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
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:
- just ignore the problem and move on, certain of his answer,
- 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"),
- define the coast as very narrowly extending up the Trinity River
250 miles from the Gulf of Mexico into Dallas,
- or look for an answer that fit all of the particulars of the
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
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.
- Some ignore the verse entirely (the first option). This
demonstrates a lack of faith in Christ and His word.
- 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.
- 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.
All Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version.