Nov 19, 2008

Canonical Rule 3

Thus far we have given the first two paramount rules of judging inspiration and canonicity, the "Messianic Rule Test," and the "Profitability Test." In this chapter I introduce the next rule, the "no private interpretation rule," or the --

Privacy or Origination Test

This rule would include the issue of divine "authority."

Those who wrote scripture were not self authorized men, or men who were authorized by groups of uninspired men, but men who were chosen and appointed by God, men who were sent and authorized by him, and taught by him what to say and teach.

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (II Peter 1: 19-21 KJV)

In discerning inspiration and canonicity, we should ask such questions as these:

Who authored the book?

What was the content, subject, or main teachings of the book?

How did the book come into being?

What of its origination?

Is it "prophetic"?

Does it reveal the nature and workings of God and Christ?

Does it instruct in righteousness and doctrine?

All Apocryphal books are in the category of books that arose from the "will of man," being an artful and cunning device, meant to deceive. The books of genuine inspiration, however, arise from the "will of God," by the working of his Spirit.

The phrase, "private interpretation," translates the Greek phrase, idios epilupsis. Idios is defined as, “pertaining to one’s own self” or “personal.” Epilupsis is defined as an unloosing and is used metaphorically in this verse to mean interpretation, as in loosening the meaning of the verse.

"Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed." (Ecclesiastes 8: 1 KJV)

Wise ones, or "scientists," are those who are able to "explain a thing," to "make sense of things," to "interpret" things in nature.

Scripture is not like other books of knowledge. It is not like a book on Mathematics or Physics or Chemistry. These latter books owe their immediate origin, their "interpretations" or "explanations" of things, to the will and learning of a man, to his own initiative in education and learning, and to his own skillful advances in it.

But, the things the prophets and holy men wrote about were not truths that they "figured out" by the use of reason, logic, and scientific discovery and investigation.

Thus, an inspired book is not only a "prophetic" book, but a book that is "revelation," that which is directly imparted to the mind and understanding of the chosen seer, and which is truth that he could not have "figured out" or "discovered" by ordinary methods of learning.

The books of inspiration are not like works of secular knowledge.

Books of secular knowledge are produced by self willed authors who made a choice to learn all about a topic and then write something profound about it. They are therefore the results of a man's will and efforts, of his own scheming and planning, of his own efforts at discovery.

Can we read the books of Scripture, the books of the Apocrypha, and all the other many books professing inspiration, and discern whether they originated with the will of man, versus the will of God? And discern whether it is knowledge given miraculously by revelation, or knowledged acquired by the efforts of human discovery?

Did the Book of Esther originate with the will of an uninspired Jewish man or with the will of God? Did the Book of Esther give a man's uninspired views of things, or the views of God? We might ask the same of the writings of Solomon.

Look at how Paul the apostle and prophet received his revelation and inspiration. He wrote:

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1: 11, 12 KJV)

Here Paul argues against his prophetic writings being a violation of Peter's rule about "private interpretation," about "self production." What was the "source" of Paul's gospel knowledge and revelation? Was it at the feet of Gamaliel? Was it in the schools of the Rabbis? No, no. It was the gift of miraculous revelation of truth.

To know that a book is thus a "revelation" from God, and not a self production, requires that we know something about the author and how he received his revelation.

Are there any books of the Bible where we do not know who are the authors and the manner in which they received their divine communications?

Peter says that the authors of the inspired prophecies were "holy men." Do we know that the author of the Book of Esther was a "holy man" who was "moved by the Holy Ghost"?

No "private interpretation" probably includes the idea that no particular prophecy, or book of prophecy and inspiration, is to stand by itself, but should show harmony, if not direct stated support, with other prophets and inspired books.

Paul gave us the rule of "comparing spiritual things with spiritual," which would include the hermenuetic rule to "compare scripture with scripture." (I Cor. 2: 13 KJV)

Does the book lack authenticity?

Does it have faulty historical information?

Does it contradict other more authoratative works of inspiration?

Does it contradict itself?

What is the "spirit" and "tenor" of the writing?

What is in the heart and mind of the writer as he writes?

Who is his audience?

What does he hope to effect by the publishing of his writing?

Does the book "breathe" inspiration and divinity?

Can you sense the divine profoundness and style of the writings?

"And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream." (Numbers 12: 6 KJV)

The authors of inspiration meet this test. Does the author of Esther?

"Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart." (Jeremiah 14: 14 KJV)

The false prophets are the uninspired ones. They spoke not by the Lord and Holy Spirit, were not "moved" and "inspired" by him, but spoke by their own moving and by their own authority and wisdom. Their teachings originated in their evil hearts and minds, not with God's inspiration.

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD...How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart." (Jeremiah 23: 16, 26 KJV)

Notice how the words of the false prophets, and false writers of "scripture," are they whose message comes "from" their own selves, not "from" the Lord. Lack of a valid source to the revelation is a reason to reject the pretended revelation.

"For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed." (Jeremiah 29: 8 KJV)

This is a clear example of "private interpretation" and of what it means for a "prophecy (revelation) of scripture" to "come by" the "will of man," and not "by" the "will of God."

"Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!" (Ezekiel 13: 2, 3 KJV)

Here again is a picture of an "uninspired" prophet and of his prophecy and pretended revelations, and of his presumed authority and inspiration, of his "private interpretation" and "self revelation."

"Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel." (Amos 7: 14, 15 KJV)

Here we see how Amos did arrive at the knowledge of God, as expressed in his writings, in his divine "interpretations" or "explanations" of things, and see how it was not what originated in his own heart, by his own will, and by his own moving of himself, and how it rather originated with God, being that which God gave it to him in a miraculous manner, by revelation, and so not the result of Amos' own self ambitions and educational achievements.

"For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him." (Acts 13: 27 KJV)

Here "scripture" is defined as being part of the collection of writings which the Jews ready weekly and which were messianic. Also, "scripture" is defined as being the production of "prophets." Every Old Testament book is the "voice" of a "prophet" of God. Was the author of Esther a prophet of God?

"But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." (Acts 24: 14 KJV)

Notice how Paul believes only those books that are either of Moses or of a prophet are authoratative and inspired.

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43 KJV)

What a canonical rule for judging inspiration! What does the book, claiming inspiration, speak about? Does it speak of God and Christ? Of the forgiveness of sins? Of faith?

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