Any conclusions we draw from scripture –about how scripture applies to our lives– need to line up with the parts of scripture that we know are written to us in the Age of Grace.
(Acts 2 and what was written after that applies to the Age of Grace. The gospels are complicated, because sometimes Jesus was talking about what the church would do in the future and sometimes he was talking about living under the Mosaic Law. The Law existed until Jesus death).
We cannot take a passage and make commands or promises out of them.
The only promises that are ours –or commands that are for us– are the ones that are specifically made to us in the New Testament.
There are a lot of stories in the Bible.
Stories are fun and make up a lot of childhood Sunday School memories for those of us who were raised in the church.
History includes not only these stories, but also the law and genealogies.
Even though the law and genealogies are not particularly interesting to read compared to stories like Daniel in the lion’s den, they are still an important part of Hebrew and Bible history.
Bible stories are not commands or promises, but they do tell us a lot about God’s character.
Any conclusions we draw from stories in scripture need to line up with the parts of scripture that we know are written to us in the Age of Grace.
We cannot take a story and make commands or promises out of them.
The only promises that are ours are the ones that are specifically made to us.
Jesus used parables in the Gospels to teach His disciples.
Matthew 13:13 says that He began teaching parables to keep the people from understanding.
This was after the leaders of the Jewish people had already rejected Him.
Before the He taught in parables, He taught in a plain way that everyone could understand.
This plain teaching was the method He used to offer the Kingdom of God (Jesus’ reign here on earth) to the people of Israel. The nation of Israel, by way of its leaders, rejected Him.
After that He began speaking in parables.
“What is a parable? It’s a word picture. It’s an elongated simile or metaphor. It can be relatively short, or it can be relatively long. Para means to lay alongside. So it is a story laid alongside a truth to demonstrate their parallel realities.”
According to Matthew 31:10-11, the purpose of the parables was to teach the disciples about the Kingdom of God.
Because the Israelites rejected Jesus, the Kingdom of God, or Kingdom Time, is on hold until after the Time of Grace. I’ll discuss more about this at another time when we discuss the dispensations of time.
Because parables represent truths, we can often find things that line up with teaching in the Epistles and other teachings that pertain to the Age of Grace.
It is important than any conclusions we come about passages which were written before Acts 2 (when the Age of Grace began) lineup with the passages that were written after Acts 2. Passages after Acts 2 were written specifically about the Age of Grace.
Epistles are letters that were written to people or churches.
All of the epistles in the Bible pertain to the Age of Grace.
While one part of scripture is not more important than the other, different parts are speaking to different people.
The commands and promises written in the epistles are specifically for us during the Age of Grace.
Some people categorize Ecclesiastes as an epistle because it is in the form of a letter, but it is also poetry. Since it is in the Old Testament and is poetry, it makes more sense to me if we include it in the poetry.
Some of my favorite passages of scripture are poetry.
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon are all poetry.
Because it is poetry it follows the rules of all poetry in that it may contain imagery –personification and similes, for example.
There are also characteristics that are unique to Hebrew poetry, such as Hebrew Parallelisms.
Many verses in Psalms and Proverbs have been misinterpreted as promises –much to the frustration and confusion of the readers.
If we interpret verses to be promises when they aren’t, it is easy for us to think that God is not fulfilling His promises about things He didn’t actually promise.
I have seen people lose their faith and walk away from God because of unfulfilled promises based on scripture that aren’t actually promises.
This is why a proper understanding of scripture is so important.
Psalms also has prophecy in the form of poetry (list of prophecies in Psalms).
So, in the area of prophecy there is a little overlap.
Prophecy is spread throughout scripture.
It is important that we look at who the prophecy is about.
Some prophecies have been fulfilled; others have not.
Prophecy can be really challenging to understand.
Often times, prophecy has promises that go along with it.
Looking at who the prophecy was written to can give us insight into who the connected promises are for.
There are 2 kinds of promises given in scripture: conditional promises (if you do this, God will do that) and unconditional promises (no matter what you do, God will do this).
An example of a conditional promise is in 1 Kings 9:4-5 where God promised to establish Solomon’s reign forever if Solomon walked in the faith of his father, David.
Conditional and unconditional promises matter because some people think that any promise God made Israel now belongs to us Gentile believers.
But God made many promises without conditions!
He is not a God who breaks His promises.
Any unconditional promise He made to the Jews will be fulfilled to the Jewish people.
This has to do with God’s nature.
He cannot lie.
He cannot be unfaithful.
He cannot break His promises.
This is a big deal in Bible interpretation (understanding and applying scripture) because many people claim promises made to the Hebrews, promises which are not ours to claim.
We have not replaced Israel.
God isn’t done with Israel yet.
This is why I have a special place in my heart for the Jewish people.
How we approach scripture matters.
Understanding the basic types of scripture is a step in the right direction toward good Bible interpretation.