Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Recently, the Holy Spirit weight on my heart (or convicted me if you prefer that kind of vocabulary) about this blog. I started with the goal of spreading God’s Word; since quite legitimately when I read the Bible, the Holy Spirit shows me awesome stuff and I want to share that as opposed to just be a brick wall of information from the Lord. However, as I’ve continued on, I’ve realized that I’m posting mostly for self-fulfillment, and indeed these days my daily Bible reading has become more of me pressing the Holy Spirit to give me something to write about. So instead of the blog being for God, it’s become God being for the blog- ah, we humans are idol-making machines, aren’t we? At the same time I was watching some sermons and I realized that one thing that’s always been lacking in my writing or blogging has been love. Now, to be assured, I love the Word and I love our Lord completely, but the posts are lacking in the love department. We can learn about the greatest commandments from Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40,
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second one is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
As I said, I love God, but my posting lacks a care for the actual people who will be reading what I write. I sort of have been posting out of a sense of duty rather than out of a divine love. So, in a very short time, the Holy Spirit pointed out that I was double dipping in a good act with incorrect intentions. Today, I write to you (though I don’t know you) out of love.
Do you ever feel like you will never change? Do you feel that things are so bad that you can’t get out of them? Do you ever wonder if the Lord really will save you? Or if Jesus, who died a horrible death on the cross can not only forgive you, but give you continued forgiveness as you continue to mess up along the way? I think most people on the outside of the church looking in wonder about that. I know I sure did. Let me tell you from experience- not from fancy words or anything like that- things can change. You can change. Your circumstance can change. It only takes a moment. Let me tell you my story of how Jesus changed my life.
I won’t go into too many details, but I grew up in the church, and yet later on I ended up so far away from the church that I think most would consider me backslidden down to “dead Christian” or perhaps not even saved at all. I still called myself a Christian, but I had some hardcore doubts, and quite honestly, I didn’t want to be burdened with the Ten Commandments. But then I met someone who pushed me to read the Bible. I suppose as a “Christian” it was my duty to do it at least once. So I was borrowed the New Testament and I started reading. Matthew was interesting, but nothing life changing. Mark felt like a Reader’s Digest version of Matthew. Luke was basically Matthew again. And John didn’t really add anything to blow my mind. In short, I read the Gospels, filled with stories I had already half-listened to in church, and was pretty much unaffected. Honestly, I was a bit off put by them at times. For example, Jesus tells us,
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where
“their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:47-48).
This kind of stuff I expected from some doom-and-gloom ban-Disney-movies Baptist, but Jesus!? I always had the idea that Jesus loved me, not that he was some pro-mutilation punisher with a no-tolerance policy on sin. I was shocked, but not into confession, I was shocked that Jesus would say such things! Now, I’ve heard that many have been saved through the Gospels; especially that of John, this is just my experience. So by all means, if you distribute Gospels as part of your ministry, keep it up.
Thank God for sequels. With the hardcore “even sinning in your thoughts is bad” Jesus up in heaven, I was able to relax a bit as I started reading Acts. Now, I tried to take everything I read in the scriptures as literal history (which it is) and so the account of the disciples was pretty interesting (considering they were building the foundations of the church). I had never heard of Paul until then (amazing considering the years I spent half-listening at church). Then I met Saul during the stoning of Stephen,
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death (Acts 7:57-8:1).
This dude was the scumbag of scumbags. He was Christian hater #1. If he was there at the crucifixion, he would have been the one hammering the nails. Surely, Saul would be the bad guy for the rest of the book, or so I thought. Upon reading chapter nine, my suspicions were correct, Saul was gonna be the main villain of the story; because even as the church was being put down we read,
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2).
Then, something unexpected (at least for me) happened,
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:3-6).
Jesus showed up. Not only did Jesus show up, but he didn’t throw Saul into hell or kill him on the spot. He…gave him a mission? That’s right, Jesus saved Saul, just like that, he didn’t chastise him or go on some long-winded speech about righting his wrongs or anything like that (though he did temporarily blind him as a proof of his divinity and to force him to interact with a Christian three days later). In an instant Saul changed from a murderous dirt bag into the guy who changed his name to Paul and wrote most of the New Testament (which I later found out). This passage changed my life on the spot. As he was speaking to Saul, Jesus was speaking to me too, “What’s your problem? I’ve got stuff planned for you.”
At the moment of Saul’s conversion (or when I read it anyway), I also gave into Christ completely, and never looked back. I’m telling you this because the equation to changing your life is very simple. People have written many many books on changing your life (all of them have the same theme of “set a goal- work on a goal- achieve said goal” by the way), but I am here to tell you today that only one thing is needed to do it: Jesus. That’s it, it sounds stupid, and overly simple. Maybe it is too simple, but as we read in 1 Kings 5:13,
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed?’”
All you need is Jesus, that’s it. After that, reading the Bible for guidence probably helps, but Jesus is the key ingredient. Your life quality will change if you give yourself to the Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A person with Jesus in their heart lets in the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit writes the Law on your heart. For the Word says,
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
After that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
And write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
And they will be my people (Hebrews 8:10).
With God’s law growing in you and the Holy Spirit working through you, automatically the things you know are wrong will become detestable and you will want to do good.
As Jesus works on your life, bettering you as a person, he will also better your situation. Sure, things might not change on the outside, but you will see things differently. Because of both of these (your sanctification and new perspective) you’ll react to situations differently and make better choices. Through this, you will grow and your life will be changed in every way. It really happens just like that. Saul went from Christian-hating psycho to Jesus freak in two seconds. Others (including myself), have had the same experience. Please, I implore you, seek out Jesus- as ludicrous as it sounds right now, please believe me as a person who is reaching out to you to help you- our Christ will fix everything. I don’t want to quote a bunch of one-liners from the Bible to get you to give your life to Jesus. They didn’t work on me anyway when I was on the outside. But as just a man, I beg you; give Jesus a chance to work, please. In fact, pray with me, right now. Just read the words below and surrender your life to Christ.
I’ve wandered around looking for answers,
Now you’ve found me.
I give up.
Come into my life.
Be my savior,
Rescue me as advertised.
Forgive me of my sins, Jesus.
And keep forgiving me as I’ll probably mess up down the road.
I can’t do this on my own.
Be my strength, my comfort, my God.
Change my life to fit your will.
Thank you for this chance, O Lord.
In your name, Lord Jesus, I pray,