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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture

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roaringlamb
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture

[i]Written by J.W. Hendryx of Monergism.com[/i]

Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture
With Four Examples of Doctrinal Errors that Arise When this Key is not Used.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:39, 40)
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" - (1 Tim 2:5)

"The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them. Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, he will never reach the knowledge of the truth." - John Calvin


I have recently had the privilege of reading a phenomenal book that I highly recommend to all teachers of the Word. That book was Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy. Its thesis is simple: the Gospel (or, Jesus Christ) is the Key to all Christian Hermeneutics. During the course of reading, his focus got me to thinking about its antithesis which would be that almost all errors and inconsistencies in our understanding of Bible texts occur when our interpretation is less than Christ-centered. This is foundational. Unless our study, however diligent, leads us to see that all Scripture points to Jesus Christ, our study is in vain. The importance of the Bible (OT & NT) is that it testifies about Jesus Christ (John 1:43-45, Acts 3:18, Acts 17:2-3, 2 Tim 3:14-15,1 Pet 1:10-12, Rom 1:1-3, 16:25-27, Luke 24:25-27 & 44-46).

Jesus never condemned a Pharisee for taking Moses too seriously. They take him far less seriously than they should. For Jesus says, "If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for He write of Me. But if you don't believe His writings, how will you believe My words. Your accuser is Moses." (John 5:46). So to understand Moses is to come to know Christ when He is revealed. Likewise, Abraham saw Jesus’ day and was glad, the Bible testifies. And "...foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU." (Gal)

But now, let's shift gears by getting specific about doctrinal errors that fail to take into account the above biblical principles ... These are produced by an interpretitive grid or presupposition that arises from Christless or less-than-Christocentric views of Scripture. In the following, I wish to give 3-4 examples of current popular, but erroneous, interpretations, that err simply because they fail to see the centrality of Jesus Christ in their understanding:

1) The False Assertion that Salvation can be Lost

The claim by some that a Christian can actually lose his or her salvation is a prime example of reading Christ out of the text, because the focus becomes your own moral ability rather than Christ. Some erroneously believe that a Christian, after being saved by Christ, can make certain choices that will lead to the loss of their adoption and justification, and thus, their salvation in Christ. In other words, they must, by their own effort, or with the Spirit's help, maintain their just standing before God. With such a view, Christ is not sufficient to save completely. Such a doctrine should immediately make us think of Paul's warning in Galatians: "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3) But why is Paul so stern as to call them foolish? Because they have forgotten that Christ and Christ alone has saved them. To think that we can add to Christ's perfect work is to utterly misapprehend the Gospel at its core. For, we ask, is it Jesus or something else which is sufficient to carry you to the end? Any addition to Jesus Christ is to believe that justification is found in something else has forgotten about the centrality of Christ.

So we ask in relation to this doctrine, is it Christ who saves us, or does He merely assist us so we may save ourselves? The warning passages in Hebrews actually warn against this very error. They start by pointing out that Jesus is superior to the angels, to Moses and to the Sacrificial System. The warnings of falling away are actually warnings about going back to something inferior to Christ, like the sacrificial system which only pointed to Christ. To read that a particular sin can make us lose our salvation, is thus, to utterly forget what the context of the Text in Hebrews itself is. So the assertion that a Christian can lose salvation is the first error that we have spotted that arises because Christ was seen as the ultimate interpretive presupposition, and thus, left out of the interpretation. Some other ultimate presupposition guided our exposition.

2) Synergism

Synergism is the error that affirms that the natural man can cooperate with God in the regeneration process (the new birth) ...that an unregenerate person has the moral capacity to embrace the Gospel apart from the work of the Spirit changing the heart.

Again, remember what our interpretive Key to the Bible is? Jesus Christ. So, in relation to regeneration and conversion, when the gospel is preached, what makes people to differ in their response to it? Does Jesus Christ make us differ or does something else? This “something else” may take various forms; it may be something native to the human constitution (i.e. Pelagianism) or something alien yet universal (i.e. Arminianism)? In either case, the point is that it is not Christ that makes the difference. Anyone who claims that the difference arises from one of these something-else’s has failed to see first our hopelessness as fallen creatures apart from Christ and second the exclusive sufficiency of Christ’s saving work. If I am different than my neighbor because of something other than Jesus Christ, then Christ, whatever role he may play, cannot be central to my understanding of salvation. He is only partly responsible for it. It is the grace we have in Christ that saves, and nothing in addition to it.

3) Four-Point Calvinism

Four-point Calvinism fails the test of Christ-centered interpretation because this view tends to see the TULIP as an abstraction. But the TULIP only works when we see Christ at its center. Consider the TULIP as a chiasm with the "L" at the top of the pyramid. It is Jesus Christ which makes sense of all the doctrines of grace. Four-point Calvinists who reject Limited Atonement but embrace irresistible grace must consider this: Irresistible grace is not some abstract doctrine but must be seen in relation to Jesus Christ, specially in relation to the grace purchased by Christ upon the cross. The Spirit of Christ illuminates, regenerates and effectually brings to faith his elect. And this enabling, effectual grace is, from first to last, Christ-centered. It does not come out of a void, nor from some hidden source of grace in God the Father. Therefore Christ must have died for the elect so as to purchase that grace in a way – a redemptive way – that he did not die for the non-elect. That is why we often call it particular redemption. Irresistible grace is one of the redemptive benefits purchased by Jesus Christ ... and it was never granted to the non-elect nor intended for them. I believe that until Jesus Christ is seen as central to the TULIP then four-pointers will continue to reject what is plain.

4) Purgatory

Roman Catholics believe in Purgatory, which again accents their belief that Christ is not sufficient to save completely. Rather then, we must work off our sins after death for 1000's of years until it is paid. Where is Christ in all this? Was His work insufficient to cover their sins completely and once for all?

Each of these errors occurs when the our hermeneutic - our ultimate presupposition - is not Jesus Christ.

J.W. Hendryx


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patrick heaviside

 2007/7/23 13:36Profile
hmmhmm
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Joined: 2006/1/31
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 Re: Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture

1) The False Assertion that Salvation can be Lost

if salvation cant be lost why would Paul bother to write all those letters to all those churches since they could not lose their salvation? then it would only be waste of time talking to them that they should live a holy life.

and what about Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

to me it seems it is possible to have your name in the book, and he can blot it out....

1813 evxalei,fw exaleipho {ex-al-i'-fo}
Meaning: 1) to anoint or wash in every part 1a) to besmear: i.e. cover with lime (to whitewash or plaster) 2) [b]to wipe off, wipe away 2a) to obliterate, erase, wipe out, blot out[/b]

to me this seems like it is possible for a christian to lose their salvation






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CHRISTIAN

 2007/7/23 13:55Profile
roaringlamb
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Re:

Quote:
if salvation cant be lost why would Paul bother to write all those letters to all those churches since they could not lose their salvation? then it would only be waste of time talking to them that they should live a holy life.



Brother, could you put up some of the verses you have in mind, as I would like to see them that I may look into them myself.

I believe that many of the exhortations against falling away, were warnings but not statements of an absolute happening. Most of the texts used to argue perserverance of the Saints have an "if" before the warning.

It would be like me writing to you and saying, "if you play in the middle of the street you will be hit by a car." Now does this assume that now you will go play in the street? or is it just a warning about what could happen "if" you did?

I know that the Bible never contradicts itself, and the Holy Spirit is not double minded, so even based on this verse, I would wonder about one losing their salvation-
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 [b]Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.[/b]

Then there is this one-
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Joh 10:28 And [b]I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.[/b]

So, now we must look at the rest in light of these things.


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patrick heaviside

 2007/7/23 14:10Profile
hmmhmm
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Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991
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 Re:

i have not come mysef to a final conclusion on this subject, but i can see there might be a chance for someone that was born again of God to fall away and löose his/her salvation.


Romans 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: [b]otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.[/b]

1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in [b]departing[/b] from the living God.

departing= 868 avfi,sthmi aphistemi {af-is'-tay-mee}
Meaning: 1) to make stand off, cause to withdraw, to remove 1a) to excite to revolt 2) to stand off, to stand aloof 2a) to go away, to depart from anyone 2b) to desert, withdraw from one 2c) to fall away, become faithless 2d) to shun, flee from 2e) to cease to vex one 2f) to withdraw one's self from, to fall away 2g) to keep one's self from, absent one's self from

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;



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CHRISTIAN

 2007/7/23 14:27Profile
roaringlamb
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Re:

Thanks, I am going to look at these.


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patrick heaviside

 2007/7/23 14:36Profile
HopePurifies
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Joined: 2007/4/12
Posts: 181
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 Re:

Quote:
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.



You can look at it like this, God wants all who choose Him to be conformed in the image of His son. So He has predestinated, those who He foreknew (Christians as a whole, not individually), to be conformed to the image of His son. He hasn't predestinated them to be Christians, but predestinated Christians to be conformed to the image of His Son. Those who are destined to be conformed to the image of His Son, He calls and they respond to the call, and then they are justified and a justified man is glorified on the last day.
You see, the passage in context is talking about God's faithfulness. Before this passage is mentioned "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Those who love God, and are called to His purpose (being conformed in the image of His son, then justified, then glorified). Then after the passage, 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...
Basically, this passage is not saying that man cannot say "I refuse to accept grace" because God has him completely controlled and will glorify the man no matter what decision he makes. This passage is saying that God will never sway from His promises, He will never withhold His grace from those who want it, for those who are obedient He will never turn away His face.
The foreknowledge explanation is not mine but someone else's. I can't remember who though.

edited for minor spelling errors and for clarity.


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Melanie

 2007/7/23 16:15Profile





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