Monday, October 15, 2012

Don't Kill Moabites! (Application of Scripture to the Christian's Life)

When reading the Bible, it is important to discern to whom the portion of Scripture is addressed.  For example, in Judges 3, the Lord commanded the Israelites to kill all the Moabites.  That certainly does not mean that we are ordered to find Moabites and kill them.

This might seem obvious to some, but one might be surprised how often blunders like that (of course not to the extent of faithful Bible readers killing Moabites) occur.  The Bible or Holy Scriptures are inspired by God.  Inspiration means that "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21)  Therefore, we should look at Scripture, not as the opinion of men, but as the authoritative Word of God.  Scripture is also "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."  (1 Timothy 3:16)  God certainly intends that we read, mark, and inwardly digest His Word for the profit of our spiritual life.

We also know that Scripture is where we find our Savior Jesus.  "Then Jesus said to them, 'These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written,that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."   (Luke 24:45-47)

Many faithful Christians read their Bible (religiously) everyday.  This is not a bad thing.  This is a good thing.  Meditating on God's Word is great nutrition to the Spiritual life.  There is no doubt that it is neglected in this day when the Bible is available in the vernacular for anybody to read.  Undoubtedly most Christians have more than one copy of the Bible in their homes.

However, instruction in Holy Scripture for the proper discernment of God's Word is very important.  When seeking such instruction, it is wise to find someone who knows how to "rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)  The most important distinction to be made in Scripture is between the Law and the Gospel.  Ask whether this is something I am commanded to do with the threat of punishment if it is not carried along perfectly?  Or is this a message of freedom from such bondage and that Christ Jesus has paid my debts and given me an inheritance in heaven?  

Another distinction, which ought to be made (which I addressed in the beginning) is to whom is the Scripture addressed.  Along with being a guide for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness; Scripture is also a guide for those in the Office of the Ministry.  For example, The Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28 does not command all Christians to go and baptize and make disciples.  That is directed at the Apostles.  There are many other examples that distinguish between the entire Church and the Office of the Ministry.  References to laborers going into the harvest, servants waiting for their master (Luke 12:35-38), and the Pastoral Epistles (Titus, 1&2 Timothy) are other examples where Scripture is addressing those in the Office of the Ministry.  It is still important for laymen to read them, so that they know what to expect from their Pastors.  It is certainly important for pastors and future pastors to read them.  However, it is a mistake to apply all Scripture to all Christians without distinguishing between those in the Office of the Ministry and those outside the Office.  This is the same as to not distinguish whether the command is for a husband or wife, parents or children, government or citizens.  As the Table of Duties in Luther's Small Catechism demonstrates, Scripture applies to specific groups of people and their vocations.  


James Preus said...
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James Preus said...

That quote in the third paragraph is from Luke 24:44-47. Oops.