How do you know what is true, when there are so many different
interpretations about the Scriptures?
It is unusual to find a preacher that isn't fully convinced that his
interpretation's of Scriptures is the way God intended. It is even more
unusual to find two preachers that are in full agreement on how
Scriptures are correctly interpreted. In Protestant Christianity there
are over 500 individual denominations. It doesn't take a rocket
scientist to figure out (and I know because I have worked as one in the past)
that at least 499 of them are not entirely correct. And if that's the case, it
doesn't leave a very high probability of success for the last one.
Personally, I respond to this issue making two very important
assumptions. First, I assume there is a God. Now practically speaking, I
have certainly found enough evidence to convince me that there
definitely is a God, and I experience a very dynamic relationship with
Him. However, for the sake of those who are not so sure, I will call it an
assumption. Second, if there is a God, on any given subject or scripture
passage, He has only one opinion on the matter. Now this really isn't
much of an assumption either if you consider that if there is a God, He
wouldn't be confused or uncertain about anything. If that was the case,
He wouldn't be God. With these two ideas, I believe our response should
be to discover what He says is true and what is not, and my experience
has been a life long discovery of His opinion.
To begin with, I think most differences come from a basic fundamental
understanding of the Gospel or the lack thereof. The Gospel itself is
the description of the overall purpose God has, in creating this earth
and everything within it. It is the purpose of the writing of the
Scriptures and all that is contained within them. Therefore, if a
person's understanding of the Gospel is incorrect, they will have no
alternative but to be incorrect on some if not many of their
interpretations of the Scriptures. The reason why, is because many of
these passages are written in light of the Gospel.
As is revealed in the Gospel, we need the Spirit of God to be restored
to us. When this happens, we are transformed from the old creation into
a new creation in Him, spiritually alive. One of the most important
purposes of the Spirit within us is to guide us and lead us into truth,
and to correct interpretations.
John 16:12-13 "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot
bear them now. 13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will
guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own
initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose
to you what is to come.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand
them, because they are spiritually appraised.
Now it may be a shock to discover this, but just because a person is in
a position of authority in a church, this does not mean that they know
the Gospel, or are spiritually alive. This is not normally the criteria
for getting into a position such as this. People get these positions the
same way a person would get any other kind of job. They go to school and
get a degree in religion. They are interviewed and if they give good
answers at the interview, they can easily get the job. If the people
doing the hiring don't really know any better, how can you expect them
to hire someone of value?
I have spent a great deal of time over the years studying differing
interpretations. One of the reasons why is because I like to have my own
interpretations challenged. With time and effort, I have learned the
reasons why many interpretations are made. Interpretations are often the
result of a person's understanding of something else that is the
foundation of the subject in question. Given that, I have also learned
where a certain interpretation will lead a person in the future. This
has been valuable, enabling me to have a simple conversation with
someone, and in hearing only a few comments about their understanding of
God or the Bible, I can establish a chain of doctrines before and after
that position to understand just where they have been, where they are,
and where they are going in their relationship with God. This is not
trivial at all, but is the result of years of experience studying the
Scriptures and interacting with the culture.
Not to make light of your concern, but in actuality, interpretations of
Scriptures and Bible knowledge are really of very little value in and of
themselves. The Scriptures are the testimony of a person, the living
God. You don't want to study the Scriptures to acquire correct
interpretations, but to get to know the Author. In knowing the person of
God, understandings and interpretations will easily be revealed. First
and foremost however is to direct your attention to discovering who God
is as He has and is revealing Himself. The pursuit of knowledge and
understanding of the Scriptures can easily be a distraction from getting
to know the Author of them. This is a trap that most people fall into,
and pulling them out of it is very difficult. So don't be confused by
all of the different interpretations available from the theologs out
there. Instead, direct your attention to studying the Scriptures to
discover who God is.