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Bible Study Pt. 3- The Bible Has More than One...

Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 05/06/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN


                           CHAPTER III

          The Bible Has More than One Level of Meaning

   Thus ÿfar in our study, ÿin brief fashion, ÿwe have discovered two ÿvery important principles we must keep in mind as ÿwe ÿstudy the Bi- ble. These are:

        1) ÿÿThe Bible alone and in its entirety is the ÿWord ÿof God.         2) We are to interpret Scripture with Scripture.

   Only ÿas we keep these principles in mind are we going to find truth from the Bible.    But ÿnow we want to look at a third principle that is of ÿvery great ÿimportance if we are to realize most fully ÿthe ÿspiritual riches hidden within the Bible.    In ÿChapter ÿI ÿthe ÿprinciple was set forth ÿthat ÿthe ÿBible ordinarily has more than one level of meaning. ÿWe saw that there are:

        1) the historical setting         2) the moral or spiritual teaching         3) the salvation account

   We ÿwill ÿnow ÿexamine these three levels in ÿgreater ÿdetail, beginning with the historical setting.

The ÿBible ÿis Absolutely Accurate in Its ÿRecord ÿof ÿHistorical Events    

   Many ÿpeople ÿhave ÿthe notion that because the Bible ÿis ÿthe revelation ÿof God's Word concerning salvation, ÿit is ÿtherefore not ÿnecessarily ÿtrustworthy or accurate when it speaks ÿin ÿthe area ÿof history or science or any other field of ÿlearning. ÿÿWe immediately sense the wrongness of this idea. ÿSince the Bible is a ÿrevelation ÿfrom God Himself as He spoke through holy ÿmen ÿof old, ÿÿwe ÿknow ÿthat whatever He has given us must be ÿtrue ÿand dependable.    A favorite target of attack in this area concerns the creation of the earth. The Bible declares that God created the universe in six ÿdays. ÿIf we search the Bible, ÿwe will find this ÿstatement abundantly ÿsupported, ÿwith no encouragement for the theory that more than six 24-hour days were required.    Modern ÿscience ÿhas concluded that the world is ÿbillions ÿof years ÿold. ÿBut how valid is this conclusion? ÿWe must ÿremember that ÿscientists who are arriving at conclusions ÿconcerning ÿthe origins ÿof ÿthe ÿuniverse are dealing ÿwith ÿexceedingly ÿscarce evidence. ÿÿMoreover, ÿsince no present day scientist was ÿliving back then, and since the written record goes back only about five thousand years, ÿthe modern day scientist must view the available evidence, ÿÿas ÿmeager as it might be, ÿin the light ÿof ÿcertain assumptions he is forced to make. ÿObviously, ÿthe conclusions at which he arrives will be no more accurate than the assumptions or "educated guesses' on which he has based his view of the limited evidence available to him. ÿObviously then, ÿit is impossible for the ÿconclusions of the scientists to be even a tiny fraction ÿas accurate ÿas the majestic statement of the Bible describing God's act of creating the heavens and the earth.    The ÿBible ÿalso ÿrecords ÿthe ÿoccurrence ÿof ÿa ÿflood ÿthat destroyed ÿeverything having the breath of life from off the face of ÿthe ÿearth. ÿÿThis flood also covered ÿthe ÿhighest ÿmountain (Genesis ÿ6 ÿto 9). ÿIf we suggest that this might ÿhave ÿbeen ÿa localized flood of some kind, we are denying the authority of the Scriptures.    The ÿBible ÿsays ÿthat in Peleg's day the ÿearth ÿwas ÿdivided (Genesis 10). This historical statement is abundantly seen in the scientific ÿevidence ÿindicating ÿthat ÿat one ÿtime ÿthis ÿearth consisted of one huge continent which subsequently broke up ÿinto the smaller continents that exist today.    Unless ÿthe Bible itself shows us that an account of an ÿevent or conversation is to be understood as being non-historical, ÿÿwe can depend absolutely on the fact that every conversation, ÿevery historical ÿincident ÿrecorded ÿin the Bible ÿactually ÿdid ÿtake place. ÿÿBecause ÿthe ÿarcheological evidence may ÿnot ÿshow ÿthe existence of a particular nation named in the Bible, ÿor ÿbecause the ÿincident may appear unusual, ÿwe nevertheless have no ÿright whatsoever ÿto ÿsuggest ÿthat ÿwhat the ÿBible ÿhas ÿrecorded ÿis anything but authoritative.    When the Bible speaks, ÿfor example, ÿof the nation of ÿIsrael passing ÿthrough the Red Sea so that the "waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left' (Exodus 14:22), ÿwe would ÿbe denying the truth of God to suggest that anything but a miracle occurred. ÿObviously God altered the normal physical laws in order that these waters might stand as a wall. ÿWhen the Bible speaks of a prophet by the name of Jonah being cast into the ÿsea and being swallowed by a fish, ÿwe are repudiating God Himself to suggest ÿthat this was not a true historical event that ÿoccurred about ÿ800 ÿÿyears before Christ. ÿWhen the Bible speaks ÿof ÿthe bodily ÿresurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwe can be assured that this event actually occurred in history.    Because the Bible is impeccably accurate in whatever facts God gives ÿus concerning past historical events, ÿbeing the facts ÿHe wants ÿto ÿbring to our attention, ÿwe can rest assured that ÿthe Bible ÿis also equally accurate when it speaks about ÿthe ÿfuture events which concern this world and its inhabitants. ÿThe ÿfuture physical return of Lord Jesus Christ in glory, the rapture of the believers ÿon the last day to go to be with Him, ÿthe destruction of this present universe by fire, the creation of New Heavens and a ÿNew ÿEarth ÿas ÿthe ÿeternal ÿdwelling ÿplace ÿfor ÿborn-again believers, ÿÿand ÿthe removal of the unsaved into a place ÿcalled Hell, where they will suffer eternally as payment for their sins, are ÿall ÿto be understood as future historical events ÿthat ÿare certain ÿand ÿsure to take place, ÿjust as ÿthe ÿpast ÿhistorical events recorded in the Bible actually took place.    It ÿmight ÿbe ÿemphasized ÿthat a ÿdenial ÿof ÿthe ÿhistorical accuracy ÿof the Bible as it speaks to such questions as creation and the flood will also lead to serious questions regarding ÿsuch events ÿas the destruction of this world by fire and the ÿremoval of the unsaved into eternal damnation. ÿGod warns concerning this in II Peter 3:3-7,10,13:

        Knowing ÿthis ÿfirst, ÿthat there shall come in the ÿlast days              scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

        And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since         the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were             from the beginning of the creation.

        For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word         of ÿGod the heavens were of old, ÿand the earth ÿstanding out           of the water and in the water:

        Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with         water, perished:

        But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by         the same word kept in store, reserved into fire against         the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men....

        But ÿthe ÿday ÿof the Lord will come as a ÿthief ÿin ÿthe night;         in ÿthe ÿwhich ÿthe heavens shall pass ÿaway ÿwith ÿgreat noise,         and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth         also ÿand ÿthe ÿworks that are therein ÿshall ÿbe ÿburned up....

        Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new         heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

   God's ÿpurpose in writing the Bible was not to give us a ÿbook on ÿhistory or science. ÿIn revealing His salvation plan ÿto ÿus, however, ÿGod did so within an historical context. That is, God's plan comes to fruition in history. ÿTherefore, ÿwhen God ÿselects certain historical events or conversations as the context through which ÿthe ÿsalvation program will shine, ÿwe can ÿbe ÿabsolutely certain that those historical events and conversations which have been ÿÿchosen ÿto ÿbe ÿrecorded ÿare ÿaltogether ÿÿaccurate ÿÿand trustworthy.    We see, therefore, that the Bible is a book that is absolutely dependable in its presentation of historical facts.    But ÿthe ÿBible ÿis much more than an ÿaccount ÿof ÿhistorical events. ÿIt also has a second level of meaning which is concerned with teaching moral and spiritual values. Let us now examine this characteristic of the Bible.

The Bible Teaches Moral and Spiritual Values

   We ÿread ÿin ÿII ÿTimothy 3:16, ÿ"All scripture ÿis ÿgiven ÿby inspira- ÿÿtion ÿof ÿGod, ÿand is profitable for ÿdoctrine, ÿÿfor reproof, for correction, ÿfor instruction in righteousness:....' The ÿBible ÿtherefore is the account wherein God sets ÿforth ÿthe moral ÿand spiritual principles and guidelines that man ought ÿto live by, ÿthat man might know the more abundant life. God, in His condescending ÿlove ÿand ÿmercy, ÿhas given us ÿa ÿrevelation ÿin written ÿform whereby the human race, ÿwhich was created ÿin ÿHis image, can live most happily and effectively in this world.    Only ÿthe ÿbeliever ÿin ÿChrist, ÿÿwho ÿreceived ÿhis ÿeternal resurrected ÿsoul ÿ(also called "spirit') ÿat the moment of ÿhis salvation, will have an ongoing desire to be obedient to God. ÿHe will ÿcarefully listen to the admonitions and exhortations of the Bible because he loves God who is doing the admonishing. In fact, when he sins, the believer will be deeply troubled because within his ÿown ÿpersonality he will feel violated. ÿEven though in ÿhis body ÿhe still lusts after sin, ÿin his soul wherein he has ÿbeen born ÿfrom above, ÿhe never wants to sin again. ÿÿMoreover, ÿÿGod Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit indwells him. Indeed, he has become a child of God and the Holy Spirit will soon bring him under conviction if he does not confess and turn from that sin.    This ÿprocess ÿis ÿsometimes called "growing ÿin ÿgrace' ÿÿor growing in "sanctification.' It is the experience of every child of ÿGod. ÿIt is the process whereby he will be doing good ÿworks. That is, he will be doing works pleasing to God. ÿThese works are never ÿa ÿcause ÿor basis for salvation. ÿRather, ÿÿthey ÿare ÿan expected ÿresult of our salvation. ÿEphesians 2:8-10 ÿsets ÿforth this principle so beautifully.

        For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of         yourselves: it is the gift of God:

        Not of works, lest any man should boast.

        For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto         good works, which God hath before ordained that we should         walk in them.     

   In ÿorder to receive maximum value from God's Word as it ÿsets forth the guidelines for our life, ÿthree principles must ÿalways be kept in view:          

        1. The Bible is the final authority.         2. ÿThe Bible must be read with a view to being ÿobedient to         what is found therein.         3. ÿÿThe Bible itself interprets and explains ÿthe ÿrules which God         has laid down.

   As ÿwe read the Bible, ÿwe discover many rules for man's ÿcon- duct. For example, the Bible says that we should seek the kingdom of ÿGod and His righteousness. ÿIt declares we are not to ÿcommit adultery. ÿÿIt ÿemphasizes ÿthat we are to be holy ÿjust ÿas ÿour heavenly ÿFather ÿis ÿholy. ÿThese rules ÿof ÿconduct ÿare ÿfound throughout the Bible so that the whole Bible becomes the standard which God has established for the well-being of mankind.    To ÿencourage us and help us avoid the consequences of ÿliving in ÿviolation ÿof ÿthese rules, ÿthe Bible ÿrecords ÿhundreds ÿof historical situations which can be examined in the light of these rules to discover the blessings that come with obedience and ÿthe curse that comes with disobedience. ÿThus we have the accounts of individuals such as Joseph and Daniel and the blessings that came into their lives as they obeyed God; ÿand we have the accounts of Israel ÿand ÿJudah, ÿÿwho came under God's ÿjudgment ÿbecause ÿof disobedience. Therefore, God declares in I Corinthians 10:11:

        Now ÿall ÿthese things happened unto them for ÿensamples; and         they ÿare written for our admonition, ÿupon whom the ends of         the world are come.

   But ÿall ÿthis information will be valueless to us ÿunless ÿwe recognize that the Bible is the Word of God.  ÿThere is no higher authority which abrogates, ÿinvalidates or explains the ÿbiblical statement. It is altogether trustworthy and dependable.    More ÿthan that, ÿwe must also look upon the examples and ÿthe declarations of the Bible with a view to being obedient to ÿthem. We can know in our hearts that the Bible is authoritative, ÿÿthat it is the Word of God. Only by surrendering to all we find in the Bible ÿwill we really begin to see the implications and ÿultimate values ÿof ÿthe truths that are set forth. ÿThis is ÿbecause ÿthe Bible ÿis more than just a rule book. ÿIt is the living ÿWord ÿof God. ÿAs we humbly and obediently approach it as the Word of God, it ÿbecomes the Sword of the Spirit as God Himself ÿapplies ÿthat Word to our lives. ÿWe will never be able to interpret the ÿBible properly, we will never see the riches of the Word of God, unless we ÿcome to it with an earnest desire to be obedient to ÿanything and everything we find therein.    Because the Bible is the complete written revelation of God to man, ÿit is its own interpreter. We will understand it only as we compare Scripture with Scripture. ÿWe looked at this principle in greater ÿdetail ÿin ÿour last chapter. ÿIt is ÿa ÿprinciple ÿthat becomes ÿvery ÿimportant if we are to ÿcorrectly ÿunderstand ÿthe moral and spiritual truths of the Bible.    For example, ÿwhen God declares, ÿ"Thou shalt not kill,' ÿÿwe cannot know fully what He means unless we examine everything else in the Bible that relates to the matter of killing. Only then can we ÿbe sure that God does not mean that we may not kill ÿanimals. Indeed, ÿÿthere are even times when the Bible insists that ÿhuman life must be taken.    Thus ÿit is imperative that the whole Bible be read. ÿOnly ÿby careful ÿinvestigation of the entire Bible can we understand most clearly the moral and spiritual laws which God has set forth.    It must be added, ÿof course, ÿthat when we as unsaved sinners go ÿto ÿthe Bible ready to be obedient to all we find there, ÿÿwe will discover that we do not measure up to the standards God ÿhas set forth. This should serve to bring us to our knees, crying out for deliverance from our sins through the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwho has ÿbeen presented to us in the Bible in a marvelous fashion ÿas the Redeemer. ÿTo whatever extent man lives in conformity to ÿthe laws of the Bible, ÿhe will enjoy to some degree the blessings of God, ÿÿbut he will never know the highest blessing and happiness, that of eternal life, until he has become obedient to the command to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.    Thus ÿfar ÿwe have seen that not only is the Bible ÿimpeccably ac- curate as it speaks historically, ÿbut through the historical events recorded, as well as through the direct commands set forth in the Scriptures, God gives to us moral and spiritual values and precepts whereby man is to live.

The Bible is the Gospel of Grace    

   There ÿis ÿa third level of meaning that ÿpersistently ÿshines through all of the Scriptures. ÿIt is the fact that the Bible ÿis the presentation of the Gospel of grace. Without question this is the most important purpose of the Bible. The Bible was written so that mankind might know of their need of a Savior. ÿGod ÿdeclared in John 20:31 concerning the signs which Jesus did:

        But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus         is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye         might have life through his name.

   It ÿis ÿthrough God's salvation program that He tells ÿmankind about ÿour terrible predicament. ÿHe discloses to us that without Christ we are condemned to eternal damnation because of our sins. But wonderfully, ÿGod also shows us the marvelous escape that ÿHe has provided through the Lord Jesus Christ.    The ÿpresentation of the Gospel message is given to us in ÿtwo basic ways: ÿ(1) ÿby means of statements speaking directly to the question of salvation, ÿand (2) by means of historical events and phrases ÿwhich are actually types or figures of ÿGod's ÿsalvation program. In our study we will examine these two methods of Gospel presentation.

God Speaks Directly to the Matter of Salvation    

   Almost ÿfrom the very beginning of the Bible, ÿstatements ÿare made ÿthat ÿspeak ÿdirectly to the question ÿof ÿsalvation. ÿÿFor example, in Genesis 3:15 ÿGod declares that there would be enmity between Satan and the woman, ÿand between his seed and her ÿseed, so that Satan's head would be bruised. ÿThis points to the enmity that exists between the kingdom of Satan on the one hand and ÿthe kingdom of Christ on the other. ÿChrist is the seed of the ÿwoman who, by going to the Cross, would vanquish Satan.    In ÿGenesis, ÿÿGod ÿgives additional ÿinsight ÿconcerning ÿHis salvation ÿprogram ÿas ÿHe declares that the ÿscepter ÿwould ÿnot depart ÿfrom Judah. ÿBy means of this language, ÿthe Bible ÿshows that a King would come from Judah. ÿThis King would be intimately related to salvation.    Step ÿby ÿstep God gives more and more information ÿconcerning His salvation program. ÿIn Psalm 103, ÿfor example, ÿHe speaks of Himself as the Savior who "forgiveth all thine iniquities' ÿÿand "redeemeth thy life from destruction.' ÿIn Isaiah 53 God becomes even ÿmore specific as He describes the coming Savior as One ÿwho would become a Man of Sorrows upon whom God would lay our sins.    However, ÿÿit is in the New Testament that the proclamation of the salvation program comes to its most complete revelation. ÿThe first ÿfour ÿbooks of the New Testament clearly present the ÿLord Jesus ÿChrist ÿto us as our Savior. ÿRemember John the ÿBaptist's introduction ÿof Him as he declared, ÿ"Behold the Lamb of God who taketh ÿaway ÿthe ÿsin of the world.' ÿRemember, ÿtoo, ÿÿsuch ÿa beautiful ÿand specific promise as John 3:16 ÿwhere God promises, "For God so loved the world, ÿthat he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever- lasting life.'    God ÿcontinues ÿHis revelation of His Gospel ÿprogram ÿin ÿthe epistles. ÿThere, ÿunder the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ÿthe Apostle ÿPaul and others wrote to various churches, ÿrevealing in clear detail the grand, wonderful declaration of salvation.    Thus ÿthe ÿwhole Bible is a book that ÿpresents ÿthe ÿglorious Gospel ÿof salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. ÿÿAnyone ÿwho reads ÿit ÿwith a humble attitude and realizes that this ÿis ÿthe Word of God has the needed information to convict him of his sin. By this Word, God will draw him into the kingdom of Christ.

The Gospel of Grace Is Frequently Hidden    

   While ÿthe Bible makes many statements that bear ÿdirectly ÿon the glorious message of salvation, this message is not always im- mediately ÿapparent. ÿSometimes it is hidden within the ÿbiblical language. ÿÿWe must realize that the message of salvation is ÿthe most important message of the Bible. We would expect, ÿtherefore, that it would shine clearly through on every page of the Bible.    Earlier ÿin our study we saw that the Bible can be trusted im- plicitly ÿeven when it speaks from the historical standpoint. ÿWe also ÿdiscovered that frequently the Bible sets forth ÿmoral ÿand spiritual values, ÿwhich are to be observed by the human race ÿin order ÿÿto ÿassure ÿhappiness ÿon ÿthis ÿearth. ÿÿBut ÿthe ÿmajor presentation ÿof ÿthe ÿBible ÿis the Gospel ÿof ÿGod's ÿgrace ÿas revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿour Savior. ÿAs we ÿhave just discovered, it is this level of meaning which frequently can be found in very clear language.    But ÿwe are going to find that very frequently the message ÿof salvation ÿcan ÿalso ÿbe ÿfound ÿhidden ÿwithin ÿthe ÿÿhistorical conversa- ÿÿtions ÿand incidents recorded within the Bible. ÿÿThe hidden ÿaspects of this third level of meaning are what ÿmust ÿbe looked ÿat ÿin ÿaddition ÿto the first ÿlevel ÿof ÿmeaning, ÿÿthe historical aspects, ÿand the second level of meaning, ÿthe ÿmoral and spiritual teachings.    Frequently ÿwe ÿfind recorded in the Bible historical ÿevents, words, phrases, and concepts which in themselves do not appear to speak to the message of salvation. ÿNevertheless, because we know that the Bible is the Word of God, and we know that the intent of the ÿBible ÿis ÿto bring men face to face with their ÿneed ÿof ÿa Savior, ÿÿwe realize that God did not put anything in ÿthe ÿBible incidentally or coincidentally or casually. We sense very quickly that it wasn't God's purpose to write the Bible simply to give us a history lesson, ÿeven though every event recorded in the ÿBible is perfect in its historical accuracy. We also sense that God did not write the Bible simply to give us moral and spiritual lessons so that mankind might live more comfortably upon this earth, even though those moral and spiritual lessons are seen throughout ÿthe Scriptures. ÿIndeed the great predicament facing mankind is ÿthat he is going to hell because of his sins. This is a major facet of the most important message of the Bible. Wonderfully, the rest of the ÿmessage ÿis ÿthe truth that by believing in ÿChrist ÿwe ÿcan escape this most terrible predicament.    The problem we face, however, is that so much of the Bible ap- pears ÿon ÿthe surface to have no direct ÿrelationship ÿto ÿGod's salvation plan. As we have already noted, there is ample evidence in the Bible that its central purpose is to bring God's salvation plan to the attention of the human race. Is it possible that only those ÿdirect ÿstatements that speak clearly to ÿthe ÿmessage ÿof salvation ÿare ÿto ÿbe ÿconsidered relevant in ÿrelation ÿto ÿthe salvation message? Are we to consider the balance of the Bible to be ÿsimply ÿthe historical framework, ÿthe historical ÿmilieu ÿin which the Gospel message is cast?    The ÿBible ÿprovides answers to these questions, ÿand this ÿis what we want to develop as we go on in this study. We should note that ÿGod ÿcarefully ÿguides ÿus ÿin ÿour ÿunderstanding ÿof ÿthe Scriptures as to how to handle the words, ÿphrases, ÿand concepts which ÿat ÿfirst blush appear to have no direct ÿrelationship ÿto God's salvation program.

The ÿCeremonial Laws Pointed to Aspects of God's ÿSalvation ÿPro- gram    

   Let us look first at the record of the ceremonial laws. ÿThese are one major way God has hidden the salvation message. For exam- ple, in the Old Testament God instituted the Passover Feast. This was ÿfirst ÿobserved at the time that Israel went out ÿof ÿEgypt, when ÿthe angel of death killed the firstborn in the ÿhomes ÿthat did not have the lamb's blood placed on the doorpost. ÿThe ÿblood of ÿthat ÿlamb ÿprovided salvation from physical ÿdeath ÿfor ÿthe firstborn of that home. ÿThe Bible teaches very clearly that that historical event was a picture of the salvation which is provided through ÿJesus Christ. ÿHe is our Passover. ÿHe is the Lamb which was slain so that we would not come into eternal damnation.   Besides the observance of feast days which anticipated the com- ing of the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿthe ceremonial laws also ÿincluded offerings, sacrifices, food laws, planting laws, and a whole host of ÿregulations which the Bible presents as types or ÿfigures ÿor representations ÿof spiritual truths which relate to some ÿaspect of the salvation message. We see, therefore, that by means of the ceremonial ÿlaws God has hidden the salvation message within ÿthe Scriptures. ÿÿAs we begin to understand the spiritual meaning ÿof each ÿaspect ÿof the ceremonial laws, ÿour understanding ÿof ÿthe salvation message is enhanced.    But now let us look at another biblical means of understanding the salvation message. ÿWhen Christ was on earth He declared from time ÿto time that He was about to speak a parable. ÿHe then pro- ceeded to give the parable, ÿconcluding His presentation with the spiritual meaning. ÿBy means of these parables Christ was presen- ting an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The fact is, these parables ÿparalleled the ceremonial observances of the Old Testa- ment, ÿÿwhich themselves were earthly observances with a heavenly meaning. The ceremonial laws, therefore, were actually historical parables. ÿÿThat is, ÿthey were actual earthly experiences of the Israelites, ÿÿeach ÿpointing to a heavenly or ÿspiritual ÿmeaning relating to some aspect of salvation.    In addition to the ceremonial laws and the parables, ÿGod also used a third method to teach heavenly lessons by means of earthly events. ÿÿThis was by the use of historical events. ÿGod shows us very ÿcarefully in the Scriptures that certain historical ÿevents were ÿrecorded in the Bible so that we might ÿunderstand ÿthrough them spiritual truth relating to salvation.    For example, ÿin Genesis we read of Abraham bearing Ishmael by Hagar and the subsequent expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from ÿthe home of Abraham and Sarah. In Galatians 4, God calls attention to this historical event in order to teach the spiritual truth ÿthat we ÿeither ÿhave ÿa ÿsalvation that leads ÿto ÿspiritual ÿbondage (typified ÿby ÿHagar and Ishmael), ÿor a salvation ÿprogram ÿthat leads ÿto ÿspiritual freedom (typified by Sarah and ÿIsaac). ÿÿIt isn't ÿÿour ÿpurpose ÿin ÿthis ÿpresent ÿstudy ÿto ÿdevelop ÿthis particular ÿtruth, ÿbut you can read about it in Genesis ÿ21:9-14 and Galatians 4:21-31.    Likewise, ÿÿin Malachi 4 God calls attention to the coming ÿof Elijah, and in Matthew 11:11-14 our Lord shows us that the Elijah He was referring to was actually John the Baptist. Therefore, God is indicating that Elijah typified John the Baptist.    By ÿmeans ÿof these very pertinent biblical ÿillustrations ÿwe should ÿbe able to see that God Himself teaches that the ÿmessage of salvation is greatly expanded throughout the Scriptures, ÿÿfar beyond ÿsuch ÿclear declarations of salvation as those ÿfound ÿin John 3:16, Isaiah 53, and the epistles.    But now we must face a very serious question. ÿWhen God clear- ly indicates that He is speaking in parables, ÿor when He clearly indicates ÿthat this or that historical event or person is a type of ÿsome ÿaspect of the salvation message, ÿor when He ÿindicates that the ceremonial law is pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ, ÿwe know ÿthat ÿwe ÿare on very safe ground in ÿdeveloping ÿspiritual salvation ÿtruth from these specific accounts of the ÿScriptures. But ÿdo ÿwe ÿdare ÿto ÿgo beyond ÿthis ÿand ÿsurmise ÿthat ÿother historical events and personalities and concepts might also ÿhave spiritual dimension to them? ÿIn other words, are they also types and figures of some aspect of the salvation proclamation? Let the Bible guide us to an answer on this.    In ÿMark 4 God informs us that "without a parable spake He not unto ÿthem....' ÿÿThe ÿusage of parables was a ÿcommon ÿteaching method of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, when we study the four Gospels, we ÿfind that sometimes Jesus made a point of indicating that ÿHe was ÿspeaking ÿin ÿa parable. ÿHe did ÿthis, ÿÿfor ÿexample, ÿÿin presenting the parable of the sower in Luke 8.    But ÿmany ÿother times He made statements ÿwithout ÿespecially emphasizing ÿthat these were parables. ÿRepeatedly He ÿwould ÿsay "The Kingdom of Heaven is...' ÿand then proceed to give a story. When ÿwe look at such a statement, ÿwe know that it was a parable even though Jesus did not specifically call it that.    Another ÿexample ÿis ÿthe story He told of the ÿrich ÿman ÿand Lazarus ÿin Luke 16. ÿIt isn't pointed out as being a parable ÿin the Bible. ÿYet, when we study it carefully, ÿwe discover that it must ÿbe ÿa parable. ÿIf it were merely an historical event, ÿÿit would be full of contradictions. For example, we're told that the rich ÿman dies and is buried, ÿand yet in the next few verses ÿwe find ÿthat ÿin ÿhell he is described as having both ÿeyes ÿand ÿa tongue. However, when his body was buried, he was buried with his eyes and tongue. How then did his eyes and tongue get into Hell?    Likewise, ÿÿthere are many other such contradictions ÿin ÿthis story if we assume it was an actual historical event. But once we begin ÿlooking ÿat ÿit ÿas a parable (an ÿearthly ÿstory ÿwith ÿa heavenly ÿmeaning), ÿÿthen ÿall these ÿcontradictions ÿdisappear. Through this story, we begin to realize that Christ is not giving us a chronological outline of what happens when we die. ÿÿRather, He ÿis ÿbringing ÿout ÿsome ÿvery ÿimportant ÿspiritual ÿconcepts concerning what happens when someone dies without Christ.    From ÿÿthese ÿexamples ÿwe ÿsee ÿthat ÿthere ÿare ÿÿadditional statements in the Bible that definitely show us that God does not necessarily ÿtell ÿus ÿin ÿa specific way ÿthat ÿthe ÿpassage ÿin question ÿis ÿa parable or is meant to indicate ÿspiritual ÿtruth relating to salvation.    As ÿwe ÿhave ÿseen, ÿGod has given pertinent examples ÿof ÿthe Bible's teaching methods by specifically indicating that either a parable ÿis ÿin ÿview ÿor that a ÿhistorical ÿevent ÿis ÿactually pointing to spiritual truth. ÿThese examples show us the path ÿwe ought ÿto ÿfollow. ÿÿThey direct us to see ÿthat ÿthis ÿis ÿGod's teaching method. And it is up to us to apply this teaching method to our continuing study of the Bible.    But ÿdo ÿwe ÿreally have ÿadditional ÿbiblical ÿvalidation ÿto proceed in this fashion? ÿCan we really search for the ÿsalvation message in passages that appear to be historical in nature only?    We ÿmight approach these questions in this way: ÿin ÿJohn ÿ20, Jesus ÿspeaks ÿof the miracles He did, ÿand then He ÿdeclares ÿin verse 31:         But ÿthese are written, ÿthat ye might believe that Jesus is         the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might                      have life through his name.

   Notice that Jesus is specifying that these miracles were ÿdone in ÿorder ÿthat ÿthrough ÿthe record of them ÿwe ÿmight ÿcome ÿto salvation. But when Jesus actually performed these miracles, they were in themselves just historical events that appeared unrelated to the salvation program.    The healing of a sick man in itself has nothing to do with the salvation program. But, ÿbased on the principle set forth in John 20:31, ÿÿChrist ÿis insisting that He performed this ÿmiracle ÿin order ÿthat ÿwe might know about salvation. ÿIn view of the ÿfact that ÿthe ÿBible declares that without a parable ÿJesus ÿdid ÿnot speak ÿto them (Mark 4:34), ÿwe can see that these miracles ÿwere actually historica

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