The words, “We write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge,” tell us that the message God wants us to get from His Word is so clearly stated in Scripture that there is no debate as to the fact that that is what the Bible says. I am not saying that everyone will accept it, just that no one will be able to dispute the fact that the Bible says it. For example: While there are many who reject what the Bible says about a six-day creation, no one can deny the fact that the Bible says, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). Likewise, no one can deny the fact that the words “the evening and the morning” are used in connection with each one of the creation days (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). Those truths are beyond dispute because they can be verified by anyone willing to look up the references.
Since people often make the mistake of reading their own ideas and assumptions into the text, it is important for us to learn to distinguish between our opinions and what is actually written (2Peter 1:20). Moreover, the fact that we are not to add to God’s Word tells us that the truth is not to be found in interpretations or in sources outside of Scripture (Proverbs 30:6). God wants us to go strictly by His Word, and to reject any ideas that contradict that Word (Isaiah 8:20). There is no room in theology for bravado and self-deception. Because the human heart is deceitful above all things, we constantly need God’s help as we seek to understand His Word (Romans 12:1-2, 1Corinthians 12:3).
Even though we are dealing with truths that are so clearly stated in Scripture that there is no debate as to the fact that they are in the Bible, there will always be people who are not willing to accept what the Bible says. In addition, simple straightforward statements like “Thou shalt not kill,” are often twisted in a way that makes them contradict other statements of Scripture. One person may claim that it is wrong to kill animals, another may claim that it is wrong to execute criminals, and a third may claim that it is wrong to kill in self-defense or in defense of your country. Yet, the following passages tell us that all of those conclusions are false:
When it comes to the Bible, those truths that are explicitly stated in Scripture are the facts that we deal with, while the conclusions, deductions, and assumptions of men are the opinions that must be corrected in order to bring our thinking into agreement with the facts (2Corinthians 10:5). Nevertheless, the way of the world is to do the opposite! Men are far more likely to explain away what the Bible says, than they are to give up their own conclusions when those conclusions contradict the Word of God.
For example: After pointing out that those who interpret Scripture to forbid capital punishment are contradicting the passages that call for capital punishment, one man insisted that the passages that call for capital punishment contradict the words “thou shalt not kill.” However, he was simply imposing his own meaning on the word “kill” instead of letting the Bible define that word. The word translated “kill” (in our English Bible) is the Hebrew word for murder. And, the Bible itself explains that word by telling us that that commandment is not forbidding capital punishment (Exodus 21:12), the killing of animals (Deuteronomy 12:21), self-defense (Luke 22:36), or the defense of one’s nation in time of war (Acts 10:22). Those who would rather see a contradiction in Scripture than admit that their own thinking is wrong, have simply closed their mind to what God is trying to tell them (Isaiah 8:20).
In compiling the facts that are stated in Scripture “here a little, and there a little” we need to let the words of Scripture stand as they read (Isaiah 28:10). We should never try to compromise a word or make it mean something else, even when we are trying to harmonize verses that we find difficult to understand. If our doctrine is to consist of facts, it is our thinking that must change not the facts. For example: Suppose that someone, who was trying to harmonize the words, “there is none righteous” with the words, “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous,” compromised the word “none” by claiming that it just meant few (Romans 3:10, 1 Peter 3:12). Although his reasoning might sound plausible to our sin-corrupted minds, it would not only be wrong, but he would be rebelling against God by refusing to submit to what He said (Psalm 107:11).
In contrast, if we would just look at what Paul was saying when he quoted the words “there is none righteous,” we would find that verse nineteen makes it perfectly clear that Paul meant “none.” What needs to be understood, is that there are two ways in which people seek to become righteous. The first has to do with obedience to the law or keeping rules, and that is what Paul is saying will not work. His words, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” make that perfectly clear (Romans 3:20). However, Paul uses those words to introduce another way of becoming righteous, namely by being cleansed of sin through the forgiveness that is ours in Christ (1John 1:7, Romans 3:21-28). Because the Bible makes it clear that this second way is the only way that works, whenever the Bible speaks of anybody being righteous, it must be referring to righteousness that was attained this second way.
In order to avoid foolish mistakes, like the ones I just exposed, whenever you find passages that are hard to understand don’t make up explanations or try to change to meaning of the words. Instead, simply defer judgement! Be big enough to admit that you do not fully understand what is being said, and wait until you do. The very worst thing that you could do would be to add to God’s Word by making up an explanation, or take away from it by explaining away something it says (Revelation 22:18-19).
As we compile the facts that we have learned from Scripture, our aim should be nothing more that to present what we have learned, without adding to or taking from what is written. For example: We know that the Holy Spirit is God, because the Bible tells us that the writings inspired by the Holy Ghost were inspired by God (compare 2Peter 1:21 and 2Timothy 3:16), that those who lie to the Holy Ghost lie to God (Acts 5:3-4), and that words spoken against the Holy Ghost are blasphemy (Matthew 12:31).
Likewise, we know that He has the characteristics of a person because the Bible tells us that He has a “mind,” “speaks,” can “teach,” can be “lied to,” can be “grieved,” and should be referred to as “He,” not it (Romans 8:27, 1Timothy 4:1, John 14:26, Ephesians 4:30, Acts 5:3-4, John 16:8).
Once we understand how plain the truth of God’s Word is, we can face cult followers with confidence, knowing that we have the truth and they are the ones trying to add to it or explain it away.
Once you have learned to think of the words of Scripture as facts, and to distinguish between those facts and the opinions of men, Bible study will never be the same. Instead of looking for explanations, your attention will be on what the words actually say, and those words will give you the standard you need to correct your own thinking and bring it into accord with the written Word of God (Isaiah 8:20, 2Corithians 10:5).