How many of you know that words matter? The things we say can either build people up or tear people down. In fact, Solomon said in Proverbs 18:21 that the tongue has the power of life and death. So much truth in that!
Words - Biblical
We are in a series that I have entitled Words
How many of you know that words matter?
The things we say can either build people up or tear people down
In fact, Solomon said in Proverbs 18:21 that the tongue has the power of life and death
Our words are indeed very important!
In fact, I’m going to say that many, if not most, of the conflicts we have with other people are because of words
Sometimes what we say, and what the other person hears are two totally different things
In fact, we can be using the same exact word and mean completely different things
Let me give you an example -
Ever hear someone say that a particular movie is “very good” yet when you go to watch the same movie it kind of stinks?
My wife loves Hallmark movies - I really don’t!
To me a very good movie involves car chases, things blowing up, and the occasional fist fight!
What one person means by “very good movie” and what another person means can be two very different things
We use the same exact word, but can often times mean very different things
I see this exact same thing happening within the church
We have these words that we often use frequently, yet there is misunderstanding about what these words actually mean
What I am doing in this series is taking a look at some of these words and offing a central definition so we all know what we are talking about
I’m going to be totally upfront with you this morning - I am a little nervous about preaching this message
Why do I say that?
Because this is a message that, in my opinion, desperately needs to be preached, but it’s also a message that could very easily be misunderstood
I will do my absolute best to be as clear as possible, but at the same time I know that there will be people that will misunderstand what I am trying to say
To quote the great American philosophers Simon and Garfunkel “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”
So before we get into the message I have a favor to ask of you
If I say something that you disagree with, or if I say something that you have questions about, please come and talk to me about it before labeling me a heretic!
I assure you that I am not a heretic - I am fully orthodox and embrace, without reservation, the Nicene Creed and Apostles Creed
If you’re not sure about something I have said listen to the message again - all our messages are available on our website and youtube channel
I encourage you to listen again to make sure that what you think you heard is what was actually said
So, enough with the disclaimer, I’m going to get brave and plunge right in to our word for today
The word we are going to explore today is the word Biblical
We hear this word frequently in Christian circles - especially in Evangelical Christian circles
We constantly hear phrases like “Biblical worldview,” “Biblical manhood,” “Biblical womanhood,” “Biblical perspective” and other similar things
But what does the word Biblical mean?
The word Biblical simply means “relating to, or contained in the Bible”
Meaning that for something to be “biblical” it just needs to be mentioned in the Bible
At first glance that sounds like a great thing
After all, as Christians aren’t we supposed to follow the Bible?
Yes and no
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Here’s where things get a little interesting
Yes, we are to read, study, and understand the Bible
In fact, I’ve dedicated my life to studying and understanding the Bible - as well as teaching other people how to understand the Bible
I believe that the Bible is inspired by God
I believe that the Bible is infallible
Yet, I also know that I cannot follow everything the Bible says and still be a Christian
Stay with me here!
This is where things can get a little confusing
Please hear me out before labeling me as a heretic
Something can be biblical without being Christian
Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean that it’s something God intends for us to follow
What do I mean?
Slavery is biblical - but it’s not Christian
The Bible says nothing about eradicating slavery
It talks about slaves obeying their masters and masters treating their slaves well
But it doesn’t say anything about eliminating slavery
In fact, the book of Philemon was all about Paul sending a slave back to his master and asking the master to forgive the slave
Slavery in the Bible was something that was just part of society
Yet I think all of us would agree that slavery is wrong and not something a Christian should support
Killing disrespectful children is biblical - but it’s not Christian
Leviticus 20:9 says that any child that curses their mother or father should be put to death
It’s biblical, but it is most definitely not Christian
I remember a conversation one time with someone who wanted to introduce a “biblical dress code” to an organization
I said to him “so, you mean no braided hair and no jewelry right?”
The thing is, there is no “biblical dress code”
The Bible speaks of dressing modestly, but modesty is very much a social construct
What is modest in one culture may not be modest in another
You see where I am going with this
In fact, there is a story in the Gospel of John that I think illustrates this point well
This is a very well known Bible story and one that I have preached from many times
John 8:2-11 At dawn he [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
So, what’s happening is that the religious leaders are trying to trap Jesus into saying something they could use to condemn Him
They brought a woman caught in the act of adultery and state “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women”
Were they right? Yes
(Leviticus 20:10 - commandment to stone adulterers)
It was definitely Biblical to stone that woman - one could even say that in order to be a Godly person you were obligated to follow what the Law of Moses said
Jesus was an observant Jew who followed the Law, but what did Jesus do?
He challenged the religious leaders to examine themselves, and if any of them were sinless they could cast the first stone
It could easily be argued that Jesus was not being Biblical, because the Law was clear
Jesus may not have been being “Biblical” but He was most definitely setting a wonderful example of what it means to be a Christian
In other places you read Jesus saying “You have heard it was said, but I say …”
One of those places is
Matthew 5:38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, & Deuteronomy 19:21 all state some variance of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
It was very Biblical, but Jesus was calling people to a higher standard
He was saying that there was a better way
Yes, something can be Biblical, but that doesn’t mean it’s Christian
So, what are we supposed to do?
How are we supposed to determine what we should follow in the Bible?
This is a huge topic, but let me narrow it down to 3 important things
Things we must look for in understanding the Bible:
To be honest, I could speak for and hour or more on each one of these three items
I will do my best to be brief, but please understand that this is by no means an exhaustive look at any of them
So, what do I mean about Which Covenant?
New Covenant vs. Old Covenant
I preached about this not too long ago - sermon is on the website
Am I saying that the Old Testament is irrelevant?
I love the Old Testament and read from it every day
However, we are not obligated to follow the 613 laws given in the Old Testament
Our faith is based on the New Covenant - the one that Jesus established with His death and resurrection
What language did Jesus speak? (Aramaic)
What language was the New Testament written in? (Greek)
What language do we read it in? (English)
Almost never can you translate word for word from one language to another
Some words do not translate easily, or at all
Languages change dramatically over the years
“And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home”
And don’t forget figures of speech - “You’re pulling my leg!”
The Bible must be interpreted
“I take the Bible literally” - no you don’t
No one does
“If your eye causes you to sin”
“Give to all who ask, loan without interest”
“Everyone is a literalist until you mention gluttony”
Here’s something that we must never forget - The Bible was written for us, not to us
The Bible contains timeless truths that apply directly to us today, yet the Bible was not written to us
The New Testament contains Gospels that were written to specific people groups
The Epistles are letters that were written to specific churches - in essence, we are reading someone else’s mail!
I’m pretty sure that Paul and the other New Testament writers had no clue that they were actually writing Scripture
Yet God used them to do exactly that
The books of the New Testament were written to specific people, in a specific culture, and at a specific time in history
We must remember that the New Testament was written almost 2,000 years ago
That was an incredibly different world
Human nature is the same, that’s why Scripture still works for us today, but culture, language, technology, and things like that are dramatically different
Think about how different the world is today from what it was 100 years ago - even 50 years ago - for that matter, 10 years ago!
Imagine how much different the world will be in the year 4219 - that’s how far removed we are from the world in which the Bible was written!
We cannot look at this ancient document with modern, western eyes and think that we will be able to get the message that was originally written down
Yes, sometimes we can, but often times we miss really important things
To fully understand the New Testament you have to understand the intended audience and their culture
“What we see — what we are able to see and what we are willing to see — is often determined by our social environment. Keep that in mind the next time you see someone pontificating about what “the Bible clearly teaches.”
So, what should I do?
This all sounds pretty complicated, is it possible for the average person to understand?
What it all boils down to is this:
Love God and Love your neighbor
Read Scripture through the lens of Jesus
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you