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The Dire Importance of Accurate Scriptural Interpretation

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Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. - 1Chronicles 4: 9-10 (NIV)

As we continue into the end times we will continue to see more and more false teachings arise. We can be assured of this because the Bible tells us so, and Jesus Himself taught just as much. While some false teachings are easier than others to spot, there are more insidious teachings that mix a little leaven with accurate Scripture to present a theology that sounds right at first glance. When the Apostle Paul traveled through the region of Berea however, he found the Bereans were of more noble character because they checked Scripture to ensure that what Paul was teaching was indeed accurate. We should do no less in our attempts to weed out false teaching in our lives. We have to realize that false teachings that are accepted may lead us further away from the real God and further down the broad path to destruction. False teachings can mean we think we are saved when we are not or that we adversely affect others in their pursuit of God. It also can mean that we set up a false understanding of God in our hearts and minds which the devil will then use to destroy our relationship with Him. There is a lot at stake for believers. Doctrine is so important it is one of only two things Paul warned Timothy to guard closely.


Here is a recent example. Joel Osteen was preaching recently about the notion that we need to have a bigger view of who we are if we expect God to move in bigger ways in our lives. While I agree that we can keep ourselves down with our self view, the reality is that we need to thing bigger of God, not ourselves. But Osteen goes on to support his premise by saying (paraphrase), "Whatever you want, you have to be able to imagine it if you expect God to bring it to pass. It says in Genesis that nothing will prevent them from what they imagine." Which sounds great except it is not true. The verse he was referring to was from the story of the Tower of Babel:


And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. -- Genesis 11: 6 (KJV)

You cannot say with a straight face that this was just his interpretation. These verses were dealing with God being very upset with man for his imaginations. So upset that He spread them across the world and confused their languages! Now it is true that a verse can have multiple interpretations but they all must stay true to the text and the context. For example, I once heard a sermon from renowned prosperity preach Kenneth Copeland who was using Deuteronomy 28: 2 to defend being presented with two luxury automobiles as gifts by his congregants:


And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. - Deuteronomy 28: 2 (KJV)


The sermon intimated to his congregation that this was just an example of the blessings of God overtaking Mr. Copeland for hearkening unto the voice of God! Hallelujah - pass the offering plate! Well"not so fast. The first rule of Biblical interpretation is always CONTEXT:


And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: - Deuteronomy 28: 1 (KJV)


Read this verse with the one Copeland so causally misused and we see that the story is quite different. Deuteronomy is the completion of the Torah so the "commandments which I command thee" actually refer to the entire Mosaic law. That included 613 laws beloved which no one was able to keep - which is why God had to send Jesus Christ to earth. Not for our temporal blessing but for our eternal prosperity. What Copeland did was misuse Scripture to prop up a pre-determined point. That is not interpretation. In fact, if he was fairly interpreting he would have come to this verse:


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