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Suffering through Romans: Part Four

In the first part of this series, I briefly sketched the historical and socio-cultural backdrop of the Roman Empire, its capital city Rome, and its citizens. In the second and third parts, I surveyed the theme of suffering in Romans within the wider of context of Pauline theology. In this final part, I will move on to our appropriate response to suffering in the present, and some thoughts on what application we can draw from this thematic exploration. Read more

Authority and Application

“We learn the meaning of Scripture as we apply it to situations. Adam learned the meaning of “subdue the earth” as he studied the creation and discovered applications for that command. A person does not understand Scripture, Scripture tells us, unless he can apply it to new situations, to situations not even envisaged in the original text (Matt. 16.3; 22:29; Luke 24:25; John 5:39f.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16f.; 2 Peter 1:19-21 – in context). Scripture says that its whole purpose is to apply truth to our lives (John 20:31.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16f.). Furthermore, the applications of Scripture are as authoritative as the specific statements of Scripture. In the passages referred to above, Jesus and others held their hearers responsible if they failed to apply Scripture properly. If God says “Thou shall not steal” and I take a doughnut without paying, I cannot excuse myself by saying that Scripture fails to mention doughnuts. Unless applications are as authoritative as the explicit teachings of Scripture (cf. The Westminister Confession of Faith, I, on “good and necessary consequence”), the scriptural authority becomes a dead letter. To be sure, we are fallible in determining the proper applications; but we are also fallible in translating, exegeting, and understanding the explicit statements of Scripture.  The distinction between explicit statements and applications will not save us from the effects of our fallibility. Yet we must translate, exegete, and “apply” – not fearfully but confidently – because God’s Word is clear and powerful and because God gives it to us for our good.”

John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1987), pp 84.