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Posts Tagged ‘Proper Interpretation’

In not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force: Example 2

Ministers of Christ are designated “stars” (Daniel 12:3; Revelation 1:20), for as the stars illumine all parts of the earth, so evangelical messengers scatter the rays of light and truth upon the darkness of an ungodly world. And as there is no speech or language where the voice of the celestial stars is not heard, for they are so many tongues proclaiming the glory of their Maker, so the ministers of Christ have, at different periods of history, heralded God’s good news in every human tongue. On the day of Pentecost men of many nations heard God’s servants speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God, so that even then the line of the apostles’ testimony “went through all the earth” (Acts 2:9-11, and cf. Colossians 1:5, 6, 23).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

In not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force: Example 1

The first six verses of Psalm 19 contain a sublime description of the perfections of God as they are displayed in the material creation, especially in the heavenly bodies; yet it is quite evident that the apostle Paul also regarded what is there said of the sun and stars as their being Divinely designed emblems of the kingdom of grace. For in Romans 10:4-17, we find that he had before him the universal publication of the Gospel, and that in verse 18 he quoted from Psalm 19:

“But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Spiritual meaning of Scripture: In not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force

The spiritual meaning of Scripture: not simply in the application which may fairly be made of a passage, but its actual content. We have in mind those passages where a material object or historical transaction adumbrated or contemplated spiritual objects and experiences. Great care needs to be exercised here, lest on the one hand we be such slaves to “literalism” that we miss the deeper significance and higher import of many things in God’s Word; or lest on the other hand we give free rein to our imagination and “read into” a verse what is not there or “carnalize” what should be taken in its plain and natural sense. Against both of those evils the expositor needs to be constantly on his guard. Let it also be pointed out that in not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force, and one of the tasks devolving upon the interpreter is to bring out each of them clearly. A few examples will make our meaning simpler.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The need of distinguishing between things that differ is further evidenced by the following: Example 8

The need of distinguishing between things that differ is further evidenced by the following. The walking in darkness of Isaiah 1:10, is not occasioned by the Lord’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, but is due to the absence of ministerial instruction, and therefore is to be explained by Amos 8:11; whereas the walking in darkness of 1 John 1:6, consists of an open revolt from God. The word “dead” in John 6:49, signifies physically; “not die” in the next verse means spiritually; “shall never see death” in John 8:51, has reference to the second death. The passing “from death unto life” of John 5:24, is legal, the reward of the Law—justification; but the passing “from death unto life” of 1 John 3:14, is experiential—regeneration. The “one new man” of Ephesians 2:15, is that mystical body which is composed of saved Jews and Gentiles, whereof Christ is the Head; whereas “the new man” of Ephesians 4:24, is the new state and standing secured by regeneration, and which the recipient is required to make manifest in his daily deportment. Christ’s being “without sin” at His first advent (Hebrews 4:15) means that He was personally and experientially so, being the Holy One of God; but His being “without sin” at His second advent (Hebrews 9:28) imports imputatively so, no longer charged with the guilt of His people. In such passages as Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8; etc., “faith” signifies the act and grace of faith, but in 1 Timothy 3:9; 4:1; Jude 1:3, “the faith” refers to the body of doctrine revealed in Scripture.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Distinguish between the three tenses and the various aspects of God’s salvation: Example 7

For clearness of thought and soundness of doctrine, it is most necessary to distinguish between the three tenses and the various aspects of God’s salvation. Familiar as we are with that word, it is used with unpardonable looseness (even by the majority of preachers), through failure to recognize that it is the most comprehensive term to be found in the Scriptures, and to take the trouble of ascertaining how it is used therein. Only too often a most inadequate concept is formed of the scope and contents of that word, and through ignoring the distinctions which the Holy Spirit has drawn nothing but a blurred and jumbled idea is obtained. How few, for example would be able to give a simple exposition of the following statements: “Who hath saved us” (2 Timothy 1:9, and cf. Titus 3:5); “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12); “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11, and cf. 1 Peter 1:5). Now these verses do not refer to three different salvations, but rather to three aspects of one salvation. The first as an accomplished fact—from the pleasure and penalty of sin. The second as a present process from the power and ragings of sin. The third as a future prospect—from the very presence of sin.

If the balance of truth is to be preserved and the evil practice of pitting one aspect against another, or of over-emphasizing one and ignoring another, is to be avoided, a careful study needs to be made of the different causes and means of salvation. There are no less than seven things which concur in this great work, for all of them are said, in one passage or another, to “save” us. Salvation is ascribed to the Father: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9)—because of His electing love in Christ. To the Lord Jesus: “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)—because of His merits and satisfaction. To the Holy Spirit: “He saved us, by the… renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5)—because of His almighty and efficacious operations. To the instrumentality of the Word: “The engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21)—because it discovers to us our need and reveals the grace whereby we may be saved. To the labors of the Lord’s servants:

“in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16)

—because of their fidelity to the Truth. To the conversion of the sinner, in which both repentance and faith are exercised by him: “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40)—by the repentance spoken of in verse 38: “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). To the ordinances: “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21)—sealing the grace of God to a believing heart.

Now those seven concurring causes of salvation need to be considered in their order and kept in their proper places, otherwise incalculable harm will be done. For instance, if we elevate a subordinate cause above a primary one, then all sense of real proportion is lost. The love and wisdom of God are the root cause, the first mover of all else. Next are the merits and satisfaction of Christ, which are also the foundation of all else that follows. The effectual operations of the Holy Spirit produce in sinners those things which are necessary for their participation in the benefits purposed by the Father and purchased by Christ. The Word is the chief means employed by God in conviction and conversion. As the result of the Spirit’s operation and the application of the Word in power to our hearts, we are brought to repent and believe. In this, it is the Spirit’s usual custom to employ the minister of Christ as His subordinate agents. Baptism and the Lord’s supper are means whereby we express our repentance and faith, and have them confirmed to us. Nor must those concurring causes be confounded, so that we attribute to a later one what pertains to an earlier one. We must not ascribe to the ordinances that which belongs to the Word, nor to conversion what originates through the Spirit, nor give to Him the honor which is peculiar to Christ. Each is to be carefully distinguished, defined, and kept in its proper place.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Distinguish between things that differ: Example 6

Another example where it is necessary to distinguish between things that differ is to observe carefully the various shades of – meaning given to the word hope. In some passages the reference is to the grace of hope, the faculty by which we expect some future good, as in “faith, hope, charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13), of which God is the Author—“the God of hope” (Romans 15:13). In some verses it is the ground of expectation, that on which it rests, as it is said of Abraham, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations,” which is explained in what follows:

“according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be” (Romans 4:18)

—his hope reposing upon the sure promise of God. In other places it is the object of hope that is in view, the things expected, or the One in whom our confidence is placed, as in “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:5), “looking for that blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), “O Lord, the hope of Israel” (Jeremiah 17:13). Occasionally the term signifies the assurance which is produced, as in “my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:9) and “rejoice in hope…hope maketh not ashamed” (Romans 5:2, 5).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Distinguish between things that differ: Example 5

A careful examination of the different passages in which our Lord is referred to as coming reveals the fact that by no means all of them allude to His personal and public return, when He shall “appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). Thus, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18), which had reference, first, to His corporate coming unto His disciples after His resurrection and, second, to His coming spiritually at Pentecost, when He gave them another Comforter.

“If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him” (John 14:23)

—come in the powerful influences of Divine grace and consolation.

“And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (Ephesians 2:16, 17),

which was accomplished mediately, in the ministry of His servants, for be who receives them receives Him (Matthew 10:40).

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and wil remove thy candlestick out of his place” (Revelation 2:5, 16)

—that is a judicial visitation. “He shall come unto us as the rain” (Hosea 6:3): every spiritual revival and bestowment of grace is a coming of the Lord unto the soul.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures