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Hermeneutics

David Shin

Presenter

David Shin

Pastor, Hillside O'Malley Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Anchorage, AK

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Recorded

  • September 28, 2019
    12:00 PM
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Father in heaven that we think you for this opportunity that we have to pause for a few moments to reflect on you and your goodness to us we pray that as we open the Holy Scriptures that the Holy Spirit would guide our thoughts in our minds speak to us we pray we ask these things in the precious name of Jesus a man. We're continuing our series that we've been titled lessons from the life of Paul and in our series I wanted to transition a little bit today and talk a little bit about his writings and I'd like to talk about hermeneutics Now if you're like me the 1st time you heard hermeneutic you're like her who and this is a word that describes the process of the principles and the study of biblical interpretation and some of you may be wondering why do we need to study how to interpret the Bible why don't we just interpret it. Well I want to begin by reading from 1st Peter chapter 3 verse 15 and 16 in here is the apostle Peter commenting on the writings of Paul and I want you to notice what Peter says about Paul and they were contemporaries and here it is Peter chapter 3 verse 15 and 16 bear in mind that the Lord's patients means salvation just as our dear brother Paul I want to pause right there because according to Calais sions they had an interesting relationship and were in collations we said a few weeks ago that Paul confronted Peter remember that and said look why you being a Jew expect gentiles to live like Jews do and they had this confrontation about the Moses' requirements that were applicable to Christians and which were not and but here you can see that they still have one feelings toward one another he says just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave Him He writes the same way in all his letters speaking in them of these matters his letters contain some things that are hard to understand which ignorant and unstable people distort as they do the other Scriptures to their own destruction. Here is the apostle Peter commenting on Paul's writings and notice that Peter says Paul's writings some of them are hard to understand I'm glad he said that because he's not I'm glad know that I'm not the only one but here it is he says Look some of his writings are difficult to understand but I want you to also notice that he says that these people distort. Writings as do the other Scriptures Now it's interesting because commentators note that here Paul says writings according to Peter are in the same category as the Biblical canon that existed in that day now the New Testament was still being written but here the Old Testament can in is the other Scriptures and here Peter says of Paul that his by implication are like the other Scriptures same inspiration same Holy Spirit same divine guidance same instruction as the Old Testament so here the canon is coming together and already in the 1st century Peter acknowledges that Paul's writings are in the same category of inspiration as the other Scriptures as we know it today as we read the Old Testament and New Testament. The other observation I want to make about this tax is that not only are Paul's writings some of Paul's writings difficult to understand but that his writings are distorted. By some misconstrued in other words mis interpreted this was taking place in the 1st century as Paul's writings were being disseminated in the Christian empire and people were being blast there were individuals that were taking Paul's writings and mis interpret ing them and some people may say all that doesn't have eternal consequences but the Bible says that Peter indicates that this misinterpretation led to their destruction in other words misinterpretation having bad hermeneutics can lead to one spiritual demise the implication is there is a right way to interpret scripture and there is a wrong way in here in the 1st century with Paul's writings there were individuals that were taking his writings and misinterpreting them to their own spiritual destruction. Now I want to give a couple incidences in American history namely the Civil War. In which the antebellum south used Paul's writings to support a theology of slavery fascinating for a number of years in American history there was slavery being practiced in America and the Bible Belt in the south. There were preachers that were saying that slavery is supported by Scripture Now I want to read to you an article from Christianity today which I have subscribed to and this one was of reflection of the theology of southern Christians and the preachers and theologians that use Paul's writings to support a stance on slavery and here it is I quote from Christianity Today many southern Christians felt that slavery in one Baptist ministers words stands as an institution of God Here are some common arguments made by Christians at the time the Apostle Paul specifically commanded slaves to obey their masters if you sions 6 verse 5 through 8 slavery's slavery brings heathens to a Christian land where they can hear the gospel Christian Masters provides religious instruction for their slaves now this is appalling right now reading it from the 21st century but there was a theology that was coming out now for the record Paul was not supporting the institution of slavery. Joseph was sold as a slave to part of his house now he was the best servant that he could be in that unjust system and here Paul is giving counsel to Christian servants Christian slaves saying look obey your masters as long as it doesn't conflict with God's requirements be the best servant you can be but in that statement Paul was not categorically supporting the institution of slavery but here it is bad hermeneutics we can see it very clearly from the 21st century this is a point how the antebellum south and the Protestants in the human Jellicoe in the southern part of America were using a theology from scripture to support the institution of slavery and justifying by saying look this can bring about their eternal salvation how convenient how convenient I want to read on this is from Vision Bishop Stephen Elliott of Georgia I may say millions we have learned the way to have been and who have been made to know their savior through the means of African slavery at this very moment there are from 3 to 4000000 Africans educating for Earth and for heaven lessons of self-control of obedience of perseverance of adaptation of means to Ann's learning above all where their weakness lies and how they may acquire strength for the battle of life now I did not put this quote in its entirety I truncated it because part of it was so offensive I could not share it from the pulpit a Protestant saying that it's in the best interest of the slaves to be slaves. And using a theology from the Bible to support the institution and using all these justifications and at the end he says Look and this is my reason for supporting the slaves in the south how menu ticks very important how can you read the same scripture and come to such a conclusion and there are a number of individuals that have recognized the disparity and here's Frederick Douglas the the freed slave that became an abolitionist a mighty work her here in the United States of America and he says between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ I find the widest possible difference I love the pure peaceable and impartial Christianity of Christ and therefore hate the corrupt slave holding woman whipping cradle plundering partial and hypocritical Christianity up this land indeed I can see no reason but the most deceitful one for calling the religion of this land Christianity. This is not the only issue that we're facing today may not be as. Repugnant as we find the statements to be that we just read earlier but there are issues today where individuals read Paul's writings and I've been in congregations where a woman will get up to speak and there will be a section of the conversation that will walk out because I'm understanding of Paul's writings I was in one congregation where. They espoused a certain group of spells that women should always have their head hair covered because of some of Paul's writings in these applications that come in and the discussion and conversation about women's ordination Trust me I don't want to dive into that discussion. But there are people that are pro women's ordination in the use Paul's writings and then there are people that are not for women's ordination and they use Paul's writings and and the point is that how we interpret the Bible makes a big difference in where we end up same text same scripture and people ending up on opposite sides of the theological spectrum as apparent as those that used Paul's writings to support the quality of every individual Paul said there is no slave or free nor male or female We're all equal in Christ that's the implication and so the abolitionists would uphold this and then the people that were pro-slavery would say Look Paul said support and you know obey your master so that that is support of slavery in that regard and same scriptures and and the difference is in this idea of hermeneutics how do we approach Scripture how do we come to the text and arrive at a conclusion and not misinterpret scripture as Peter said a Paul's writings in the 1st century there were people out there that were taking Paul's writings to to twist them in misconstrue them into something that he never wrote in to be interesting when you get to heaven and you talk to Paul and he reflects on the last 2000 years since he's written his writings and be interesting because he likely will say look I never said that but here we are in this process in this challenge of hermeneutics and I want to specifically deal with Paul's writings because it seems to be that at the center of everything controversy there is. I should say his writings. Paul was a scholar brilliant theologian the most educated apostle of the New Testament the most prolific writer he was a trained theologian he loved long sentences with lots of propositional phrases have you ever diagramed his sentences I mean propositional phrase based on propositional phrases and we owe so much the Reformation because of Paul so I do not want to diminish Paul's contribution but at the same time like Peter acknowledge the difficulties that we have in the task of the ology that was apparent in the 1st century how do we go about being a faithful Christian that rightly divide the word of truth. The majority of the New Testament in terms of contribution and righteous writings was from the apostle Paul and they are all letters they're what we call occasional letters epistles and they were written in a certain context from Paul to an individual such as Timothy or Titus this was this was a personal letter that was preserved to this day and we have them 2000 years later they're also written to a church a community of faith colossi which is the book of Colossians f.-a says you know the book of infusions and and we have these wonderful letters that are preserved for us today and here is the challenge and I'm trying to think of the best analogy to illustrate the the nature and the challenge that we have a theology let's say then in 2019 I write an email to the Hill Cytomel the church and I say we are having haystacks for lunch this Sabbath if you're an admonition know exactly what I'm talking about for those of you that are not a part of our community of faith haystacks is a glorified taco salad. Ok that's what it is you know you get chips in this wonderful one of my favorite meals and and beans and salsa and lettuce and you pile up beautiful haystacks and and this is a unique word that is understood in our culture in our community of faith so so I write this e-mail in 2019 and let say that human life continues to exist beyond 20192000 years I can't even imagine that I believe the Lord is coming far before that but let's say for the sake of argument for the sake of illustration 2000 years expire and there is still life on planet Earth there's still humans living on planet Earth Ok And it's 4019. Imagine that for 1019 and going through the digital archives a researcher in 4019 comes across this e-mail from Skeeter preacher living in Alaska to the Hill Cytomel a church in South Anchorage we are having haystacks for lunch this Sabbath and he tries to interpret this e-mail. Not an Adventist has no context 2000 years later and he's like man they wrote e-mails back in that day how antiquated what is an e-mail anyway 2000 years ago he goes through and he finds this we are having and then he writes an essay. On this sentence and says that Pastor David was encouraging his congregation to eat straw. And this was a religious group that believed in certain health habits. They were vegetarian and they took it quite literally to go back to a certain type of diet and they would eat straw not only would they eat straw but they would eat stacks of straw. And this contributed to a certain culture in their day and so forth and they would have stacks of hay regularly on Sabbath lunch. This is better hermeneutics but you can see the challenge that this researchers faces in 2019 not only are you facing a 2000 year gap. But you're also facing a cultural gap as well huge cultural gap I mean who can even imagine the culture of 4019 we can't even imagine it just like in the 1st century they would not be able to imagine life today in 2019 no way no way and so here is the task of the ology Here's a man in 4019 trying to understand a personal email that is being sent to a congregation saying we need to have haystacks or we're having haystack the Sabbath and so the challenge is if that person Ok tries to understand what it means in 4019 without trying to understand what it meant which is a 3019 what it meant in 2019 you're going to come to a conclusion that is way out in left field. The point is it can never mean today what it never meant back then so here is the task this researcher needs to go back and have an understanding of what it meant in that community of faith to have haystacks what it meant to be an Adventist living in the 20th century 21st century and and going to have an understanding of what it meant back then and then do the 2000 year travel in translated into what it means in 49000 are you following me yes or no this is this is the challenging task now you know we kind of laugh at this illustration but but it shows you some of the the challenges that we have in New Testament hermeneutics here it is Ok similar illustration what it means today we're living right now 2019 different culture different time there's a 2000 year gap to Paul's letters personal letters that he wrote to a community of faith personal letters that he wrote to Timothy to Titus to an Islamist on the behalf of Philemon all these contacts and so forth and and the challenge is the reason why there is so much misinterpretation of Paul's writings in the 2021st century one of them is people are trying to understand Paul's writings from the standpoint of what it means today without doing the work of going back to understanding what it meant in the in the 1st century now I'm not going to be so pretentious here today to. Assume that in a 30 minute sermon in the homily that I'm going to give you principles of biblical interpretation that's going to solve all of the problems that we're having in understanding specifically Paul's writings but my hope is that I could just give you a brief cursory perspective of some of the basic principles encourage you to study for yourself now some of you may be like all Pastor David you know I'm not a pastor or theologians you know you know why do we have to spend all our time doing these types of things well part of the path pastors role is not just to preach the word but to equip the Saints Amen and when you study the Protestant Reformation. Prior to the process of the Protestant Reformation there was this idea of clergy and laity sometimes you go to a Western Europe and you look at the pulpits that are in Western Europe even in Protestantism as they were developing in moving but but when you look at the pulpit I saw a picture that was sent to me this week and I've seen it in Switzerland as well a different pope but the pope it is like it's like in the rafters I mean you have to like climb a staircase to get to the pulpit so it's a very high view of clergy high view of Church in other words the pastor is up there were you know the congregation is down here you know and I stand up here because I'm short not because I believe in that the ology Ok and so forth and so so the pastors up there the laity are down here and and belated t. our act the feet and the mercy of the pastor to interpret the Bible for us please tell us what the Bible says. And the entire lay congregation of the organized church Protestant prior to the Protestant Reformation was at the mercy of the pastor you can even have a Bible it was illegal chained to the church and so you would come to church to to have the pastor deliver his hermeneutical understanding of scripture. Led to a lot of errors and then the Protestant Reformation came along Instead why don't we give everyone a Bible scary thought imagine the heresies that will result from that or the track record it's a lot better that way than the other way Ok And in this idea of the priesthood of all believers that everyone is given the task of being a Bible scholar. You know gun has called you to be a bit Bible scholar a Bible student a person that is to go to the word for yourself and come to your own conclusion about what Paul is saying and not be dependent on me as a minister now I want to tell you something I could be deceived I could be leading all of you astray right now I could be selling something all right I could have sipped some doctrinal wine and not in a right spiritual state. I could be leading this entire congregation astray and you need to study the Bible for yourself don't trust your eternal destination to me I can't bear that burden I want to say this too don't trust your favorite eben a celebrity either. Don't trust your favorite guru. I don't trust your favorite writer and I'm not saying that they can't have a significant contribution to my guru but you know what I'm talking about a pastor so forth but that's supplemental every person should be able to go to the scriptures for themselves and come to their own conclusions and I believe the reason to day why we have so much spiritual illiteracy is that we're actually going backwards and rewinding the Protestant Reformation even the avenues church and that's why I'm so careful you know when I get up in the pulpit and I say in the Greek it says because automatically when you say something like that you're saying look the scholar understands but the laity doesn't interim saying I'm not saying all the time I'm not saying that we can't use biblical languages but there should not be that separation you have the opportunity to understand scripture as clear or clear then the person in the pulpit I believe that and it is your privilege to do this so in the task of the ology we need to we need to go back and read Paul's letter and understand what it meant back then go back and read Paul's letter and say look what did this mean to Timothy and the challenge of the pistol 2000 years later it's like you're listening to only half of the conversation on a phone call you ever tried that you're listening over you know eavesdropping on someone's phone call and there they're talking and so forth but you're not hearing the person on the other end Ok but but you can kind of guess what is being talked about and this is the challenge when you read Paul's letter to Corinth there's going to be some information even today with the best research in Christian scholarship and brightest minds we have in exegetical literature you're not going to be able to get all of the information and all of the resources Ok why did Paul say women should be silent in church. Is that a categorical principle that's to carry on to the end of time or is that a statement Oh bless your heart. Theologians you know. Oh you are or is that or is that in response to a situation that is taking place in Corinth that he specifically writing to that we only have half the story of I believe that it's that but if you just go here and you say women should be silent in church but you don't try to understand what it meant back then you come up with some interesting theology interesting theology no wonder same come to church his wife would have to wear something on her head because she he read from Paul's writings that a woman should hair should be covered your head should be covered he had not gone back to that journey in that context to understand that this was in a specific context it was an occasional letter that was written to a specific time specific circumstances and our task in Bible study is to think to go back what did it mean back then what it meant and then ask ourselves what is the principle and what is the circumstance that it would apply to today now there are some things in the letter that are contained to that specific situation that you would have a very difficult time gaining a principle from when Paul says to Timothy bring my cloak with you. That is talking to Timothy you not to go grab Paul's cloak and bring it to where he is i.e. are you following me Ok so so so there are some things now there may be some some principles of how we treat each other that you can draw out of it but this is the task of the ology So you go back to what it meant you get the principle and then you do the tough task of theology to bring it back to what it means today so in big picture when you read scripture you should always be asking these 2 questions what it meant to be original audience to the original hearers and then do the task of interpretation what it means today and here is a key part of biblical interpretation it can never mean today what it never meant then if you didn't mean it then it doesn't mean it now and we need to do this with the Holy Spirit's help and so here are some practical pointers when it comes to the task of Bible study number one pray. When you open the words of Scripture when you're reading Paul's writings in this case ask for the Holy Spirit's help and I love this from a w. Tozer the Bible is a supernatural book and can be understood only by supernatural aid. Second Corinthians chapter 2 verse 14 the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned all only through the Spirit this is a spiritual dman sure so we need spiritual help we need supernatural help John Piper if our pride has not been crucified by the Holy Spirit the Bible will be a wax nose and we will call it foolish a mold it to fit our own natural desires. Pro-choice crypt her and twist it to any way that you want to meet what you want to believe if we don't have the Holy Spirit and or surrendered to his leading very quickly here the testimony of fallen fire and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall be continually liable to rest the scriptures or to misinterpret them there is much reading of the Bible that is without profit and in many cases a positive injury do you know you can receive spiritual injury from reading the scriptures in properly when the Word of God is open without reverence without prayer when the thoughts in affections are not fixed upon God or in harmony with His will the mind is clouded with doubt and the very study of the Bible and in the very study of the Bible skepticism strengthens the enemy takes control of the thoughts and he suggests interpretations that are not correct so when we talk about hermeneutics we cannot eliminate in our conversation the need for the Holy Spirit. And in the postmodern Revolution one of the most significant contributions that it had was this idea that there is no objective unbiased approach to data. We all come with a bias we all come with pre-suppositions app to the text and we need the Holy Spirit's help to say Not my will but thine be done obviously the spirit which once you come to the investigation of the scriptures will determine the character of the assistant at your side angels from the world of light will be with those who in humility of heart seek for divine guidance but if the Bible is open without with irreverence with a feeling of self-sufficiency if the heart is filled with prejudice Satan is beside you and he will set the plane statements of God's word in a perverted light that's scary we come to scripture with the arrogance we don't have angels fireside Satan is there takes those techs distorts them and we will arrive at a wrong conclusion. After you prayed and asked for the Holy Spirit this is an important principle when it comes to a pistol's really the entire letter of Paul through in one sitting at least 2 times this is a letter now when I get it a letter or an email from someone I don't read the 1st 2 words and then. Meditate on it for a whole week and then come back and read the next 2 words Dear David dear that can be an affectionate tone that can mean precious that can mean a a cordial salutation I wonder what this person meant when they said Dear David was a dear David or Dear David let me meditate on that a little while I mean it sounds ludicrous but this is what some people do with Paul's writings they lift a statement without reading the entire letter and they meditate on I'm not saying there's some devotional value to it but if you want to arrive at a proper conclusion you need to read the whole thing so when you read a letter read an e-mail to understand what type of deer it is if it's from my wife and there's all context to it that dear is a lot more then dear from the i.r.s. the following Ok. You've got to read the whole letter you've got to read who you've got to read who it's from Ok you've got to read the relationship between those 2 individuals read the entire letter of Paul through in one sitting at least 3 times only encourage you to do this read it through read it through and get the big picture and the tone of the letter who is Paul writing to why is he writing what picture emerges of the issues in Corinth and you need to go back and say look what did it mean to the riginal audience and get that picture as it emerges read it through on a Sabbath afternoon very quickly here number 2 read the entire letter of Paul through in one sitting at least 2 times get a feel for the big picture and a whole argument that Paul is making don't get bogged down in the details in your 1st initial reading get the big picture. The whole argument as you're reading it through make a list of everything you do you find about the recipients and their problems so get a notebook out now we're talking about Bible study here and and in your mind construct a a mental picture of who he's writing to why he's writing the problems he's facing and make a list of key words and repeated phrases and so this is this is ground 0 for in the process of interpretation what it meant then to the original audience to the original here is then you do the tough task of coming back to today asking what is the principle what is the application what are the unique circumstances living in the 21st century that this would apply to and notice there are universal principles that are very apparent in Paul's writings writings and that are very clear and apparent but some other parts of Paul's writings are very difficult when you need to ask yourself what is quoted to the central to the core to the Christian message and what is peripheral what is moral Ok and what is what is Paul's preference when Paul says I wish that all men be as I am single That is not a moral imperative that everyone be celibate but you need to go in the task of interpretation to to come to that conclusion and finally it can never mean what it never meant very simple ground rules for a biblical interpretation that every Christian is called to do and to be. A picture on the screen of Dean Cullinane and this past year. Him and a friend of his started a pod cast called why they did that these were college students they're still college students right now. One of them is a business major Cullinane is a theology meter major in the business major was in a class and just got inspired because he noticed that in a lot of the Christian programming these are admin is by the way in lot of the Christian programming either the message was great but the medium was unprofessional or vice versa and so there their vision was to create a professional pod cast doing this very exercise what it meant what it means very practical application to day to day life and so they launched this podcast and it took off right now it has been listen to thousands of times in over 80 different countries this was featured by the way in our avenues publication administers world in which these 2 college students brought forth a a method of delivering the beautiful pages of scripture what it meant and what it means and there has been a response that is phenomenal to this podcast. They raised thousands of dollars in a short period of time to keep this project going I want to encourage you to subscribe to this podcast is very well down done very profound you can you can find it on i Tunes or Apple podcast or another podcast but a number and so I googled Dean colonnade on You Tube and I came across this testimony that he gave over 6 years ago and you can tell this man sitting there shortly after his conversion is the most raw and authentic testimony I've ever heard and he talks about his earliest memory he was born Roman Catholic went to church didn't believe in God anything and he's sitting there telling his testimony and he says My earliest memory was at the age of 3 he heard a noise in his house he woke up. 3 years old goes to his parent his mom's bedroom peeks through the door. And it's his mom try to make this as delicate as I can but there was a man that was on top of his mom with a knife that was stabbing her in the leg earliest memory 3 years old. And he said his mom looked up and saw him and started to cry. And he said he just went back to his room later on. He said that that that incident his mom told him that the man that was on top of her. Was his father. And then he recognized the circumstances surrounding his birth and conception and he talks about how in his journey he was angry at God angry at men and father figures because he had never had a father in his life she he talks about how as a mom remarried and he hated that man. Long story short he's invited to a Bible study on Daniel revelation he has the Bible study and in his testimony this is the most raw testimony ever he said he goes back home and he's like there is a cot. There is a God I mean talk about never going his dream was was given to never again as Or it was salvific And so you know did he says there is a God Long story short he he goes on Amazon dot com and he says he buys the cheapest Bible he can get he gets it in the mail and he said he fears his mother he doesn't want his mother to know because he knows that she will scoff at him for owning a by well you know so he hides it in his bed in his cover and in the dark of night he gets a light out to want to read the Bible to read the Bible under the covers and he's reading his Bible and he's going through this transformation he comes forward in an appeal he decides to become a 7th Day Adventist baptized Christian he knows this is a public thing and so he goes to his mother insists down with his mother and says Mom I'm going to be a baptized Christian 7th Day Adventists and it's mom said no you're not no you're not and he said in that moment he cried out a prince and Lord you got to help me and he said in the course of their conversation in half an hour his mom went from no you're not ever going to be baptized to I don't know what I'm going to wear. What am I going to wear and he gives the testimony of how he had. His mother come to the baptism and as he's going down into the water and comes up he says she's just crying tears of joy as she sees her son being transformed by the power of God's word now has a pod cast that's reading reaching tens of thousands a man this is the trance from mation that we can experience through the Bible and this is my prayer for each of us may this be your prayer Lord Create in me a deeper desire for your word is that your desire today said lord. I may not have the desire and I need to have. Well the Lord Create in me a deeper desire for your word that your desire today said Lord Create in me a deeper desire for your words let's pray our Father in heaven we think you so much for the Word of God. And we pray that you would help us as we've been tast as believers in the priesthood of all believers in the task of all being Bible students and Bible scholars to rightly divide the Word of Truth and Lord we need your help we need the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and our minds and most of all may we be transformed from glory to glory from faith to faith from day to day for me as these things in the precious name of Jesus Amen. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more service lead to visit w w w audio verse or.

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