The past few weeks have produced some serious frustration for me. I continue to be grieved over the number of younger men who have become prey to doctrinal error. In the main they appear to be enamored with the arrogance of scholarship and intellectualism. Much of this wind of doctrine has come from the misguided influence of the Reformed theology. The basic problem however is the hermeneutic they have adopted. While they would call it biblical it is nothing more than the old allegorical system that has done so much harm to foundational theology. The façade for this farce is the use of the original languages. While language is first in the hermeneutical process it produces false conclusions when it ignores the whole of biblical interpretation that God has given to us.

Most of us would condemn the use of proof texting. This is what the average doctrinal error and cults are made of. The intellectual however has turned proof texting into an art form. Instead of using a single text or a few texts to prove a point, that does not exist in any of them, the pseudo-scholar uses page after page of proof texts before assigning a meaning that doesn’t exist in any of them. This process ignores the whole teaching on a subject and as a result produces error. It is built on bad habits of interpretation such as making an exception the rule and causing similarities to be equals. The product is philosophical theology rather than a theology that is biblical.

AN EXAMPLE

Several examples will suffice to illustrate the error of inserting human presuppositions into the text. The Body of Christ, the church is made up of those redeemed individuals from Pentecost to the Rapture. This is the bride of Christ it is not the same as the wife of God discussed by the prophets. Even the slightest attempt to weld national Israel with the church is subject to suspicion and will identify an errant hermeneutic. I am fully aware of the proof texts used to destroy the clear separation of the two. This includes the bifurcating the special ministry to the church, by the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost.

The church, the body of Christ, is a whole it is a solid unit. Members are a part of this body but they are not the whole. The body of Christ, the heavenly church, is not complete; it has never met and will not meet until the catching away of the church prior to the tribulation period. Members in a local church may be part of the body of Christ but they are not equal to the whole. For that reason the local church, with its many unsaved members is not equal to the body of Christ.

When the heavenly church, the body of Christ is caught away the bridegroom will “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:8)). The teaching is elementary, unless one deliberately complicates it. At this point not one member of the body or the whole has any flaw or blemish in any way. Our salvation and everything that the bride inherently is, eternally, depends on the finished work of Christ. Our works or service has nothing to do with our eternal state or status. To reject this is to attack the veracity of the finished work of Christ.

When Christ returns at the Second Coming, prior to the Millennium, His bride, the body of Christ will return with Him. This complete body “shall reign on earth” (Rev. 5:10) “with” Him. This unity of the bride with the bridegroom is without exception. No member of this glorious church will be absent for any reason from this eternal relationship or status.

AN OLD ERROR

One cannot assume that scholars are always right. Actually we can assume that they are often wrong. This is true of and old error proposed by some scholars. I speak here of what is called “The doctrine of eternal rewards”. At the heart of this error is the idea that some members of the body of Christ will not share in the millennial reign with Christ and that some will not share in the heavenly city, the eternal state. This state of limbo or purgatory is blamed on the unprofitable servant texts in Matthew and is simply a long list of proof texts that ignore the clear teaching of scripture on the body of Christ. This odd teaching arises from an errant hermeneutic sprinkled with the dust of proper use of the language. It may not be as deliberate as it looks but is an effort to “complicate to confuse”.

Our task in bible interpretation is to “simply to clarify”. We also need to begin with the things that we most assuredly know. The clear teaching of the church as bride of Christ and as the one body of Christ in union makes such humanly devised presuppositions impossible. The bible was not written for scholars to toy with. It is written to us as the average believer. While we are grateful for honest and faithful grammarians and well qualified scholars but God has given the average believer a way to know when the experts are not telling the truth. That is what the one biblical hermeneutic is all about. If those who have divided the body into pieces, as to state and status, would have just asked questions of the text their answers would have stood the test of the whole. The reader always needs to ask these who, where, when, why questions before attempting to assign personal meaning to the text. If one does not know who the text in question was written too, how could you expect the bible to answer?

The one biblical hermeneutic is the correct system of interpretation. It is mathematical in that if we use the system of interpreting and the rules that apply to language everyone will come to the same answer every time. The variances in conclusions therefore rise from ignoring the system or violating the rules so that all errors actually rise from and errant system or a breaking of the rules of interpretation.

ONE ERROR LEADS TO ANOTHER

An additional problem in this area of theology is a faulty view of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The texts are very clear on this event. It is our human invention that creates the misunderstanding. The Bema has nothing to do with salvation. We are at the Bema as a result of our salvation through the work of Christ. This judgment is about the service of sons. All sons are equal at this point. The only question here is what rewards are given to whom. This is a positive time and the highlight of it all is that Christ not servants are honored in that all crowns are ultimately cast before the Lord (Rev. 4:10). The center of this scene is Christ and the main issue is the awarding of crowns.

Teaching on this subject is often overwhelmed with the negative. It is true that all service done in the flesh with be burned. It is true that some members of the body of Christ will not receive rewards. That would be sad but that is not the purpose of the Bema. The main purpose is positive, it is rewards. I do not mean to set aside disobedience or un-confessed sin but that is not the focus, it is a by-product. This is another reason why the whole hermeneutic must be used in viewing scripture.

In addition to the micro/macro context, the historical setting of the text always helps answer little questions. The Holy Spirit used the Bema seat because the actual historical event confirms the positive view. The Bema was a raised platform where the judge sat. One of these is still standing in the old city of Corinth. When a race or sporting event was over the Bema was used by the judge to honor the winner, often with a crown of olive leaves. That was the sole purpose of the judge. While it is true the non-winners were not mentioned the judge did not lecture, condemn or exile those who failed to win the event.

When the Judgment Seat of Christ is concluded every member of the bride will stand included and equal “In Christ”. That is because their state and status eternally was settled by the sacrifice of Christ not the works of the believers. This is all so simple and points out why bad doctrine leads ultimately to heresy.

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