That’s Your Interpretation!

Text: II Peter 1:10-21


I.         When you want to read a book which was written in French, but you don’t know French, what do you do?

            A.        You find an interpretation of the French book into a language you know.

            B.        An interpreter copies the meaning of something from one language into another language.

            C.        But can you imagine taking a translation of, say Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers, and then saying, “Well, that’s just his interpretation!”

                        1.         To say that implies that the interpreter did not do a good job, that he gave his opinion instead.

                        2.         A good interpretation is dependable because it based on a solid work that can be checked.

            D.        A newspaper doesn’t need to be interpreted. You can read the information and form conclusions about the facts presented.

            E.        The Bible is much the same way.

                        1.         It was interpreted from the original languages. Most of them are good, accurate translations which can be verified by going back to the originals.

                        2.         But the Bible we use doesn’t need interpreting.

                        3.         People don’t have problems with the interpretation, but with believing what is said!

                        4.         Reliable translations use English words which are understandable to most people. The problem people have with the Bible is rejecting what is obviously said.

II.        Handling the Problem of “That’s just your interpretation!”

            A.        Take yourself out of the picture.

                        1.         Have him look at the passage directly and ask how does that read to you?

                        2.         Many people give knee-jerk reactions. They answer before they hear everything - Proverbs 18:13

                        3.         So first make sure everything is first heard.

                        4.         Second, it shows humility by being willing to hear what another person thinks - Proverbs 18:12; James 1:19

            B.        When someone has a different conclusion, ask for evidence

                        1.         “You must have evidence to support your conclusion, would you mind showing me what it is?”

                        2.         Again, the focus is placed on the text - Romans 10:17

                        3.         It means, as well, that we must return the favor of having book, chapter and verse for what we claim - I Peter 4:11

                        4.         Everything ought to have the Lord’s authority behind it - Colossians 3:17

                        5.         We also should be complete in our teaching, like Paul - Acts 20:27

III.       Why do people reject the truth?

            A.        Some are convinced that no understanding of the Scriptures can be relied upon

                        1.         They are convinced that every reading involves man’s opinions, thus everything is biased or slanted towards someone’s personal beliefs

                        2.         Yes, there are people who do offer opinions instead of truth - II Peter 3:15-17

                                    a.         But does this mean there is no truth?

                                    b.         God’s word remains truth - John 17:17

                        3.         Finding truth first requires accepting that truth exists - John 8:32

                        4.         God desires that we know the truth - I Timothy 2:3-4

                        5.         God’s will is understandable - Ephesians 5:17

                        6.         At least according to the Bible there is a truth which can be understood. It is not an impossible task.

            B.        Some are convinced that any understanding is acceptable

                        1.         They take the opposite and extreme position that there is more than one faith or truth

                        2.         Yet there is only one - Ephesians 4:5

                        3.         It was delivered only once - Jude 3

                        4.         Rather than rule out certain beliefs because of what the Scriptures actually does say, there is a desire to “just get along” as if every belief is of equal merit.

                        5.         Many opinions lead to destruction, but only truth leads to life - Matthew 7:13-14

            C.        Some are willing to take a random selection

                        1.         Some understandings are more plausible than others

                        2.         Consider: Would you being willing to have a random person selected for your spouse? Would you just take the nearest or most convenient house to live in? If we got sick would we take just any old treatment?

                                    a.         In any important decision in our life we wisely consider and choose what we perceive to be the best

                                    b.         Would that not apply to our beliefs and practices as well?

                        3.         So which does a person choose?

                                    a.         It means sifting through various thoughts and deciding which are more plausible, more reasonable, and more credible.

                                    b.         Instead of taking any old thought, or the one our ancestors always picked, let us examine the evidence, looking at the Scriptures

IV.      How do we know what God wants us to do?

            A.        Direct statements or commands

                        1.         John 14:15 - Keep the commandments

                        2.         Be mindful of what was written - II Peter 3:1-2

            B.        Approved examples

                        1.         Commanded to follow Christ’s example - I Peter 2:21

                        2.         Use the apostles as examples - Philippians 3:17

            C.        Make conclusions from what must be implied in the Scriptures

                        1.         Jesus using implication - Matthew 22:41-46

            D.        Stay with what God has said, making no assumptions - Galatians 1:6-10

                        1.         Do not add or take away - Deuteronomy 12:32

V.        We are to understand what God wants from us - II Timothy 2:15

[Based on articles by Phillip Owens and Mark Larson]

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