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The Response That God Desires

The American culture (The world culture) is in antipathy and opposition to God and his Word. This antipathy becomes a problem within the Christian community, but especially in America. Why? Because our culture, historically, has been a Bible flavored experience. American Christians sometimes find it difficult (because they have so identified with the “Christian Culture” of America) to understand and implement the doctrine of separation. It is considered a divisive doctrine that is, according to some, best left untouched.

Nonetheless, separation is a Bible doctrine, and as we read and study our Bibles we cannot fail to see it. Also, I believe that there is a way to teach this doctrine that is both acceptable and effective. This method actually draws people to the subject and enables them to put faith into practice by a step-wise approach. You are going to have to pray and ask God to help you understand the following truths. This information, especially if you are not used to thinking deeply and meditating upon truth, will be more difficult for you to grasp.

Follow on to learn more.

The Goal of Bible study is to apply the truth of Scripture to life. Unfortunately, many Bible students only want to get a "blessing" from the Bible through subjective impressions suggested by what they read without any serious attempt to determine the author’s meaning. This is the emotional “get a blessing” crowd. Many preachers and teachers engage in this type of presentation. It is no wonder that the people who listen to them consistently approach the Scriptures in the same way. These folks bypass the author’s intended meaning and believe that their impressions of the text are the authoritative message from God

On the other hand, and In contrast, others are very careful to search out the exact meaning intended by the author, yet do not follow through by making serious application to life. This is the intellectual “get a lesson” crowd. These tend to bypass the heart-felt application of truth and are usually rather dry, and mechanical. These can easily fall into the spirit of Pharisaism. The application for faith and obedience in my life and the lives of those for whom I have spiritual responsibility is one of the primary purposes of Bible study, preaching, and teaching.

How do we go from understanding to application? God reveals his will in two ways through Scripture.

Application means that we clearly face the implications of each doctrine we say that we believe, and learn to respond to it in faith.

First, Through

Explicit Directions and Directives

This revelation of truth is when a doctrine of Scripture is explicitly declared....These are propositional truths that are plainly revealed, and the only acceptable response is faith and obedience.

For Example:

In relation to Christ - There can be no equivocation on the virgin birth, or the bodily resurrection.

In relation to Christians - the Bible plainly declares that we are to pray without ceasing, rejoice evermore, and forgive those who trespass against us.

Not only are there explicit directives and plain doctrines, but there are also Promises in the Scriptures to claim

Meditate upon this application:

When we find promises in the Bible that God will supply all of our need....

Philippians 4:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory

by Christ Jesus.

...I have not fully appropriated those promises until my heart is tranquil and my life reflects contentment in His provision.

When we say that we believe in a sovereign God, who is in control....calling the shots, fulfilling His will, and yet we are fearful, worrying and fretting over the future....are we truly living according to this promise?

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

The explicit commands and directives of the Bible, as well as the promises of the Bible must be applied to our daily lives so that we might grow as Christians...

Consider this example:

Philippians 2:3

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Do we really value others as better than ourselves? Do we really live the truth of this passage? What does this Scripture really mean? How does this Scripture play out in our daily lives? Look at the context.

• v. 4 - By making sure others needs are placed ahead of our own -

Philippians 2:4

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

• vv. 5-8 - By giving of yourself to and for others according to the will of God

Philippians 2:5–8

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Others = any fellow believer.... not ourselves


* WARNING: If we do not truly apply the Word of God to our living, then rejected truth (either in actuality or practicality) brings darkness.

Romans 1:18–22

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

2 Thessalonians 2:10–12 KJV 1900

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.


Another way in which God reveals His will to us is through means of

Generic Principles

A generic principle is a Bible norm or standard that may be applied to more than one type of situation.

This is where it can get messy for believers!

What about when the demands of Scripture are not as clear or when the teaching involves merely a principle? These principles, too, must be responded to in faith. Principles of Scripture have equal authority with explicit directives.

However, one must never use principles in an effort to set aside clear teachings...

For example:

Consider modern marriage - When a couple is first married, they are so happy. They are madly in love. It is bliss. But then, tough times come and things get hard. Over time something changes, and these words are spoken.

“I don’t love you anymore. I love someone else. Love is the most important thing! God is love. God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy.

God loves me too much for that."

And then before you know it, there is separation, divorce, and deep heart wounds.

However, what did Jesus explicitly state?

Matthew 19:4–9

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

....but when considering how God helps us to understand what to do and how to respond, Bible principles do give us solid ground for a general approach to life and living.

Concerning Bible principles:

• The principles must be biblically determined. They should not be just personal whims.

• Their implications must be considered.

• They then must be put into practice.

This concept is very important, as God’s Word is lived in various time periods and cultures. We must understand how to live out God's eternal word in our current cultural context and experience.

Where do biblical principles come from? 3 different sources....

Generic Principles can be derived from

Explicitly Stated Principles / Directives

For example:

1. Love Thy Neighbor

Leviticus 19:18

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

Here is

• an explicitly stated directive for the Israelite, but

• it is also a generic principle.

Why do I say that this is a generic principle?

Look with me, for a moment, at the word "Neighbor"...

Does “Love thy neighbor” apply to me?? Or was this explicit command just for the Israelite.

Do we, today, have neighbors? Who is my neighbor? - Is my neighbor the president of a corporation? The President of the United States? The Man or woman sleeping under the bridge? The employee at Wendy’s?

This statement about loving your neighbor....can, indeed must, be applied to our current situation. Why do I say “must be?” There is a biblical principle involved here that is binding upon us. Where do you remember someone else talking about neighbors?

1400 years later.....

The rich man asked that question...

Luke 10:29

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Look at the question the rich man asked.

"And who is my neighbor?"

You need to slow down here and think.....

Pray and ask God to help you see this truth.

The following information, in quotes, was gleaned from one of my commentaries.

"This is not the same question as the one asked by Jesus in Luke 10:36. Luke almost certainly was aware of this. It is quite possible that Luke saw Jesus in the parable twisting this

improper question by the rich man,

“Who is my neighbor?”

(i.e., what must a person do to qualify that I should love him as a neighbor?)

into a proper one....

(“What must I do to be a loving neighbor?”).

Luke 10:36

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

In his counterquestion to Luke 10:29 (cf. Luke 7:40–42), Jesus indicated that one should worry less about who a neighbor is than about being a good neighbor."

Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 317-18.

So then, just because we are not Israelites, to whom this command first came, this does not mean that we do not have to "love our neighbor" as they were commanded to!

Consider another example

2. Thou shalt not commit adultery - This is a very explicit statement from Exodus 20. We are not to commit adultery. Even though this command was given to the Israelites, it applies to us as well. Why? Because we find this command repeated in the New Testament (Romans 13:9; James 2:11). Also, not only are we commanded to not commit adultery, but there are also some general principles derived from this explicit declaration which guides us in how we treat another man's wife.

When we are told not to commit adultery, we must remember that there are at least 3 principles involved here.

One principle is sexual purity.

The principle of fidelity is here also.

The principle of committed love is here.

The 10 commandments are very specific, but they are also capable of being broadly applied, based on principles involved.

Consider Jesus’ use of the 10 commandments

Matthew 5:27–28

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,

Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Not only are there generic principles derived from explicitly stated principles / directives but there are also.....

General Principles Derived From Historical Passages

A historic event always has some implication. Often there is more than one. If a historic event is to be used to derive a general principle, then it must be so interpreted by the Scripture itself.

If the historical passage (and the derived principle) is not interpreted by the Scriptures we are not free to develop our own connections.

For example:

1. Jude - In this historical passage we learn that God judges sin

Jude 5–7

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example,

suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Jude 11

Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

These ungodly men are

• self-willed (Cain’s way)

• Greedy (Balaam’s way)

• Gainsayers (Korah’s way) - Against the Word…hostile and rebellious

Consider also, the historical implications of the teaching given in Corinth. Paul used these historical passages to make current application. Again, I repeat, if this type of teaching is done, it must be explained in the Scriptures and the connection has to have been made already by the Holy Ghost. We are not free to "run wild" with made up, allegorical / mystical / fanciful "interpretations"!

2. Corinthians

1 Corinthians 9:7–11

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

Consider this!

If the Bible does not render a verdict on whether God approved of the conduct in some Old Testament / New Testament historical passage, we are not free to use it authoritatively as a model to follow or to expect others to follow. Historical passages have three levels of authority: (I will consider two)

1. When Scripture itself evaluates an event and gives the reason for that evaluation, the historical event has the highest authority for being normative.

For example, consider Abraham sacrificing Isaac - This was commended as an example of faith. It was faith being commended not sacrifice. We are not free to “sacrifice” our children, or encourage others to do so, because Abraham did it (or almost did it).

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Take another example:

The Egyptian midwives lied and are commended / blessed. The example being commended is protection of the innocent by refusing an unjust law. Lying was not being commended and we, therefore, are not free to “lie” because they did.

Do you see how this works?

In comparison, the lie of Ananias and Sapphira brought immediate death.

Abraham and Sarah lied and were disciplined and chastised. They agreed to lie about their relationship as husband and wife and instead tell people they were brother and sister. Their lie produced plagues and distress in the households of Pharaoh and King Abimelech. What they did seemed to go unpunished (personally), except for the rebukes of Pharaoh and Abimelech. They even acquired valuable gifts under the false pretense of their lies.

Was God lenient with Abraham and Sarah and harsh with Ananias and Sapphira?

Actually, both were severely punished for their deceptions.

In some ways, Abraham and Sarah received the greater punishment, because the iniquity of their deception was passed on to their children and grandchildren. Abraham and Sarah told a “half-lie,” but :

  • Their son, Isaac, went on to tell a full lie about his relationship to his wife. The deception practiced by Isaac was then practiced by

  • Jacob, who deceived his father and stole Esau’s blessing by disguising himself. Jacob, for a long time, lived a deceptive life. Jacob’s deception was then multiplied through his

  • Family. His sons deceived him by showing him Joseph’s coat of many colors, which they had stained with the blood of an animal, causing him to think that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Two of his sons deceived an entire city and killed all the males in it because their sister, Dinah, had been "defiled" by one of them.

Had Abraham and Sarah sincerely repented of their deception, this would have motivated them to warn their descendants not to follow their example.

We must seek the principles involved in historical accounts.

The second level of authority for historical passages is considered next.

2. On the Lowest level of usefulness are those historic events on which Scripture does not render a judgment. These passages may be useful to illustrate truth taught elsewhere, but they may not be used independently to establish normative Christian doctrine or behavior.

For example, Paul teaches us to follow him as he follows Christ. However, when we look at Paul's ministry, Paul split synagogues to establish churches. Is this to be considered a universal norm?

God didn’t render a verdict on it.

Paul did not specifically tell us to do this.

None of the other Apostles commended this.

The implications of this historical context teaches us that it would not be wise for us to establish a ministry protocol of splitting churches to establish our own church!

Here is another example.

2. The New Testament church members in Jerusalem sold their possessions and gave the money to the Apostles to distribute among the people....Should every church do that?

Luke doesn’t spell out guidelines or principles related to this action. There does not seem to be any New Testament Teaching that describes this as a normative occurrence among first century churches. Luke is just stating what happened. He does, however, set a limitation - This was a freewill offering

Acts 5:4

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Generous sacrificial living for the good of others is what is being commended here....not a specific protocol for other churches to follow.

A third level of principle based teaching is found in the following point.

General Principles Derived From Passages That Do Not Directly Apply to Contemporary Life

Many commandments or teachings are qualified in the context as to whom and under what circumstances they apply. Others are modified by later revelation.

Still others appear to be in conflict with teaching that is clearer or receive greater and more enduring emphasis in the Scripture. Nevertheless, those teachings in some way reflect God’s will. Some universal truth compatible with God’s character must lie behind the teaching, even if it is not God’s desire that everyone follows that particular teaching. General principles may be derived from a passage that does not directly apply to contemporary life.

For example, consider these illustrations:

1. Warfare - God specifically commanded war in the O.T. and yet in the N. T. Christ taught to turn the other cheek (personally) and that his kingdom is not of this world. It is therefore not legitimate to say that all warfare is against God’s will. We are not, however to extend God’s kingdom by sword / force.

2. Arranged Marriages in the OT - Should this be the norm? Although I agree with the value and benefit of parental involvement, it is not God’s express will that parents arrange the marriages of their children.

Allow me to give you a method for using the guidelines given to apply Scripture.

Conclusion: If the Bible is to actually function as the true authority in our lives, we must give ourselves to determining precisely what the Scripture means, what in Scripture is intended for faith and obedience today, what the generic principles are, and how God intends us to apply His revealed will.

An excellent reference that will help you understand these concepts more fully (and from which much of this teaching is derived) is

Understanding and Applying the Bible by Robertson McQuilkin.

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