Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two Extremes

There are generally two extremes that people have a tendency to swing to for Bible study:

1) Taking all Scripture only at face value, only literally, and oftentimes missing the spiritual significance, or application, of certain passages.

2) Taking all Scripture to be speaking only in spiritual language, only metaphors and parables designed to teach truths, but not to be taken literally.

The Bible teaches that we must "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

We must understand that the Bible is a literal book. God made men accurately record the history of the Earth and, especially, His chosen people. Many discount the factual accounts in the Bible and thus begin to believe man-made theories such as evolution, or discounting the fact that God really did destroy the entire world with a flood, and made the sun stand still, and made a virgin conceive His Son. This mistake of taking the Bible only on a spiritual level can also lead us to disobey God's commandments. One example of this is that God created the Earth in 6 literal days and created the Sabbath on the 7th day. He intends for us to literally keep the Sabbath holy (4th Commandment, Exodus 20:8-11).

We must also understand that the Bible contains many spiritual truths as well. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) If we take the Bible only literally, we'll soon be cutting off our hands and plucking out our eyes, or continuing to sacrifice lambs for our sins. We must understand the spiritual significance of things such as the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, as well as the spiritual significance of the annual holy days such as Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Trumpets, and others. These all have have deeper meaning when looked at spiritually. One of the most edifying studies I think you can do is a study of the Old Testament holy days. They all point very powerfully and clearly to Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation. Jesus touched on the spiritual nature of the Ten Commandments when He revealed that to hate is breaking the commandment against murdering, and to look lustfully is breaking the commandment against committing adultery. He clearly identified the fact that in addition to the letter of the law, there is the spirit of the law.

As with most things, the truth is found somewhere between the two extremes. The Bible is a book of both literal and spiritual truth. Many times the same passage of Scripture is both literal and spiritual. Let's keep studying our Bible and digging deeper into the Word, ever finding more precious truths.

God bless you and keep you!


  1. Were you aware the the scripture you quoted in 2 Timothy is the AWANAs verse - used in churches all over the country to train children in the word of God? It is so true that someone who does not know God can pick up the Bible and never understand something as simple as Jonah getting swallowed by a fish. Literally - not fictitious - Fiction writers can't even write stuff this good. The Holy Spirit helps us to discern these things. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Hey that's cool. What is "AWANAs"? Sounds like a good summer-camp name! ;-p

    I totally agree, without the Holy Spirit to guide us, we'll never understand the Scriptures. I am trying to remember to always pray before studying the Bible now, since in times past I have often forgotten that vital part of Bible study. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!