While reading the Acts of the Apostles, I came across a particularly interesting theme in the description of Paul’s three missionary journeys. In each city or town he visited, some believed, while others rejected the truth giving one excuse or another. This observation was for the most part intriguing because I always had this idea (from reading the epistles) that Paul was such a gifted speaker that no one could resist his message. Obviously, I was wrong. From this book, I found that the Jews held on to their law thinking it would save them while the Greeks were too engrossed in polytheism and other aspects of their culture to recognize their opportunity to be changed by the gospel.
Over the years, since the first century (AD 27), the gospel was spread to many parts of the world. Christianity started as an unrecognized Jewish sect which was heavily persecuted by the Jews and the Romans both. In the Middle Ages, the Papacy fiercely persecuted Christians for possessing scripture (Votaw, 1918). They were burnt at the stake as heretics but they continued to be relentless in their faith in Jesus.
Isn’t it fascinating to read stories of people who believed the Bible to the point of death? We admire their courage knowing that they endured to the end (Matt 24:13) because they treasured Christ more than worldly comforts. Contrary to popular belief, Christians are still dying for their faith in this age. According to Fox News (2017), 90000 Christians died for their beliefs just last year. Most of these killings occurred in the Middle East.
In other parts of the world, however, even professing Christians do not believe in the Bible enough to live by its standard. When confronted with a situation requiring Christians to stand up for the faith, some downplay the scriptures saying that they are not applicable to the 21st Century; others take scriptures out of context to suit their practices while others downright deny its authority. I’ve personally struggled with applying the biblical roles of a woman to my life mostly due to the way I’ve been raised and the present culture that tries to eradicate the difference in roles between men and women. In this article, I will address these three issues that present a hindrance to the complete obedience to the word of God.
The Bible Isn’t Relevant Today
While there are some portions of scripture which were written specifically for the Israelites, many portions are still applicable today. In this case, the application of the Bible to our lives will largely depend on our interpretation. For instance, in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses gives the law to the Israelites for the second time since the Exodus generation had died in the wilderness. He instructs them to utterly destroy the nations occupying the land (Deuteronomy 7). Such scriptures can become relevant to our lives if we interpret the “nations” to be either sin or the world system. Other interpretation methods include comparing scripture to scripture while depending on the Holy Spirit’s help because the purpose of the Bible is to conform Christians into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Finally, Bible readers should have a concordance to understand the actual Hebrew or Greek words.
Seeking to understand the context is one of the most significant steps in Bible interpretation. While most of us approach the scripture looking for ways to apply it, we should approach the word seeking to find God. We should ask the following questions:
1) What does the word say?
2) What does it mean?
3) How can I apply it?
To grasp the context, we should try to avoid interpreting scripture through our cultural lens. Instead, we should allow the scriptures to shape our culture. Romans 12:1-2 urges believers to be transformed by the renewing of the mind rather than be conformed to the patterns of this world so that we may know God’s will.
The Bible has absolute authority over the way we live because it is the word of God (2nd Timothy 3:6). The Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the Bible. The Book comprises 66 different books written over 16 centuries by 40 different authors in 13 countries over three different continents, yet the Bible does not contradict itself (Riden, 2011). This preservation of the word of God through accurate copying of the manuscripts by the scribes over the centuries can only be supernatural.
Secondly, the stories, names, numbers, times and places in the bible all check out historically. Archeologists keep discovering irrefutable evidence of the historical events recorded in the Bible. Additionally, before the scientists discovered that the earth hangs in space, Job (26:7) under the Spirit’s inspiration described an “earth hanging on nothing”.
Finally, all Bible Prophecies are true. Every prophecy about Israel’s journey into captivity in Egypt, inheritance in Canaan, exile to Babylon and Assyria, restoration to their home, the coming of the Messiah and the election of the Gentiles were fulfilled. Every prophecy about Jesus Christ was fulfilled (Isaiah 53) and we are still waiting for the Risen Christ to return full of glory when every eye sees him coming in the clouds with his angels and each knee will bow to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.