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Randy-WhiteWhat is the best way to define the terms that are used in the Bible?

For example, when the Bible uses the term “earth,” how do we know exactly what it means? The best way is let Scripture interpret itself.

Consider Matthew 5:13:

Ye are the salt of the earth.

We saw a reference to the earth earlier in Matthew 5:5. In our previous installment, we saw how we might be tempted to take that reference to inheriting the earth to refer to the idea of enjoying the blessings of God or receiving spiritual blessings.

But that definition of “earth” will not work just a few verses later in Matthew 5:13. When Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” He was talking about the actual physical environment. We see this concept reinforced by Matthew 5:18:

Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

When Jesus says “earth,” what is He talking about? He is talking about the land, the globe, the earth—and it is very clear that that is what he is speaking about.

Consider also Matthew 5:34-35:

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

The context here again clearly shows that we are talking about the earth in the basic sense of the term.

Take another example from Matthew 6:10:

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Where does God want His will to be done? In earth. Does anyone have a hard time understanding that? No. We could look at many more examples of this—using this and other words, but I believe we have seen the point that we must allow Scripture to define its own terms.

But here is another problem: The meek do not appear to be inheriting the earth today.

For instance, my grandparents worked hard all their lives. They were believers in Christ and had a dispensational understanding of Scripture. They had a beautiful life and they were rich in many ways, but I would not say that they inherited the earth. Does that mean that the Bible is wrong?

This is where many people actually become frustrated in attempting to understand the Bible. However, we must remember again that we need to allow the Bible to define its own terms. And the context of Scripture itself will give us the answer.

Consider Zephaniah 3:11. This verse is speaking about the coming tribulation, and tells us how God is going to remove the arrogant from this world. It states:

In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

Do you see what will happen? The meek will be left to “inherit the earth” in the coming kingdom of God in this world.

Thus, when we have the proper interpretive grid, we are able to allow the Bible to interpret its own terms for itself.

In conclusion, we will consider examples from just two more verses:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. (Matt. 18:8)

It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (1 Cor. 15:43)

The latter verse is speaking about the glory of the resurrection body.

But how are we going to enter into eternal life in the resurrection body if we are “halt or maimed” when the body is glorified? It would be impossible.

Some would say that Jesus was speaking as a mere human here and that He did not have all the knowledge He needed, and so thus He did not really understand everything about the resurrection. But that is just heresy regarding the knowledge that Jesus had—and regarding who He was and concerning the deity of Christ.

No, that is not the solution. We must build a proper interpretive grid that will allow us to see how the Bible defines its own terms, and thus be able to have a more complete understanding of all that Scripture teaches.

We will continue that process in our next article.

Editor’s Note: This blog article is taken from the following sermon, which you can watch in its entirety here:

(Read Part 3)

Copyright © 2016 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.

Scripture taken from the King James Version.