Perhaps the most important distinction in the world

2 Peter 3.16 says that the “ignorant and unstable twist (the Scriptures) to their own destruction.” That means when the authors of Scripture wrote, they intended to be understood, and if you understand what they wrote in a way other than what they intended, you are wrong.

The most important distinction in the world might be the difference between interpretation and application of Scripture. Interpretation is what Scripture means. Application has to do with how that meaning plays out in our life today. They are related but absolutely distinct.

How often Christians talk about the same Scripture saying different things to different people. Different applications? Yes. Different meanings? MAY IT NEVER BE! We must be careful about how we talk about different people having different perspectives on different Scriptures. We may unwittingly make it seem like God contradicts Himself.

So whenever there are opposing understandings of Scripture, let us have the settled conviction that at least one of us is wrong, if not twisting the Scriptures to our own detriment. At least that acknowledgement will cause us to be more passionate about pursuing unity in truth, and let the world know how seriously we take these disagreements. Perhaps a deeper concern for being united upon truth (as opposed to just being united despite disagreement) would cause more unbelievers to desire our Christ as they see His body so bent on pleasing Him and so determined to not twist His Word.


2 responses to “Perhaps the most important distinction in the world

  1. Steven Warden

    This is where I pull out my favorite dead horse and take a few whacks at it.

    To me denominations are frustrating for this very reason. When you wrote: “…and let the world know how seriously we take these disagreements.” The more denominations the weaker our illustration of Truth becomes. It is hard to say “Don’t pray to an icon of Mary the mother of Jesus” because the Catholics do. It is hard to say “Don’t allow yourself to burst out in Tongues during service” because the Pentecostals do. And the most dangerous is when you point to a cult like Jehovah’s Witnesses and say “Don’t do anything they do” because to an unbeliever they are merely just another Christian denomination. And to an unbeliever how can we say they are not just another denomination but Methodists are? Against me personally a Methodist holds just as many opposing views on theology as a Jehovah’s Witness does so how can I say “Yeah, but those are non-essentials but a Jehovah’s Witness opposes essentials”. To an unbeliever there’s no distinction. Both the Witnesses and the Methodists are both justified to hold their particular viewpoints.

    If Christians began to settle their differences and began merging denominations I think unbelievers would have no choice but to take notice at “how seriously we take these disagreements”.

    I do, however, like the phrase “they intended to be understood”. That in itself should provide the hope to never give up working towards discovering God’s will through Scripture. The key to the important distinction wether its an “Interpretation” or an “Application” is when the person says, “My God would (or wouldn’t)…..” Or some variation of that. Then I know they are about to speak some form of distortion.

    • Todd Morikawa

      Not sure what you hope to happen regarding denominations. It almost sounds like you are frustrated with exactly the same thing as everyone else, but do not realize it is the same frustration as everyone else. You have to distinguish what you mean by “settle their differences” and what I hope you do not mean, namely, compromise on truth.

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