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That Was So 15 Minutes Ago!

Did you know that in the 1700's Europeans


associated the color yellow with heretics?
Virtually nobody wanted to be seen wearing
yellow! You might call it a social taboo.
But an increase in exports from China, including
brightly colored fabrics, essentially reconstructed
the cultural view of the color. In China, yellow was
considered a very auspicious color associated
with the emperor. It wasnt long before yellow
became all the rage.
Dictionary.com defines the word trend as the
general course of prevailing tendency, or drift.
Cultural trends and fads spring up daily and most
often die out just as quickly.
Such rapid turnover and general fickleness has
given rise to humorous sayings like, "Pink is the
new black," or, "That was so fifteen minutes
ago!" And while we may chuckle to ourselves at
the grain of truth in such quips, there is a far

greater and more disturbing danger embedded


in this cultural mindset than initially meets the
eye.

To Each His Own


The danger I'm speaking of goes beyond fashion
trends and one-hit-wonders to the core cultural
belief that truth is relative. What was in yesterday
is not today. What was right then is not
necessarily right now. What works for you is your
truth, and what works for me is mine.
This prevailing attitude asserts that there can be
no absolute truthit is unknowable or at the very
least constantly changing with the times.
In the wake of such beliefs, society has begun to
redefine its terms of right and wrong. If we can all
make our own rules to live by, then who really has
authority over us? To each his own, as long as
nobody gets hurt, right?

And God Said...


Unlike the world around us, the church doesnt
have to make up its own rules to live byGod
has already given them to us! As Christians, we
believe God is our authority and the Bible is his
inerrant word, given to us as a foundation for our
life in Christ (Matt. 7:24).
The phrase and God said occurs eight times on
the first page of Genesis alone. The words
uttered after them are the very sparks that ignited
Creation!
Psalm 33 puts it eloquently: "By the word of the
Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by
the breath of his mouth... For he spoke and it
came to be; he commanded, and it stood
firm" (v. 6,9, emphasis mine).
The power, durability, and credibility of Gods
word is affirmed throughout Scripture: Your
word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my
path (Ps. 119:105); the word of our God
stands forever (Isa. 40:8); Every word of God is
flawless (Prov. 30:5).
With such a resounding endorsement one would
expect to find a consistency throughout the
church in regards to its biblical teachings and
practicesand yet this is not so.
Some churches perform same-sex marriages, and
others dont. One church allows women to be
lead pastors while another does not. Some
churches even accept Darwins theory of
evolution as the scientific cliff notes for Genesis.
If the word of the Lord is indeed right and
true (Ps. 33:4), why, then, do we see such
inconsistency across the board?

Did God Really Say?

and sowing discord within the church. And in this


modern age of intellectual competence, lofty
educations and scholarly criticism, were buying it
hook, line, and sinker.

Tossed by the Waves


Over the past 100 years, modern criticism has
cast a spotlight on the human features of
Scriptureits style, language, composition,
history, and culture. Yet it has done little to
further our knowledge of the word of God.

Scrutinizing biblical
statements in the name
of scholarship has
eroded confidence in the
effectiveness of personal
Bible study.
In fact, by focusing on the human aspects of the
Bible, weve clouded our awareness of the divine
nature of its words. Scrutinizing biblical
statements in the name of scholarship has eroded
confidence in the effectiveness of personal Bible
study.
Christians today have fallen into the trap of
equating church traditions and the words of
scholars with the Word of God. We accept these
rituals and pronouncements blindly, without even
so much as a glance at Scripture to see for
ourselves if what is being taught is lining up with
Gods word.

In Genesis 3, the unfolding temptation and fall of


manthe corruption and subsequent death of all
Creationbegins with the words did God really
say.

We are operating under the assumption that the


church is infallible rather than the truth that, given
the slightest opportunity, Satan can and will lead
us astray.

Satan still uses this line today. It is his most


subtle, most effective means of planting doubt

The reward for our negligence is a growing


ignorance among Christians as to what Scripture

actually says. We find ourselves tossed back and


forth by the waves, and blown here and there by
every wind of teaching and by the cunning and
craftiness of men in their deceitful
scheming (Eph. 4:14).

Suspicious Minds
Many churches have adopted unbiblical practices
and policies in the name of inclusion and keeping
the gospel relevant to the times. This has given
rise to many false teachers who are, bit by bit,
leading the church astray.
In his book Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell says:
This is part of the problem with continually
insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian
faith must be a belief that Scripture alone is our
guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction
to abuses by the church, a group of believers
during a time called the Reformation claimed that
we only need the authority of the Bible. But the
problem is that we got the Bible from the church
voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm
the Bible as Gods Word, in the same breath I
have to affirm the when those people voted, God
was somehow present, guiding them to do what
they did. When people say that all we need is the
Bible, it is simply not true (pp. 67-68).
Mr. Bells ideas about God and the Bible
demonstrate an extremely low view of the
sovereignty of God and an abnormally high view
of the power of man, two errors that continually
show up throughout his book.
The present books of the Bible are the right ones
because God made it so, not because of a vote
instituted by a group of men. As a result of Robs
God-removed, man-centered view of Scripture,
he teaches its powerlessness and encourages its
rejection.
Rob Bell has stated on more than one occasion
that we cannot consult a 2,000 year old text for
answers to todays queries and problems.
Doubting the authority of Gods word is
dangerous territory. I think Elvis said it best

himself: Why can't you see what you're doing to


me when you don't believe a word I say? We
can't go on together with suspicious minds

Trending Now
Velvet Elvis is just one of many silver-tongued and
popular writings that have surfaced in an effort to
invalidate Scripture and mask the churchs
hypocrisy. They seek to undermine the Word of
God from one main standpoint: cultural
relevance.
As a country, we have taken great strides in the
area of womens rights and equality. From the first
official gathering devoted to womens suffrage in
July of 1848, to the graduation of the first female
Army Rangers in August 2015, we are well on the
path to eliminating the notion of gender-based
roles altogether.
In the wake of such seemingly beneficial and
commendable cultural developments, its no
wonder the church squirms at the idea of
teaching on the topics of marital submission,
gender roles, and the order of authority.

God doesnt build the


stability of his identity
and character on the
shifting sands of popular
opinion.
Some have argued from the position that the
Bibles teaching on such matters was only
relevant to the culture of the time, and therefore
can be rejected today. After all, if the church
looks too different from culture, wouldnt that be
a hindrance to the gospel?
But God doesnt build the stability of his identity
and character on the shifting sands of popular
opinion. Whats trending now will change

tomorrow; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday


and today and forever (Heb. 13:8).

confusion, adding to and subtracting from the


word of God to conform it to our own purposes.

Shaken

We walk a dangerous line when we use the


words, "What God actually meant..." This is
giving ground, plain and simple.

Another common argument dividing the church is


the issue of homosexuality. Here are a handful of
perspectives that have been adopted by the
Institute for Progressive Christianity in support of
same-sex marriage and relations:

It is an affirmative good that stands alongside


straight marriage and committed monastic
celibacy as a revelation of God's self in the
world.
The logical coherence of the core Christian
doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation,
the Resurrection and the Ascension is
improved through the integration of gay
marriage into the Christian conception of
marriage.

Our understanding of marriage as a


metaphor of Christs relationship with the
Church is strengthened by assimilating gay
marriage into that metaphor.

Some scholars maintain that scripture in the


original languages contains no prohibition of
homosexuality, but does record same-sex
marriage.

The biblical references to homosexuality were


uttered in the context of promiscuous samesex practices of Hellenistic cultures and
cultures surrounding the people of Israel.

Do you see a pattern here? We are slowly


eroding our foundation through the integration
and assimilation of culture into Scripture, the
world into the Word. In doing so, we find
ourselves unstable, unsure, and spiritually shaken.

Interpretation? Or Giving
Ground?
Our sophisticated and contextual interpretations
of Scripture have muddied the waters with

We must trust in the inerrancy of the Word and in


the promise that "all scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16,
emphasis mine).
If we give ground here in any capacity, we invite
the mistrust of God's authority and of the very
salvation we profess in Christ!

Culture & Controversy


This does not mean, however, that an
understanding of the culture of the time cannot
be beneficial.

An understanding of
the culture of the time
will never negate the
truth of Scripture
Knowing when something was written, to whom,
and why is crucial when evaluating Scripture.
From this we are able to discern God's intended
meaning in the text. We can then draw out the
inspired truth within and yield to what it says.
An understanding of the culture of the time will
never negate the truth of Scripture; it will always
serve to illuminate its relevance for us today!
For example, an understanding of cultural
traditions is important for controversial verses like
1 Corinthians 11:310:
Now I want you to realize that the head of
every man is Christ, and the head of woman
is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every

man who prays or prophesies with long hair


dishonors his head. And every woman who
prays or prophesies with no covering of hair
on her head dishonors her headshe is just
like one of the shorn women. If a woman
has no covering, let her be for now with short
hair, but since it is a disgrace for a woman to
have her hair shorn or shaved, she should
grow it again. A man ought not to have long
hair, since he is the image and glory of God;
but the woman is the glory of man. For man
did not come from woman, but woman from
man; neither was man created for woman,
but woman for man. For this reason, and
because of the angels, the woman ought to
have a sign of authority on her head.
Many people believe this passage speaks about
the cultural tradition that says women should
wear veils when worshipping. This tradition has
its roots in the Old Testament when Moses veiled
his face after witnessing the glory of the Lord on
Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:3435).

Controversy is never an
excuse not to obey!
However, a study of Scripture reveals it was never
a direct command from God, nor was Moses
establishing a standard for worship when he wore
the veil. Paul also confronts this man-made
teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians (2
Cor. 3:1218).
So what does this passage mean? Does it hold
any relevance for us today? The answer is yes.
Though it may spark many a debate and stir up
emotions, controversy is never an excuse not to
obey! Let's take a look at Corinthian culture and
the context of the letter Paul wrote to the church.

Freedom & Divine Order


Corinth was a Greek city, and prostitution was a
large part of their worship ceremonies. The
priestesses of the Temple of Aphrodite were
known by their shaved heads. At this time in
history, the church of Corinth was relatively
young. Many of the women who had been saved
and liberated by Jesus had been full participants
in these ceremonies, and still bore the
"uncovered head" of a prostitute.
The heart of the issue Paul was getting at in his
letter is decency and order. A further study of 1
Corinthians reveals many issues springing up
within the church due to disorderly conduct (1
Cor. 3, 5, 6, 10). These women were acting out in
their freedom beyond what was proper and
edifying for the congregation.
Jesus sets us freebut it is not a freedom
without boundaries. God is a God of divine order,
and His commands are always for our benefit.
The key is understanding God's design.

Yellow Lines
When Paul says, "For man did not come from
woman, but woman from man; neither was man
created for woman but woman for man," he is
not making a value statement. He is not
instituting the superiority of men over women
he is highlighting God's divine order, established
from Creation.
Divine order and appropriate limitation is the
application in these verses. The limitation being
that women should not seek to look and act like
men, and men should not look or act like women.
The divine order being a relationship of
submission from the woman to the man.
The word "submit" creates great discomfort in
our society today due to many false perceptions
and abuses of the command. We must remember
that Jesus, being in very nature God, was
willingly, freely, and gladly submitted to the will of
the Father (Jn. 5:19). His model extends to his

church and the Christian home, and we do great


error in trying to subvert it.
Allow me to bring some clarity with an
illustration. When driving, we submit ourselves to
the rules of the road. We obey street signs and
traffic lights, and we trust that other drivers on
the road will do the same. We have faith that
those two yellow lines in the middle of the road
will protect us from cars traveling in the opposite
direction. When we submit ourselves to these
rules, we are safe. Submission brings peace.
It is when there is a lack of submission that
problems occur. Drivers who speed or run stop
signs or pass illegally endanger their own lives
and the lives of other drivers on the road. So we,
in neglecting our responsibility to submit to
God's commands, endanger ourselves and those
around us.
Twisting Scriptures to our own devices and
ignoring the truths and commands found in them
will lead to our ultimate destruction.
"Above all, you must understand that no
prophecy of Scripture came about by the
prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never
had its origins in the will of man, but men spoke
from God as they were carried along by the Holy
Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Every word God spoke
had meaning, and it still has meaning for us
today.

Dead or Alive?
Attempts to interpret Scripture through the lens
of culture, in an effort to negate its truth and
application, renders its meaning lifeless.

Lifeless words cannot


change lives!
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God's word is "alive
and active". God himself says, "...so is my word
that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to

me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and


achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isa.
55:11).
Lifeless words cannot change lives! Jesus said,
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words
will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).
We are all sinners in need of a Savior. This truth is
unchanging. Cross-cultural. Timeless. We dont
need to misinterpret the gospel into relevance
it already is!

Plain and Simple


Thou shalt understand, therefore, that the
scripture hath but one sense, which is but the
literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and
ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth,
whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or
go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal
sense, thou canst not but go out of the way.
Nevertheless, the scripture uses proverbs,
similitudes, riddles, or allegories, as all other
speeches do; but that which the proverb,
similitude, riddle or allegory signifieth, is ever the
literal sense, which thou must seek out
diligently. (William Tyndale)
God meant for Scripture to be read in its plain,
natural, intended sense. Regardless of cultural
context, its words are divinely inspired and carry
truths that outlive and extend beyond their
historical audiences. Truths that are still relevant
and applicable for the church today.
We must not allow our own theological or cultural
preferences to divert us from accepting what the
text actually asserts. Our methods of interpreting
Scripture must rely on our express faith in its truth
and consistency as Gods Word.
Our approach must be harmonistic; believing that
Gods utterance is not self-contradictory. If clarity
on a specific point is needed, it is best to let
Scripture interpret itself.
Above all, the Christian must approach the study
of Scripture in humble dependence on the Holy
Spirit. Confidence in ones own powers of

discernment is an effective barrier to spiritual


understanding. We can learn nothing of spiritual
significance without the Holy Spirits guidance
(Jn. 16:13).
J.I. Packer said, Our own intellectual
competence is not the test and measure of divine
truth. It is not for us to stop believing because we
lack understanding, or to postpone believing till
we can get understanding, but to believe in order
that we may understand Faith first, sight
afterwards, is Gods order, not vice versa; and the
proof of the sincerity of our faith is our willingness
to have it so.

A House on the Rock


Therefore everyone who hears these words of
mine and puts them into practice is like a wise
man who built his house on the rock. The rain
came down, the streams rose, and the winds
blew and beat against that house; yet it did not
fall, because it had its foundation on the
rock (Matt. 7:2425).
The Bible is our foundation. Its words give us
solid ground on which to build our faith so that
we might weather the storms of life. The
commands found within its pages are of the very
same breath the fills our lungs even now, giving
us life and leading us in love.
Mark Twain once said, It ain't those parts of the
Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is
the parts that I do understand.
May our understanding and knowledge of
Scripture lead us to obedience rather than
rejection. And may we not forsake solid ground
for shifting sands, but cling to the words spoken
by our great and loving Godwords that have
the power to transform hearts and change lives!
Words that have the power to save (Jas. 1:21).