A call to repentance by
Gary Ray Branscome

"Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, … Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He has also rejected you." (1 Samuel 15:23)

    Those who grow up hearing various statements of Scripture explained away, often become so accustomed to that sort of thing that it does not bother their conscience. In fact, they seem totally unaware that they are rebelling against God when they explain away what He says. Eventually their approach to Scripture becomes so inconsistent that they can talk about the importance of accepting what the Bible says one moment and explain something away the next.

    If that mindset consisted of nothing more than ignorance, it would not be difficult to correct. However, there is a spiritual force at work makes it hard for people to escape that error (Luke 19:42). Many times, those who agree that it is wrong to explain away what God has said do it anyway, while thinking that they are only giving the correct explanation. What they do not realize is that the only correct explanation is no explanation at all. That is why Dr. Francis Pieper would, when asked for his interpretation of a verse, simply quote that verse from memory in the original Hebrew or Greek.


    Whenever people assume that the Bible is a book of dark and mysterious sayings, they wind up looking outside of Scripture for light, while reading unscriptural ideas into the text. Furthermore, because they are looking outside of Scripture strife will be inevitable, and Satan will use that strife to lead them even further from God's Word. In time, some will turn their back on the Bible entirely, looking for some other “scripture,” organization, or self-proclaimed prophet to guide them. For that reason, we need to emphasize the clarity of Scripture (2Corinthians 3:12). Once people start looking outside of Scripture for spiritual truth, Satan has them in his snare.

    The alternative to Satan’s delusion — which few find — is to let the plain grammatical meaning of the words of Scripture stand as it reads. If you do not understand something, don’t make up an explanation. Instead, be humble enough to admit that there are many things beyond your ken and simply defer judgment.

    In order to clarify what I mean, let us look at three passages of Scripture.

 1- “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, … having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

 2- “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1Timothy 2:3-4)

 3- “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” (2Corinthians 5:14-15)

    The first of those statements tells us that God has “chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world,” the second tells us that God wants “all men to be saved,” and the third tells us that Christ “died for all.” Therefore, because that is what the Bible says, that is what we should believe and teach. In other words, a true disciple of Christ will accept all three of these statements without trying to get around or explain away what they say (John 8:31).

    Nevertheless, there is a tradition which does just that. Assuming that if God chose who would be saved, He must not want “all men to be saved,” and, therefore, Christ must not have really “died for all,” the followers of that tradition contradict and explain away 1Timothy 2:3-4 and 2Corinthians 5:14-15. It was of such people that Dr. Walter A. Maier was speaking when he said:

“The tragedy that churches which call themselves Christian do not heed the repeated plea for complete spiritual unity, which Jesus Himself made on the night of His betrayal when He asked His Father that those who believe in Him might be one before the world; the tremendous sorrow that the followers of our Lord are divided and subdivided and subsubdivided into different, opposing groups, is due to the lamentable fact that teachers with itching ears and proud hearts have not been satisfied with the 'faith once delivered' but, in effect, have put themselves over God, contradicted His Word, added to it, or subtracted from it.” (Fight For the Faith, January 1946)

    No statement of Scripture should ever be interpreted to contradict another statement of Scripture. Those who contradict God's Word are not being led by the Spirit of God and therefore do not have the spirit of truth (1John 4:6, Isaiah 8:20). Because they are explaining away what God has said, they are rebelling against God.


    Because the Bible reveals the good news of salvation in words so clear that they need no interpretation, we can share that good news with others simply by showing them what the Bible says (2Corinthians 3:21). For example: The Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, the idea that we are all guilty before God is not just my opinion, or anyone else’s opinion. It is God’s opinion, and His opinion is the only one that counts. Likewise, the Bible plainly says, “Christ died for our sins” (1Corinthians 15:3). And, because the Bible plainly says it, that doctrine is not just my opinion, or anyone else’s opinion. It is the Word of God. The point that I am trying to get across is that instead of helping, interpretations only confuse people by leading them away from the important truths, namely those truths that are so clearly stated in Scripture that they need no interpretation.

    In addition, people often use interpretations to hide the fact that they have rejected what the Bible says. One good example of that is “theistic evolution.” Those who interpret the first chapter of Genesis to teach theistic evolution are trying to hide the fact that they have rejected what that chapter actually says. In short, their claim to have another interpretation is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    Our job is to believe and teach what the Bible says, not what we think. Therefore, when the Bible says “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,” that is what God wants us to believe and teach (Exodus 20:11). Likewise, when the Bible uses the words “the evening and the morning” to describe each of the days of creation, God wants us to believe and teach that each of the days of creation had an evening and a morning (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). Those who teach otherwise are rebelling against God.

    The importance of the clarity of Scripture can be illustrated by the fact that those who assume that the Bible is a book of dark sayings can read its words without grasping what is being said. They are so intent on finding some hidden meaning, that they ignore the plain grammatical meaning of the words, while being carried away by their own imagination (2Corinthians 4:4). However, before you start thinking that you are immune from that error, let me give you a little test.

    When the Bible tells us that some, “for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away,” do you accept what it says or try to explain it away? (Luke 8:13)
    When the Bible tells us that Jesus will raise up believers on, “the last day,” do you accept what it says or try to explain it away? (John 6:39,40,44,54,59)

    If you try to explain such passages away you are rebelling against God. Instead of rejecting what the Bible says, we need to change our thinking to bring our own opinions into accord with what it says (Isaiah 8:20, 2Corinthians 10:5).


    Because God’s doctrine consists of what God says in His word, not what men think, the doctrine that God wants us to teach is explicitly stated in the Bible (2Corinthians 1:13). Therefore, if you need a passage explained, let the Bible explain it, other explanations are not of God. For example, the Bible explains the words, “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9) by saying, “According to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). In short, since both of those passages are telling us how we are saved, they are both saying the same thing. The grace by which we are saved consists of God’s mercy, and Christ is the source of that mercy.

    Since the true doctrine is explicitly stated in God's Word, we can learn that doctrine by simply looking at what the Bible says. That being the case, the true doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Christ consists of everything the Bible explicitly says about Christ's birth, including the fact that He is God (Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6, Matthew 1:18-23, Luke 1:26-35, Micah 5:32). The same holds true for the doctrine of creation, baptism, the atonement, the deity of Christ, or any other doctrine. What God wants us to teach is what His Word plainly says. Therefore, men have no business trying to embellish that Word with their own ideas (John 8:31).

    Christian theology in its objective sense, or conceived as doctrine, is nothing more and nothing less than the true and pure presentation of the doctrine of Holy Scripture. 1 Peter 4:11, 'If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.' … The claim of being a Christian theologian may properly be made only by him who teaches nothing but Scripture doctrine.
    This doctrine, however, is not drawn or developed from human reason, but is taken in all its parts solely from Holy Scripture. The function of the Christian theologian therefore consists merely in grouping in distant paragraphs and chapters and under proper heads the various teachings which Holy Scripture inculcates in its several passages on one given subject.
    This faithful repetition of the teachings of the prophets and apostles by the Christian theologian is to Luther a matter of such grave concern that he writes: “In the Church no other doctrine should be taught or heard than the pure Word of God, that is, Holy Scripture.”
    The Christian theologian must therefore exclude from his system of doctrine all opinions and speculations of men, and he must teach nothing but God's own immutable truth and doctrine as it is exhibited in Holy Scripture. This demand is made by God Himself. Colossians 2:8 (Christian Dogmatics, by John Theodore Muller, Th. D., page 37-38)

    Isaiah expressed that same truth this way, “Whom shall He make to understand doctrine? … For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-10).


    Those who reject what the Bible says, while teaching their own opinions as the Word of God, are trying to make themselves God, and, for that reason, are guilty of the sin of Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15). In order to have the truth, we must be willing to accept whatever the Bible says, without corrupting it with man made explanations. Moreover, once we have learned the truths of Scripture, God will cause those truths to resolve themselves in our mind, so we can see that nothing in Scripture is unreasonable or contradictory.