Keys To Using God’s Word 

The enormous importance of our following the teachings and commands of the written Word of God instead of the religious theories, theological speculations and unbiblical special “revelations” of others is seen in Matthew 24:35, Mark 8:38, 13:31, Luke 21:33, John 12:47-48, 14:23, 17:8, Ephesians 5:26, 6:17, Philippians 2:16, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:8, 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Timothy 4:5-6, 2 Timothy 2:9, 2:15, 4:20, Titus 1:9, Hebrews 13:7, James 1:21-23 and 1 John 2:5. Matthew 24:35 declares: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” John 12:47-48 states: “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

In John 14:23, Jesus said that if we love Him, we will follow His Word. Our love for Him is not shown by following the religious theories, instructions and orders of leaders which are contrary to His Word. We must obey His Word.

Philippians 2:16 says we must cling to the Word of life: “holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or laboured in vain.” We are not saved by following the religious theories, philosophies or rules of popular men and women. We are saved only through the Word of life.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 speaks of the Word of the Lord being glorified. 1 Timothy 4:6 refers to being nourished in the Words of faith and associated good doctrine. 2 Timothy 2:15 reveals God’s workers should rightly divide the Word of truth.

In John 17:17, Jesus said that God’s Word is absolutely true: “…Your word is truth.” Isaiah 46:9-11 emphasises God will bring about what He has said: “…I am God, and there is none like Me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.’” Psalm 33:4 says God’s Word is absolutely right: “For the word of the Lord is right…”

Hebrews 13:7 refers to leaders speaking the Word of God to their people, not man-made religious doctrines and philosophies.

Ephesians 6:17 stresses that the “sword” the Holy Spirit uses is the Word of God: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The Holy Spirit operates in total agreement with God’s Word and never contrary to it.

Someone may loudly proclaim, “The Holy Spirit has taken me into marvellous deep waters beyond the teachings of the Word of God. There is so much freedom and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit out there beyond the narrow limits of the Scriptures”. My answer to such a person is, “Many people, who go into deep waters outside the limits of the flags at the beach, drown or are eaten by sharks. If you go beyond the limits of the Word of God, you will probably eventually spiritually die or be figuratively ‘eaten alive’ by the Devil”.

 

 

The Holy Spirit only confirms the Word

 

Mark 16:20 says: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” Note this verse reveals the Lord confirms His Word. Acts 14:3 is a similar verse. The Holy Spirit does not confirm the religious opinions, theological theories and man-made false “revelations” of Christians, no matter how spiritual or godly they are or what position they have in the church.

In a minister’s sermon which contains a mixture of right interpretation of God’s Word and some of his mere human theories and false “revelations” of the Word, the Holy Spirit will only confirm those parts based on the Word.

The Holy Spirit may confirm the Word with signs and wonders. But sadly, many observers may mistakenly think these signs and wonders mean God also approves of the preachers false doctrines. For example, I personally know many Catholic Charismatics whom I deeply love and appreciate, who preach about receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and being baptised in the Holy Spirit. They also rightly teach numerous wonderful truths from the written Word of God. But also sadly, some of them add various false teachings about Mary, praying to Saints, papal infallibility and so on to their teaching of God’s written Word. When God performs miracles among these Catholic Charismatics, He is confirming only these parts of what they say which are in agreement with His written Word. But sadly some of these Catholic Charismatics assume such miracles show God also approves of their wrong teachings about Mary, Saints, papal infalliblity and so on.

Just because God performs many miracles through a particular Pentecostal, Charismatic or Protestant Evangelical television or radio minister, pastor, evangelist or other leader, this does not mean everything this ministry is teaching is what God teaches. This is obvious from the fact many of the men and women for whom God has done many miraculous things, have taught ideas contrary to each other. If everything they all taught was exactly as God thinks, then they would not have taught opposing ideas.

Further proof that having great miracles in a ministry does not mean that everything the person writes or teaches is what God agrees with can be seen in the lives of Alexander Dowie and William Branham, two Pentecostal ministers of yesteryear. Both Dowie and Branham were used greatly by God in trusting Him for many amazing miracles. But Dowie in the later part of his ministry wrongly taught he was the fulfilment of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6 about the return of Elijah the prophet.

Branham also taught some things contrary to Scripture. He taught that before Adam has intercourse with Eve, the serpent had intercourse with her and this produced Cain. Branham then taught all unbelievers since that time were physical descendants of Cain and all believers were descendants of Seth – our fate in heaven or hell being determined by who was our ancestor. Branham taught that the first sin of Eve was having sex with Satan. Branham also taught that hell is not eternal. He said sinners and Satan go there only for a time and are then totally annihilated.

In Isaiah 55:11, God declares: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Wrong interpretations of the Word are spiritually lifeless and are not supported by the Holy Spirit. But right interpretations of the Word are anointed with God’s life and are supported by the Holy Spirit.

Condemning those who do not follow our man-made laws

 

Romans 14:1-4 instructs us not to judge other believers about matters on which the Scriptures do not give us clear instructions: “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant…?”

Too many Christians want to make rules about things which are not clearly commended by God in His written Word. Then they condemn those who do not keep their man-made rules. For example, some set up all sorts of holy days for themselves and then condemn those who do not observe these days. Others make rules against playing sports like soccer, eating meat and men having beards.

In Matthew 15:1-9, Mark 7:1-13, Colossians 2:8 and 1 Peter 1:18-19, we see the dangers of following man-made rules and traditions. Refer to my book “Highest Authority: Church, Scripture or Tradition?” for more details.

 

God is absolutely faithful in fulfilling His Word’s promises

 

The written Word itself testifies about the absolute faithfulness of God in fulfilling the promises He has made as recorded in His Word. Joshua 21:43-45 records: “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” Joshua 23:14 says Joshua stated: “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”

Solomon said in 1 Kings 8:56: “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.”            

2 Peter 1:4 says: “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…” Acts 2:33 mentions “the promise of the Holy Spirit”. Galatians 3:14 speaks similarly. Galatians 3:29 refers to being “heirs according to the promise”. Hebrews 9:15 mentions “the promise of the eternal inheritance”. Ephesians 2:12 mentions “the covenants of promise”. James 2:5 refers to the promise of being “heirs of the kingdom”.

Hebrews 11:39 refers to some believers not receiving the total fulfilment of some of God’s promises in this life: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” This means some of God’s promises to us are only totally fulfilled after we die. But many are fulfilled in this life totally or at least partially. We receive the firstfruits of His promises in this earthly life.

 

 

Great faith is focused on Jesus Christ and the Word

 

There are many people who boast of having great faith in God but rarely read or meditate on His Word. But note Proverbs 22:17-21 emphasises trust or faith in the Lord is built upon knowing His words: “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?”

Also great faith in focussed on the Person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour (see Acts 20:21, Colossians 1:4 and 2 Timothy 3:15).

The written Word of God is the most important and only infallible way through which He speaks to people. The writers of the Scriptures were not infallible themselves. But in His supreme rule or sovereignty, God ensured that the teachings of His written Word were infallible. All other religious books are merely man’s opinions about God.1 Corinthians 1:21 shows humans can never know about God through their own greatest wisdom. This verse says: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God…”

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul declared: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Peter 1:20-21 says: “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Peter here emphasises that no Scripture is “of any private interpretation.” In other words, no verse of Scripture is merely the production of human reasoning. The expression “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” means the human writers of Scripture were motivated or inspired by the Holy Spirit as they wrote. This does not mean the Holy Spirit controlled them like a machine or robot. The Holy Spirit instead gently motivated and sovereignly oversaw what they wrote.

Matthew 26:13 records Jesus’ words: “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Here above Christ reveals God’s total sovereignty or supreme rule over what would be recorded in His written Word.

 

English translations of the Bible

 

We must remember the Scriptures were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek. Also, there is no perfect translation of the written Word of God into other languages. Therefore, it is important to not just rely on one Bible translation. Each Bible translation has its own weaknesses. Two of the better translations into English are the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Version.

 

 

 

Using Bible dictionaries, lexicons and concordances

 

Very few Christians will become experts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. But I do believe that all Bible teachers should aim to own or have access to books which give clear understanding of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek meanings of words in the written Word of God. Bible dictionaries, wordbooks and lexicons are the types of books needed. Some of the best examples of these are:

 

1.       “Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words” by W. E. Vine, Merril F. Unger and William White Jr, (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1985)

2.       “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament” by Walter Bauer (Translated by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich) (University of Chicago, Chicago and London, 1979)

3.       “Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament” by Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, (United Bible Societies, 1988)

4.       “The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon”, (Hendrickson, Peabody)

5.       “Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1980).

 

You can use the above two books by Brown, Driver and Briggs and Harris, Archer and Waltke by finding the relevant numbers in Strong’s “Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible”. You can use Bauer’s Greek lexicon by finding the relevant page numbers from the “Greek Word Index” found at the back of “Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words”. Also, the page numbers of some of the words in Brown, Driver and Briggs’ Hebrew lexicon can be found from the “Hebrew Word Index” of “Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words”.

“The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible” by James Strong is very useful for finding which Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek words are used in each verse in the Bible. But many make two classic mistakes in using Strong’s concordance:

First, they imagine that every meaning of the Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek words listed in the Hebrew (Chaldee) and Greek dictionaries at the back of Strong’s Concordance applies to every usage of the word throughout the Bible. This naÔve simplistic approach is more dangerous than having no knowledge of the original Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek words at all.

Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words sometimes change meaning in different contexts. English words are the same. For example, the English word “play” means engaging in fun games in one context and using a musical instrument in another context.

Secondly, in Strong’s Concise Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek dictionaries found at the back of his concordance, all words listed after the punctuation mark which is a combination of a colon and a dash (:-), are often mistakenly used as perfect English definitions of the relevant Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek words. But if you read point 6 of the “Plan of the Book” sections of Strong’s concise Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldee) and Greek dictionaries, Strong says these are merely the various translations of these words found throughout the whole Authorized or King James version of the Bible.

If you have a concordance and other resources available, be careful to examine thoroughly the foundations of any English translation of the original Hebrew and Greek words, phrases or verses by a particular version of the Bible, when this translation is different from all or most other translations.

For example, the Amplified Version uses the word “recompense” in Isaiah 61:7, but the New King James Version, King James Version and New American Standard Bible do not. The Amplified says: “for your (former) shame you shall receive double recompense…” When we check the original Hebrew of this verse, we find it does not use any of the Hebrew words for “recompense”. The literal equivalent of the Hebrew is “Instead of your shame double…” In Hebrew, the word “shame” is “boshna” which never means recompense or merited reward but simply means “shame”. [1] The surrounding context of Isaiah 61:1-7 is referring to what God would do through His totally undeserved grace and not to deserved payments or recompenses for our good works. So it is little wonder that the word “recompense” is out of place in verse 7.

Recently, I read a book which used the Amplified’s wrong usage of “recompense” in Isaiah 61:7 as the basis of some other wrong teachings. This shows our need to compare English versions of the Bible and to thoroughly examine any differences.

 

Test all preaching, teaching, books, tapes and songs by God’s written Word

 

Check all sermons you hear against the written Word of God. Acts 17:11 praises the Bereans as being “fairminded” for doing this: “These were more fairminded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” In Greek, the word “fairminded” is a form of the word “eugenes” which means “willingness to learn and evaluate something fairly” [2] or “noble-minded”. [3]

Do not be gullible! Test all things against the written Word.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, Paul instructed: “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things, hold fast what is good.” Also test all the words of Christian books, tapes and songs by the written Word. None of these books, tapes or songs are infallible. If they contain errors, their authors, speakers or composers should be humble enough to admit and change these errors. Sadly, many are more interested in their reputations than in leading God’s people into His truth.

When reading Christian books or listening to tapes or preaching, we must remember the principle found in Proverbs 18:17: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” At a first reading or listening, a book or preacher may seem to be presenting ideas that are totally in line with the truth. But when we read another Christian book or listen to another preacher, we may find that what was presented was partially or wholly wrong.

 

 

Test all revelations, prophecies, dreams and visions

 

All revelations, prophecies, dreams and visions must be tested by the Scriptures. This does not mean comparing them just to a few isolated verses taken out of context and/or interpreted contrary to other verses on the same topic. Testing by the Scriptures involves comparing the revelation, vision or dream to all the verses or passages on the topic(s) to which the revelation relates. In 1 Corinthians 14:37, Paul stresses that those who claim to be prophets or spiritual must recognize what Paul wrote was God’s commandments: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” Check to see whether the “revelations” of those who claim to be prophets or spiritual agree with the written Word.

The crucial importance of testing by the Scriptures can be seen in the fact so many visions, revelations and dreams teaching some or many false things have deceived multitudes throughout history. These are the visions, prophecies or revelations of, for example:

 

1.       Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.

2.       the Shepherd of Hermas. This was a writing accepted by many in the early Church as being the Word of the Lord.

3.       the legalistic Jewish writing called 4 Ezra.

4.       the legalistic Jewish writing 2 Baruch.

5.       Pachomius the Egyptian monk. His visions imposed various man-made legalistic rules such as monks being commanded never to sleep lying down and to not speak to others while they eat.

6.       the occultist Nostradamus.

7.       the Jehovah’s Witnesses who claimed Jesus returned to Earth spiritually in 1914.

8.       Jeane Dixon the occultist (Refer to Chapter 5 of my book “DREAMS AND VISIONS” for more details).

 


 


[1] Harris, Archer and Waltke, page 97 and Brown, Driver and Briggs, page 103.

[2] Louw and Nida, page 332.

[3] Bauer, page 319.

 

 


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