Bible Interpretation Rule 2

2. Interpret literally unless the resulting interpretation is an absurdity, or in the case of the Bible, an interpretation out of harmony with and contradictory to the teaching found elsewhere in the Bible. But be very careful what you identify as an absurdity. It may be that what seems to be an absurdity is actually the truth as taught by the Bible, and that it is your own opinion, or what you have been taught by others, that is the absurdity in the light of the full teaching of the Bible.

Isaiah 55:12 uses figurative language, which if taken literally, does result in absurdity:

Isaiah 55:12
12  For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
King James Version

Quite clearly, the Bible is not teaching that trees have actual hands or that mountains and hills have voices!

But there are doctrines or teachings taught in the Bible that may seem foolish at first reading to the ordinary person who reads or hears them:

1 Corinthians 2:14
14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
King James Version

By “natural man,” Paul means any person who is not born again, not saved, and so not transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life:

2Co 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

How does any person take the steps to become “a new creature” that Paul speaks of here?

First, this is a matter of a supernatural change of heart:

Deuteronomy 30:6
6  And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
King James Version

Second, this change of heart results from our true repentance:

Psalms 51:10
10  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
King James Version

2 Corinthians 7:10
10  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
King James Version

Third, this is a matter of a changed heart, not the result of submitting to any sacrament or other religious ritual:

Galatians 6:15
15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
King James Version

Ephesians 2:10
10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
King James Version

Fourth, we are not saved by good works, but the saved life is transformed by the Holy Spirit to produce good works in and through us:

Titus 3:5
5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
King James Version

Ephesians 4:24
24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
King James Version

Colossians 3:10
10  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
King James Version

Fifth, we are not saved by keeping the Law, but by faith in what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us:

Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Rom 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Rom 8:8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Rom 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Sixth, as new creatures in Christ, the Holy Spirit transforms and empowers us to walk in newness of life:

Galatians 5:16
16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
King James Version

Galatians 5:25
25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
King James Version

Colossians 3:2
2  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
King James Version

Ephesians 4:23
23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
King James Version

Seventh, our spiritual life in Christ must be fed by our regular, daily, reading and study of God’s Word, the Bible:

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Act 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

1Pe 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

1Pe 1:23  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

2Pe 3:18  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

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