We must consider ALL of Scripture, and we must learn the basics of biblical interpretation. The cults and heretics are involved in twisting truth and skewing Scripture. We must do otherwise. We must accept all that the Bible teaches, but properly understood and interpreted.
God did not give us just some books of the Bible, or parts of some books. He gave us 66 entire books and he expects us to take them all seriously and see them all as authoritative. Sure, we must interpret Scripture rightly, and Paul commands us to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15).
For example, we understand that some things from the Old Testament do not carry over into the New Testament. The sacrificial system in the OT is one such thing. Not only is it now fully fulfilled in Christ and his work at the cross, but even if Christians today wanted to get into those OT sacrifices, there is no temple in Jerusalem to do them in!
Other things come to mind. Physical circumcision – a requirement for male Jews in the OT – is NOT binding on Christians today. Indeed, we run with what it signified: the circumcision of the heart. So to say we need the whole Bible does not mean we are careless and reckless as to how we understand and interpret and apply the whole Bible.
What I mean by being a ‘whole Bible Christian’ is that we are not to pick and choose those bits which we like and simply ignore those bits that we find to be not so appealing. That works fine in a cafeteria for lunch, but it does not work for the Christian when he approaches God’s word.
A. W. Tozer put it this way in his book Of God and Men: “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
Yet the problem is not just believers picking those bits they want to believe and obey. Far too many Christians hardly even read the entire Bible. How many for example have ever read the whole Bible – cover to cover? How many regularly read the Old Testament? How many even regularly read the New?
But assuming some do read the whole Bible, it is still rather easy to be quite selective in what we run with. Or we can fail two of the major rules of biblical interpretation: one, every text has a context and must be read in that context; and two, we must compare Scripture with Scripture.
Since I am now reading through the book of Deuteronomy once again, let me share a few examples of how selective reading or poor hermeneutics (interpretation) can skew how we understand the Bible. The first one comes from Deut. 26. Verse 15 offers this prayer to God: “Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
That text sounds really neat, and many Christians today might want to ‘name and claim’ it – at least in a spiritual sense. But one simply has to read the verses before and after verse 15 to see the full context – and that is obedience. As we read in verse 16: “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.”
In other words, these wonderful promises of blessing to ancient Israel were conditional. IF Israel fully obeys all that God commanded them to do, THEN these blessings would follow. But they certainly should NOT expect such blessings if they refused to fully obey Yahweh.
We find the same in chapter 27. Verse 3 says this: “when you cross over to enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.”