Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekly Devotion: Private Interpretation

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:20

Who among us has not heard the phrase (or said it), “that’s just your interpretation”? Notice the stark contrast of that statement to what the Bible says, it says that “scripture” is not up to anyone’s personal interpretation! We can conclude from this verse that only God can reveal what he means in the Bible.

How then is it possible to understand the Bible? Let’s look at the first mention of “interpretation” in the Bible. In Genesis 40:1-23, two men each have a dream and come to Joseph desiring to know that the dreams mean. Joseph, as with any man, doesn’t know what the dreams mean but looks to the one who does in verse 8.

“And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God?...” Genesis 40:8a

Later, Joseph says a similar thing to Pharaoh when asked to interpret his dream, “And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16). So, only God knows what a dream means, which is how, he communicated with man at that time. Daniel has a similar experience when king Nebuchadnezzar comes to him to have his dream interpreted. Daniel tells him that “…there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets…” (Daniel 2:28).

So the author of the Bible is its teacher! Since it is up to God to reveal “secrets”, “dreams”, “scripture”, how does he reveal his truth today? I believe that 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 gives us the two qualifications for being able to understand truth. First, you have to be saved because verse 14 says, “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.”

The natural man (a lost person) doesn’t have the ability to understand the Bible. Once you have the Holy Spirit, the second qualification for understanding truth is by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual things”, it is called cross-referencing. By comparing words, phrases, and verses in one passage with similar words in another, we let the Bible interpret itself!

“…not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

All matters of faith and practice find their origin in the Bible. So, although there are many variations of beliefs, and human interpretations of what the Bible says, only one interpretation is correct; God’s! Don’t be like the Pharisees in Christ’s day whose “…heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed”, they could have been healed “at any time”, but they had their own “private interpretation” of the scriptures. Friend, you can be “converted” at any time too and begin to allow God’s Spirit to “guide you into all truth…” John 16:13, by faith in Christ today.

“For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15).

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