About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Interpretation of Scripture -- Part III

(Article for publication week of 12-2-2009 AD)

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

The scriptures are to be interpreted in their plain sense. This would be the second rule of hermeneutics. The first rule is to determine what the text is saying concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:39). This is the method being employed by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter four. In proving justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, Paul (being moved along by the Holy Ghost) quotes from Genesis 15:6. The following verses show that Paul expects us to take this verse in its plain sense.

As we continue reading in Romans 4, we see another rule of interpretation that is we are to interpret the scriptures by the scriptures. Down in verse 6, we read “even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, ‘blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Here he quotes from the thirty second Psalm to show that imputed righteousness is taught clearly there also. From these quotations in Romans four we see that the apostle Paul had complete confidence in the book of Genesis and the book of Psalms. He had no doubts concerning their authenticity. We also see from Romans four that the Old Testament is not to be disused by New Testament Christians. And as I say, we see that we use the scriptures to interpret the scriptures. As one of my old pastors used to say often, “let the Bible be its own commentary.”

In Matthew 4:1-11 we see the next rule of interpretation; that is the scriptures are to be interpreted in their context. In this passage we have the account of our Lord’s great test in the wilderness. Amazingly Satan comes to our Lord quoting scripture! He quotes scripture to our Lord to try to get Him to tempt His Father (Matthew 4:6). Our Lord tells Satan that he is taking the text out of context and again uses scripture to verify the true sense. Being able to memorize scripture and quote verbatim is a good thing, but we need to be sure we quote in context. The scriptures are not to be taken out of context. As another preacher used to say, “a text out of context is a pretext”!

Another good rule of interpretation is that difficult texts are to be interpreted by clear texts. Notice how our Lord in Matthew 19:3-9 interprets Deuteronomy 24:1-4, a text the Pharisees made difficult, and many still do. Our Lord used Genesis 2:24 to come to the meaning of the difficult passage which seemed to allow capricious divorce. Not so said our Lord as He brought in God’s original design for marriage.

Thus we may follow these general rules in hermeneutics. First, see how the text testifies of Christ. Secondly, take the scriptures in their plain sense. Thirdly, take the scriptures in their context. And fourthly, hard texts are to be understood in light of clear texts. May the Lord give us understanding of His word.

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