Sunday, June 03, 2007

Random Use of Scripture

Those who teach and preach topically, and those that love the topical style, are often prone to use scripture out of context. Here is presented is one example of a random use of Scripture.

Rom 16:17
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

The application is that if someone comes around with beliefs different that those which are taught by your church, you shouldn't have anything to do with them.

First of all, the person making this application would find it unacceptable in its consequence if they thought it through. A Catholic, for example, could cite this verse. He would say he learned Catholicism and so you are teaching differently therefore he won't listen to you or have anything to do with you.

That observation sets the stage for understanding the verse in context. Ask yourself WHO it was that the Romans Paul was writing to learned their doctrine from. The answer to this question would be one of the Apostles, or one of the Apostles representatives. The teaching the Romans received was that of direct revelation through one or more of the Apostles. Paul was entirely justified in telling them to shun anyone who taught differently because the Romans had their doctrine "first-hand."

How does that apply today? Ask yourself WHERE you might find the teachings of Christ and the Apostles today. You will find it in the New Testament. Understood in its context, Rom 16:17 would be understood today as referring to the Scriptures. So then if anyone brings any doctrine contrary to the Scripture, let him be shunned.

This same understanding also applies to parallel verses such as Gal 1:8:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

"We" is referring to the Apostles and this true gospel is found today in the Scriptures.

Now here is the difficulty. Everyone interprets the Scripture differently: Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, you name it. However if you talk to them they will all give Scripture to back up their positions so none of these groups have the right to take a verse like Rom 16:17 and shun members of other groups over it UNLESS they are intentionally causing offense and division.

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