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Considering All God Has Said

Suppose that a man taking a history test came across this question:

"Name the large coastal city in the western United States in which a prominent Democratic politician named Kennedy was assassinated in the 1960s."

The man might think, "It must be Dallas! President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, was shot and killed there in 1963 and it is a large city in the western United States."

There are many parts of that answer that would correctly match the terms in the question, but the problem with that answer would be that Dallas is not a coastal city.

What should the man do when he realized that there was a flaw in his answer? Should he:

  1. just ignore the problem and move on, certain of his answer,
  2. try to make Dallas a "coastal" city by redefining the word or insisting that it was a figure of speech (for example, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce might say that the city was "on the shore of an ocean of opportunity"),
  3. define the coast as very narrowly extending up the Trinity River 250 miles from the Gulf of Mexico into Dallas,
  4. or look for an answer that fit all of the particulars of the question?

If the man took the fourth (and correct) option, he might soon remember that Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in Los Angeles.

Many people interpret the Bible wrongly because they choose one of the three wrong options above when confronted with a Bible verse that does not harmonize with what they already believe.

  1. Some ignore the verse entirely (the first option). This demonstrates a lack of faith in Christ and His word.
  2. Some may take a word that is meant literally and use it figuratively. They also may make the word in the verse in question mean something other than what it normally means (the second option). Revelation says several times that the book deals with "things which must shortly come to pass" (1:1; similar language is in 1:3; 22:6, 10). Many people try to make most of the book apply to things that are yet in the future. When they see these verses, they may say that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years" (2 Peter 3:8). While it is true that God is not bound by time, that passage should not be used to make the time references ambiguous. If we try to put most of Revelation into the future, we will be ignoring Christ's words.
  3. Some may try to redefine the terms (third option). For example, Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:34 and Mark 13:30 that "this generation will by no means pass away" before the things described earlier in those chapters would happen. Many people want to apply what Jesus said in those verses to a time that is still in the future, but the problem with that is that the people alive in Jesus' day are all dead. To accommodate their teaching, they claim that "generation" meant "race" instead of "people living at a certain time". There is no other example in the New Testament of the word's being used this way. We should look for a fulfillment of Jesus' words in the lifetime of His listeners rather than a time that has not yet come. The destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD 70, about 40 years after Jesus spoke, fits the timeframe Jesus gave.

With every subject we need to consider and apply every word of God's instructions (the fourth option) if we want to have confidence that we are truly obeying Him.

Trevor Brailey

All Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version.