Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christ, Not "Love," Is the Key to Interpreting and Applying Scripture

That pretty much says it all. People today want to say that the Bible is just about loving others and so there is little need to interpret and apply it in any rigid manner. Love is all you need, says our John Lennon generation. But this isn't what the Bible teaches us.

When Christ says that all of the Law and Prophets, i.e., all of the Scripture, can be summed up in the two statements to love God with all that you've got and to love one another as yourself, He's not saying that's it's just about you loving God and others as you see fit, and that somehow sums up what God is getting at in Scripture.

Instead, He's saying that all of what Scripture teaches and commands is loving God and others. That's a big difference. With the former, I can just try my best to love in my own way, and in my culture's own way, to love God and others. I may think love is a feeling, so if I feel good about others, then I've fulfilled the Scripture. I may think that being nice is loving, so if I'm nice, I've fulfilled what God wants of me in Scripture.

But that's not what is being said. What's being said is that everything taught and commanded in Scripture is a matter of loving God and others. These are God's directions concerning what love for God and others looks like. We need it because, according to God's revelation to us in Scripture, i.e., God loving us and not letting our enslavement to rebellion stand, our minds are corrupted by rebellion against God and our rebellion distorts love and often calls what is hatred, "love."

Hence, we need to understand that what is taught and commanded in Scripture is the true path of love for God and others--all other paths that contradict it being false love and hatred toward God and man.

The true key to understanding Scripture is Christ and His teaching. We interpret all things through what He taught through His apostles. Hence, the New Testament is Christ's teaching concerning what is loving, and it helps us interpret the Old Testament. So the key to the understanding and applying the Bible is Christ's teaching that represents who He is. We know Him through what He has spoken. He is the Logos, the Word, of God. He tells us that all of Scripture is about love, and because He is our key, we understand that the Scriptures that rebellious men find so restricting to their wayward lifestyles are really just God expressing His love for us and what love truly is if we wish to emulate Him. It is what the word "Christ-like" really means. It means to be a man and woman of the Word, as it not only tells us to love, but directs us to its right definitions and applications in life.

What this means is that one cannot love when he does not love according to God's revelation of Himself, according to Christ, according to the Bible. What this means is that the Christ-like man is a man of the Word, because the loving man is a man of the Word, and one who contradicts Scripture in his words and actions is contrary to Christ and contrary to love.

Hence, Christ's teaching that reveals Christ's Person and work, is the key to understanding and applying Scripture, not some nebulous concept of love as it is defined apart from what He taught. I cannot say that I love God or others without paying close attention to what love truly is, and I only know what path love truly must take in life when I allow myself to be directed by Christ's teaching. To truly love, therefore, is to submit oneself to Christ as Lord, and to seek to love as He has defined it. And He has defined it as what is spoken in all of the Law and Prophets, i.e., all of the Scripture. Hence, apart from Christ, there is no obedience to the command to love, but he who would obey God and build his house upon the rock must adhere to all that is spoken by Him. Christ, then, not "love," is the key to understanding and doing what is pleasing to God according to the Scripture. And to ignore Christ in order to "love" in one's own way is simply another avenue for man to express his hatred and rebellion toward God and others.

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