Watch On Biblify

by Mark Baze Ministries Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

1 Timothy 4:8-13 → In Paul’s instruction to Timothy, he emphasizes the importance of teaching doctrine. This
Greek word is didaskalia, which refers to teaching and instruction. In Paul’s second
letter to Timothy, he once again emphasizes this in chapter 4 verse 2.

The point of a sermon is to provide teaching and instruction. Therefore, the topic of a sermon is doctrine. If we believe the Bible truly is the Word of God, divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, we should take the preaching and studying of it seriously. We want to get it right!

We often come across preachers giving sermons, whether it is on TV, radio, or the internet. Just like anything else, we need to decide for ourselves and not just take their word for it. How can we know if we agree or disagree with a preacher? This boils down to a few main ways of approaching the Bible…
The Bible is not meant to be taken literally, instead it serves as a figurative illustration.
The Bible is meant to be taken literally.

First of all, there are the Biblical allegoricalists. This means they don’t take the Bible literally, so they can be referred to as non literalists. These preachers and teachers are easy to identify, if you know what to look for.
First of all, they will offer little, if any, context for the passage. For example, if the passage is about Joseph, they will pay little attention to him or the historical background. Instead, they will insert the congregation into the story to make a point. This is because the preacher would not really hold it to be a real story, but a fable for learning.
What is the problem with a non literal approach? If someone determines the Bible is not literal, it leaves scripture opened to interpretation. The question becomes, “What does this verse mean to you?”. Ultimately, it leads to the Bible containing no absolute truth. We cannot know for sure what exactly happened in the past, nor can we know what God will do in the future.

Second, some preachers will hold only certain parts of the Bible as figurative. They will believe some parts of the Bible to be actual events, but they will consider others to be only illustrations or allegories. Common examples would be the creation account, the garden of Eden, the flood, and the book of Revelation. The creation account will be taken as entirely figurative and the flood will be deduced to a local event.
Here are some quotes from preachers and theologians on this matter…
“It seems somewhat absurd that God would create the earth in six literal 24-hour days when, in reality,
units of time such as “hours,” “days,” and “weeks” are merely human constructs to measure time.”
“The popular literal interpretation of Revelation is not viable.”
Here are some phrases to look for…
“What the Bible actually means is…” or “I know is says this, but it’s talking about something else…”
“1,000 years just means a long time…” or “Jonah was a fable about God’s forgiveness and mercy…”
Once again, the issue is where do we draw the line? Why are some parts actual history and others only stories? There is no consistent metric for interpreting scripture.

However, what if the nonliteral preacher is preaching from a figurative verse? It is absolutely true that parts of the Bible do contain figurative speech and imagery. In this case, this preacher will likely neglect the context.
An excellent example would be Revelation 17:1-4. From the context, it is clear that John is using figurative language. However, he does not leave us wondering what the illustration represents. In the next verse, verse 5, he reveals that the woman is Babylon. A literal interpretation would then support that Babylon is truly who John is talking about. However, this preacher would likely claim that Babylon represents the United States or some other government.
There certainly are challenges when interpreting prophecy, but it is important to be consistent in our approach to studying God’s word.

The third category would be covenant theology. This is also called reformed theology and it is one of the predominant views within Christianity. The reformed preacher will tell you that he takes the Bible literally. However, he will literally apply it within the wrong context.
An example of this would be Matthew 5:29, in which Jesus is very likely giving an illustration concerning the importance of avoiding sin. However, the preacher will make this about being saved as a believer today. Another example is Malachi 3:8-10, which is a statement concerning Israel failing to offer their tithes to the Lord.
The covenant preacher will use a phrase such as “There has always been only one people of God.” Due to the variance in interpretation, Catholicism, Calvinsim, and prosperity Gospel has come out of this. There are two big reasons for its popularity:, 1) preachers and theologians do not discern Israel promises and Body of Christ promises and 2) pastors have become convinced that every sermon has to be about the congregation. Therefore, they look to make application in every sermon they preach, regardless of the book or passage. The result is a sermon that always looks for a way to insert daily instruction for our current times. Unfortunately, the application of “now you know what the Bible says or teaches” is not considered valuable to modern congregations.

Lastly, you have the category of dispensationalism. This group truly takes the Bible for what it says. This is a phrase that has been lost in churches with modern translations. However, it is built upon scripture. Paul mentions the various dispensations of God in his epistles, examples include Ephesians 1:9-10, 3:2, and Colossians 1:25. The Greek word is oikonomia, and it refers to house rules of an authority or administration.
Dispensationalism is the natural result when someone takes the Bible literally. If you give a child, who is able to read, a Bible, have them sit down and read it, and then explain it to you; they will tell you that Israel was under the Law and after Jesus died and rose again God started offering people salvation by believing in Jesus. It is only the seminary and theology experts that overcomplicate this matter and create doctrine that confuse people.
The Bible becomes so much easier to understand when it is taken literally. It also becomes much easier to know what a preacher believes when you understand dispensationalism. You will almost automatically know a pastor’s doctrine simply by which book they are using. If their sermon title is “The Power of Prayer” and their sermon scripture is from 1 Kings, you know that they are not distinguishing the difference between Elijah as a prophet of Israel and the dispensation of the Body of Christ.

Unfortunately, many people have not been taught the various ways of studying the Bible. This has led to people having inaccurate understandings of God and what we can expect here on earth. Passages such as Joshua 1:8 are not promises made to us. However, the promise of Ephesians 3:1-6 is!

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