Watchout for Over Extrapolating & Spiritulizing of God's Word

It is very sad that Bible expositors, commentators and preachers tend to over extrapolate the original meaning of bible verses. Take this simple one, Mat 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour(taste), wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Most commentators just take note of the word "salt" mentioned and then begin to expound and extrapolate the meaning of salt. So the commentators said that salt is for preservation. It is to preserve the quality of food so that it will not be spoiled. Hence, Christians are to preserve the people from the corruption of the world. Some even say that the color of salt is white and white represents purity. Christians are to be pure and so forth .... create thirst, sting pain, ....

But of all the attributes of salt, Jesus only highlighted "saltiness taste" and stressed on it twice. Any exposition should concern itself with the salty taste of salt. What is the purpose of the salty taste of salt? It makes tasteless food tasty. It makes thing better. It brings improvement. To put it with greater emphasis, it transforms thing - from tasteless to tasty. Similarly, Christians should bring transformation to the world around it - from lifelessness to liveliness; from darkness into light (see v14 ye are the light); from hopelessness to hopefulness etc. Salty Taste is about Transformation to the better.

With this "transformation" in mind, using salt as preservatives become wrong. Saltiness is not used to keep thing unchanged but to change thing for the better... is is about changing and not keeping the status quo!

Looking at the other half of the verse - if one lost its saltiness, it becomes useless and is cast out and be trodden under foot. There are some people who use this verse to support the view that Christian could loose his salvation. Again, this is over spiritualizing the issue. Jesus simple said that salt without saltiness were useless and were to be discarded. Christians that are not impacting and transforming the world are not fulfilling their purposes and calling of God and are useless - i.e. no impact. Together with v14, ye are the light, the call is for Christians to boldly go and cause transformation to world - bringing life to lifelessness, bringing light to darkness. It is more of an encouragement and commission to go rather than a threat of losing your standing and relationship with Christ. The flow of the paragraph is to go, not to hide, to influence the world, and bring glory to God.

Let our mind be sharp and wise and not be misled by overly extrapolating and overly spiritualized teaching. Learn to know how to accurately understand and apply the Word of God.


KP#25 Principle of Potential

The parable of the Mustard Seed Mat 13:31-32, a small seed growing up to a big tree, shows that :
  • You cannot judge the future success by the present physical size
  • Do not despise a small beginning
There are other popular descriptions for this hidden potential in a seemingly small thing:
  • You can count the seeds in an apply but not the applies in a seed
  • The Butterfly Effect: the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas (From Chaos Theory and sensitive dependence on initial conditions).
  • the small spark that lighted the forest
  • Snowballing
The Parable of the Yeast Luke 13:20-21 which Jesus used to compare with the Kingdom of God shows forth the power and the process of the working of Kingdom Economy. The little yeast is first planted into a much larger volume of flour. The yeast then ferments the flour and with time, eventually converted the whole. It shows us that believer is not to be isolated but to
  1. engage the world
  2. transform it
  3. and expand and
  4. fill all the earth with His Kingdom's rule.
(yeast is used in other places of the Bible to signify a bad influence as in Mat 16:11-12, Gal 5:9. People then to over utilize symbolism and generalised it. One should always look at the context first unless one cannot be clear from the context then it may be ok use the interpretation from other context. Nevertheless, the principle of small beginning is the same whether it is for good or bad).

We should encourage the good small beginning and be watchful of the small bad influence and stopping them before it becomes a big problem.

See also Luke16:10 faithful/dishonest in a very little is also faithful/dishonest in much.)
Next: Principle of Stewardship - Optimization of One's Gifts & Resources


How to Get Your Need Met

The story of Elisha and the Widow in 2 King 4:1-7 teaches us the principle and shows us the steps for getting our needs met.

The principle is very simple - Jesus is the answer and source. Seek Him first and then followed up with work of obedience and faith.

The steps are:

1. Understand Your Need.
Very often, we confuse the symptom with the cause. We often think God should change the situations for us rather than our own need to change. We pray for God to give us a better Boss but we actually need to improve in our skill and discipline. God has in fact arranged for a demanding Boss show that we can be better. In our case, the widow need is very clear - pay up the creditor or loose her sons. What could have caused this lack was not explained to us. The key theme seems to stress on God will answer your need despite the cause. But for long term solution, finding the cause and fixing it is key.

The rest of the steps are explained in the mind-map below:

The lessons to learn are:
  1. Go to God first with any need or problem. God may ask you to talk to your mentors or friends.
  2. Miracle comes with using something you have or could do first. This is the principle of sowing and reaping. Confessing is a form of doing too.
  3. Advice must be followed with Action - No action no result.
  4. While God is the Giver, you determine how much you get by your action of faith.
  5. God always supply more than enough. The widow only asked to clear the debt but God provided the extra living needs. The oil could have stopped when there is sufficient to pay for debt. But it only stopped when there was no more vessels.