Every Sunday morning, crowds emerge from various neighborhoods and fill local church buildings. The choice of their specific church can be due to location, family, friends, the entertainment level or denomination. With so many churches, people have the liberty to pick from whatever “flavor” they want. One crucial “flavor” that church goers pay attention to is the teaching. You would think that if everyone referred to the same source, the Bible, everyone would come to the same conclusions. However this couldn’t be farther from reality, and interpretations of Scripture vary dramatically. While this is a major issue, an even bigger issue is that embracing different interpretations of the Bible is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. Peter writes:
“And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place…but know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:19-20 NASB).
A big concern the apostle Peter addresses is the fact that false teachers are proclaiming destructive heresies in the church. The term “prophesy of scripture” refers to any writings the Holy Spirit inspired, which equals everything in the Bible. The message was never the prophet’s own interpretation, and therefore we don’t get to come up with our own interpretation of the Bible either. Every prophecy of Scripture contains one message, and is not up to debate or opinion. The Bible can clearly speak for itself.
So why are there so many different interpretations of the Bible? Peter gives the first of two reasons in 2 Peter 2:2-3. “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” Reason number one is because of sensuality and greed which is ultimately exploiting selfishness. The bottom line is people will find a way to sneak what they want into Christianity.
The second reason for improper interpretations of the Bible is found in 2 Peter 3:16. “In which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Peter’s second point is that there are some teachers who simply don’t know what they are talking about. In many of today’s churches, a willing individual who wants to teach is quickly recruited, whether or not they have any real knowledge of the Bible. These “teachers” are very eager and have a good heart; however they misuse the precious Scriptures without even realizing it. Many times these untaught/unstable teachers simply regurgitate popular, “Christian” literature that’s written to appeal to the majority in order to generate more sales. Unfortunately, what’s being taught is not the word of God, but the opinions of man.
All things considered, the most important point of this whole subject is the outcome of these heretical teachings. In 2nd Peter 2:1 and 3:16, Peter clearly describes that destruction will come upon anyone who teaches or follows false interpretations of the Bible. This destruction refers to the day of judgment when we all have to come before God. (2 Peter 3:7)
So when we go to church this Sunday and submit ourselves to a form of teaching, we must understand that whatever teachings we accept really do have eternal implications. It’s not o.k. to taint God’s Word with human opinion; so choose wisely.