How Incarnation is Necessary for a Proper Biblical Interpretation Part 2

Passages like Joshua 1:8-9 have to be understood in their historical context. God was not commanding Joshua to take a scroll, meditate and think about it all day, every day. He was not supposed to be in isolation from his work or people. There weren’t Bibles or books in those days. Joshua was the leader of a nation, and he was very busy. He was active day and night dealing with the challenges of a nation of several million people. Hence, to understand what meditating day and night means, it  cannot be extracted outside of the fact that to fulfill this commandment, he had to think about the truths, precepts, and commands of the Lord. He had to do this so he could apply the Word while he was busy doing his work. This caused him to prosper.

Thus, instead of viewing the Bible as some magic book with formulas to effectively engage the supernatural world, we have to understand that most of the New Testament was birthed out of letters from people like Paul, Peter, Jude, and John. He wrote to address various problems and situations in the Church. Hence, their inspiration was connected to dealing with real-life challenges in the flesh that arose from mingling with people. They had to problem-solve with divine insight. When we detach the Bible from culture and engagement with people, we miss the point of the Bible. We begin to lose our ability to interpret it correctly.

When I was in a Ph.D. program in 2007, the focus of learning was what was called “action research” or being a “reflective practitioner.” The research in the secular, sociological, and religious fields I studied proved that true knowledge could not be learned from being a practitioner. The truth unfolded as we did the work that proved our hypothesis. Hence, having a proper understanding of a thing could not be attained merely by studying something detached from the experience. Even in science, a theory is not accepted as a true paradigm  until it first experiences many failed experiments that eventually narrow down to the correct hypothesis. Hence, incarnation is opposed to Gnosticism. This is just not in religion, but in the method by which all truth is learned.

Furthermore, the true knowledge of God is experiential in nature.  The word “to know” is the same word used when describing the physical union of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman (John 17:3, Matthew 1:23). Jesus also implied the validity of combining action and research when he said we would only know the truth as we continue in His word (John 8:32-36). Hence, the truth of God and Christianity is manifest to us and unfolds more through the various aspects, challenges, and real-life issues we face. It is experienced in time and space as we proclaim and live out the gospel throughout our earthly life. 

(It is not just time alone with God in prayer that grows us, but it’s learning how “to set the Lord always before us” amid our everyday life (Psalm 16:8).)

Even Jesus could not make disciples or teach biblical truth apart from living with the 12 and walking amongst the people. His most profound teachings took place while he was walking along the way or sitting down and conversing with others, as we see in the sermon on the mount. Jesus didn’t say, “Follow me, and I will give you a Bible study on Wednesday nights.”

Consequently, some biblical truth will not be revealed to me until a particular circumstance arises or a challenge comes that enables me to know God and interpret the Scriptures more profoundly and maturely. Paul even validated his apostleship not just through signs and wonders, but through all of the hardships and experiences he had to weather through in order to proclaim the truth (2 Corinthians 11:17-34).

8 Conclusions 

  1. We cannot separate proper biblical interpretation apart from real lived experience.
  2. We cannot know God without personally encountering Him.
  3. We cannot entirely understand truth without practicing it and obeying it. The apostle James said when we hear the Word without doing the Word, we deceive ourselves(James 1:22).
  4. The apostles, John and Paul, wrote against the false separation and dichotomy between true knowledge and incarnation (Colossians 2:8-9, 1 John 1:1-2) 
  5. Instead of wishing for a life of seclusion and contemplation to grow in the Scriptures, we need to understand that one of the primary ways we become like Christ is when we live amongst people and experience pain and hardship while looking to God for inner strength, perspective, and the power to be a light to the world.
  6. Every time we go through the fire and suffer with Christ, we are literally going from glory to glory and increasing our capacity to fulfill our assignment.
  7. While it is healthy to develop a sacred rhythm to set yourself apart from the world of distractions to seek the Lord, we can also grow in the knowledge of God while engaging people amid this fallen world.
  8. We are called to be wounded healers like Jesus was (Isaiah 53:4-6). This means that to be an instrument of God’s healing, we also have to experience similar pain and suffering others experience in order to appropriately convey the mind and heart of God to others.

(I just released my latest book, The Purpose, Power, and Process of Prophetic Ministry. To purchase click here. )


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