Proper Hermeneutics


For this post, I am going to give you a link to an article that I think is an excellent outline of proper bible interpretation. I was searching the internet for ammo to use in my own article, but I realized that this man (Dan Phillips) wrote pretty much everything I wanted to say. So enjoy it, and all credit goes to him for the article.

Good Read:

http://www.bibchr.com/sobr.html

Let me know what you think!

-Robert Tingle

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10


2 Corinthians 12:7-10 :

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

As I was reading this yesterday, I couldn’t stop reading it because of how encouraging it was to me. A little interpretive work first, then I will bring it home.

At first glance, verses 7 and 8 might seem hard to understand, but I think the key is in understanding Paul’s specific call to ministry. And for that, we must look at Acts chapter 9. Verses 15-16:

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

God is speaking to Ananias in this verse, and He is calling Ananias to lay his hands on (formerly named) Saul. Ananias wonders why, for Saul was an avid persecutor of the church. But God tells Ananias exactly why He was calling Saul to be saved and to be a minister of the gospel. Paul is a “chosen instrument” of God, a very special worker in the early church because he was to boldly preach the gospel before the Gentiles, the kings, and the sons of Israel. Then God says “for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Paul’s calling was special in that he was called to a life of intense suffering and affliction. So, I think in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is explaining exactly why he was to suffer so much, “to keep me from exalting myself!”.

So then, what was the comforting words that God gave in return, instead of removing the suffering? “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. Because of this truth, Paul will gladly boast in his weakness, so that the power of Christ would dwell in him. And on top of that, he is now content in all types of suffering for Christ’s sake. Why? Because when he is weak, then he is strong. Not that there is an inherent strength in suffering, but that he receives a surpassing strength, that is the power of Christ.

 

So what do we take from this? I think this is the lesson Paul learned in Phil 4:11 of contentedness. God will use whatever means necessary to sanctify the believer, but it is for our good! (Romans 8).

Personal example: my recent run-ins with health issues (seizures). Many times I have prayed that God would remove this suffering away from me. But I must realize that God’s grace is sufficient for me, and that the power of Christ is perfected in my weakness. And since God’s grace is sufficient for me, I will not grumble or complain over momentary light affliction, but instead will boast in my weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in me! Therefore I can be content in suffering, weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions, and difficulties for the sake of Christ! Because through my weaknesses, Christ power is made perfect! Not that I have earned merit of anything on my own, but that Christ saved a wretch like me, o wretched man that I am! Praise the Lord for His everlasting love and grace.

Let me know what you think!

-Robert Tingle

 

The case for membership


Membership has the propensity to be a very heated topic in discussion, mainly because “Thou shalt become a member” is not the 11th commandment. That argument is the main objection I hear, so I will answer that first, then give my case.

Inferences, as defined by webster’s online dictionary, are conclusions or opinions that are formed because of known facts or evidence. We can INFER from scripture that some form of membership is necessary, despite a lack of the outright statement.

For example, we can look at the doctrine of the trinity. The word “trinity” is never found in the bible, but we can infer from known evidences in the bible that the God of this universe is triune. We know from scripture that the following are true:

1)There is only ONE God (Deut. 6:4, 2 Sam. 7:22, 1 Cor. 8:4, among many others…)

2)The Father is God(1 Cor 8:6, Phil 2:11, Col. 1:3, etc.)

3)The Son is God(John 8:58, John 20:28, Heb. 1:8, etc.)

4)The Holy Spirit is God(Acts 5:3-4, Acts 4:31, Titus 3:5. etc.)

5)The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are SEPARATE and DISTINCT persons(Matt. 3:16-17, 2 Cor. 13:14, John 14:16-17, etc.)

Therefore, the ONE GOD is THREE SEPARATE persons, a.k.a. the trinity.

I say that to say this, inferential theology is OK.

So, the case for membership:

We can INFER it from scripture. The ideas are mostly taken from the Matthew 18 description of church discipline, and the times in the new testament where pastors and elders are called to shepherd the flock (which is said in several different ways).

Matthew 18: The account of church discipline. This set of steps necessarily presumes that the numbers of the church are accounted for. The reason why I say that is the story Jesus tells in verses 12-15 (context right before church discipline passage) implies an account of members, namely sheep. Verses 12-15:

12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”

The comparison of the pastor and his church to the shepherd and his flock are key. The shepherd will go after the one sheep of his flock because it’s part of the flock. If the shepherd sees a random sheep off in the distance, he is not compelled to go after it, because it isn’t part of the flock.

1 Peter 5:1-3 also employs the shepherd analogy:

1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

The principle remains the same. The elders are to lead the church, because God has called them to minister to “those allotted” to them.

It’s truly common sense. In today’s society, churches have a lot of people showing up on Sunday mornings. But how does a group of elders know who they are to shepherd? Is it the people who invariably attend Sunday mornings or midweek fellowships? Or the homeless guy who walks in during service to grab a drink of water?

Sure, we are all called to make disciples of the world, but elders of the church can only biblically exercise authority over those of their flock. The only way passages like Hebrews 13:17 and those aforementioned can be fulfilled if the leaders of the church know who is part of the church. A church can’t exercise discipline over someone who shows up once or twice a year.

I’m under firm conviction that it is not enough to be a regular attender, even if you are participating in service, fellowship and other things regularly.

Let me know what you think!

-Robert Tingle