. What he writes is his comments on Matthew 10:23.
Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
“In this passage we find the earliest distinct mention of that great event which we shall find so frequently alluded to henceforth by our Lord and His apostles, viz., His coming again, or the Parousia. Let us inquire what the coming here spoken of is. Can it mean, as Lange suggests, that Jesus was to follow so quickly on the heels of His messengers in their evangelistic circuit as to overtake them before it was completed? Or does it refer, as Alford thinks, to two different comings, separated from each other by thousands of years; the one comparatively near, the other indefinitely remote? Or shall we, with Michaelis and Meyer, accept the plain and obvious meaning which the words themselves suggest? The interpretation of Lange is surely inadmissible. Who can doubt that ‘the coming of the Son of man’ is here, what it is everywhere else, the formula by which the Parousia, the second coming of Christ, is expressed. The phrase had a definite and constant signification, as much as His crucifixion, or His resurrection, and admits of no other interpretation in this place. But may it not have a double reference: first, to the impending judgment of Jerusalem; and, secondly, to the final destruction of the world, the former being regarded as symbolical of the latter? Alford contends for the double meaning, and is severe upon those who hesitate to accept it. He tells us what he thinks Christ meant; but on the other hand we have to consider what He said. Can the advocates of a double sense be sure that He meant more than He said? Look at His words. Can anything be more specific and definite as to persons, place, time, and circumstance, than this prediction of our Lord? It is to the twelve that He speaks; it is the cities of Israel which they are to evangelize; the subject is His own speedy coming; and the time so near, that before their work is complete His coming will take place. But if we are to be told that this is not the meaning, nor the half of it, and that it includes another coming, to other evangelists, in other ages, and in other lands – a coming which, after eighteen centuries, is still future, and perhaps remote, then the question arises: What may not Scripture mean? The grammatical sense of words no longer suffices for interpretation; Scripture is a conundrum to be guessed – an oracle that utters ambiguous responses; and no man can be sure, without a special revelation, that he understands what he reads. We are disposed, therefore, to agree with Meyer, that this twofold reference is nothing but a forced and unnatural evasion, and the words simply mean what they say – that before the apostles complete their life-work of evangelizing the land of Israel, the coming of the Lord should take place.”
Mr. Russell makes the same mistake that many other Christians have made, and that is interpreting Scripture only in the literal sense of the information. This is the reason we have so many different denominations with various doctrines. The carnal mind is God’s enemy and will lead non-Christians and Christians alike down many paths that never lead to a real knowledge of the Word. Mr. Russell says, “If the grammatical sense of words no longer suffices for interpretation…no man can be sure, without a special revelation, that he understands what he reads.” That is absolutely true! No one can come up with an accurate interpretation of Scripture without it being revealed by the Lord.
When the Word of God is presented in human language, it becomes a mixture of good and evil, like the tree of good and evil in the Garden. The task at hand then is to detract the precious from the vile. If you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth (Jeremiah 15:19). Do you understand? If you learn how to receive the living Word, then that living Word will flow through you also. Isn’t that what Jesus Said? If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink. He that believes into Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his inner being will flow rivers of living Water (John 7:37-38). Let me give you one more passage of Scripture.
John 14:2-3 I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The natural mind reads, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also,” and thinks “the Lord is preparing a place for me in heaven.” That is humanism, input from the carnal mind. The Lord is not preparing a geographical place for you on earth or in heaven. The place He is preparing for you is not a place as we think of place; it is a relationship. He is preparing a relationship for you with God. Listen to Jesus’ prayer for us concerning this. That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me (John 17:21).
One more thing about John 14:3. Sometimes the translators of Bible text will change a preposition or a verb in order to make it more intelligible to the natural mind or to make it according to how they believe. For that reason it is good to have a Greek concordance. Anyway, in verse 3 it says “I will come.” That is future tense. So when someone reads that they automatically think of a future coming. That is reasonable to the natural mind. But the Greek verb there is not future tense; it is present tense. What we need to understand is that God is eternal, His world is eternity. And everything He does and says is eternal. There is no time in God’s world; there is no time in the realm of Spirit. God is without beginning and without end; He is! His coming is written in the present tense because it is an eternal coming. Like God His coming has no beginning and no end. There is a spiritual coming of the Lord that is always present. If you are not aware of it, it is because you do not have the spiritual perception that is necessary. John 1:11 says, He came to His own and His own received Him not. That is an eternal truth. It is an eternal coming and people from all ages have not received Him, but the coming of His presence continues. Will you receive Him? Enoch receive Him when he was only the seventh generation from Adam. He had a revelation of the coming of the Lord and entered into it (Genesis 5:24; Jude 14-15).
The task at hand is to understand the Scriptures. It must be by revelation!
Copyright © 2006 by Henry DuBose