Sunday, March 22, 2020

Our Entire World Brought to Its Knees (let's pray while we're there)

There can be no doubt that the entire world, all of humanity, has been brought to its collective knees. Schools and businesses are closed; places of employment are shut down; the medical communities, of the entire world, are straining to keep patients alive if at all possible; groceries stores, once overflowing with products, have empty shelves due to the panic created by the media; the stock market is plummeting in value; even churches are cancelling in-person services.  What could possibly cause such worldwide chaos:  nuclear war, chemical spills, earthquakes, tornados, typhoons, volcanoes erupting, a zombie apocalypse?

None of the above.  It’s a virus.  Wait, its not some foreign army, aliens from outer space, or some natural disaster. Nope, it’s a virus, one that’s being passed from one human being to another, literally, and all around the planet, even to some of the most remote islands on earth.

The Corona virus, Covid 19, measures 120 nano-meters (nm) across.  That’s it?  Yep. Let me give you some perspective.  A nano-meter is one-billionth of a meter.  A meter (39.4 inches) is a little larger that a yard (36 inches).  So, if you divide one meter (39.4 inches) into one billion pieces, the Covid 19 virus is only as wide as 120 of those one billion pieces.  That is the world’s current, common, enemy; that is the one thing that the entire world is focused on stopping; that microscopic virus is killing people, by the minute, all over the Earth, and our money, our bombs, our weapons, our hatred, our politics, our most brilliant scientists, around the world, at this moment, are powerless to stop it from happening.

All of God’s creation continues to flourish.  The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, the rain is falling, the geese are squawking as they fly overhead, the sun rises and sets, the stars are still in the night sky along with the moon and the planets.  Yet mankind, the highest, most intelligent of all of God’s creatures, has been brought to our knees, by an invisible virus that measures 120 billionths of a meter.  The mystery here is how do we defeat it; how do we kill it so that it stops killing so many people?

The prophet Daniel, when faced with the mystery of interpreting the king’s dream, turned to God for wisdom and understanding:
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel answered and said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.  And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding.  It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him" (Daniel 2:19-22).

No doubt numerous believers are praying and asking God to help with this “mystery” called the Corona Virus, and that is the right thing to do.  Pray that God will be merciful and gracious and give the scientists and medical people wisdom and knowledge; pray that through the countless number of tragedies around the globe that God will reveal everyone’s need for a Savior; pray that believers will be compassionate, caring and loving and not show even a hint of spiritual pride or a judgmental attitude, but remember that they, too, were once lost souls in need of Jesus.

Hopefully all humanity will learn some very important lessons from this battle with a virus. Here’s a few:  that life, here, is short and precious; that “things” (cars, boats, houses, money etc.) mean absolutely nothing and are worthless at the time of one’s final breath; that other people, friends and family, are truly the most precious gifts that we have while we’re here on Earth.  And most of all, that there is a God who is sovereign over this universe, and every human being will stand before Him at the moment of their physical death (Hebrews 9:27) to give a reason why He should allow them into His heaven.  May the gospel message be clearly taught during this time of extreme circumstances.

Out of love, care and concern for others in your community, please heed the advice being given by the medical professionals:  (1) stay home if you are sick; (2) wash your hands frequently and vigorously; (3) don’t touch your eyes, nose, mouth or face with your hands;  (4) observe the social separation policy of 6 feet of distance; (5) the older generation are the most vulnerable to this virus; (6) please don’t panic and hoard products.  By the way, this is an upper respiratory illness, NOT a digestive one; so don’t hoard the toilet paper.

May the Lord keep you and bless you.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D., D.Min.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Cultural-ishtianity: Interpreting the Bible

For decades now, many in western cultures have denied any sort of “absolute truth.”  That denial is part of the post-modern mindset, which sees virtually everything regarding truth as “relative.”  In other words, what might be true for one person may not, necessarily be true for someone else, even if there are facts in place that prove, beyond a doubt, that something is, in fact, true.  This is particularly relevant in the areas of morality, ethics and decency.

This relativistic method of determining what is true and not true, has dug its way deeply into the Church and especially in the area of “hermeneutics” (interpretation of the Bible). In fact, this relativistic method of determining truth has been the cause of all sorts of wrong interpretations of God’s Word, thereby creating theological havoc amongst many denominations.

Interpretation of the Bible is also driven by various cultural and political agendas:  homosexuality, abortion, social justice pundits, conservatives, liberals, warmongers and “peace at all costs” proponents. The Bible never speaks of a democracy or a republic, communism or socialism.  The Bible speaks of a Kingdom, over which rules only one King, who makes all the rules and dispenses justice accordingly.  He is a monarch.  An electoral college or a popular vote does not put Him on His throne.  King Jesus will rule and reign here on the earth at His second coming, just as the Bible prophesies.

Dr. Mal Couch taught his students that there is only one correct interpretation of a passage.  There may be secondary applications, but there is only one correct interpretation.  That’s why he was so emphatic about learning and using the original languages, so that the possibility of a wrong interpretation, and leading people astray, is minimized.

Not everyone can spend 3-6 years obtaining a seminary education; so let me give you some solid rules for doing a better job of understanding and interpreting the Bible.

For the deep study of God’s Word, I recommend the New American Standard Translation mainly because it is a transliteration of the original languages.  That being said, the following rules will apply to any good translation, but not a paraphrase translation (e.g. The Message, The Living Bible, etc.).  

When studying a passage remember the following 4 things are ALWAYS important:

  1. Context.  What is going on before and after the passage you are studying? By paying attention to this, you will better understand why the author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has written those words.
  2. Grammar.  Pay attention to whether the words are speaking of the past, present or future. A lot of misinterpretation comes from not paying attention to the verb tenses. A pastor friend once said that a lot of Bible misinterpretation is because people don’t remember their English grammar rules.
  3. History.  What was going on during that time will tell you whether the passage applies to New Testament era believers or not.
  4. Literalness.  Take it literally unless the Bible tells you not to.  The Bible does use figures of speech and other literary devices, but normally you can determine what it means by following rules 1, 2 and 3.  The Bible says what it means and means what it says.  We may not like it, but that doesn’t render it untrue.  Too many times I hear people say, “Well, it can’t mean that,” or “I feel like God meant something else.”  No, He didn’t!  He’s very clear.

One other thing to remember:  Don’t create your theology from a singular biblical historical event.  Ax heads don’t float, but it did happened once (2 Kings 6:1-7).  Paul didn’t die when a poisonous snake, a viper, bit him, but that was for a specific time, location and reason (Acts 28:1-6).  Unfortunately, some people have taken this as normative for the Christian faith and have died after being bitten by snakes.

The Bible is not hard to understand; it’s sometimes hard to accept.  That’s because of our human rebelliousness toward God.

At the beginning of every Bible study session, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and insight into His Word.  Then follow the above mentioned rules of interpreting and the Scriptures will become more clearly understood.

May the Lord bless you as you diligently study His Word and grow in grace and knowledge of Him.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D., D.Min.