And takeÖthe sword of the Spirit, which  is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:17


Volume 17, Number 35

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker HWY
Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
  Bellingham, WA 98228
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All sing last Wednesday

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Bible Answers

Editor......Joe R. Price

Morris Bass
Rick Holt

Aaron Bass
Rich Brooks
Mike Finn
Dan Head


In this issue:

"That's Just Your Interpretation"
Joe R. Price

Most of us have heard this assertion about the meaning and application of the Scriptures. It is a frequent reply when the Bible exposes someone's false doctrine or immorality, convicting them of sin. It is a defensive mechanism that denies the word of God to escape accountability. Other variations on this theme include, "how do you know you are right?", and, "you don't have complete knowledge anyway". All such statements have a common theme: the rejection of the Scriptures as understandable, definitive truth for which we are accountable to God (see John 12:48-50).

In sharp contrast to this attempted deflection of personal responsibility to Godís word, the apostle Peter boldly said, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

Peter said it is of primary importance ("knowing this first") to know that the origin and meaning of prophetic Scripture comes God and not man. Asserting "that's just your interpretation" about what the Scriptures say is exposed as the wisdom and sophistry of men. It is a smokescreen to divert attention away from personal responsibility and accountability to believe and obey the word of God.

According to Peter, "holy men of God" spoke God's word using words given by the Holy Spirit (v. 21; 1 Cor. 2:10-13). Paul agreed, noting that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible originated with God, not man.

Not only did the Scriptures come from God, so did their meaning. God explains to us what His word means. The Bible explains itself. Do we not read and study the Scriptures with the expectation of understanding them (cf. Acts 8:28-35)? When Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian ("beginning at this Scripture") he was not just telling the man his personal interpretation of Isaiah 53. He told him God's explanation of it - that Jesus is its fulfillment. Both the prophecy and its explanation (the gospel of Christ) are from God. The man believed and obeyed God's word and was saved that day (Acts 8:36-39).

When Paul taught in the synagogues he "reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ'" (Acts 17:2-3). The Bereans "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). The inspired Scriptures explain themselves. We can understand them instead of merely trusting a private interpretation of them.

We study God's word because God tells us to understand it and obey it (Eph. 3:3-5). God expects us to "rightly divide" (handle properly) the "word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). We do so with confident faith, not doubtful uncertainty (as if what the Bible says is just our own personal interpretation).  

To understand God's word we must learn how to study the Bible. Treat God's word with respect; it is the truth of God (Jno. 17:17). Consider all the Scriptures say on a given topic. Study the context of the passage. Know the speaker and his audience. Does the passage apply today (under which covenant was it taught)? These are just some of the things to remember as you study the Bible.

Now, let's makes some applications. When Mark 16:16 says, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned", is it "just your interpretation" that the person who believes and is baptized will be saved, and that the unbeliever will be lost? Or, is it that you have understood what Jesus said? Why does someone read this verse and say, "that's just your interpretation"? Is it because he does not understand what Jesus said? Maybe. Or, is it because he does understand it, but he refuses to accept it? Perhaps. The essential nature of baptism for salvation is not "just your interpretation", it is exactly what Jesus said. Private interpretations try to change God's word to fit personal preferences.

What about Matthew 19:9: "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Is it too difficult to understand that whoever divorces (puts away) his wife for a reason other than sexual immorality (fornication) and marries another person commits adultery? If someone believes just what Jesus said is that "just their interpretation?" Is it too difficult to understand that whoever marries one who is divorced (put away) commits adultery? If we believe that is it "just our interpretation"? And, why are some able to understand Mark 16:16 but not Matthew 19:9? Controversy swirls about both passages. But, not because they are beyond our understanding. Some brethren who believe Mark 16:16 choose not to believe Matthew 19:9. It is not a matter of interpretation, but of one's heart toward accepting and submitting to the inspired Scriptures (Jno. 8:43). Neither verse is of private origin or private interpretation. We can understand both, and we must.

God has revealed His mind and inspired its communication in the Scriptures. God expects us to read it, learn it, believe it and obey it to be saved from our sins. To say it is enough to rely on our own interpretation of the Bible makes truth subjective and different for each person. It obliterates objective truth that is the same for all. It insults God who gave us His word and implies we cannot understand what He said. But we can. We must. "Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). 


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

Reverence for God

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 36:1-9

1. We live in a godless age. Same has been true for millennia, Psa. 36:1; Rom. 1:20-21; 3:18; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
2. Christians are warned against being affected by culture, attitudes, values, relativism..., 2 Tim. 4:10 (1 Cor. 15:33).
3. Many have lost reverence for God, His holiness, His word. 2 Cor. 5:11; Matt. 10:28; Heb. 12:28, 9; Psa. 111:9.


  A. Because God Created Us and Sustains Us, Rev. 4:8-11 (Psa. 8:3-4); Acts 17:28-29.
  B. Because God is Our Spiritual Father, Jno. 3:3; Gal. 3:26-27; Heb. 12:9.
  C. Because God is Our Savior, Master and Judge, Matt. 4:10; Heb. 10:30-31; 12:28-29.


  A. Everywhere! The Presence of God Makes Every Place Holy Ground, Exo.3:5-6.
  B. God Must Be Reverenced by His Temple, the Church, Acts 5:11; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20; Heb. 12:28.
  C. Example: Fear God in Our Assembled Worship, Psa. 89:7; Jno. 4:24; Neh. 8:3, 5-6.


  A. Submit Silently to Him, Hab. 2:20; Titus 2:3; Jas. 4:10; Heb. 12:9 (Col. 3:17, 23); Psa. 111:10; Lev. 10:1-3.
  B. Live Holy Lives, 1 Pet. 1:15-17; Eccl. 12:13; Psa. 119:35-38; Heb. 12:28.

1. We must wake up to righteousness and not sin, 1 Cor. 15:34.
2. We must be different from those who do not know God and do not fear Him, Heb. 12:29.


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

Companions of Knowledge

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 119:97-104

1. Without knowledge of God and His truth we will be destroyed by sin, Hosea 4:6.
2. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, Prov. 1:7; 9:10.
3. Jesus extolled knowledge of truth, Jno. 8:31-32.
4. Knowledge is more than the accumulation of information, 1 Cor. 1:20-21; 1 Tim. 6:20-21.
5. We must "learn Christ", not the wisdom of men (Matt. 11:29; Eph. 4:20).
6. Numerous companions of knowledge are presented in God's word, without which knowledge becomes useless and even detrimental.


  A. Truth, 1 Tim. 2:3-4. Jno. 7:16-17; 8:32; Acts 8:28-34; 2 Pet. 2:20; Eph. 3:3-5
  B. Grace, 2 Pet. 3:18. 2 Pet. 1:2; 1 Pet. 2:2-3; Titus 2:11-12
  C. Wisdom and Understanding, Col. 1:9 (Prov. 13:16; 4:7). Phil. 1:9-10; Heb. 5:11-14; Col. 1:10; Eph. 2:10; 4:17-24
  D. Zeal, Rom. 10:2. Lk. 11:42; Rom. 12:2
  E. Love, 1 Cor. 8:1-3. Acts 17:19-21, 32 (1 Tim. 6:20-21)

1. Knowledge + Doing = God's blessing, Jno. 13:17 (Jas. 1:25).
2. Couple your knowledge of the truth with grace, wisdom (understanding and discernment), zeal and love.
3. Live by faith and know the love of Christ, Eph. 3:17-19.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Performer or Preacher?
Joe R. Price

The once thriving Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA is now defunct. "Its separate campuses have closed or been reconstituted as independent churches" (Mark Woods, Former Mars Hill church sells for $9 million). The 15,000 member megachurch sold its Seattle property to Quest Church for $9 million, netting a $4.6 million profit according to Puget Sound Business Journal.

The Mars Hill Church was founded by Mark Driscoll, and he pushed his brand of church (Mars Hill) throughout the evangelical community. His aggressive, provocative style was no doubt one reason for its dramatic growth since beginning in 1996. But, Driscoll had a string of problems that led to its demise. As one researcher said, "If you put yourself on a big screen in front of 15,000 people every week, it's pretty easy to believe how great you are" (Dr. Warren Throckmorton). Throckmorton says Driscoll set up a situation where he was the "spiritual performer".

Sometimes preachers are convinced the way to be successful is to be a performer; they must be a dynamic and entertaining pulpiteer. They think that is the way to be effective. At the same time, there are Christians who think the preacher must have a dynamic personality and be an enthusiastic motivational speaker to be an effective preacher. Both of these premises are built on the man and not the message. Both are contrary to the Scriptures.

The gospel preacher proclaims a message that is not his own; it is the word of God (2 Tim. 4:2). Woe to him if he does not preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). Of course he should be enthusiastic about the gospel. But, he must never promote himself, but only and always promote Christ and His truth: "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5; 1 Cor. 2:1-2). Brethren must realize preaching is not for entertainment, but for proclamation.

Fellow preachers: When you stand in the pulpit do not be a performer, be a preacher. You may not please men, but you will please God (2 Tim. 4:2-5; Gal. 1:10). Brethren, do not put worldly expectations on your preacher. Expect him to preach the word, not to perform for you. 


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  03/11/2015

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