A Beautiful Proportion
Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is in the proportion of the object. God has designed all things, but the fall has maligned and distorted the creation. What may hold a glimmer of beauty for a season, will surely fade or decay. The beauty of Christ is the balance of His attributes. He was the perfect man in a perverted world. There were zero distortions in Him. Some beheld His glory, while most were blind to who He was and what He did.
The Words of Christ were beautiful because they were always apt in every situation. He knew what to pray and what to say. His words never failed to give sight to the blind or raise the dead or offend His opponents to perfection. The corrupted heavens and the earth will pass away but His eternal words will not pass away (Mt 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33).
The Bible is the most beautiful book to grace the earth. Its beauty is its proportionate revelation of all things necessary for knowing the salvation of God. No other writings are the Word of God and here is the Word from God to men.
The Bible has allure for history lovers, legal minds, wisdom seekers, theologians, even economists. The person of focus from Genesis to Revelation is Jesus Christ. If one embarks to read the Scripture for any other purpose than to see Jesus, the result will be wrong interpretations leading to unsound doctrine.
Recently, I read of mega church pastor Chip Ingram’s announcement to resign his eldership to pursue other things. In the article, it stated that forty years ago, Chip read Isaiah 42:6 and it has guided his decades of ministry. What was so profound in that passage?
Chip read, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations (Is 42:6).”
Clearly, this passage is a prophecy about Jesus Christ. Apparently, Chip Ingram read this passage to be about him. It was a word from God to him, personally…about him. When I read the article, I was shocked by the gross distortion of Ingram’s interpretation. The article spoke of other “personal” revelations from God to Ingram. How dangerous is such contemplation!
The Bible is not written, nor given to individuals, for such private interpretations. It is God’s revealed Word and will, by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20–21). It was the Holy Spirit inspiring the human writers (2 Tim 3:16), and it is the Spirit who helps the church to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
Distorted interpretations are legion. Whether these wrong ideas come from Roman Catholicism, Liberalism, Evangelicalism, or Pentecostalism, they are kept in check by the Spirit-filled invisible church. We are our brother’s keeper, and we have the Scriptures to give us proportion. All Scripture is for the purpose of teaching, correction, reproof and rebuke (2 Tim 3:16). In other words, we must do theology in community. God’s Word is the plumb line.
Individual Christians should read the Bible in their private study. They should join with a local church, in order to join with other born again believers, in sitting under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Local churches must study historical theology in order to interact with earlier generations of Bible-interpreting Christians. We must not simply rely on one minister or the presbytery of elders who teach.
The Holy Spirit is our teacher (Jn 14:26), and by His grace we are growing in the knowledge of the truth, from the Word of truth (2 Pet 3:18). This is not an exclusive one-to-one teaching module. Each of us is disproportionately sinful, and we are easily subject to wrong divisions of the Scripture. Thus, in a company of Christian theologians, writers, interpreters, and counselors there is safety to feed and be protected by the sound doctrine we need (1 Tim 4:6; 6:3; 2 Tim 4:3.
Christian, it is expected that you have learned bad interpretations of the Bible. This is distortion, and it is ugly. Press on in your pursuit of rightly divided scriptural truth. You are in a war between truth and lies. Emerging from distortion to right proportion is exhilarating because God is guiding you into all truth (Jn 16:13). He will not disappoint you with the beautiful things you will see with spiritual eyes (1 Cor 2:15–16), as they are revealed to you in part in this life, and in full in the life to come.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 20, 2022