One of the great verses in Scripture is found in 2 Tim 3:15, “…and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation…” One of the reformational 'solas' is based on this verse for this teaches that no additional people or books are needed to bring us to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
During the Middle Ages, the Roman Church insisted that the clergy was instrumental in bringing people to faith, but the ‘reformers’ including Luther, Calvin, and others, insisted that this teaching was contrary to Scripture. Hence, Scripture alone, along with faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone became part of the five solas of the reformation.
Unfortunately, some people have taken this verse to mean ministers or other Scripture teachers are all superfluous to requirements. As a result of this rather narrow understanding, we have ‘fellowships’ where there are no appointed ministers or teachers. As these fellowships meet, someone is asked to read the Scriptures or give a ‘word from the Lord’, which is then followed by a time of prayer and singing and further discussion.
However, God still uses people to teach His Word. Throughout Scripture God, appointed various people to bring His Word. They included parents, prophets, priests, apostles, and others and woe to them if they did not do it properly or disobeyed (Deut 6:1-9; Eze 34; Jonah; Gal 3 etc). It is also clear from 2 Tim 1:5ff that Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had a positive impact on Timothy’s faith. Furthermore, most of us brought up in Christian families learn about the glorious gospel from faithful mothers and fathers and perhaps even other siblings. That is the process the Holy Spirit normally uses to bring us to faith in Jesus Christ.
However, this does not mean we or our children will understand everything they read or hear from Scripture. Some passages are very difficult to understand. The Apostle Peter even suggested that Paul wrote things that were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). If this was true for the Apostle Peter, we shouldn’t be surprised when we come across things that are hard to understand. So don’t be too hard on your pastor or elder when they don’t know the full meaning of a passage.
Of course, preachers and teachers need to be watchful that pride doesn’t get the better of them either. It is rather easy to fall into the trap of doing ‘i-so-gesis’ rather than exegesis. “I-so-gesis” usually means that Scripture is applied in a way that is not the intended meaning of the text, hence unbiblical, but in a twisted way comforts the preacher, teacher or hearer.
At seminary, we were taught to do careful exegesis and not ‘i-so-gesis.’ Sometimes we were even encouraged to set aside passages we didn’t fully understand until the Holy Spirit revealed to us the true meaning of the text, especially as it points to Christ (Lk 24:44).
Thankfully, through the ages, God has blessed the church with many great minds and exegetes who have been able to throw light on difficult passages and we thank the Lord for His provision. Yet, we remain thankful that the Scriptures alone, when read carefully and prayerfully, with the Holy Spirit’s blessing, can make us wise to salvation. JZ
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.