I’ve been discussing different biblical interpretations with an amillennialist friend who thinks the Church has replaced Israel in God’s economy. Those interactions have reinforced for me the importance of sola scriptura – regarding God’s Word as our only authority.
The idea that God is done with Israel for all time is called Replacement Theology. Those who believe the promises God made to Israel now apply to the Church have to go through all manner of liberal interpretive contortions to explain Romans 11. Replacement Theology is a doctrine of demons that is one of the roots of anti-Semitism. It was used by Nazis to justify persecution of the Jews.
It is frustrating trying to debate a biblical issue with someone who does not take the Bible literally. If you don’t take the Bible literally and in context, proof texts do not mean what they say; they can be interpreted to mean anything you want them to say. If everything in the Bible has some overriding spiritual meaning outside of what the clear text says, the only way you can ever know what it says is through some extra-biblical source (including one’s own feelings). And this is not sola scriptura.
The reason I take the Bible literally is that God used His prophetic Word to lead me to Jesus… since the prophecies of the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, we should expect the prophecies of His return to be literally fulfilled as well. For the person who does not take the Bible literally, the book of Revelation is not hard to understand, it is hard to believe.
It has been a blessing getting to know the Lord better through studying His prophetic Word as Revelation 1:3 promises. I investigated different methods of interpreting Bible prophecy and found the approach with the fewest unresolved conflicts is to just take Scripture literally… if the plain sense of a passage makes sense, seek no other sense or you’ll end up with nonsense. There is obvious symbolism in some apocalyptic passages but this is a common literary technique that improves our understanding and is usually even explained by the accompanying text.
We can trust God’s Word to accurately represent what God wants us to know. If God is almighty enough to have created this world, His omnipotence is sufficient to have accurately brought us His Word and preserved it through time even using His flawed subjects. The Bible is the main physical resource God gave us for getting to know Him personally during this age. Having to depend on some scholarly human intermediary to tell us what God really said is inconsistent with the reason God gave us His Word.
God has gone to great lengths to make it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Genesis 1:26-27 says we are created in the image of God. The most profound aspect of this is that we have a free will to make choices with eternal ramifications. It is not possible to have a truly satisfying relationship unless both parties are free to accept or reject the other. God loved us so much that He was willing to risk our rejecting Him in order to bless us with the experience of a genuine personal relationship with Him. Not even angels can have the depth of personal relationship with our Creator-Savior that He made possible for humans, see 1 Peter 1:12.
The problem with our having a free will is that everyone has used it to pursue personal agendas rather than get on board with God’s plan. The Bible calls this lack of regard for God sin and it is a problem we all have… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJ). The problem with sin is that it separates us from God. We were created for a purpose and sin keeps us from realizing that purpose... “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Fortunately for us, God intervened and made it possible for our sins to be forgiven… “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins by giving His own life in our place. He is the only one who could do this because He is the only one who ever lived a sinless life. Jesus lived a sinless life because He wasn’t just a man, He was also God. I know that this is a difficult truth to embrace with our mortal minds, but God helps those who are truly open to Him to accept it. And He has promised us… “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
I pray that all who read this post will chose to accept Jesus into their lives if they haven’t already. And I pray that they will experience the blessings of having God speak directly to them from a literal reading of His Word.