Some advice open to interpretation, some not
August 21, 2019
We found a paperback book at our house about a year ago that does not belong to anyone living here. So, we’ve been asking those who visit whether it’s theirs.
Recently, we asked a mid-30s, single male family member, and when he heard the title, he said it might be his and asked to see it. Whether it actually was his, he was interested because of the title, that is, until he read the banner above the title, “Heartwarming Inspirational Romance.”
Obviously, the rest of us had a laugh at his expense because he’d originally misinterpreted the title, “Claiming the Single Mom’s Heart,” as suggesting the book’s content included advice on how someone in his demographic group might get and keep a girlfriend.
Many self-help books are available today, some of which provide good advice, but the greatest one of all time is from God. The Bible gives advice/wisdom for all matters of life (James 3:13-18) (including where to find and keep the best choice for a spouse – 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, especially, vs. 40; Matthew 19:1-9). (I think it neat after I started writing this article, a local church’s electronic sign had a message about Bible advice – it’s always a good occasion to remind people of the best source of advice.)
Some biblical advice is open to interpretation (Romans 14:1-23). For example, some, but not all of 1 Corinthians 7 is apostolic advice. Other biblical statements are outright commands (John 14:15-21; 1 John 5:1-3). Nonetheless, since before the church began, people have been setting aside God’s commands and/or making up their own rules based on their personal misinterpretations (Matthew 15:3-14; 1 Timothy 4:1-6).
In Matthew 16:19, Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, stating whatever he bound on earth will have been bound in heaven. Jesus wasn’t giving Peter or anyone else the privilege of making up rules about salvation and Christian living because the details of God’s plan of salvation were set in place before the foundation of the world, and nothing is to added or deleted (Ephesians 1:3-10; Genesis 3:26-4:7; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:6-9). He meant when they taught the way to salvation (eternal life in the kingdom of heaven), they merely would be repeating what the Holy Spirit would teach/remind them of regarding God’s will (John 16: 15:25-26; 16:12-15; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 1 Corinthians 14:36-37).
The keys for entering the kingdom of heaven were revealed on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection to the people who’d heard the Apostles’ teaching and expressed their belief Jesus Christ was the Messiah (Acts 2:14-41). They were told to repent and be baptized for forgiveness, at which time they’d receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32; Romans 8:9). No amount of alternate interpretation can set aside such a direct command.
The best advice is to simply obey the commands and study the Bible to understand the whys of God’s commands (Philippians 2:12-16; 3:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). That’s what I did.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan who writes about faith for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at [email protected]