Regardless of the time in which they lived, from Creation to our present day, people have always been saved in the very same manner. Nothing has changed! God’s grace has always been appropriated…
1. by one’s own personal belief (faith), 2. in God’s revealed Word, 3. at the time in which they lived.
The key to our personal salvation and future disciple making ministry rests on faith in God’s revealed Word. Doesn’t it make sense that Jesus’ disciples should read it regularly, study what it says, and apply what it teaches to their lives?
Understanding and applying Scripture as God intends is the foundation for becoming a follower of Jesus. It is the key to a disciple making lifestyle. Sadly, most believers never go any further with God than simply getting a ticket to heaven for themselves. They never learn how to read, study, and apply what the Scriptures really teach. They settle for what some current Christian personality says about their experience, attempting to make their spiritual experience their own. Without a dynamic personal relationship with the Lord through their own study of His Word, all most can do is parrot what someone else says is true about the believer’s life.
Read Acts 17:1-13. Contrasting Jews in Thessalonica with those in Berea, we see that Paul commends the Jews of Berea for their initiative and understanding. They should be our example. Was there a “key” to the Berean ability to understand, interpret, and apply what they learned? YES! They listened to what Paul had said about Jesus. Next, they checked out his claims by looking back into what God said through the prophets of the Old Testament. Taking God at His Word, the Bereans agreed with Paul saying, “Jesus fits! Yeshua is our Messiah!”
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. If you do, you will turn the Word of God into complete and utter nonsense.
This is an adaptation of the Golden Rule of Bible Interpretation by Dr. David L. Cooper, a very well known Bible teacher, now at rest with the Lord. Dr. Cooper played an important role in the disciple making lives of many people. A good place to become acquainted with Dr. Cooper’s writings is on the website of Ariel Ministries.
Here is the thrust of Dr. Cooper’s advice. Always interpret the words on the pages of your Bible literally. Don’t assume that the author’s words are symbolic. Read the Bible like you would any other book. Serious students of the Bible takes God at His Word. The only time we should interpret the Bible’s words symbolically is when the author tells us to do so.
I want to be absolutely clear in what I am about to say. Much of what passes today for “Christianity” is really idolatry. This is true of both Orthodox and Protestant traditions. The biblical faith practice of most self-identifying Christians in the 21st Century bears very little resemblance to the practice of Jesus’ 1st Century followers. They were dangerous people, dangerous to their idolatrous environment. Over the last 2,000 years, Satan has been very active in his efforts to seduce the Church in the same way he did Adam and Eve. Christendom has eaten the forbidden fruit, entering into adulterous marriages with the idols of our modern world. Our environment is dangerous to us. Religion created in the mind of God’s created beings is idolatry.
Most of Christendom practices an idolatrous faith largely built on symbolic and undisciplined interpretations of Scripture. This is why the unity characteristic of the earliest Church is nowhere to be found in our modern sophisticated world. If the Church was to return to a biblically orthodox practice, the denominational divisions of Christendom would be erased. The world would once again be forced to take notice. God would truly be glorified.
Following 40 years of wilderness wandering, Joshua warned the tribes of Israel to remember their covenant relationship with God. He warned them against allowing Egyptian or Canaanite idolatry to slither into their relationship with the One True God. Making a bold statement, Joshua said, If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15
Let me suggest that before you do anything else today that you go the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to begin re-orienting your own personal study of the Bible to a consistently literal perspective. This will require your dependence on the Holy Spirit. If you do this and stick with it, today could be one of the most important days of your life.