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The Net Pastor’s Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 35 Spring 2020

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
Email: [email protected]

I. Strengthening Biblical Interpretation
“How to Read and Understand the Bible”(Pt. 2)

Introduction

Though the subject of Biblical interpretation (“hermeneutics”) is vast and can be somewhat complicated at times, it is vital for us to study it in order to be accurate and clear preachers of the Word, who faithfully declare what it says and means and how it applies to our lives.

So often, as we study the Scriptures, we run into phrases, sentences, and passages that are difficult to understand and interpret as to what the original author intended to communicate. It is precisely for these situations that we need interpretive guidelines and principles that help us come to the best understanding of the passage that we can, given that we live in an entirely different era and culture and speak an entirely different language.

In Part 1 of “How to Read and Understand the Bible” (see the 2020 Winter Edition of this journal), we discussed:

1. Three basic tasks in Biblical interpretation:

(a) Determining the accurate meaning of the passage (exegesis);

(b) Applying sound principles of interpretation to the passage (hermeneutics);

(c) Bridging the gap between the ancient text, language, culture, and audience to our contemporary language, culture, and audience.

2. Two important hermeneutical questions:

(a) Did the O.T. writers know fully what they were writing about?

(b) Did the N.T. writers know fully what they were writing about?

Now, in this Part 2 of the same subject, we continue to examine some other important aspects of biblical interpretation.

A. Literal Interpretation

Some people say that you can’t take the Bible literally because (1) the Bible uses figures of speech (metaphor, hyperbole etc.), and (2) because the Bible uses poetic language and other literary genres that cannot be interpreted literally (e.g. apocalyptic). This is really an attempt to detract from the truth of the Bible. We, in fact, interpret the Bible using the same principles as for any other literature.

What do we mean by “literal”? If by “literal” you mean a wooden word-for-word translation which does not take into account figurative or metaphorical language, then “no” we do not interpret the Bible literally. But if by “literal” you mean that we take the Bible at face value; that we believe the Bible is true in all that it affirms and accurate in all that it records; that we read and interpret the Bible in accordance with its plain, natural meaning and as its authors intended (taking into account their literary style, literary devices, literary genre, grammar, meaning of words at the time it was written, and the historical, economic, social, geographic, and political context in which it was written), then, “yes” we do read and interpret the Bible literally.

Probably a better term than “literal” meaning is “literary” meaning. Literary meaning is an interpretation that “…reflects the type of literature used, the context, the historical background, the grammar, (and) word meanings” 1 - i.e. one that is based on the “grammatical-contextual-theological” method of interpretation. Or, we could say that literary meaning is an “interpretation that does not spiritualize or allegorize” 2 what is not intended by the author to be spiritualized or allegorized – i.e. the “normal” or “plain” meaning.

Literal interpretation, then, means to interpret the bible according to its literal / literary sense – i.e. as you would interpret any piece of literature, “according to the normal rules of grammar, speech, syntax, and context.” 3 Literal interpretation does not, therefore, preclude the use of types or illustrations; nor literary genres that are based on imaginary or illustrative symbols (e.g. apocalyptic). Literal interpretation does not preclude the normal interpretation based on a natural (face value, plain) reading of the text. As a pastor friend of mine used to say: “When the plain sense makes common sense, then any other sense is nonsense.”

Literal interpretation stands in contrast to other interpretive methods such as allegorizing, spiritualizing, moralizing, and typologizing. Or, to put it another way, behind the literary devices, imagery, genres, and style that a biblical author may have used lies a literal idea or concept. That’s what we look for when we read the Bible.

Though the Bible is a unique book in that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit it does not change the fact that it is written in words of normal human language and with normal grammatical construction. Therefore, our understanding of it is based on the same rules that we would apply to reading and understanding any other piece of literature. Literal interpretation does not imply that we adhere to a “wooden” literalism that puts the biblical text into a straight jacket, which might render it unintelligible.

This is why the “grammatical-contextual-theological” approach to studying the text is so vitally important. In attempting to interpret the text literally, you need to be able to identify: (a) the various grammatical components of the text; (b) its theological focus; (c) its context; and (d) its literary genre and devices. All of these aspects impact understanding and interpretation.

Therefore, in order to correctly interpret the Bible, we need to analyze and understand...

1. The grammar – the various syntactical structures (clauses and sentences) and words used - their type and part of speech (e.g. noun, verb etc.), form (e.g. case; tense), and meaning.

2. The theology. What is the author saying about God (his purposes, his character, his nature, his plans etc.) and our relationship to God?

3. The context - historical, political, economic, social, and cultural.

4. The literary genre and devices – the style of writing and figures of speech.

All of this analysis impacts our understanding of the ideas (the truth, the theology) that the original author intended to communicate and is part and parcel of literal interpretation.

B. Interpreting Certain Literary Genre And Devices

Obviously, literary genre has a big impact on how we interpret any document, not the least of which is the Bible since it contains so many different genres. Literary genre refers to the style of writing of the passage, such as prose, poetry, proverb, epistle, apocalyptic, gospel (with parable as a subcategory), historical narrative, prophetic etc.

The literary genre affects how we interpret the passage. If it is written in apocalyptic language, for example, with all sorts of wild, almost hallucinatory, images and descriptions of eschatological scenes, one has to interpret it in that light.

However, identifying the literary genre does not necessarily make the interpretation obvious. For example, the literary genre does not settle the issue of historicity. The book of Jonah is a case in point. Because part of Jonah is written in historical narrative but another part (chapter 2) is written in poetic form, scholars have been divided over whether the book is intended to be an historical account or merely an allegorical portrayal of Jonah’s experience, the poetic chapter being Jonah’s reflective prayer of thanksgiving. Of course, for unbelievers who do not believe in miracles, the poetic chapter gives them an excuse to jettison the historical account of the whole book.

In addition to literary genres we must be aware of any literary devices which the author may use, such as figures of speech like metaphor, simile, and hyperbole. These devices, when used, affect how we interpret and understand the text.

C. Single Meaning; Multiple Applications

Please note this principle: “One meaning; many applications.” We believe that each passage of Scripture has only one meaning, not multiple meanings, when it is read and interpreted as written and as intended by the author. It does not mean one thing for you and another thing for me. What is written is written. Any individual Scripture only ever has one meaning. We may have many interpretive options just because of the limitations of translation and written communication, but there is only one meaning as intended by the original author. However, each Scripture may have many applications. From the one single meaning of a passage of Scripture, we may derive multiple applications that impact our conduct, speech, relationships etc.

But note this qualification: Because of the progressive nature of Scriptural revelation a further, deeper, expanded meaning may become apparent to us that was not apparent to the original human authors and audiences. This does not change the original meaning but expands on it.

We always need to remember that though there are multiple human authors of the Bible there is only one Divine Author. Hence, what may not have been apparent to, or intended by, the human author was apparent to and intended by the Divine Author. But we must have biblical grounds for attributing to the Holy Spirit a fuller, expanded, clearer meaning than the human authors may have been aware of. (For more on this, see the 2020 Winter Edition of this journal).

D. The Impact Of Culture On Our Understanding

Some biblical scholars and preachers attempt to modernize the Bible by interpreting it in the light of the contemporary meaning of words and contemporary cultural standards. This, effectively, reinterprets the Bible to mean what they want it to mean today. But the Bible wasn’t written today, nor are its teachings to be changed to comply with contemporary ethics and practices.

Nonetheless, we have to admit that the Bible contains many ancient practices that are peculiar to us (to say the least) and do not make any sense in our culture. So, our challenge is, on the one hand, to not interpret the Bible to be relevant to today’s culture but, on the other hand, to distinguish between the Bible’s universal principles (which are applicable to all people in all cultures in all ages) and its ancient practices (which were limited to that ancient culture).

First, though, what do we mean by “culture”? The culture of any organization is, essentially, the way things are done or the attitudes expressed that have built up over time. This environment may have developed due to decisions made in the past, people who have been influential, crises that may have occurred, history that has transpired, situations that have been experienced, principles that have been adopted etc. It is really the personality and character of the organization expressed in its values, priorities, likes and dislikes, activities, leadership style, what it stands for, how it reacts, why it exists, what it believes etc.

Families have cultures. That’s where you learn your earliest and perhaps most deep rooted convictions about life and behaviour, your values, priorities, your worldview, your relationships (e.g. to your parents and siblings). Your government has a culture; your church has a culture; your place of employment has a culture. All of this cultural conditioning affects how you read, interpret, and apply the Bible.

1. The Ancient Culture

One of the challenges of biblical interpretation is to determine what practices are applicable to and reflective of an ancient society only (i.e. cultural) and what practices are applicable to all ages (i.e. transcultural)

The overriding question is: “How do we apply Scripture?” Of all the commands and practices that we read in the Bible, which ones are still applicable to us today and should be practised by us? And should they be practised just as they were in the ancient culture or in some modified form?

Some O.T. Examples

(a) Tithing – agricultural tithes (Lev. 27:30-33); tithes for the Levites and for their priestly work in the tabernacle (Num. 18:21ff.); the annual agricultural and priestly tithe (Deut. 14:22ff.); tithes for the Levite, stranger, fatherless, and widow (Deut. 26:12 15).

(b) Rape – e.g. Deut. 22:28-29. Is this requirement valid for today that if someone rapes a girl, all you have to do is pay her father 50 shekels of silver and marry her?

(c) Homosexuality – e.g. Lev. 18:22. Is this O.T. command against homosexuality one that we must adhere to today?

(d) Bestiality – e.g. Lev. 18:23. Is it immoral for someone today to have a sexual relationship with animals?

(e) Mixed Clothing – e.g. Lev. 19:19. Is it binding on us today not to wear clothing of mixed fabrics like woollen and linen?

(f) The law of the Sabbath – e.g. Ex. 20:9-10. Are we to literally “not do any work” on the Sabbath? If so, what is the definition of “work”? Which day is the Sabbath for us? What did Jesus mean when he said that “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27)?

(g) Circumcision – e.g. Gen. 17:10. Is circumcision a required religious practice for us?

(h) Tattoos – e.g. Lev. 19:28. Is the prohibition against tattoo marks on the body something that we should obey?

(i) Styles of clothing – e.g. Deut. 22:5, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear woman’s clothing.” What clothing does this refer to? Who is this binding on, why, and how?

Some N.T. Examples

(a) Head coverings for women and not for men (1 Cor. 11:1-16). Are women today to literally veil their heads in worship, or is there a principal here that would be more appropriately expressed in a different way in our culture? In other words, was the head covering merely the cultural expression at that time of an abiding principle which would be better expressed differently today?

(b) Silence of women in the church (1 Tim. 2:11-15; 1 Cor. 14:34). Was Paul’s instruction about women being “silent” in the church a cultural or transcultural instruction? Is it an instruction specifically and only for the women of a certain church (e.g. Ephesus) to stop their bickering and disturbances of church services? Or, is it a practice for all women of all times? If the silence itself is a reflection of how the ancient world practised a certain principle, what is the principle that it demonstrates and how should we practise that principle in our culture?

(c) Submission of wives to their husbands (Eph. 5:22). How are we to apply Peter’s instruction that wives must submit to their husbands “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Pet. 3:5-6)?

(d) Praying with uplifted hands (1 Tim. 2:8). Is Paul’s injunction cultural or transcultural?

(e) Evangelism (Lk. 10:4). Must we literally “carry no purse, no bag, no shoes, and greet no one on the way”? Or, is Jesus stating a principle that is to be expressed in appropriate ways within our culture?

(f) Greeting each other with a holy kiss (1 Cor. 16:20). Are we to greet one another this way today? If so, what would two men kissing look like to the world? What about a man kissing a woman who is not his wife? What about two women kissing each other?

(g) Drinking wine (1 Tim. 5:23). Is Paul’s instruction to Timothy to “use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” a requirement for us? Is this a standard medicinal treatment? Or, is this an instruction for Timothy only?

(h) Anointing with oil (James 5:14; Mk. 6:13). Is the anointing of sick persons with oil a required practice for us? If so, what is its purpose and meaning? Is it a medicinal practice or religious?

(i) Selling your possessions to give to the poor (Lk. 12:33). How do we apply Jesus’ instruction today?

(j) Long hair for a man is a disgrace (1 Cor. 11:14). What is the definition of long hair? How do we practise this today?

Conclusions

Those aspects of biblical teaching that reflect ancient cultural practices must be examined to determine:

1. What unchanging principle lies behind them? Note: When we prepare sermons, one of the first things we look for is the abiding truths, its unchanging principles. These are the main points of our sermon.

2. How is that principle to be practised today? Since the entire Bible was written by men of old in the language and imagery and culture of that day (for specific people to address specific situations at a specific time), there obviously is a strong cultural element to it. Our task is to determine whether the Bible is teaching that the cultural practice itself is the norm for all ages or whether the principal that underlies the practice is the norm for all ages.

2. Our Contemporary Culture

Not only do we need to be able to identify the ancient culture’s impact on the biblical writers, but we need to be able to identify our own cultural conditioning as we read the Bible. We need to recognize that we read and interpret it with eyes and understanding that are conditioned by our own culture. That’s why people from other cultures than our own often read parts of the Bible with a different worldview and understanding than ours.

Some contemporary factors that greatly influence our understanding of the ancient text include: (a) contemporary methods of communication (e.g. telephone, e-mail, newspapers etc.); travel (e.g. airplanes); lifestyle (e.g. individuality and materialism); dress; worldview.

As we study the Bible in preparation for teaching and preaching we must seek to read it as an unbiased reader (although that is probably not totally possible). That’s why we must discipline ourselves in “exegesis” (bringing into view what is there) not “eisegesis” (reading into it what is not there). That’s why we must follow certain basic interpretive principles, which I am attempting to explain in this series on “Strengthening Biblical Interpretation: How to read and understand the Bible”. I will continue this series in the next edition of this journal.

II. The Limitations of Christian Liberty

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

By: Dr. Stephen F. Olford

This is a continuation of a series which we last published in the Winter 2019 edition of this journal.

Introduction

The third specific disorder in the church at Corinth was that of impurity. The problem arose out of the popular teaching concerning the human body. The Greeks always despised the body. There was a proverbial saying that read: “The body is a tomb.” The important element of the human personality was the soul and the spirit, whereas the body did not really matter.

This kind of thinking resulted in two forms of behavior. The first was a most rigorous asceticism in which everything was done to subject and humiliate the desires and instincts of the body. The second, which was so prevalent in the city of Corinth, was to use the body as a means of satisfying its appetites and lusts to the fullest extent. This philosophy of life was strengthened by a wrong interpretation of the doctrine of Christian liberty which Paul had preached. As a consequence, the licentiousness and immorality of the city of Corinth had made their incursions into the life of the church. With this in mind, Paul addresses himself to the doctrine of the believer’s body.

A. The Liberty of the Believer’s Body

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. (1 Corinthians 6:12, 13). Paul introduces the subject of the liberty of the believer’s body by quoting two proverbs, or slogans which demand our very close attention. It is perfectly true that the Christian is “called unto liberty:” but it is equally true that we are not to use that liberty “as an opportunity for the flesh” (Galatians 5:13). Christian liberty is not the desire to do what we want, but rather the power to do what we ought. So Paul tells us two things about Christian liberty:

1) Christian Liberty is Divinely Guarded. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). What Paul is saying here is that because we are no longer under law but under grace, we are free men and women, but that such freedom does not in any way justify lawlessness, for all unrighteousness is sin…” (1 John 5:17). Therefore while the Christian is free to use his body, he must respect two guarding principles.

The first is that while all things are lawful, all things are not expedient. The word “expedient” means “that which is helpful to other people.” We can see at once what a check this imposes upon our Christian behavior, for it is obvious that if all we do with and through our bodies is for the helpfulness of others, we shall never be guilty of prostituting our Christian liberty.

The second Principle is just as strong. Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). If the first principle relates to others, the second has to do with ourselves. Anything we do which tends to enslave us is not liberty but bondage. We abuse our liberty if in using it we lessen our fruit of self-control.

We hear a lot today about “free love,” but if people who talk this way only knew it, they would realize that they are slaves to the very things that they claim they have freedom to do. Beware lest you freedom becomes slavery. So we see that true Christian liberty is divinely guarded, but notice further:

2) Christian Liberty is Divinely Guided. “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13). Here is the second slogan which Paul uses to illustrate his doctrine of Christian liberty. People argue that since food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, so every other hunger should be equally satisfied. But there is a serious error in such reasoning. Indeed, as Bishop Lightfoot says: “It is a gross moral confusion.” In the light of God’s holy law we can certainly accept the fact that food is essential to the stomach, but who of us would dare to extend that statement and add that fornication is essentially for the body? As a matter of fact, Paul shows us that as far as food and the stomach are concerned, God will destroy them both; for they only subsist during our earthly life.

But as for the body of a believer it is quite otherwise. Our body is designed for the Lord both in time and in eternity. As we see presently, it is a vehicle for His divine expression now, and one day, clothed with immortality, it will be His instrument for glory and service throughout the ages of eternity.

So to maintain that all hungers are equal and must be satisfied at will is neither logical nor biblical. It is true that food is for the stomach, but the body is for the Lord, and therefore not for any form of immorality or impurity. Thus we conclude that while the liberty of the believer’s body is a blessing to be enjoyed, it must be added that that liberty is both divinely guarded and guided. From this aspect of the subject, Paul now proceeds to discuss what we may call:

B. The Sanctity of the Believer’s Body

“And God has both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?...Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:14, 15, 19). With penetrating insight, Paul confronts his readers with the doctrine of the sanctity of the believer’s body. Indeed, he expresses amazement that they were not aware of this truth. So he asks again and again, as he has done throughout these past two chapters. “Do you not know?” (v. 15); “Do you not know?” (v. 16); “Do you not know?” (v. 19). Yes, the believer’s body has been sanctified once and for ever by:

1) God the Father. “And God has both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). The Father who made the stomach is going to destroy it; but the Father who made the body is going to raise it. The destiny of the body is eternal. Let us remember that “…God…has made us, and not we ourselves… (Psalm 100:3). The Psalmist further reminds us that we are “…fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). With all the scientific inventions around us, nothing has yet been produced to compare with the marvel of the human body. And Paul tells us that He who made us is going to raise us. In another place he reminds us that “…our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body…” (Philippians 3:20, 21). That is the supreme destiny of your body and mine, and in the light of this we cannot, we dare not, prostitute its use. God has forever sanctified our bodies by creation, and one day by resurrection. What is more, our bodies are sanctified by:

2) God the Son. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!” (1 Corinthians 6:15). In the first place, we have not been “redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ…” (1 Peter 1:18, 19). In other words, we have been bought with a price, or as one commentator puts it: We have “been bought and paid for” (Goodspeed). In light of this Christ has deigned to identify Himself with us. This is the whole significance of verse 15. Literally the words read: “Do you not know that your bodies are the limbs of Christ?” Our mind is His mind; our eyes are His eyes; our lips are His lips; our hands are his hands; our feet are His feet; our bodies are the very limbs of our Risen Head.

Paul later develops this glorious theme in the 12th chapter, but he introduces the subject here to show the utter incompatibility and immorality of a believer using the limbs of Christ for any other purpose than that which God has designed. In fact, the employment of our members for unholy practices is described in the original as illicit sexual intercourse, or “rape.” So, exclaims the apostle, “…Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘The two,’ He says, ‘will become one flesh.’” (1 Corinthians 6:16). “Fornication,” as W. E. Vine points out, “brings a man and a woman into a relationship so close and powerful as to form a complex personality on a lower plane.

This then, is the argument Paul uses to underscore the utter sanctity of the believer’s body. But in the third place, notice that the believer’s body is sanctified not only by God the Father and God the Son, but also by:

3) God the Spirit. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Corinthians would readily understand what Paul meant by this statement. There were shrines in Corinth for every pagan deity. Much of the worship in these temples was associated with immoral practices; but into this very context, Paul introduces a new concept of life. He says, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” In the Greek the emphasis is on the word “Holy.” God’s temple, in which He dwells by the Holy Spirit, is not only the church corporately, but your body and mine individually. So although you call you body your own, it is not really your own: it belongs to God. To correctly appreciate this astonishing truth would revolutionize our manner of living. Indeed, this gives a dignity to the whole of life such as nothing else can do. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we are the bearers of the Holy Spirit. This necessitates the ruling out of all such conduct that is not appropriate to the kingdom of God. Certainly fornication would be unthinkable. But the principle involved has a far wider application. Nothing that would be amiss in God’s temple is becoming of God’s child.

C. The Purity of the Believer’s Body

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body…For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18, 20). The two operative exhortations in these verses are “flee sexual immorality” and “glorify God.” One is negative and the other is positive. So to maintain the purity of the believer’s body there must be:

1) Complete Avoidance of Sin. “Flee sexual immorality…” (1 Corinthians 6:18). The present imperative verb indicates the habitual action. Literally, it should read: “Make it your habit to flee.” That is the only way to treat sin. When temptation comes along you must not stop to debate, or to argue, or even to allow impure thoughts to linger in your mind. In that moment of satanic attack the word is “flee.” One of the most vivid and beautiful illustrations is seen in the life of Joseph. You will remember that when in Potiphar’s house, the mistress of the establishment sought to seduce him to sin, but Joseph exclaimed: “…how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9), and instantly he fled out of the house (v. 12).

To strengthen his point, Paul adds that unlike other sins, immorality is a sin against the body. “Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body…” (1 Corinthians 6:18). The reason for this is that immorality of this kind is an offense against a man or a woman’s very personality. Furthermore, this particular sin alienates the body from its divine purpose and destiny. So Paul says, “Flee sexual Immorality;” and in another place: “…make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14), which simply means, “Give no forethought” and make no calculated arrangements in order to make sin a possibility or an actuality.”

That is the negative exhortation. The positive one involves:

2) Complete Allegiance to God. “…glorify God in your body…” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Notice that this command is linked immediately with the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying: “…you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body…” (v. 20). Glorifying God in our bodies is a matter not only of obligation, but of gratitude and devotion to Him who laid down His life, that being freed from Satan’s bondage we should exhibit through our mortal flesh all the glory of the indwelling Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Glory is he outshining of character, and when our bodies are completely possessed and controlled by the indwelling Godhead, there is a purity that is both seen and sensed. It is what the Psalmist calls “the beauty of holiness.” In their fallen state, Adam and Eve were covered with this glory, but they lost it when they shifted their center of trust from God to themselves. Having lost it, they knew for the first time they were naked. How wonderful to know that even in these failing bodies of ours, Jesus Christ can be magnified day by day, whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:20). This is the purity that convicts a sinning world, and yet convinces the seeking soul. It is a purity that gives evidence that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him.

Conclusion:

Here then, is the biblical doctrine of the believer’s body. There is a liberty of the body that is divinely guarded and guided. There is a sanctity of the body which is hallowed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and as a result there is the purity of the body, which is characterized by a complete avoidance of sin and a complete allegiance to God. Nobody can see a truly pure life without knowing that such a man or woman is sold out to God.

The only way in which we can conclude our study on this subject is to remind ourselves of the great words of the apostle, which he penned to the believers at Rome: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

III. Sermon Outlines

To listen to the audio version of these sermons in English, click on these links: Link 1 - Rev. 2:12-13; Link 2 - Rev. 2:14-15; Link 3 - Rev. 2:16; Link 4 - Rev. 2:17

Title: Letters to the Seven Churches: Pergamum – Holding on but Compromising

Theme: Standing for truth in a culture of compromise

Point #1: Christ commends faithfulness (13)

Point #2: Christ condemns compromise (14-15)

Point #3: Christ commands repentance (16)

Point #4: Christ conveys a promise (17)


1 Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 187.

2 Charles Ryrie, The Essentials of Dispensationalism” (Israel My Glory, May/June 2007), 29.

3 R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 48-49.

Related Topics: Pastors

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