A Study By
Gary Ray Branscome

    The ability to distinguish between fact and opinion is fundamental to understanding God’s Word, and the lack of that ability is at the root of most theological controversy and division. However, when those who lack that ability try to cover up their own shortcomings by claiming that what the Bible says is all a matter of opinion, they not only contradict God’s Word, but also undermine faith in Christ. For that reason, I would like to show you why they are wrong and how you can know exactly what the Bible does or does not say on any topic.


    First of all, when it comes to the Bible, you are only dealing with fact if you are dealing with truths so clearly stated in Scripture that there is no debate as to the fact that they are in the Bible. I am not saying that everyone will accept them, just that no one will be able to dispute the fact that they are in the Bible. For example: While there are many who reject what the Bible says about a six-day creation, no one can deny the fact that the Bible says, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). Likewise, no one can deny the fact that the words “evening” and “morning” are used in connection with each one of the creation days (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). Those truths are beyond dispute because they can be verified by anyone willing to look up the references.

    In contrast, opinions always involve reasoning, and that is where error tends to slip in. People read a particular passage, a conclusion pops into their mind, and they wind up thinking that their conclusion is what the passage says. However, that is a delusion! I will grant that some conclusions are sound. Nevertheless, that is not always the case. Far too often assumptions are being read into the text, and the conclusions derived from those assumptions wind up being passed off as the teaching of Scripture. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between what the Bible actually says, and what we think about what it says.

    For example, from time to time I have heard people quote the words, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” as if those words actually say that the church was built on Peter (Matthew 16:18). However, nothing could be further from the truth. The passage is saying that the church will be built on “this rock,” not Peter. Furthermore, the word “rock” (in the original Greek) is in the feminine gender and, therefore, could not possibly refer to Peter. Therefore, this is a good example of people reading their own assumptions into the text.

    In order to avoid such mistakes, we need to concentrate on what the words actually say. Moreover, if a passage does not actually say what you think that it says, you have probably assumed a false meaning. At any rate, in order to eliminate error from your theology, you need to stick to what the Bible says.


    Because we struggle against the blindness of the human heart, it may not be easy to train your mind to accurately distinguish between fact and opinion. It may take time. However, since we all need God's help, pray for wisdom and ask Him to help you get the distinction clear in your mind (James 1:5). Once that distinction becomes second nature to you, sort out and reject any thoughts that contradict what the Bible explicitly says (Isaiah 8:20, 2Corinthians 10:5). Our opinions must yield to the Word of God! Those who refuse to give up opinions that contradict the Word of God, preferring to explain away what the Bible says, are rebelling against God. And all such rebellion is of the devil (Psalm 107:11, 1Samuel 15:23).

    While far too many Christians explain away some passages of Scripture, cults often justify their very existence by explaining away what the Bible says. For example, even though the Bible oft refers to Christ as God, the “Jehovah's Witnesses” explain away all of those passages. The sad thing is that those people are so blind that they think that they are only rejecting our interpretation of those verses. They cannot even see that when the Bible refers to Jesus as “The True God,” it is not a matter of interpretation, but of what the Bible explicitly says (1John 5:20).


    Since human opinion is the source of all error in theology, we must eliminate the human element if we are to eliminate the margin of error. In the past, those who have tried to do this, and failed, have failed because they organize their doctrine along philosophical lines and try to answer theological questions that the Bible does not answer. In contrast, we need to stick to what the Bible says, and allow Bible history to be the core and framework around which all of the truths of Scripture fall into place.
    In fact, because God has revealed Himself in history, as you examine the doctrinal truths that are explicitly stated in Scripture, you will find that they all relate to seven key historical events. Those events are the creation and fall of man, and the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Christ.


    Words such as, “We are the clay, and thou our potter,” and “Hath not the potter power over the clay?” reveal the spiritual significance of creation in regard to our relationship to God (Isaiah 64:8, Romans 9:21). In other words, because God created the first man and woman in His “own image,” He is not responsible for sin, and is fully justified in condemning our sins (Genesis 1:27, 31, Ecclesiastes 7:29, Romans 5:12).
    The words, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve,” tell us the significance of creation in regard to the roles of men and women (1Timothy 2:12-13). The words, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men,” tell us the significance of creation in regard to our relationship to other races and nationalities (Acts 17:26). And, the words, “He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh… What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” tell us the significance of creation in regard to marriage and divorce (Matt 18:4-6).


    The spiritual significance of the fall lies in the fact that man (through the sin of Adam) has lost the image of God and is now a sinner. That fact is revealed by such words as, “There is none righteous, no, not one, // The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, // By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” and we are “By nature the children of wrath” (Romans 3:10 and 5:12, Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 2:3). Furthermore, just as those passages relate to the fall because they reveal our fallen nature and need of a Savior, the entire law of God relates to the fall, because it too reveals our fallen nature and need of a Savior. [Romans, chapter five, contains a number of verses that deal with the spiritual significance of the fall.]


    The spiritual significance of Christ's virgin birth lies in the fact that through that birth Christ was born as the sinless Son of God, both true God and true man. In connection with His virgin birth, the Bible calls Christ, “The mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6), “The Son of God” (Luke 1:35), and, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Furthermore, we are told that He is, “From everlasting” (Micah 5:2), that He existed, “From the beginning” (Isaiah 48:16), and that, “All things were made by Him” (John 1:3,14). At the same time, the Bible tells us that He was “without sin,” and that He, “Came into the world to save sinners” (Romans 3:10, Hebrews 4:15, 1Timothy 1:15).


    The spiritual significance of Christ's death on the cross lies in the fact that He died in our place and we, through His death, have eternal life. The Bible tells us that He was, “Wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5), “Offered to bear” our sins (Hebrews 9:8), and, “Died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Furthermore, because His sacrifice was accepted by God we are cleansed, “From all sin”, “justified”, and, “Made righteous”, “By His blood” (1John 1:7, Romans 5:9,19). In addition, the fact that His death is described as a “sacrifice,” an “atonement,” a “propitiation,” and a “redemption” further reveals the meaning of His death, while telling us what that death accomplished in regard to our own salvation (Hebrews 9:26, Romans 5:11, 1John 2:2 and 4:10, Colossians 1:14).


    The spiritual significance of Christ's resurrection lies in the fact that He rose triumphant over sin death and the grave. That significance is revealed by the words, “If Christ, be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins,” and “Who was… raised again for our justification” (1Corinthians 15:17, Romans 4:25). To put it briefly, by rising from the dead Christ revealed to the world His victory over death, and His victory is the basis of our assurance that He will raise us up. That is why Peter said, “God… hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” and why Paul devoted much of First Corinthians fifteen to the hope of the resurrection (1Peter 1:3, John 11:25). [It is worthy of note that all three persons of the Trinity had a part in Christ’s resurrection (Galatians 1:1, John 10:18, 1 Peter 3:18).]


    The spiritual significance of Christ's ascension lies in the fact that having ascended He sent us the Holy Spirit, is now our intercessor, and shall come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead. Concerning the Holy Spirit Christ said, “if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” (John 16:7-13). Concerning His work as our intercessor, the Bible tells us that He sits “at the right hand of God” and acts as our “advocate with the Father,” making “intercession for us” (1John 2:1, Romans 8:24,34, Hebrews 7:25, Psalm 109:31). And, concerning His return, the Bible tells us that He will raise us up  “at the last day,” and “shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (Acts 1:11, 2 Timothy 4:1, John 6:40, John 14:3, Colossians 3:4).


    The spiritual significance of Christ's return lies in the fact that we will rise and all men will be judged “according to their works” (Revelation 20:12-13). However, what far too many fail to realize is that because “the blood of Jesus Christ… cleanseth us from all sin” (1John 1:7), those who trust in Christ “shall not come into condemnation” (John 5:24), for there is “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Therefore, for a Christian, the spiritual significance of Christ’s return is heaven and eternal life; while for an unbeliever, it is condemnation, separation from God, and eternal torment (Mark 16:16, Revelation 14:11).
    In regard to the final Judgement, the Bible tells us that Christ will judge both the, “living and the dead,” (both believers and unbelievers, Matthew 25:31), on the day of “His appearing” (2Timothy 4:1, John 12:48). On that day, “all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth” (John 5:28-29). Then, “They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven into the other” (Matthew 24:30- 31). “The elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2Peter 3:4&12). And, there will be a “new heavens and a new earth” (2Peter 3:13), wherein all who trust in Christ will dwell with Him in His, “everlasting kingdom” (2Peter 1:11, John 18:36, 2Timothy 4:1, Isaiah 65:17).


    It should be self-evident that God wants us to teach the doctrines He has given us to teach, not our own opinions or doctrines devised by men. And, we can never hope to teach what He wants us to teach, until we learn what His Word actually says and bring our own thinking into accord with it. Therefore, in order to eliminate error from our doctrine we must first eliminate the human element. We must judge our own work and purge our own doctrine of all assumptions, conclusions, deductions, and man made explanations that are so easily read into the Word of Truth (1Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 6:4, 2Peter 1:20). Until this is done, we have no business teaching others.