by Bob Dasal
When the Founding Fathers adopted the Constitution they intended for the three branches of government to have a check and balance system to safeguard and protect every citizen's rights. The Judicial Branch was not to make law, but to interpret the constitutionality of laws passed by the Congress and signed by the president. Unfortunately, there are those who want activist courts that go beyond that concept and make decisions that in effect become law. This difference of views divides the country. Whenever a president nominates a candidate for a federal judgeship, especially the Supreme Court, as is in process as these words are written, these varying political views result in a battle of the two ideologies.
There is a parallel ideological battle going on in the Christian world over what is and is not biblical. It becomes quite confusing when one group says "this is what it means" and another group says, "no, this is what it means." I've always believed that there is a positive benefit to having differences. When someone does not agree with my understanding of a Scripture passage, it challenges me to deeper thinking and study. That's good for me, but it's vital I have the right tools to study. This is called hermeneutics.
The need for having excellent hermeneutic tools to study the Bible can not be overstated. Serious Bible students will always want to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15b). With the illuminating help of the Holy Spirit we can effectively use these tools to recognize the difference between biblical and unbiblical teaching.
Basic hermeneutics includes asking the following five questions.
Who was the writer and to whom was he writing?
What was the cultural-historical setting of the writer?
What was the meaning of the words in the writer's day?
What was the intended meaning of the author, and why was he saying it?
What should this mean to me in my situation today?
The student of Scripture should always prayerfully observe these basic principles. The primary aim of study is to discover the original meaning and on that basis receive it's meaning for us today. Anytime someone says, "the Lord told me" it should be immediately measured by the teachings of the Bible. Good hermeneutics is essential to this.
Earlier I mentioned the Supreme Court nomination now before the U.S. Senate. I cannot overstate the importance of the decision to the future of the United States. How the U.S. Constitution is interpreted is literally a life and death matter. Millions, whose lives were terminated by abortion, silently speak loudly to that fact.
How the Bible is interpreted is also a matter of life and death. To misinterpret the teaching of the Scripture delivers a false message and may result in millions upon millions being eternally doomed. Every Christian—especially pastors, Bible professors, and Sunday school teachers—should recognize the devil's intense attempts to trick us into polluting the truth of God's Word. Remember, he even tried to do it to Jesus in the temptations (see Matt. 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4).
Powerful proclamation of biblical truth is the crying need of our day! Thank God for those who with prayer, discipline, study, and without compromise – "Preach the word" and "rightly divide the word of truth." It's a matter of life and death!
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