A parent leaves a kid at home with a note that reads “Clean your room!” The kid respects the parent’s authority and so obeys the command, but if he interprets the note how he wants by stuffing toys out-of-sight in the closet or clean clothing under the bed, is he truly pleasing to his parent? No, of course not! Yet, even if we all can agree that God’s Word is authoritative over our lives but interpret it however we would would like, can we be pleasing to God?
I. 2 Peter 1:19-21. Authority came from the Father to the Son to men inspired to write God’s Word for us to obey. Just as a cop cannot interpret the law however he wants, we cannot make God’s Word mean whatever we would like it to or best suits our lifestyle. Rather, we must discover what God intended for us to understand and obey.
II. 1 Corinthians 11:17-29. Good Bible study techniques must be applied. Who’s speaking? To whom is the passage being spoken? What is the type of literature and language being used? What testament and book does it appear in? What’s the general, specific, and historical context? Is there a clear command? For an example, take the issue of when to take the Lord’s Supper. Is there an approved example (Acts 20:7)? Is there an inference about how often Christians met (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)?
III. Ephesians 5:19. We must treat biblical silence as prohibitive rather than permissive. We can get into much trouble when we say, “God didn’t say we couldn’t ….” Once we open a door, where does it end? If I order coffee at a restaurant, I expect the waitress to bring me a mug of black coffee. If she puts in several packs of sugar and whitens it with cream, I would not be pleased. Those things are innovations (something new introduced) rather than an expedient (a means to get to the command). Thus, the mug is an expedient for me to have coffee in the same way that a songbook or pitchpipe would aid us in singing. An addition of a guitar or choir in worship, however, would be an innovation.
So, to please the parent, the kid should ask himself, “How would mom want me to clean my room? What would she want me to do with these toys and clean clothes?” God’s inspired Word, just as the parent’s note, can never mean what it never meant.