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Throughout my life, my goal has been to search out and share lasting answers to life’s problems. Enormous pressures are upon the youth and families of our day, as indicated by recent census data. In 1960, only 1/20 of all children in the U.S. were born to single women. In the year 2000, this number jumped to a shocking 1/3 of all children who were born. In 1965, the out-of-wedlock births were 7% of total births. In 2000, they were 33%. Traditional families made up of a married couple with children under 18 declined from 40% of all households in 1970 to 24% in 2000. With tragic statistics like this, the need for practical answers and preventive training should be a number-one priority for anyone wanting to help troubled youth and parents in our day.
I am committed to the authority of God’s Word in every part of my teaching. It is not important what I think, but what God states is important. Every teaching is subject to the spirit and the message of all of God’s Word, not just an isolated verse here or there. I have learned that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible. Passages in one portion of Scripture are amplified and clarified with other passages. As I have presented seminars to thousands of pastors over the years, I always appreciated the questions and comments that they have shared with me that have caused me to dig deeper into God’s Word. I am also grateful for the wise counsel of many Godly scholars who have shared their wisdom and understanding of Scripture with me.
The Bible states that no Scripture is of any private interpretation. This means that a passage has only one interpretation as revealed by the Holy Spirit, Who guides us into all truth. However, there can be many applications of a passage. For example, the eighth commandment is “Thou shalt not steal.” The interpretation of this is that we should not take that which does not belong to us, but there are many applications. We can steal time from an employer, money from a parent, or recognition from one who is more deserving.
It is in the application of Scriptural truth that much controversy arises, because there are those who believe that if a Biblical text does not directly state the application, it cannot be made. This approach to Scripture is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and to the example of Christ, Paul, and others, because all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Paul affirms that things written in the Old Testament are applicable instruction for us today so that we will not fall in the ways that they did. (See I Corinthians 10:6, Romans 15:4.)
When Jesus was about to heal a man on the Sabbath, He diffused the objections of the religious leaders by pointing out that the Law made provision for getting an ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath. Therefore, he could use that same provision to release a lame man from his infirmity. The Law did not refer to a man, but to only an ox. However, Jesus made the application consistent with the spirit of the law of love. Paul did the same thing when he urged believers to give financial support to their pastors. He based his instruction on the Old Testament provision of not muzzling the ox that treads out the corn. He goes on to confirm his use of this application by saying, “Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope” (I Corinthians 9:9–10).
There does need to be great caution in making applications of Scripture, because wrong applications can be made. The determining factor is whether the application is based on obedience to God’s ways and a spirit of genuine love, or is based on justifying our ways and a spirit of selfishness.
Satan used Scripture in tempting Jesus, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). Satan deceitfully left off the part of the verse which would have given it an entirely different application. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:11). Our ways are to be directed by God, not by Satan.
The Pharisees also made a wrong application of Scripture when they dedicated their belongings to God in order to avoid giving financial help to their aging parents. Jesus condemned this and pointed out that, by their application, they made void the Law of God. The Pharisees also misapplied the instruction of Moses about divorcing a wife. Jesus reproved them for using a provision of the Law that was designed for those with hardness of heart. He then went back to the Creation design and made the correct application concerning marriage.
In the right application of Scripture, the ways of God are honored and genuine love is demonstrated. In the wrong application of Scripture, our ways are justified and the principles of love are violated. On this basis, Jesus said that the two great commandments were: to love God and love our neighbor, and on these two commands hang all the law and the prophets. (See Matthew 22:37–40.)
Copyright © 2002–2011, William (Bill) Gothard. All Rights Reserved.