Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Luke 14:15-24: What It Doesn't Mean (part two, as an example of false teaching)

Make sure you read part one first.  The text of Luke 14:15-24 is there too, to which you can refer.

Origen, third century patristic, developed a system of allegorical interpretation of scripture, and is called the father of it.  Without relying on his writings, many today still follow his methods by spiritualizing God's Word.  Roman Catholicism took advantage by using the same tactic to read into the Bible many new doctrines, using certain passages especially as proof texts.

A subjective approach, allegorization allows someone to make a text mean what he wants.  He might start with what he'd like the Bible to say or perhaps defend his own thinking by finding a passage to say it. This changes God's Word as much as adding or taking away from the Words, maybe worse. Sometimes you have men teach a right interpretation from slightly varied words and their preaching is exponentially better than men who have all the correct words, but treat them like play-doh.

Many who allegorize also practice a position on continuationism, where the Holy Spirit "gave" that interpretation to him -- told him what it said -- so that it can't be questioned either.  If someone questions it, he is challenging "Holy Spirit preaching" or Holy Spirit enduement.  This is worse in damage than believing that sign gifts are for today.  On top of this often exists a view of pastoral authority that says the critic is "touching God's anointed" or usurping authority.  This has it's parallels with Roman Catholicism too, because the preacher becomes a little pope in his given situation.  All this lends itself toward the worst kind of preaching.

Very often, people think twisting scripture like above is better than accurate exegesis, because of the fervor or style in which it was delivered.  Unction is perceived by the yelling and then affected emotions of his audience.  Someone present might say he manipulated people, but the crowd has been trained to judge this as the Holy Spirit, again characteristic of this continuationist belief.  If it's Bible and what the passage says, it's said to be dead, but if it is filled with stories while slaughtering the text, it's alive.  At the end of the mess, many say, "That was good."  Can anything be more evil?

People in the pew who hear these perversions judge it to be good preaching.  Then they hear exactly what a passage says and they think it isn't any good.  This shows where discernment goes, and why unbiblical teachings and practices will easily get past these people.  When they go to study their Bible, and find it says something different, they reject it for the party line of the group.  The leadership doesn't help them learn how to understand the Bible, but helps them learn a tradition that is backed by fallacies that can't really be called exegetical ones, because little exegesis was attempted. They wouldn't know exegesis if it bit them on the nose.

Then when you question the wrong preaching, you're also causing division and maybe even trying to split the church.  If you question it from afar, you are intervening in matters that are solely for that church, undermining its authority and preacher.  Surely you've got sinister motives too -- you couldn't be doing it because you love them, even though nothing is more dastardly than what is happening to them.  Your love is called hatred, so love too a casualty.

I still want you to know.  I'm not going to play the game.  I am not going to sit by, while people who pose as though they respect the Word of God, more than anyone, "especially more than those Bible corruptors who want to take away your King James."  If someone really loves the King James, then he should be careful with it and preach what it says, instead of perverting it.

People who preach like this as a practice shouldn't be preaching, and yet there are colleges where it is standard fare, what is heard on a regular basis.  The power is in the message of a passage, not in the formulation of a sermon that doesn't communicate what a passage says.

You might attend a conference today where someone preaches a passage, and most people "amen" often and loudly, and then someone else stands up and preaches something from the same passage entirely different, and the people "amen" that too, as if two contradictory meanings were completely acceptable.  That defines a concept of unity in most places today.  Very often the thinking is that God gave the first man his message and gave the second man his, so who are we to question it?  It's no wonder the world often thinks churches are a joke whose doctrine is silly.  They often don't believe it themselves enough for others to see it as worthwhile to believe.  They see the right meaning as optional, not anything to sweat over.  Imagine if brain surgeons or pilots performed that same way.

An important principle for right interpretation of scripture is understanding a passage like those hearing it in that day.  Jesus wasn't talking to you and me in Luke 14.  He was talking to Pharisees. His story there could apply to us, but it can't mean something different to us than it meant to them. That story shouldn't be preached like Jesus was talking to us.  He wasn't.

What Luke 14:15-24 Doesn't Say

Just a week ago, I read a publication with the following viewpoint of Luke 14:15-24.  I think there are many others who believe the same way, so we should consider it a sample.  The author wrote that the Lord in Jesus' story was God -- so far so good.  He goes downhill from there. He says that the servant was you and me.  That's not correct, because you and I didn't invite Israel's leaders into the kingdom and salvation like the Old Testament prophets.   You and I couldn't invite the nation Israel in general up to the time that Jesus was telling that parable.  He says that the supper is salvation, and that would be good too, if that's what he really believed.

Jesus' story is illustrating truth.  The poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind picture something.  They aren't physically poor and maimed and halt and blind.  A literal interpretation requires understanding figurative speech.  Parables use symbolism.  That's the point of them being a story.  Remember, the supper is salvation.  I agreed with that.  That is figurative.  You don't say, the supper is salvation, but the poor are the poor.  They are both figurative.

Jesus had been invited to the occasion where He told this story, because the Pharisees wanted to trap Him (14:1-2).  Jesus exposed their pride, because they prioritized an ox fallen in a ditch more than the man made in the image of God, Jesus would heal (14:4), who had dropsy.  They were hypocrites. They said they loved God's law, but they didn't love their neighbors, the second table of the law.   This is also seen in a story Jesus tells about a wedding (14:6-14).  Their positions were for money, oxen, and relationships, popularity and power, which was sitting in the best seats of a wedding.   They weren't humble.  They weren't poor in spirit, even as seen in the implication of one of them in v. 15.  They would not deny themselves in order to follow the Messiah, Jesus their King.

Jesus refers back to his earlier illustrations (14:4 and 14:6-14) in the excuses of vv. 18-20.  Their lack of humility would keep them out of the kingdom, but there were people who did see their poverty in Israel, a Jewish remnant.  This is not Jesus saying, direct your evangelistic efforts to poor neighborhoods and poor people on a socio-economic level.  Jesus would be contradicting His own commission, that ended every gospel account, to preach the gospel to everyone.

The author of the article focuses on the word "bring" from v. 21.  Even though he says the supper is salvation, he targets "bring" as very instructive.  If the slave is "bringing" someone to salvation, then "bring" is not a literal bringing, as in, picked up physically from one place and taken to some other location.   He makes a point that the poor and maim, etc., didn't have the monetary means of the first group, who rejected the invitation, so that they could have gotten there on their own.   Meanwhile, he says the maim and the halt and the blind would need to be brought, given a ride, because they didn't have the means of getting there.

Jesus wasn't telling someone they needed to physically pick someone up and bring them somewhere. This isn't anything that Jesus or the apostles did.  If that's what someone was supposed to do, they all missed it.  Jesus obeyed everything the Father told Him to do, and Jesus didn't do anything like it.  He went to everyone and preached.  If they rejected it, like an entire Samaritan city, it wasn't because they didn't have the money to listen.  He went from Galilee to Judea to Samaria to Perea and to Caesaria-Philippi.  He went to them and preached to them.

The idea of Jesus' teaching wasn't, let's see if the banquet hall could be filled up with rich people first, and if they don't want that, go to maimed people, and if there aren't enough of those, then get the out-of-towners. The idea is that anyone who would come, could come.   The audience of Jesus' story was the first group, the ones who didn't want it.  Most Jews didn't want it, not because of their socio-economic level, but because they were too proud -- they were not poor in spirit.  Neither is it that the latter two would need to be brought in physically, because they don't have the monetary means to do so.  The supper is salvation, the kingdom.  We agreed on that, remember. How does someone "bring" someone to salvation, to the kingdom?  He does it by preaching the gospel.  The invitation into the kingdom is the gospel, because someone gets into the kingdom, is saved, by believing in Jesus Christ.  When you get that wrong, because you make "bring" mean something other than that, you have encouraged people to disobey the Bible.

The essay said that the church tried to get people who could drive themselves to church in their own cars, and that group said "no," so, like in Luke 14:21, the church instead went out and picked up poor people, who couldn't make it on their own (many of them actually can come on their own, but they send their children instead).  The meaning of the supper shifted from "salvation" to the gathering of a church.  And then the author said that "compel" was to use high pressure or to do anything that is right in order to see people saved, which would include offering food at a rescue mission, medicine by a missionary doctor, or hot chocolate or a trinket to persuade children to get into a vehicle.  The story, however, doesn't mean any of that, and it can't, because none of that too was what we see Jesus actually do.

Very commonly in fundamentalism, among independent Baptists, basically revivalists, the banquet has become the meeting of the church, "bring" is give someone a ride in a vehicle, the maimed and blind are poor children, and compel is a bribe, a fleshly allurement that especially children like better than the gospel itself.  This now includes a certain type of music, puppet shows, prizes, and big promotions.  None of those are what Luke 14:15-24 mean.  The author of the article then portrayed those who said something different than this physically bringing and compelling interpretation -- the high pressure of hot chocolate and trinkets -- as straight from the devil and that people needed to stop listening to Satan and get out there and use this tactic.  He also called this described strategy, the Great Commission.  It wasn't.  It isn't.  He also said almost anyone can do it, and then equated the numbers who come with positive responses to the invitation with the benefits of the "high pressure."

No, the supper is salvation.  Salvation is of eternal value, and it is the motive.  Someone comes to the banquet because he thinks the banquet is better than whatever else is out there to distract him.  No one has to travel by bus or be offered medicine or a meal to get it.  It's free.  The lord wasn't charging for someone to come. If someone knows its value, he doesn't need something of lesser value to talk him into it. "Bring" is preaching the gospel.  The invitation is not to church, but to Christ, to the kingdom, to heaven.  Can anyone do it?  I've found that only saved people will do it, and because churches have a lot of unsaved people, they invent methods that anyone can do, even unsaved people.  It's true that almost anyone can make invitations and give out enticements.

Consider the irony.  A person is invited to church and he says he will not come.  He doesn't like church.  He likes television or a football game or his sleep better.  If this was what Jesus was talking about, which He wasn't, then we should just go to the next person, who really would like church.  That would take this false interpretation to its rightful application, but no.  No, if he says, I will not come, with all the modern-day excuses, the slave, supposedly you and I, just offers him something other than the banquet, the supper, to entice him.  "I know you don't like church enough to come just for church, so how about a kite or a sno-cone or a rodeo or a trip?"  I've bought me five yoke of oxen.  "OK, well how about I offer you six yoke, then will you come?"  What I'm saying is that not only is this not what Jesus was teaching, but it is encouraging the opposite.

I recognize that people see these types of perversion of scripture as sort of harmless or even worse, helpful, because they can be used then to get people to do something "good."  Instead of preaching the gospel to everyone, people invite people to church, so instead of obeying the Bible, they practice a man-invented thing, not only not seen in scripture anywhere, but taught against (cf. 1 Cor 1-3, etc.). It results in thousands and thousands of false professions, the watering down of the gospel, and the gospel itself not getting to everyone, because they've replaced preaching it with this alternative method, spawned from a perversion of God's Word.  People start counting false professions as real and then adjusting their gospel message to fit the method.  All of this is occurring all over and justified with this kind of perversion of scripture.

Wake up.  This is serious.

16 comments:

Farmer Brown said...

Yikes. After part one, I was racking my brain to figure out where this was going. I never thought about "bus ministry". Never heard that, but it is not surprising.

Your explanation is completely in keeping with the witnessing practices of the early Apostles. They did not give the "plan of salvation" when they witnessed. They condemned sin and preached the resurrection. The ones whose hearts were pricked then asked "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then they gave the method by which they could be born again.

I apply this as "Go out and preach Jesus to whomever will receive it. If this neighborhood won't receive it, go to that neighborhood. If these people won't receive it, go to those people. Just go and give it to any who will receive." Is this how you would apply it?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Farmer Brown,

God will fill up His kingdom with those who are humble enough to receive the gospel. Israel's leaders wouldn't, but there were those poor in spirit in Israel, a remnant, and then among the God-fearing Gentiles. I don't think the passage was intended as some methodological instruction, but what we do see isn't difficult. Keep preaching it until you get to people that want it.

I didn't use the word "bus" in the article, so I was just giving analysis to the interpretation and application in a principled way. This was not repudiating giving people a ride to church either, just the wrong interpretation and even application.

Thanks.

Farmer Brown said...

Kent

I added the bus part myself because that is where I have seen this attitude the most. I visited a church (not knowing what it was) on some kind of special bus day. The bus riders knew the captain who brought the most children would have to eat a live goldfish. The whole thing was a carnival atmosphere. Disgusted, I said (sarcastically) to the assistant pastor, "Anything to get them through the door, right?" He responded with complete sincerity, "Right!"

Kent Brandenburg said...

Farmer,

The way this is viewed, if someone even says the word bus is that you're against bringing kids to church on a bus, and then you go off on that red herring. I know you aren't taking it anywhere, but I'm keeping it there so that I don't have to divert down that tangent. So you're fine, I just want to explain. I say to them, not you, let's think about what the passage means here and see if that is a valid justification of what you're doing, using this passage.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Thank you for the article. How would you respond to someone that says that Continuationism is worse than the misinterpretation of passages that you mentioned above because the one is a deliberate rejection of a biblical position while the other is an unintentional misinterpretation of scripture, with serious consequences, certainly, and certainly very bad, but not as bad as deliberately setting oneself against biblical teaching? Thanks.

Farmer,

I'm with you on the need to be clear in preaching the gospel. I do not believe, however, that Scripture teaches that the positive way to be born again is only to be revealed to people who say something like "What must I do to be saved?" Nicodemus in John three was not in that category, but Christ gave him the gospel in its positive side, and texts such as Acts 8:22 are found in Acts, explaining the way of salvation to rebellious people. We are to preach the gospel to the lost in the Great Commission, not just the law.

Please do not take this comment as in any way opposing the value of using the law to bring lost to conviction of sin.

Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Thomas,

I think continuationism is worse.

My statement was, as seen above, "This is worse in damage than believing that sign gifts are for today."

I meant only that sign gifts were for today. What is worse in damage is saying that your sermon is like new revelation, on part with revelation, which is a doctrine that says it isn't continuationism, but is. It puts the bad sermon as not able to be criticized, because God gave it. God isn't giving anything more like that.

I think it is worse damage, because it allows someone to say something unscriptural, like we see in 1 Cor 12, the Lord is accursed, unbiblical, and take on biblical authority. That's it.

I'm open to evaluation on that.

Thanks for asking.

Farmer Brown said...

KJB1611

Both of the examples you give involved people who have already believed. Nicodemus, that Jesus was sent from God; Simon, in Jesus. Both were (apparently) fearful and ready to hear the admonition. These were not people who had no thoughts of God or could care less about God. Both cared very deeply. This is the same as Acts 2.

On the other had, you will be hard pressed to find salvation offered to someone who was apathetic. Even Felix and Agrippa believed when Paul exhorted them, but not unto salvation. However, for scorners and prideful, those who do not need anything it, you will not find it offered.

I believe they need to fear God before they can turn to him. Proverbs 9:10

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Kent,

While I haven't read it yet (and probably won't), I recently saw an article title in a fundamentalist publication that seemed like it would be on this topic. And, knowing the author somewhat, I can imagine him using this text to support his positions.

I'm ashamed that those seeking to support what seem to me to be good practices can't (or won't, or don't) use actual Bible reasons or reasoning to do it.

Their actions and "preaching" make me ashamed of their efforts. Even though I think that what they're doing is right.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Got it--thanks.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Farmer,

I would agree that someone who is not interested is probably not even going to listen. However (and I don't know if you would disagree with this or agree) a tract, for example, should very clearly and convictingly deal with sin, but it should also positively preach the gospel, since the Great Commission is not to give all the Law, but to preach the gospel to everyone. That doesn't mean that people who aren't interested will always hear the positive side, cf. Mt 19:16-22, but I believe our goal must be to have everyone know the gospel.

Thanks.

Farmer Brown said...

This is off the topic now, so I am continuing with Kent's forbearance.

I agree we need to preach the gospel to every creature. That is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The gospel, as in "The Gospel" does not necessarily include an invitation. I base my definition of the gospel on these passages:

Luke 24:46-47 (defined as the gospel in a parallel passage.); 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:11-12; Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

When we go out, this is what we preach to people, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the son of God. If they respond to that we tell them they must be born again by repenting and believing in the name of the son of God. If they do not care about the resurrection or about Jesus, we keep our pearls.

We do not give up on them, but we do not invite them to salvation. At that point we have given them the gospel, that a man born of woman was God, and demonstrated his deity by his resurrection after dying to make atonement for our sins. We will continue to present scripture to them so that they will see Jesus as God. (Roman's 10:17)

We have our own tracts that we make, specifically because we could not find one without an invitation to salvation. We want our tracts to preach the resurrection and the remission of sins through Christ's sacrifice. Once you believe that you can make a decision on salvation.

I cannot find an invitation in the scripture to someone who would not at least consider Jesus as God. What are you inviting them to? The basis for Salvation is that Jesus is God. Then you can be convicted of your sins and turn to him in repentance and belief. If you do not believe in the resurrection, you cannot go any further.

I am open to criticism of this, but this is our position based on study of the biblical accounts of the gospel being preached, and I think is an historical position.

George Calvas said...

"I cannot find an invitation in the scripture to someone who would not at least consider Jesus as God. What are you inviting them to? The basis for Salvation is that Jesus is God. Then you can be convicted of your sins and turn to him in repentance and belief. If you do not believe in the resurrection, you cannot go any further."

It is as you said, preach the truth and if they repent and believe the gospel (death, burial and resurrection), then they are to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to save them. No invitation, or any other "con" to get them to "say a prayer" for all that is unscriptural and has nothing to do with the Spirit of God working upon the children of disobedience.

Just preach the truth in love with all boldness.

George Calvas said...

Kent,

Since you went down this road of scriptural exegesis, showing the fallacy of using a parable to prove what is does not teach, then, what say ye about Easter?

Biblical or not.
Why or why not.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Farmer,

Thanks for the reply. I would point out that the passages that you cited speak of repentance (Luke 24) and belief (1 Cor 15), etc. Christ issued calls to come to Him to people that were rebellious (John 6:37, 61ff.; Rom 10:21, etc.)

I am not saying that someone out to be pushed to a decision who is careless--not by any means. I don't believe we are doing our job preaching the gospel if we are not trying to get everyone to understand their need to repent and in that manner receive remission of sins, as the Luke 24 passage you quoted demonstrates. Of course, someone who doesn't care is probably not even going to listen to the resurrection of Christ or anything else, and we can't make people care.

I certainly don't think someone who denies Jesus is God is ready to be saved, nor someone who doesn't know about or care about the death and resurrection of Christ, but since God's "gospel tract," John's Gospel, includes invitations to the lost to believe and be saved as well as the facts of Christ's Deity, resurrection, etc. it looks to me like we would do well to follow that pattern.

Perhaps we aren't that different on this and are simply emphasizing different things; I don't know.

Farmer Brown said...

We might be having a violent agreement. It happens sometimes.

My point is I am not going to ask someone to repent and believe until they understand and are willing to accept the resurrection.

This is probably a change from 30+ years ago when most adult believed in the resurrection, at least in theory. For them, it was, "Repent and believe unto salvation."

Now we cannot start there. We have to be even more basic. If they scoff at the concept of the resurrection, there is no point in getting to repent and believe. Repent to whom and believe in what?

The resurrection is the evidence that Jesus is God. This is the problem with the Hyles philosophy. Once of the problems, anyway. They preach believe without even knowing if the person sees Jesus as God. When I exhort someone to believe, I want to be sure they know who Jesus really is.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Farmer,

Without a doubt, someone is not ready to repent and believe the gospel if he does not know that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and is God.

I'm probably done commenting on this here.

Thanks.