Recently, I was enlightened during a sermon about interpreting God’s word. I have to admit that I immediately began to think about false prophets as mentioned in the Bible and how we have to beware of them and the lies that they spread to anyone willing to listen. I also began to think about the form that those false prophets come in. I left the sermon feeling good about myself and assured that I would look out for these people or things that cross my path. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, while reading some assigned Bible passages and textbook chapters for school that it hit me like a ton of bricks. When I say that, I mean that it actually felt like something knocked the air out of me for a moment. Through that giant gasp, I realized that God was speaking to me about me! I had been guilty of being a false prophet! Let me stop here to clarify that I have never intentionally misquoted the Bible or falsely summarized any passage. However, I have often added my input to scripture when my opinion was not necessary. Many times, I have even gone as far as to add my own views regarding what it is God was trying to tell us through His word. Can you believe that? Me. A simple servant in the eyes of the almighty creator, portraying myself as a teacher and believing that I have the authority to offer anything more to God’s word than what is already written. Once I convinced myself that I was innocent of any ill intention, I acknowledged my incompetence and need to learn more about the Bible. Of course God intended for man to pass on His teachings and explain things to those who need to hear the plan of salvation. That being said, it is not up to us to decide what God meant by His words simply be repeating them. Take a pastor for example. Not just anyone can stand before a body of people and preach the Bible. A pastor has been labeled so because he has learned more than most about the Bible. He has studied it in context, in history and with great detail so that he better understands what was meant by each word. I do believe that there are people who have been given the gift of preaching whether they have attended school for the title or not. For those who have learned and been led by God, I am thankful. I too am called to preach the gospel (as is every person) and I plan to obey that command. However, I am now aware of my limitations of interpretation of scripture. What that means is that sharing the gospel is quite simple, as is sharing scripture. I just need to leave it up to God to share its meaning with those who hear it and not take His words through my own analysis.
Let Jesus be our example. When teaching the Jews at the Feast of the Tabernacles, they asked, "How did this man get such learning without having been taught?" Jesus answered "My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory. But he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." John 7:15-18