Love The Lord With All Your Mind Part 2
Each week, I normally have a coffee time with a good friend prior to the Sunday Celebration Service, here at Vineyard. It’s a great time to simply connect and group think about how to continue to build up the Body of Christ here, and at the same time be diligent to try ideas aimed at reaching the “unreached.” As my friend is a God-focused film guy, he recently made the suggestion of launching a new mini series titled: “What this Scripture means to me,” as a way of emphasizing what God is doing from a very authentic level within our own Body of believers through words of the Bible. Brilliant!
This morning, I’d like to continue with some thoughts that I began with last week in regards to the subject of “loving the Lord with all our minds.” Paul charges a “young” Timothy with these poignant words:
“for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for this present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Tim 4: 8 (ESV)
Another friend of mine used to walk across his job (which was mostly done on a hot roof) quoting and re-quoting Scriptures to himself out loud. He found it to be a great place away from people, so as to avoid “freaking” them out. The Word of God, the writer of Hebrews argues is both “alive and active”, and also “sharper than a two edged sword” (Heb 4:12). My “roofing” friend is a testimony of a person who carries these values of reciting the Scriptures that works into his actions. Derek Morphew (Director of Vineyard Institute) once said, “What you believe will determine how you behave.”
Recently, I was on a phone call with a dear brother who was receiving counsel from another Christian who “strongly” advised that he not take advice from counselors. Immediately, there were giant red flags appearing in my mind and heart!
“Hold on there,” I said to my dear friend. “What about the verse from Proverbs 12:15, ‘A fool is wise in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.’ ”
“That’s a really good point!” my friend stated. He added, “Seth, I had my own red flags going up in my mind after I was thinking about NOT going to a counselor!”
These are moments of clarity which the Spirit of Truth provides, as we try to line up advice with God’s Word. Might I suggest, an experience of the Spirit, and a knowledge of the Scriptures will help “guide us in all truth” (John 16:13).
Here are some practical things I’ve learned to help me as I explore the Scriptures, which can be simply remembered with the word: DIG.
Don’t miss the “main and plain” interpretation which is all to often on the surface of the text. In “How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth” Gordon Fee writes, “Many pastors dig for the ‘not so obvious’ meaning of a piece of Scripture first, without focusing on what’s in plain sight.” For example, the difficulty of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:14 which says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” These words are easy to understand, but are much harder to actually live out. Don’t fall into the trap of looking for a “unique interpretation” without adequately handling what Scripture asks of us.
“Interpretation is comprised of two elements,” Fee goes on, “the nature of the reader and the nature of the text.” Regarding the reader, we bring who we are to the text, and sometimes what we bring can lead us astray. For example, if we are socially justice minded, that’s a good thing, but let’s not sacrifice the “great” to have the “good!” The main message that Christ preached is the same message preached by Billy Graham, and the message is: women and men can have peace with God, through Jesus. If we keep that at the forefront, the “good” things of the Kingdom will be added.
“Good, and different translations.” Personally, I love using the different translations that are available to us. Over time, I’ve learned to broaden out the meaning or dig into the meaning of a Scripture, by seeing the ways in which translators chose certain vocabulary over others. Translations are actually kind-of like medicines that were available back in the 1930s vs medicines which we have today. People often brag about the fact that they use the King James only, however they might have missed the fact that this translation is actually “less accessible” here in 2020 because it was translated into uncommonly used words. Also the KJV was translated from documents (those available to translators at their point in history) which were actually quite “younger” as compared to modern translations that were tasked from “older sets” of writings. Finally, understand that there are “free” translations like the NLT, and The Message which value function over details, verses “literal” translations like ESV/NASB, which try to say things exactly how the words were written, and are often much more quirky only because people groups phrase things differently within their own language. The NIV, I’ve found is nicely placed between literal and “free” translations.
Examples of Galatians 5: 10
NASB “I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgement, whoever he is.”
TNIV “I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the price”
NLT “I am trusting the Lord to keep you from false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.”
The “free” translation clears the uncommon language of the others. Paul is warning against those who might teach the church falsely whether the Judaizers; who encouraged that believers ought to replace a system of grace with works, or the gnostics; who denied the humanity of Christ, btw. “Faith without works is a dead faith” (James 2:14), so when I say “a system of grace,” I am not denying that works of the Kingdom, via God’s people ought to be being accomplished.
Bottom line: it’s not that the translations mean different things! It’s just that I often choose to use the “free” translation in my teachings, because it puts confusing texts into words that are commonplace. That said, I enjoy reading different translations, AND you might invest in a Study Bible. The notes at the bottom are well worth the extra $, and help greatly with texts that are confusing.
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.” (1 Tim 1:17).
He’s the One waiting for you so DIG up the “good earth” of Scripture, evaluate it, and let us discover daily “how high, how deep, and how wide is the love of Christ!”