Friday, April 28, 2017

How To Discern, Test & Judge Rightly

jonathan-cahn-false-teacherJONATHAN CAHN-  JEWISH MYSTICISM / EXTRA-BIBLICAL SOURCES/ PROPHETIC FRAUD/ AND REVEALER OF BOGUS MYSTERIES

FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE  "How To Discern, Test & Judge Rightly" BY SANDY SIMPSON JONATHAN CAHN  PICTURED ABOVE IS BEING USED AS MY PRIMARY EXAMPLE. 


In running a web site with thousands of articles, 1-2 million hits per month from all over the world, and hundreds of e-mails per week, I have come to realize, with time, that there is a terrible problem in Christendom today. The problem stems from an existential subjective view of the world that has filtered into the church from secular society, but also from the teachings of heretical wolves who have taught an entire generation of churchgoers completely unbiblical methods of discernment or to get rid of any discernment altogether.
Let me start out this chapter by telling you what methods are being used for "discernment" today that don't have biblical support, then I will move on to the ways in which the Bible does tell us to test teaching, prophecy and actions.
The following criteria are what many people who call themselves Christians are using to test reality and truth today:
(1) Experiences, manifestations
(2) Feelings, emotions
(3) Numbers of followers
(4) Numbers of people who claim to be saved
(5) The size of a church or movement
(6) Signs and wonders, purported miracles (whether real or false)
(7) Subjective testimonies
(8) Hearsay and rumors
(9) How successful and rich a teacher is
(10) If a person speaks with authority
(11) The atmosphere of a meeting
None of the above criteria being used by many churchgoers today are cited in the Bible as ways we are to test, discern and judge rightly.
Experiences
Experiences and manifestations can be from many sources; physical, emotional, mental, paranormal/demonic, or from the Lord. ALL experiences need to be tested against the testimony and teachings of the tried and true written word of God. "Slain in the spirit" is an occult technique imported into Christianity, and has nothing to do with what we are taught in the Scriptures. The prophets, Apostles and Jesus Christ did not do it or teach it as something that should be done. If you have an experience, you had better check the source. Think twice before you submit to people laying hands on you for whatever reason.
Feelings
Mormons made the "burning in the breast" standard fare for their followers, but now a large cross section of Christendom has been taught to judge everything by similar criteria. Modern Christians are, for the most part, not being taught to submit to the Word of God -- but rather to the way they feel emotionally. The phrase "I think" has been replace by the phrase "I feel". This is partially due to influences from the New Age through movies like Star Wars. But in the last twenty years teachers in the Church have taught a whole generation to rely on their feelings.
Emotions are a part of the realm of the flesh and the mind (soul). Emotions can be used by God, but often they are a way for the enemy to get Christians away from the truths of the Bible and gain a foothold in their lives.
Numbers Of Followers
Many leaders have large numbers of followers, including cultists and other religious "gurus". In fact some of the most popular leaders, who have the most followers, are not Christian. Numbers of followers is not a good test of the authenticity of a leader or his ministry.
Numbers Claiming Salvation
Ultimately, only God knows who is saved. Believers can certainly tell if people are false prophets and heretics and must be rejected, but we are not the ultimate judge of their salvation. One fact is certain. When someone claims to be saved they will evidence the fruit of the Spirit, believe in and teach sound doctrine, and not make false prophesies.
Church Size
Church size means nothing in the realm of discernment. God looks for quality over quantity, regardless of what "apostles" like C. Peter Wagner claim:
"... we ought to see clearly that the end DOES justify the means. What else possible could justify the means? If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method. If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?" (C. Peter Wagner, "Your Church Can Grow - Seven Vital Signs Of A Healthy Church", 1976, pg. 137. - emphasis in original)
Quantitative judgments are of men. The size of a church could be due to God blessing a ministry and people being truly saved or due to the oratorical skills of a preacher. Big clubs are not necessarily good clubs. Church size is no way to test a ministry.
Signs And Wonders
Signs and wonders are a dime a dozen today and have just as many evidences in false churches the occult as they do in biblical Christianity. Jesus did state that those who saw him perform miracles should have believed, though for the most part they did not. They couldn't even tell the signs of the times (Matt. 16;1-4). People today love to be able to claim they saw or experienced a wonder or miracle from God. Perhaps this is because they want to feel like they have been touched by God personally, are holy, or simply want to be accepted by their peers. If you are going to claim you have seen or experienced a miracle from God, then that miracle must be held up to biblical criteria to prove it is a biblical Divine healing as opposed to many other forms of healing. I cover this subject later on in the chapter called "Test Everything". True believers are careful not to use deceptive methods, to lie about experiences and signs, in order to gain converts.
2 Corinthians 4:2  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Subjective Testimonies
Testimonies are nice and can even be an inspiration (if they are true), but they are also inherently subjective. In other words, they are hard, if not impossible, to prove objectively, unless incontrovertible proof exists. Don't allow testimonies, uplifting as they may be, to get in the way of biblical methods of testing. Don't rely on testimonies to shape your belief system. Just as you would test a cake to see if it is done by manually inserting a toothpick, instead of relying on the good smell of the cake and the feelings you get from it's aroma, don't use subjective methods to test stories--use the objective Word of God.
Hearsay
Most stories are being passed along today as hearsay. They often gain a little here and there until they have been blown all the way out of proportion from the original account. Don't pass along rumors, gossip and stories unless you check them out thoroughly. In this day and age of the Internet, that has become a much easier task, so there is no excuse to avoid researching claims from all angles. Don't just take people's word for it. Do the math yourself.
Success Of A Teacher
Anyone can be successful given the tools, the gifts, the right connections and the right circumstances. Some of the most godly men and women in the church have been dirt poor. Don't be swayed by rich televangelists. They have often raised their money off the backs of the less fortunate, the naïve, the hopeless, the poor, the fatherless, the widows. True success is not measured by money, power, number of followers, or any of the criteria of the "American Dream". Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart. We can get a pretty clear picture of the heart of a person if we test what they say and what they do against the Scriptures.
Apparent Authority
Many men and women are capable of speaking with authority. It can be a natural gift, a demonic gift or a gift from God. But it is no way to test whether a person is a true or false teacher. Authority can be put on, learned, acted. True authority from God is accompanied by true teaching, true prophecy and the fruit of the Spirit.
Atmosphere
Benny Hinn claims he needs an "atmosphere" to do his "miracles".
Interviewer: If Benny Hinn is real, he'll go into the hospitals and cure everyone there.
Benny Hinn: "I've been told that many times. What I tell them is quite simple. Healing most times needs an atmosphere of faith. I have gone to hospitals. I've done it actually many times or people's homes and pray for them. Most times, they cannot get healed. … God's people make it happen; bring this atmosphere of faith ..." (Benny Hinn, interview by Marla Weech, of WFTV , "Inside Central Florida")
When did the Apostles need an atmosphere to heal?
Beware of testing meetings by the atmosphere created there. Like and Amway meeting or halftime at a football game, an atmosphere can be manipulated. God does not need an stadium full of screaming Benny Hinn fans burning with fleshly passion to move. What He requires is simple obedience to His Word.
BIBLICAL DISCERNMENT
There are three important biblical ways in which we are to use discernment.
(1) Test all teaching for sound doctrine, and especially against the core doctrines of the Faith as laid down in the sixty six books of the Bible (see the chapter "Know What You Believe").
(2) Test all prophesies to see if they are biblical and if the predictions of a prophet all come true.
(3) Test their lives, words and actions for the fruit of the Spirit.
TEST THEIR TEACHINGS
The Church and individual Christians, are commanded by the Lord to reject false teachers -- heretics.
Titus 3:10  A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; (KJV)
A heretic is defined by Peter as one who lays error alongside of truth, secretly introducing destructive heresies.
2 Peter 2:1  But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Christians are to reject those who preach a false gospel because they are condemned by the Lord..
Galatians 1:8-9  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Even Paul, a foundational Apostle, encouraged his listeners to test his teaching against the written Word of God, and he stated that those who teach must not "go beyond what is written.".
Acts 17:11  Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
1 Corinthians 4:6  Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
Believers are to be discerning.
Phil. 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-- to the glory and praise of God.
Proverbs 15:14  The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
Proverbs 17:24  A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
Proverbs 18:15  The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.
Proverbs 28:7  He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father
Proverbs 3:21  My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;
Why do we test teaching against the Scriptures? Because we are commanded to remain in sound doctrine, to keep the faith, to follow the teachings of the prophets, Apostles and Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:3  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Titus 1:9  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Titus 2:1  You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
False teachers are liars and do not remain in sound doctrine.
1 Timothy 1:10  for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers -- and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine
TEST THE SPIRITS
We are warned by the Lord to test every spirit because many false prophets have gone out.
1 John 4:1  Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
How do we test the spirits? By comparing what they are teaching and prophesying to the Scriptures, and if they are living in the fruit of the Spirit. How do we do that? First we must be a believer in Christ to test anything rightly.
Romans 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?
Then we test our own words and actions to be sure we are in the Faith and in sound doctrine.
Galatians 6:4  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
How much are we supposed to test? Everything.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
JUDGE RIGHTLY
Are we to judge? Certainly. We are not to judge hypercritically (Matt. 7:1) -- in other words, judging someone while doing the same thing ourselves. We are not the final judge of anyone's salvation. But we are to judge what people teach and prophesy. Paul commanded those who listened to him to judge what he was saying.
1 Corinthians 10:15  I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.
We must learn to judge rightly, now, because someday we will judge the earth and the angels with Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:3  Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
We are told by the Lord to judge those inside the Church because God judges those outside. We are to reject heretics and expel wicked men from the assembly of believers because if they are allowed to remain they will leaven the whole lump.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
TEST THEIR PROPHECY
We are to test prophecy to see if it comes true and is biblical. A true prophet is 100% accurate because he worships God in Spirit and in truth and speaks the truth. We must reject false prophets and remove them from the assembly of believers.
Duet. 13:1-5  If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
False prophets may have a good track record, but they are never 100% accurate. However, they may be able to fool people into thinking they do.  That's where the teaching test comes in, and why it is listed as the first test of discernment.  Some prophets can look really good, but if they are teaching heresy you can be sure it is a test from God to see if you will "love Him with all your heart".  John tells us that if we love the Lord we will obey His commands (John 14:21, 15:10; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6).  The Bible commands us over and over again to test, discern and judge teaching, prophecy and fruit.  We must reject heretics who are unrepentant.  If we do not obey the Lord in this, we are proving that we do not really love Him.
Deuteronomy 18:20  But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."
We don't put false prophets to death today, but we are to remove ourselves from their presence.
Deuteronomy 18:22  If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
The Lord is against those who give false prophesies.
Jeremiah 23:32  Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 27:15 'I have not sent them,' declares the LORD. 'They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.'"
Those who follow false prophets will share in their judgment.
Jeremiah 5:31  The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?
Jeremiah 23:31  Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.'
Jeremiah 27:15  'I have not sent them,' declares the LORD. 'They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.'"
Ezekiel 13:9  My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
We are not to even listen to false prophecy.
Jeremiah 23:16  This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
False prophets are often those who claim they had a dream or a vision of the Lord or from the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:25  "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!'
False prophets are actually using divination and the delusion of their own minds instead of communicating with God.
Jeremiah 14:14  Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.
Ezekiel 22:28  Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says'-- when the LORD has not spoken.
TEST THEIR FRUIT
Matt. 7:15-20 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus,by their fruit you will recognize them.
The final test is to compare the words and actions of any teacher or prophet with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:18-25. Notice that the passage above comes right after the passage most "Christians" quote today to try to make a case that we are not to judge at all, namely Matt. 7:1.  If you read on you realize that "judge not" is not to be applied to every situation.  The Bible has specific criteria on how to judge and how not to judge.  In judging fruit, it is also helpful to look at the list of things in Galatians 5:18-25 that are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.
If a person falsely prophesies, even once, they are likely using divination and false visions. Are they trying to build a following and promote themselves, gaining fame? Then they likely have "selfish ambition". Do they promote "drunk in the Spirit"? That's the sin of "drunkenness". If they are stripping the poor of their money with crooked money-raising schemes, that's not the fruit of kindness. If their meetings are marked by wild manifestations, they do not have the fruit of peace or self-control. If they are cocky mockers they do not have the fruit of gentleness.
Gal. 5:18-25  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
The Lord will cut off anyone who does not bear fruit. This means anyone who does not have the fruit of the Spirit and has not been doing the will of the Father.
John 15:2  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
CONCLUSION
Finally, we must understand that those who are false teachers, false prophets, without the fruit of the Spirit are a blight on true Christianity. We must separate ourselves from them.
Rom. 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them
Eph. 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them
2 Thess. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh DISORDERLY, and not after the tradition which ye received of us 2 Tim. 3:5,7 Concerning the last days, he says that some will have "a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away" for such people are "never able to come to the knowledge of the truth"
2 John 10:11 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds "
2 Cor. 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no the unclean thing; and I will receive you
Jude 1:12  These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm-- shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted-- twice dead.
We all were once in darkness. Now that we are in the light we must walk in the light, rejecting darkness.
Eph. 5:8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

FOR MORE DETAILS WITH REGARDS TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE BOOK BELOW BY GOING TO THE FOLLOWING LINK:
www.deceptioninthechurch.com






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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Principles for Literal Bible Interpretation

By Cooper P. Abrams, III

(Revised August 2001)

* (All rights reserved)

Introduction:         It is apparent from all the contradictory teachings of the many denominations and cults of Christendom, that they all cannot be right. For the most part, each claim to use the Bible as the source of their teachings. For example, most evangelical churches teach that salvation is by one's faith through God's grace apart works. However, some churches emphatically teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. Both may claim the Bible as the source of their belief. Most Protestants practice baptism by sprinkling whereas Baptists baptize by immersion. The Roman Catholic Church teaches it is the only true church, and that Peter was the first pope based on their interpretation of Matthew 16:18. No one else outside Catholicism accepts this interpretation.
        Even the "Christian" cults such as the Jehovah's Witnesses use the Bible to deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the existence of Hell, and most carnal doctrines of the Christian faith. The Mormons, another cult, uses the Bible verse in 1 Corinthians 15:29 as the source for their practice of baptisms for the dead. No one else accepts this interpretation. Seventh Day Adventists have their church services on Saturday, the Jewish "Sabbath Day" and teach Michael the Arch Angel is Christ. They teach this based on their understanding of the Bible's instruction concerning the Sabbath. Pentecostal churches and the modern Charismatic movement teach "tongues" and miracle healings as valid gifts of the Holy Spirit today. All fundamentalists and many other Christian denominations strongly disagree.

         It is a fact that many different sects of "Christendom" use the Bible to prove contradictory teachings. Paul Lee Tan, in his book Literal Interpretation of the Bible says, "Apparently the Bible can be made to prove almost anything."1 All claim that the Bible is the Word of God. Considering all the contradictions, which are so apparent, one must ask and get the answer to the question, "Who is right?" Surely, God is not teaching, for example, that one is saved by good works and also teaching man is saved by God's Grace without works.

         1 Cor. 14:33, says "God is not the author of confusion." Apparently, there has been great latitude taken in the interpretation of what the Bible says. The word "interpretation" means to arrive at the original meaning the writer intended when he penned the words. The original meaning the author intended is the interpretation and must be found before you can apply it or make application of the passage. A faulty interpretation will produce a faulty application and therefore it is vital to correctly interpret the Scriptures.

         The great need today then in determining what the Bible really teaches is a correct method of interpretation. If the Bible is the Word of God and God's revelation to man, then surely God would not give us His revelation without a way to discern what He meant. For God not to give us a way to interpret the Bible is to leave the interpretation of Scripture to human wisdom that is at best faulty. To have the interpretation of Scripture rest on man's wisdom is to have "flesh" interpreting that which is spiritual.

        Often we hear the platitude that we must not "major on the minors" which is saying that part of the Word of God in not as important as other truths. Another concept purports that we really cannot be sure about what the Scripture teaches and therefore it is not important. For example some would say it is not important whether a church baptizes by immersion or sprinkling as it is only a matter of one's heart. Does it really matter with God and how do we then determine if the kind of thinking is correct or not? The only place to turn is to God Himself and the only non subjective place to seek the answer is His written word. Therefore to resolve the matter and find what God wants we must determine what "thus saith the Lord" because God is the Authority. The makes it paramount to be able to interpret the Bible and determine its absolute meaning.

         The problem today is not, that God did not give us a method of interpretation. God gave us a method, but man has refused to use it or not been diligent in seeking it! The method that God gave is the literal method, or what man has labeled the Grammatical-Historical Method. The Grammatical-Historical method interprets Scripture by taking into consideration the context of a passage, the grammatical uses of the words and the historical setting in which they were written. The literal method, "lets Scripture interpret Scripture" thus it is God who interprets His word for us. It is not a new method in any sense of the word and is the only method in which the Scriptures interpret the Scriptures.

         The literal method is letting God interpret what He has said. Surely, God is best qualified to tell us what He means. The Bible is the complete word of God to man. Revelation 22:18, says man is not to add to the Word of God, the Bible. II Timothy 3:16-17, clearly states that God gave us the Bible. The verses tell us that the Bible is " . . . profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." When God "breathed" on the writers of Scripture they literally produced the Word of God, completely and accurately. The doctrine of "verbal plenary inspiration," means God chose each word God for its specific meaning. When God inspired the writers to use a word it was because that word conveyed a certain meaning. It communicated a certain meaning to those who read it. This means that if we find what was the correct meaning of the word, considering its context, normal and customary usage at the time it was used, we can know the correct interpretation.

         Let us then look at eleven principles of literal interpretation that lets the Scriptures interpret Scripture. When we say let Scripture interpret Scripture we are saying, let God interpret His Word for us.



ELEVEN PRINCIPLES OF THE LITERAL METHOD

OF INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE.

I. FOLLOW THE CUSTOMARY USAGES OF THE LANGUAGE.
             We have dictionaries that are lists of words with their definitions. A word can have several meanings. But a word does have a limited meaning. As an example take the word "mountain." It could be referring to many types of hills of various heights and compositions, but it would NOT be referring to a "tree." The customary, and grammatical meaning of the word "mountain" is a geographical mound or hill of some sort. It would be improper to imply that when the writer used the word "mountain" he was referring to tree or anything else. It could be used figuratively for example a person could say "He was a mountain of strength." But if used in this manner would be clearly apparent in the sentence that this was not a literal mountain but was a metaphor.

             Often, Bible interpreters incorrectly give Scripture an allegorical or so called "spiritual" meaning. Paul Lee Tan uses the following example of an allegorical interpretation of Scripture. One interpreter allegorically interpreted the journey of Abraham from Ur to Haran as an imaginary trip of a Stoic philosopher who left his sensual understanding and after a time arrived back at his senses. Another example of misusing allegory would be to teach that the two pence given to the inn keeper in the parable of Good Samaritan, represented Baptism and Lord's Supper.2 The only proper time to use allegory is when the Scripture itself instructs us to do such as in Galatians 4:24.


    Accepting what the words literally mean is a vital part of this first rule. Unless the passage says otherwise, or is clearly using metaphorical languate give Scripture a literal meaning. It is a well stated rule, "If the literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense."

    A. The example of Revelation 20:6.
      1.For example, Revelation 20:6, states that Christ will reign for one thousand years after the Great Tribulation. This thousand years is called the "Millennium" and the verse "literally" states that the time period is one thousand years. Amillennialists falsely assert that this thousand years is only figurative to support their belief that there will not be a thousand year reign of Christ on earth. They deny there will be a thousand year reign of Christ although the Bible says He will rule for a thousand years. They falsely teach it only means some indefinite period of time.

      2. Here is the problem. If it does not mean a literal one thousand years then how do we go about determining its "real" meaning? Often we are told to let the Bible commentator or scholar tell you, because he has education and incites that the ordinary Christians does not have?! The problem with this answer is which Bible commentator should not go to who you can trust has the correct answer? With what criteria do you test each commentator to see who is correct. Do you see the problem? When you leave the literal method of interpreting Scripture you have no means to determine what the passage says! It is left up to each person to determine for himself what it means without any standard or system of rules to follow. Clearly, this leads to great confusion and makes it impossible to know what God intend to tell us!

      3. It is obvious from reading Revelation 20, that the thousand years is literal and not figurative. There is nothing in the passage that would indicate that the period of time is figurative. Thus if we accept literally what the Bible says we are letting the Bible interpret itself. The correct interpretation of the passage is that Christ will literally reign for one thousand years on earth! The literal meaning of the words tell us what God said. There is no confusion or misunderstanding. The question the "spiritualizers" of the Bible should ask themselves is, why did God say literally that this period of time would be a thousand years? If He had some other period in mind, why did not just plainly state what He meant? Why would He say one thing and mean something else. Clearly, the truth is that God said what He meant. He said one Christ will reign one thousands years because that is what will happen.
    B. Often the Bible does use figurative speech. The art or skill of an interpreter, using the proper rules of interpretation combined with good sense can easily understand the meaning. In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter says that one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. Here the time period is clearly figurative. Note that the verse says one day "is as" a thousand years. It does not say one day is exactly one thousand years. It would be wrong to take this figurative statement as meaning absolutely that a day in heaven is one thousand years. It would also be wrong to use this verse to say that a when the word day is used in Scripture it means one thousand years. Note that here the Bible is interpreting the Bible.
      1. In the Bible, when a verse is not to be interpreted literally it is clearly indicated. By examining the passage we know that Peter in 2 Peter 3:8, used a simile. A simile is figure of speech

      2. Many have tried to use this verse to fix the purported long ages of evolution into the Genesis account of Creation. They believe that this verse allows for great latitude in interpreting the word "day" in Genesis 1 and 2. But if we apply sound rules of interpreting Scripture to the passages in Genesis it too shows that this is a erroneous interpretation.

      3. The word for "Day" is the Hebrew word, "yom." It can mean:

        (1) The period of light (contrasted from the period of darkness).
        (2) A twenty four hour period.
        (3) A general vague "time".
        (4) A point in time.
        (5) A year.

      4. Some want to believe the "days of creation" were long periods of time, which would support evolution. They would suggest the meaning of the word "yom" is "long ages." They point to verses such as Psalm 102:2, which use the word in a general sense. "Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble..." This could mean the day was one twenty hour period or it could mean any length of time of trouble. However, to understand what the word means you must look at the word in all the contexts it is used. Look at verses such as Gen. 7:11, 27:45 Ex. 20:10 Lev. 22:277 Num. 7:24, 30, 36, 40, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72, 77-78 Psa. 88:1, 139:12, Eccl. 8:16. These verses illustrate an unfailing principle found in every use of the word, "yom." Whenever "yom" is modified by a number, or whenever "yom" is used in conjunction with the idea of day and night, or light and darkness, it ALWAYS means a normal twenty four hour day.
      5. The use of a number with the word "yom" is conclusive evidence that the "Days of Creation" were twenty four hour periods of time. The Bible says, ". . .the evening and the morning were the first day." The use of the words, evening, morning and first, limit the meaning of the word "day" to a twenty four hour period of time. That is exactly what is says. To interpret the time period which is stated here as meaning anything but a twenty four hour period is a gross error in interpreting what the writer meant.

      6. Further evidence is found in Exodus 20:11, which supports this conclusion that these days in Genesis 1, are twenty four hour period of time. Note the statement of Moses, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." This is as clear a statement of the time frame of Creation as can be had. Moses in connecting the six day Creation with instructions concerning the Sabbath day is conclusive evidence that the Creation was accomplished in six literal twenty four hours periods.

      7. Peter, in 2 Peter 3:8, is assuring believers that God will keep his promises to us. It is pointing out that God is not confined to time as we know it. The use of the phrase "a thousand years is as but a day with the Lord" is understood as being a metaphorical reference to fact God is not limited by time. He is says what we might perceive as a delay in time is within the structure of God's plan for the world.

      8. If you interpret 2 Peter 3:8, literally, then you would still have only seven thousand years for God to complete the Creation. You would still not have the billions of years the evolutionist insists it took to create the world and life as we know it. In any case you can not honestly use this passage as a precedent to interpret the "days" of Genesis 1, as being anything other than a twenty four hour period of time.
      9. The result of our research produces conclusive evidence that the one thousand years referred to in Revelation 20:6 is literally a time period of a thousand years. We then can be dogmatic is stating the Amillennialists are wrong in their interpretation and the correct interpretation is there will be a literal Millennium.
    C. The rule is this: "Always accept the literal meaning of the words of the passage unless there is strong evidence to do otherwise." As stated earlier, "If the literal sense makes, sense, seek no other sense."

    We are very fortunate to live in this age. Excellent Bible helps are available to help us find the original meaning of a word. Word study books such as Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, enables anyone to research a word without knowing the language and find its original meaning.
    D. It should be understood that this does not mean we are to take metaphorical language literally. For example: Deuteronomy 32:4 states, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." Certainly God is not literally a rock. And the statement is referring to God immutability (unchanging) or absolute trustworthiness.

    D. Syntax. Important to arriving at the correct meaning of a word is the study of syntax. Syntax is the study of the word in is grammatical setting. It deals with understanding the word's grammatical use as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb or part of speech. It also seeks to decide the tense, mood, voice, and case of a word.

    E. When God used a particular word He did so to convey a particular meaning. You cannot ignore the customary and grammatical meaning of a word, in its historical setting and honestly claim to arrive at an interpretation of the passage that God intended. To ignore this principle of sound Biblical interpretation is to destroy the very Word of God itself. God did not give us a subjective and confusing method of understanding His Word. God chose each and every word for its precise meaning and recorded it and reserved it so there would be no confusion. Any other method of examining Scripture other than the literal method is illogical and unacceptable.
II. COMMIT NO HISTORICAL OR CULTURAL BLUNDERS.
    A. The Bible was written over a period of about 1400 years. During that time many historical and cultural changes have taken place. To arrive at the correct meaning of a passage you must consider when the statement was made and the historical and cultural situation surrounding the passage.

    B. The example of God's command to stone false prophets. Deuteronomy 13:5, deals with false prophets in Israel. It states that in Israel false prophets were to be put to death. That is clearly what the passage says and what God commanded Israel to do. Does this mean that Christians today are to put false prophets to death? Obviously, we would not because we live in a different time in history and have a different culture. We live in the Church Age sometimes called the Age of Grace, and dispensationally are not in the Age of the Law as was Israel. God gave the Law to the "nation" of Israel, He did not give it to the Church. The Law was their Constitution, Bill of Rights and system of judicial laws. There is a vast difference between Israel in the Old Testament and Christians in the New Testament. Christians today meet voluntarily in the local assemblies. Churches do not have any political or civic authority over its members.
    God was not addressing Deuteronomy 13:5 to the churches of today and they are not being instructed to stone false prophets. But there is a principle we can learn from this instruction given to Israel and Christians can apply the principle behind the commandment. The basis of this law was the principle God wanted to teach Israel that being that they were to be separated from false teachings. The churches today must keep themselves free from false teachers and thus we can apply the principle behind the law today by denouncing false prophets and remaining separate from them. It would be a wrong application of the passage for Christians today to practice putting false prophets to death. That would be a grave historical blunder.

    C. For example look at the historical setting of the Book of Daniel. In interpreting the Book of Daniel, one would have to consider that Daniel was a captive in Babylon. All the events of his life take place there. This historical information would be essential in understanding the Book of Daniel.

    D. Another example that could be confusing is the use of the names "Judah" and "Israel." Historically, the twelve tribes of Israel divided after the death of King Solomon. It is necessary to understand who the names "Israel" and "Judah" identify. The ten tribes, that occupied the northern area of Palestine, were called Israel. Most times the name "Israel" is referring to the nation as a whole or the twelve tribes. Other times it refers only to the ten northern tribes after the tribes separated after Solomon's death. The Bible addresses the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south as "Judah." The name "Judah" can refer to the Southern Kingdom (the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin). Or it may be referring to Judah alone, as the name of the tribe of David,. You must consider the historical setting of the word's use to know what it refers to.
III. MAKE CHRIST CENTRAL IN ALL INTERPRETATIONS.
            In John 5:38, Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that speak of me. “The whole Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ is central in all Scripture. An example of not taking this principle into consideration would be to say that God had a plan of salvation in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament Christ came with a new plan. It would be saying the Old Testament saints were saved by the Law and the New Testament by Grace. The Book of Hebrews clearly says that the Law and all the sacrifices did not atone for sin. Hebrews 11, states the all the Old Testament saints through faith received the promises of God. Their faith was in the future coming of the Messiah and Savior who would atone for sin. Thus, Christ was central in salvation in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. It was Christ's death on the Cross that saved the Old Testament saints. They trusted in Him as their Messiah, before the fact of His birth, death, burial and resurrection.

            The appearance of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testamanet called "theophanies"3 were actually "Christophanies"4 and were all preincarnate appearances Christ. The title "Angel of the Lord" occurs 52 times in the Old Testament and 27 times the appearance of the Lord is recorded by the phrase "the LORD appeared." The significance of this truth is that Jesus their Messiah had appeared many times to Israel prior prior to His incarnation. Regretfully, their sinful hearts blinded them to the One they had been expecting for 2000 years.


IV. BE CONSCIOUS OF CONTEXT
    A. The context of a text or verse refers to its setting within a larger portion of Scripture. It refers to the verses that occur before and after the text. This would include the paragraph, chapter and book. The situation surrounding the text is relevant in understanding its meaning. The writers of Scripture wrote in the environment in which they lived and this is why knowing the background, culture and current situation of the a Scripture passage is so important. Further the writers were being inspired by God to present biblical truth. This truth is learned "Line upon line, precept upon precept" and therefore the correct interpretation of a verse or phrase is absolutely dependent on the whole of the context in which it is stated.

    B. For an example look at 1 Corinthians 15:32: The verse ends with the words, "let us eat, drink for tomorrow we die." Without considering the context of this phrase quoted by itself would appear to be saying that Paul was teaching a person is to live a carefree life, getting all the "gusto" they can. A look at the context of the statement shows that Paul was teaching quite the opposite. The statement is a reference to worldly philosophy that only lives for the moment and ignores the future. Paul was instructing the Corinthians that there is certainly life after death. Man will be judged and held accountable for his deeds. The point Paul made was that if there was no resurrection of the dead there was no reason to live a righteous life. In verse 34, Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for the way they were living. They were living as if there was not going to be a resurrection and this was to their shame! So we see that the context of a verse is very important and absolutely necessary for understanding or interpreting the verse.

    C. Many false teachings and beliefs, that are so prevalent today, can be traced to ignoring of the context of a passage. Mistakes can be made by sincere men. Other times false teachers, who have no fear of God, deliberately deceive their followers.


    D. The Mormons quote 1 Corinthians 15:29, as their text verse in establishing their practice of baptizing the living for the dead. However, Paul in making this statement was not teaching a doctrine. He was using the practice of some pagan religions of baptizing for the dead as an illustration of the universal belief in life after death. How do we know that this is what he meant? Look at the context of the statement. From the context of the statement we can see that the subject of the passage is the resurrection of the dead. Verse 12, establishes the theme Paul is addressing, "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead." Contextually, verse 29 is a part of Paul's answer to this question. You cannot honestly say what this verse means without considering the context and everything said in conjunction to this statement. The Bible nowhere teaches that baptisms for the dead are a Christian practice or Biblical doctrine. This is the only reference to such a practice in the Bible and there is no biblical or extra biblical record of Christians baptizing for the death.
      1. Consider the following statement:
        "If the Egyptians did not believe in life after death why did they go to such great lengths in preparing their dead for the hereafter?"
      2. In making this statement, one would not be establishing the validity of their practices in preparing the dead for the afterlife. Its validity of life after death is not being addressed. Only the fact of their belief in the practice is addressed. There is no hint in the statement that the person condoned the practices of the Egyptians. The point the writer is making is that they must have believed in an after-life because of how they prepared their dead. Likewise, Paul was not establishing a doctrine and telling the Corinthians to do this. He does not say that they were doing this. He was using this practice of pagans as an illustration of the universal belief in life after death even among non-believers.

      3. Let's look at another example of the importance of the context of a statement in the following:

      "Police today arrested Bill Smith for the murder of his wife Jane Smith. The Police reported that Bill Smith later changed his story. In an earlier statement he claimed that John Doe had murdered his wife. He now has made a full confession."

      4. Suppose in reading this statement to you someone would only read the partial statement: "John Doe murdered his wife." This statement by itself would lead you to believe John Doe had murdered his wife. However, if you read the whole paragraph you would see that this was not what the article meant at all.

      You can see in this illustration the importance of the context of a statement. Context helps determine what happened, and what is the correct interpretation of the written statement.

      5. A good rule is: "A text without a context is only a pretext." The definition of the word "pretext" means a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one.5It is impossible to understand any statement without considering its context.
    E. We must consider the following aspects of context in researching a passage.
        Immediate Context
        Broad Context
        Parallel Context
        Historical Context
        Analogical Context

      1. The Immediate Context of the verse means the verses just before and after the verse.
      2. The Broad Context of a verse addresses the verse's place within the chapter and the entire book.

      3. The Parallel Context of the verse refers to other places the word or text is found. It may be in the same book or a different place in Scripture.
    F. An example of studying a parallel context would be consulting a Harmony of the Gospels to find other Scriptures where accounts of an event in the life of Christ are found. In studying the parallel context, if the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, you would study the context of the Old Testament passage. This would help you decide why the New Testament writer quoted it and what it means.
      1. For an example you will find three accounts of the Temptation of Christ. (Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13) Seeking a parallel context could give a greater understanding of a statement or event, as one writer may give information another would omit. Further each of the Gospels was written to a particular audience. Matthew was written to the Jews; Mark to the Romans; and Luke to the Gentiles. Read the account from these three perspectives would aid one in understanding a single account.

      2. Seeking the Historical Context would lead to consulting history to find the setting of the statement. The Historical Context can be found from several places. First would be from the Book that the passage of Scripture is found. Next, you could consult one or several of your Study Helps. Book on archaeological discoveries made in the Bible lands have shed light on many Biblical events. All these findings together would show the current traditions or political situations of the passage. In language studies how a word was used in the past helps reveal what was original meaning.

      3. The Analogical Context is vital to arriving at the proper interpretation of a passage of Scripture. The analogy of a passage of Scripture deals with its resemblance or similarity with the rest of the Bible. This is discussed in detail in the next section. Briefly it means that Scripture does not contradict itself. If the passage you read seems to contradict some other Scripture, then you must study further to understand the passage to resolve the seeming conflict.

        Illustration: The great error today of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements of today that they ignore the context of what the New Testament says about speaking in unlearned languages (tongues). They fail to see the historical setting of who in the New Testament spoke in unlearned languages and why they did so. The also ignore 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, which emphatically states that when the Bible was complete "tongues " would cease and therefore ignore the broad context of this early church sign gift. 
         
        SPECIAL NOTATION: WHAT MR. COOPER IS PRESENTING IN THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH IS KNOWN AS THE DOCTRINE OF CESSATIONISM.   FOR MORE DETAILS REFUTING THIS ARGUMENT GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
         
        The Pre-wrath Rapture people and the Amillennialists totally ignore the dispensational truths concerning God plan for the Jews and mixing up promises and prophesies concerning Israel with the God working with the church. The result of such a careless hermeneutic has produced untold confusion and division. Those with unsound principles of interpretation are weak and immature. It is truly sinful to refuse to study and to apply God’s rules of interpretation. To incorrectly interpret a passage of Scripture is to add or subtract from God's word and is condemned by God. Jesus Christ is the "Logos" meaning "the word of God. You cannot separate Christ from the Word as they are One and the same. Jesus Christ as John 1:1 says is the Word. To tamper with or misuse the Word of God is to defame Christ Himself and to instead of God's truth and lie representing it to be truth. That is a serious error and thus it is vital and absolutely necessary to know what God actually mean by what He said. That is the task of hermeneutics to correctly arrive at presenting a accurate interpretation of what God said.
      4. Every Scripture is interconnected to all other Scriptures. You cannot take a verse or passage out of its context, a way from the other Scripture and interpret it correctly. This leads us to the next principle of interpretation.
V. INTERPRET BY THE ANALOGY OF THE FAITH.
A. The Bible does not contradict itself. God did not make the Bible to be contradictory. If a passage of Scripture seems to contradict other Scriptures the problem is not in the Bible but with the interpreter.

B. Some may object to the premise that the Bible does not contradict itself. However, at the heart of understanding the Bible is understanding what the Bible says about itself. The Bible claims to be the Very Word of God! To attack and discredit the Bible is to attack and discredit God. God is totally capable of giving us this revelation accurately and did so when He inspired each word, paragraph, chapter, and book of the Bible.

C. The term "Inspiration" is the theological term taken from the Bible which expresses the truth that the Bible is God's Very Word. To understand inspiration we must look at two classic Scripture verses:
    1. The first passage is II Tim. 3:16."All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

    2. The word "inspiration" can be literally interpreted "God-breathed." The Greek word is "theopneutos", which means "theo" = God, and "pneutos" = breathed. The Hebrew word is "nehemiah" and is used only once in the Old Testament in Job 32:8. The verse is saying God breathed on the writers of the Bible and the wrote His Very Word.

    3.The next passage is II Peter 1:21, "For prophecy came not in old times by the will of man but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

    4. Literally the verse is saying that inspiration is the process by which the Holy Spirit supernaturally moved on the writers of Scripture and what they wrote was not their words, but the very word of God. God superintended each and every word of Scripture and it accurately reflects what He intended to say. Heb. 1:1 says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto our fathers." Therefore God has at different times in the past, and in many ways has spoken through me to reveal Himself to us. Paul and Peter state that what these men wrote was God's word.

D. Examples of how God spoke to man or revealed Himself and His will. Hosea 12:10 "I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets." A literal translation of the verse says, "I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions.
    1. God spoke by angels to Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18-19. To Daniel, in Dan. 10:10-21.
    2. In visions. Isa. 1:1, Ezek. 1:1, 8:3, 11:24, 43:3, Dan. 7:1, 8:1, 10:1.
    3. By miracles. Ex. 3:2, Moses and the burning bush. Judges 6:37-39, Gideon's wool fleece.
    4. By voice directly. Ex. 19, to Moses I Sam. 3, to young Samuel.
    5. Through an inner voice. Jer. 46:1
    6. By chasing lots. Jonah 1:7, Prov. 16:33
E. David said, "The spirit of the Lord spake by me and his word was in my tongue" II Sam. 23:2. God used men to speak to other men. When the prophets spoke what God had revealed to them, they used phrases such as "thus saith the Lord", or "the Word of God cam to me saying." They made it clear that what they were saying was from God.

F. To look at the matter in a practical way, what was happening was that as the writer sat down and wrote, God "breathed" on him by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As he wrote the Spirit guided his thoughts so that what he produced was from God without error or omission. It was literally, word for word, what God wanted written.

G. In theological terms the doctrine that God wrote the Scriptures and that every word of Scripture is inspired of God is called, "verbal plenary inspiration." This is the view of Scripture which the Bible itself teaches.
    1. Definitions of the words are: VERBAL = "WORDS" and PLENARY = "FULL”. It means that God-breathed the very word of God in full expression of His thoughts in what the writer of Scripture wrote. This means that every word that was written was the mind of God with error. In other words, although the Bible was penned by men, it was really from God.

    2. God guided them in the choice of every word and expression. This does not mean God did not allow for personality and cultural background of the writer to be used in expressing God's Words. God allowed the writers to express His thoughts in their own way.

    3. This is why we must conclude the Bible is without error. God wrote it and preserves it and not man. It is the product of God, and His very Word to man. It then is without error or contradiction.

    4. When there seems to be an error or contradiction the problem is in the interpretation of the verse or passage not the Scriptures. If your passage appears to be a contradiction then your course of action is to continue studying until you arrive at the correct interpretation. Many times arriving at the correct interpretation of a passage of Scripture will take a great deal of study.

    H. For example lets look at one "so called" problem passage. I Peter 3:19 says, "By which also "He" (referring to Christ) went and preached unto the spirits in prison." At first, reading the verse appears to say that Christ after His crucifixion went into Hell and preached salvation to the lost pre-flood peoples giving them a second chance for salvation. This presents the interpreter of Scripture with a serious problem because other Scriptures clearly state man does not have a second chance to be saved. After death comes a man's judgment.
      Job 21:30, states the "The wicked is "reserved" to the day of destruction."
      Hebrews 9:27 "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
      Luke 16:22, The rich man in Hell, begs for mercy, but was denied even a drop of water.

    If you consider the verse in the analogy of the faith, saying that this verse teaches that Jesus gave those before the flood a second chance is a contradiction of other Scriptures. This alerts you to the problem! In considering what the verse means you must consider the analogy of the faith. In other words, does this interpretation contradict other Scripture? Clearly this interpretation does, so you would be alerted to look for another possible meaning.
    I. The next step would be to take into consideration the other principles of interpretation. Using these principles you attempt to arrive at an interpretation that is not contradictory. Principle #4, "Context," would lead to you to read the verses before and after this one. The context of the verse would show you that Peter is writing about Christ's suffering and death for the sins of the world. This is the subject of these verses. (See verse 18) Verse 20, gives us the time of the preaching to the pre-flood people. It says, "When once the long-suffering of God, waited in the days of Noah." So the verse tells us this preaching was done in the days of Noah, not at the death of the Lord Jesus.

    J. From the passage the explanation becomes clear. The pre-flood people were offered salvation, by Noah, who preached to them before the flood. The Principle, that we are to make Christ central to the Scriptures, points us to understand Christ made possible the salvation that God offered to the pre-flood people. Noah, in preaching salvation was preaching Christ! The "spirits" or the pre-Flood people who rejected Noah's warning and offer of redemption are in "prison" or hell awaiting judgment. This interpretation does not violate any doctrine of Scripture and is not contradictory. It then is the better, and correct interpretation. You see then that we are letting the Scriptures interpret the Scriptures.

    K. The rule is a simple one: In interpreting Scripture you must always consider the fact that the Bible does not contradict itself. If a proposed interpretation conflicts with other Scripture then your interpretation is not correct. You then must continue your study and arrive at an interpretation that is not contradictory.
VI. RECOGNIZE THE PROGRESS OF REVELATION.
    A. In the proper interpretation of Scripture it must be understood that God gave His revelation, the Bible, to man over a long period of years. This is the doctrine of "Progressive Revelation."

    B. For and example, when God gave the first prophecy of the coming of Christ, He revealed very few of the details. God only revealed that, "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." All Adam and Eve knew was that God was promising them a Redeemer, who would overcome Satan and bring and end to the curse that sin had brought to the earth. God revealed His Plan of Salvation over the whole period of the Old Testament progressively. Over time, as God worked with man, He revealed more about the Messiah and gave more details. This process took place over hundreds of years. Four hundred years before Christ's coming, the Old Testament was completed and God had revealed, the Savior's name, place of birth, year of birth, that His death would atone for sins, the virgin birth and a total of over 300 prophecies concerning Christ's coming.

    C. Another example is the giving of the Law. Abraham, the Father of the Nation of Israel, died having never heard of the Law. When Israel became a nation and needed laws to govern them, God use Moses and gave them the Law at Mt. Sinai. The Law given at Mt. Sinai was the "Constitution" of the Nation of Israel. It set forth principle and specific instruction as to what was right and wrong in all spiritual and civil matters. It set penalties for crimes against God and individual Israelites. It addressed everything from cleanliness to relations with other nations.

    D. We live now in the age of Grace. The author likes to call this the Age of Principles. Christians are not under the Old Testament law. We live by a higher rule, that being the principles of God. We obey God out of love. The law defined right and wrong and commanded men to do what is right. You do not have to command people to do right when that is what they want to do. When God gave commandments to the Church, they were given to define correct actions.

    E. When the Old Testament Laws were broken by the officials of Israel, namely the priests, administered justice. In the Age of Grace, every believer is indwelled by the Spirit of God who brings conviction. We also have the Word of God to instruct us in righteousness. When we sin the Holy Spirit convicts us. It is God that chastens each believer. No civil authority has that right in this age. Our civil government does not punish us when we disobey God's commandments.

    F. When the canon of Scripture was completed, about 90 AD to 95 AD, God had completely revealed all that man needed to know to be saved, and live for God. He even stated in Revelation 22:18, that no man should ever add to or subtract from the Scriptures.

    G. Another important principle to understand is that when God revealed a principle in the Old Testament, it was never invalidated by later revelation. Take for example the Law given at Mt. Sinai. Are the principles of the Law given at Mt. Sinai valid today? Surely they are!
      1. The Law says we are to "have no other God before thee." (Deut. 5:7) That is a true now as it was then.

      2. It is important to understand the Bible's principles do not change in time. Customs, culture, political situations may change and this in turn may change the way the principle is applied, however the principle itself does not change.

      3. For an example, in Deut. 7:1f, God instructs Israel to be separated from the wicked peoples of Canaan. In II Cor. 6:14, the same principle is being applied to the Christians being unequally yoked with unbelievers. In both passages, God is teaching us the Doctrine of Separation. Time changed the people involved, the manner of separation, and a host of other details. Yet it is the same principle in both the Old and New Testaments. The principle is clear that a passage of Scripture can only have one meaning or interpretation, but in different circumstances can have different applications.
VII. GRANT ONE INTERPRETATION TO EACH PASSAGE.
    When the words of Scripture were penned they had only one meaning. We should search for that one meaning. To accept multiple interpretations for one scripture passage causes confusion. Scripture itself does not allow for multiple interpretations of a verse. Note that we are talking about interpretation and not about application. A passage can have several applications, however in its historical and grammatical setting it can have only one interpretation.

    God promised the Nation of Israel would inherit the area of land from river in Egypt in the south to the Euphrates in the north. (Genesis 15:18) In is incorrect to interpret this verse in any other way but to say God promised this land to Abraham's descendants. It does not mean God gave it to the church or anyone else. The Euphrates River does not mean the Persian Gulf or any other body of water. It has only one meaning. That meaning must govern your interpretation.
VIII. CHOOSE THE SIMPLEST ALTERNATIVE
    In a very few instances the correct interpretations is not clear. This is a rare occurrence. There is a classic example of this found in Judges 11:30-40. Jephthah, made a vow that if God would grant him victory in battle, whatever met him coming out of the doors of his house when he returned home, he would sacrifice in a burnt offering to the Lord. When He returned home he was met by his daughter! In verse 39, it states that he honored his vow. Some interpret that verse to mean she was offered up to service for the Lord in the temple others that she was literally sacrificed as a burnt offering. Both sides of this debate have valid reasons to accept their view. The Bible says the daughter went into the mountains for two months of mourning to "bewail her virginity" with her friends. After the vow was carried out the women in Israel each year went for four days to the lament in honor her loyalty and sacrifice. God would never condone human sacrifice. It is a simpler explanation that Jephthah gave her up to temple service to be a perpetual virgin. She was his only child and now Jephthah would have no descendants. In this example we can see that historically both views cannot be right. She either lived or died, and one or the other is true, not both. We can honesty only allow one interpretation, because it can have only one. The simplest alternative is that she lived. We can not be dogmatic and state either view is absolutely the right one. Thus, when it is not clear would should remain silent or honestly admit the meaning is not clear.
IX. NEVER INVENT EXPLANATIONS TO SILENT AREAS OF SCRIPTURE
    A. Simply stated it means do not make up explanations to areas of Scripture that are silent and where God has not given us all the information about some topic of Scripture.

    B. For example, the Bible does not say where Heaven is. The Bible only indicates its direction is up. It is foolhardy to speculate that it is in some specific area of Space. Some state they believe Heaven is in the northern area of space where astronomers report there are few stars. This speculation serves no valid purpose. If the Bible is silent we then too are to be silent. To offer one's personal speculation on some subject that the Bible is silent is in a real sense adding to Scripture. Many times, one person's stated speculation becomes another's belief.

    Illustration: Jesus said, only the Father knew when He would return, however a well known fundamentalist evangelist of national acclaim stated in a Bible conference that when the planets aligned in 1984, the Rapture would occur. Many tracts were printed stating this view. Obviously, he was wrong. In the eyes of many people his testimony was hurt. His predictions served no purpose. If God is silent then we need to be silent!
X. NEVER THEORIZE TO ACCOMMODATE MAN'S VIEWS OR MODERN SCIENCE.
    A. This principle is closely aligned with the ninth principle. In interpreting Scripture we should never invent explanations to areas where the Bible appears vague. We may not have the knowledge to understand some teaching or event in the Bible. The limitation is in our knowledge, not in the truth of the Word of God. When a man begins to speculate he is in fact trying to second guess God! Such speculation casts a shadow over the credibility of the Bible and our faith. It does not convince the doubters and only brings confusion. The best approach is not to invent explanations, but honestly say we do not know!

    B. Examples of man trying to harmonize science and the Bible is seen in the theories such as "Theistic Evolution" and once popular "Gap Theory. “Theistic evolution is the product of man's trying to fit into the Bible the false teachings of the so called "science of evolution." In truth, evolution contradicts the Biblical account of Creation and there is no possible way to make the two coincide. To suppose that God used evolution to create the world is to deny the literal meaning of Genesis Chapter One. You must understand that God's Word is perfect and without error. It is inerrant, and infallible. When God said He created the earth by speaking it into existence out of nothing, then that is the Word of God on the matter. If science disagrees, then science is wrong! Science is the product of man's wisdom which is often proven faulty. The Bible is the very Word of God who is never wrong!

    C. On several occasions I was privileged to hear the late Dr. Charles Stevens, founder of Piedmont Bible College. One principle he stressed was that the only way to know the truth was to examine it using the "looking glass" of the Bible. In other words, we are to take the Bible and examine everything by it. We look at the world through the Bible. It is the ONLY true standard. It is the only pure source of truth on earth. The world's way is the opposite. Man with a sinful and warped mind examines the Bible and declares it invalid. Man starts out with a distorted view and can only come to a distorted conclusion.

    D. Such theories, such as the Gap Theory, in no way have any value within themselves. This "theory" states that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there is a gap in time in which the fossil record is placed. Its explanation is that the fossils are the remains of another race of man and a world that was destroyed before the present world was created. This theory is based on man's speculations of over one hundred years ago when evolution became popular. Men such as C. I. Scofield, under attack by so-called modern science, tried to accommodate the popular teachings of the then new science of evolution. He and others theorized a gap in the Biblical record between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Dr. Scofield had a limited understanding of geology. Few men in his day understood where the fossils came from. Today, we can easily explain the fossil record. It was created by the Flood when God destroyed all life on earth saving only Noah and his family and the animals in the ark. The fossils are the remains of the pre-flood world, not some world created and destroyed by God before the current Earth. All fossils are found in sedimentary rock deposits. Sedimentary rock is formed by water action such as would be caused by a world wide flood.

    E. Today, evolution is fast falling into disfavor and even secular science is questioning the teaching of Darwin. Yet, today the Gap Theory is still being taught by a few proponents as fact, and yet it was never anything more than a man's theory or speculation. Today, few theologians hold or teach the view, but it will probably be many years before it completely disappears.

    F. To try an harmonize the teachings of evolution with the Bible, theologians in fact have denied the Word of God. God said He spoke the Universe into existence, it did not evolve over long periods of time as evolution postulates. The gap theory in reality instead of clarifying the matter of Creation caused confusion. It actually supports the false theory of evolution. This author believes it aided in causing Christians to believe in evolution or some form of it. If that is so then the inventors of the Gap Theory caused many people to believe in the lie of evolution.

    G. We should never invent supposed solutions areas where the Bible is silent.
XI. NEVER BASE A DOCTRINE ON ONE PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE.
    A. No doctrine should be built on only one passage or verse of Scripture. Any true doctrine of God will be found in many places in the Bible. The Mormons base their doctrine of baptisms for the dead on only one verse in the Bible. (I Cor. 15:29) No where else is the practice even mentioned. If you cannot find other places in the Bible that teach the doctrine this should alert you to a problem. If the supposed doctrine is only found in one place you should seek to find out why. In every case you will discover that what is being taught is not a doctrine. To arrive at the correct understanding of a teaching (doctrine) in Scripture you must study all related texts and then put them together. Until you do this it is difficult to know that you have all the truth revealed on a particular subject.


CONCLUDING STATEMENT: In trying to determine what the Scriptures mean we must have a method or standard of interpretation as a guide. The literal method stands alone as the only real Biblical method. Why? Because the best interpreter is God Himself, and by letting Scripture interpret Scripture we are letting God, the Author of the Bible tell us what He means by what He said.


Definitions:

Allegory. Taking the literal meaning off story, discourse, or something written and giving it another spiritualized or non literal meaning.

Analogy. Similarity between things partial resemblance. Comparing something point by point with something else noting its similarity . As applied to Bible study, it means the scriptures are alike and do not contradict each other.

Context. The parts of a book, passage or verse, which shows the whole situation and relevant environment in which it is found.

Expository. Setting forth facts, ideas, and an explanation from a detailed examination of a passage.

Exegesis. Critical analysis or interpretation which seeks the meaning from the passage and does not impose meaning on the passage.

Interpretation. To arrive at the original meaning the writer intended when he penned the words.

Syntax. Syntax is the study of the word in is grammatical setting showing it relation to other words.





End Notes:

20 TRAITS OF RELATIONALLY UNSAFE PEOPLE

20 Traits of Relationally Unsafe People

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20 Traits of Relationally Unsafe People — Our news media is continually full of stories of domestic violence, spiritual abuse (abuse by religious leaders, organizations, or extremists), and random abuse. Sadly, today too many of us struggle in the darkest most painful silence of feeling isolated and trapped inside an abusive relationship.
The number of women versus the number of men who experience domestic violence is almost equal 7 percent vs 6 percent. In the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics women reported a six times greater rate of intimate partner violence than men. However, studies have found that men, due to social embarrassment and fear of the stigma of being seen as “weak” among their peers, are much less likely to report victimization in these situations.
Studies have also found that “women are as physically aggressive or more aggressive than men in their intimate relationships”.  However, those same studies have also shown that in the end, even when they are the instigator of the violence, women are more likely to experience greater significant degrees of injury.
How do we respond to abusive relationships? Often we never know another party is in an abusive relationship, be it emotional abuse, psychological abuse, or physical abuse. Therefore the issue quickly becomes one of self-education, and learning not only what abuse is, but what must be done to bring a person to a healthier place in life.
In the midst of unsafe relationships, we often try to rationalize our need to remain in an unsafe setting. We make up excuses and tell ourselves that our aggressor will get better in time; that “I” am the one causing him or her to respond this way; that I am a bad person and this is my just reward; that no one will believe me.
In the face of unsafe relationships where the relationship has deteriorated to the point of being abusive, we must embrace realities:
  • Yes, the aggressor knows what they’re doing, and don’t spend time trying to convince yourself they don’t.
  • Yes, they know they are hurting you, but more often than not they are enjoying their adrenalin rush too much to reign themselves in, and the more they hurt you, the more adrenaline they feel becoming an adrenalin junkie looking for their next fix.
  • Yes, they are doing it on purpose, as hurting you becomes a means to an end, an adrenalin rush, or an opportunity to avoid facing their own demons.
  • Yes, they can control it. They are usually acting this way to impress themselves or someone else.
  • Yes, they could stop the abuse if they truly wanted to, but the abuser must be able to see that they have a problem and to do so might require the involvement of third party help such as a therapist or law enforcement.
  • No, aggressors do not love you, even if they repeatedly apologize and say they do, because abusers are all too often disenfranchised from the ability within themselves to feel love, empathy, compassion or remorse. To them, your relationship is not about a healthy balanced form of love. It’s all about having control, the rush or adrenalin they experience when exercising dominance over someone or something weaker, power over you, attention, a morbid ill-defined form of “self-respect” coupled with the delusional belief of the existence of social respect and admiration.
  • No, you cannot change them. Don’t even think about this. You can only change yourself.
  • Yes, you do have the power to turn your situation around.
  • Yes, there is something you can do…GET OUT NOW!!!
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Safety vs. Lack of Safety in our Relational Choices
For many, the term “unsafe people” conjures up an imagery of people in extreme roles such as an escaped convict, a mentally ill person running through the streets with a chainsaw in their hand, a cult leader, or an abusive spouse. Too often we engage in relationships which leave us deeply wounded, taken advantage of, where we end up left with little to show for the energies we have invested in our relationships. Relationally unsafe people can be found in every arena of life. They may excel in professional aspects of their careers, and they might be well loved socially, but in a more intimate relational setting they might be extremely unhealthy.
On the other side of the coin are those good hearted, incredibly loving people who seem to go from one bad relationship to another, continually getting involved with relationally unsafe people. Why do these great people continually choose the wrong people to become relationally involved with on a romantic, plutonic, or professional level? Many people do not understand how to identify unhealthy personality traits in people, and as a result, they repeatedly walk head long into unsafe relationships.
Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, in 1995 brought the term “safe people” to the forefront in their book, Safe People. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend are clinical psychologists and co-directors of a well-known American counselling clinic. While written from a Judeo-Christian perspective, they outline the personality and behavioral traits of both safe and unsafe people. Their work in this arena has become the cornerstone from which others have approached this topic.
(The 20 Traits of Relationally UNSAFE People is now available in vastly expanded eBook format.  Below is a brief introduction to each of the 20 traits.)

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The 20 Traits of Relationally Unsafe People

Before we begin to list the 20 traits of relationally unsafe people, we must clearly establish a baseline in our understanding. People of good healthy character bare evidence to the health in their character by first drawing you into a greater sense of community (they draw you into a larger relationally healthy circle of people); and they empower you to become the person you were meant to be (not the person they think you should be).

Relationally Unsafe People
  1. Those Pesky Meddlers
Meddlers are those who feel an inner need/hunger (which is control based) to inject themselves into the affairs of others uninvited and unwanted. Meddlers are self serving individuals who will ALWAYS MAKE MATTERS WORSE then expect you to thank them for their services of personal greatness to you. They may cloak their actions in words such as, “I see you struggling in this situation and I thought to help you out”, “I feel like a brother/sister to you and am concerned enough to speak up or take action”, or in a religious setting “as your brother/sister in the Lord I want to come stand by you in this situation as together we work this out”. Meddlers will often have areas of their own personal lives which are significantly out of control, and to cap up their massive hunger to feel in control, they seek out opportunities to control challenges in other people’s lives.
2. Gossips
We all have heard and used the term “Gossips” but surprisingly many people do not accurately understand what gossip is. Gossip is any loose talk about an absent party wherein that party is clearly identified, or known to the other members of the discussion. There is always a strong emphasis on the person’s negative life challenges and struggles. Facts are almost always embellished, and there is most often very little truth to the situation. Gossips are the destroyer of relationships, businesses and lives. They struggle with a chronic form of dysentery of the mouth.
3. The “Holier Than Thou’s” (I am better than you)
Arrogance creeps into people’s life and at some point in time pukes itself out in a form of expression which gives an air of greater superiority, greater achievement, greater attainment in life, refusing to accept others as equals.
4.  “Have it all together”
We all know someone over our lifetime who has come across as having their act together, never admitting to any kind of personal weaknesses, or need for personal accountability in their life. They may tout their high quality home and fancy cars. They might quietly flaunt their investment or pension portfolios, because THEY HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER and you don’t! We may not see it directly in the person “who has it all together”, but we can certainly see in their family and friends who feel disconnected from this person relationally, feel weaker than one really is, feeling “one-down” on the societal ladder from the one “who has it all together”, or feeling the need to compete for equality.
5.  Religious instead of Spiritual
Religious people are all too often “so heavenly minded… they are no earthly good”! Religious people often approach relationships from the perspective of focusing on your sinfulness, and what’s wrong in your life. There is very little that is genuine about their own personal lives. Outwardly they will put on airs of spiritual maturity, when behind the scenes they will cuss, drink and attack people to the point where motorcycle gang members run away in tears. They can be oppressive, controlling, judgemental, and critical, all while believing they are very righteous in the eyes of God, and a healthy example as to what everyone else should try to be.
Spiritual people, who are far more relationally healthy than religious people, are accepting of others where they are and how they are in life, realizing that we are all equals on this great journey called life.
6.  Repeatedly apologize without making corrective changes
Relationally unsafe people are those who are often quick to apologize for their actions, but in reality the reason behind the apology has little or nothing to do with remorse. They apologize hoping you won’t go away, because they will miss their relational “punching bag”.  A true and healthy apology is always followed by course correctional behaviours.  Positive change is always the evidence of a true apology.
7.  Avoid working on personal problems
Relationally unsafe people do not admit to having personal problems, or they think they can fix their problems on their own. They do not take responsibility for the wrongs they have caused someone else, and they do not forgive. They relate to others with a lack of empathy. They do not like to share their problems with others so they can grow as an individual.
8.  Demand trust without earning it
Trust, if real and healthy, must always be earned over time. Once broken, it can never be totally won back, and a person will spend their lifetime trying to rebuild trust with the person they have offended.
Centuries ago in the orient, when vessels broke but were repairable, people had a choice as to how to repair them. Today in museums, we see some of those old broken vessels where the cracks have been filled with gold.
Relationships where trust is broken are a lot like those old broken vessels. There is still the potential for a relationship, and other parties can choose to fill that break cheaply, or they can choose to bathe the offender in love and acceptance, filling that crack, or void with their most precious offering…relational gold. The crack will always be visible, and no one will be able to deny it’s existence, but the real testimony will be found in the restoration of what was once broken.
We must also recognize that in many situations, once trust is broken, the damage is too extensive, and there is nothing left to repair.
9.  Play the blame game
Some relationally unsafe people walk through life blaming all their problems on everyone else, failing to take responsibility for the issues in their life.
10.  Manipulate
Manipulators or the “puppet masters”, are very relationally unsafe people who out of a huge need to hold control over someone try to manipulate a person into doing his or her bidding. Manipulators do not care about the person they are manipulating, and through their actions they are admitting to the fact that they cannot accept a person until they first turn that person into their puppet. Manipulators are HUGE psychological and emotional abusers.
11.  Habitually dishonest
We all lie a time or two, but some relationally unsafe people take dishonesty to a whole new level and lie or act dishonestly in a chronic manner.
12.  Stagnant vs. Growing
Relationally unsafe people are often those who sit stagnant in life, doing little to nothing to grow as a person, or contribute to the world around them. They are the “frog on a log” in this great world.
13.  Avoid relational closeness (i.e. connecting with people at a deeper than superficial level)
Relationally unsafe people will sometimes be found among those who appear to be loners, but don’t be quick to assume all loners are relationally unsafe. Some “loners” are simply introverts who walk through life with a very healthy, often publicly not noticed, small circle of people in their lives. Relationally unsafe people avoid relationships where deeper levels of relationships and friendships occur.
14. Focus on “I” instead of “WE”
Some relationally unsafe people are self-absorbed, where their life focus is more so on their wants and needs in life instead of being willing to walk along side of people in a close relationship where the focus is on the relationship instead of one’s self.
15.  Sit in condemnation of us (judgemental)
Acceptance of an individual for who they are and where they are in life is always a sign of a healthy relationship. People who continually sit in judgement of others are relationally unsafe.
16.  Take on parent/child roles instead of relating as equals
In today’s society there is a common belief that some people need to be re-parented. It’s important to realize that people who take on this form of role are doing so from a superiority position and are not accepting a person as their equal. It is a very unhealthy and unsafe form of relating. This style of relationship often includes manipulative behaviour, judgemental behaviour, it often demands trust from those who have not taken the time to earn it, and it is inflicted upon you by those who “have it all together” or are “holier than thou”.
17.  Unstable over a prolonged period of time
Time is often the great yard stick in life. Unhealthy people are sometimes those who experience radical shifts in stability over time. We live in a hurting world, where many people experience a season of inner pain and suffering. We must never lose sight of our need for compassion and empathy towards those who are working through difficult issues. The challenge comes when we see a person continually repeating cycles of highs and lows in their life. This form of instability can often make a person relationally unsafe.
18.  Negative influence instead of a positive one
The ultimate evidence of a truly great relationship is one that brings a positive influence to one’s life. Relationships are all about give and take being in balance, and when relationships run continually in the red, then we see evidence of a negative influence occurring.
19.  Critical
Critical spirited people are very difficult to exist around. They stifle, and smother a relationship with their negativity.
20.  Irresponsible
It’s very difficult to be in a relationship with a person who continually fails to take responsibility for his or her “stuff” in life. We all have debt, and from time to time experience financial crisis.
Many people incorrectly “assume” that the term irresponsible partner refers to financial irresponsible, but truthfully, finances have very little to do with being a responsible relational partner, and if assigned a percentage to it’s significance, finances would only rate 5% of all the areas that makes up a responsible person. You might be great with money, but neglect the emotional needs of your partner. You might be bad with money but your partner has a strength in that area. You might be bad with money, but incredible at looking after the home, the kids, and emotional support of your partner. Being a responsible partner in life, applies to far much more than most people consider, and when they do take a close look at this area, many discover they’ve been overly critical of their partner.
A responsible person is the person who does not run away from their responsibilities but makes the best decision in the face of their circumstance. Sometimes bankruptcy is a very responsible decision. A hard worker who makes a poverty level income is no less responsible than the millionaire business owner, but a lazy man who is a low income earner is very irresponsible and relationally unsafe. Relational responsibility refers to a much broader area as to how we look out for our partners and family members. Are we a reliable parent? Are we sharing in the chores around the home? Are we looking out for the best interest of our partner, and children without meddling?
To gain a better understanding of what defines a responsible partner in life, we need to take a close look at what a relationship wheel includes.  When we look at this wheel, we quickly discover that economic partnership (i.e. bread winner, provider of family finances, financial mnagement, etc.), is only a small portion of the over all definition.   While not to burst anyone’s bubble, finances and being a good provider in a home is an equally shared responsibility, and even in early Judeo Christian writings, a good or virtuous woman was defined as a a woman who also was busy out in the marketplace helping to provide for her home and family.  The concept of the man being the only. or primary bread winner in a home is a modern civilizational deviation from what the true understanding of the term means.  Financial provision and management within a home is a shared responsibility.
equality wheel, equality in relationships,20 traits of relationally unsafe people, james c tanner
Being a responsible relational partner includes:
  • Finances;
  • Being supportive of your partner’s vocational goals;
  • Being supportive by being a willing intimate partner in the relationship both physically and emotionally;
  • Taking care of your own career goals and aspirations;
  • Taking care of your own physical and mental needs;
  • Being committed to your relationship in ways that will preserve and protect trust;
  • Sharing in the responsibilities around the home;
  • Sharing in the responsibilities with the children;
  • Being fair with your partner;
  • Relating to your partner both in and out of their absence from a position of respect, etc.
It’s one thing to accuse a partner of not being financially responsible, but you really have no right to complain if you are being verbally abusive to your partner; actively maligning them in public; neglecting the home; dumping the care of the children totally onto your partner; refusing to be intimate with your partner; not being supportive of his or her career aspirations, etc.

How Then Do We Address The Relationally Unsafe Tendencies in Our Own Lives?

  1. We need to own our weaknesses, admitting them honestly to ourselves. This is an act of confession.
  2. We need to take time to internally assess and identify the underlying need that feeds or drives our unsafe character traits (i.e. fear issues, loneliness, perfectionism, the need to control, etc.)
  3. With the underlying need identified, we then must develop the social skills needed to over-ride or correct the underlying need.
  4. Realize that personal growth is always a process of walking forward, tripping and falling from time to time, getting back up on our feet, and pressing on, walking forward a bit further.

From the moment we are born, until the moment our life is over, we are a creation which continually evolves. Anyone who believes they have “arrived” at their greatest point of achievement in maturity is living in denial. We are meant to continually grow, to continually mature. We will all do so at different paces, and be propelled forward by different influences. Your journey will be unique to you.

About the Author : “20 Traits of Relationally Unsafe People” is written by James C. Tanner, Author of Excelling In The Face Of Personal Chaos .
James C. Tanner is a highly published writer, author and business coach who has written heavily on topics related to business, marketing, and psychology. In June of 2007, when all publishers had completed their tallies, it was found that the accumulated writings of James C. Tanner was reaching a potential audience of 12,000,000 readers per month. James C. Tanner has founded, built up and sold his own businesses. He has written and taught business skills courses for clients such as the Government of Canada.
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References:
Cloud, Henry Dr., Townsend, John Dr., “Safe People“, Zondervan Press (1995)