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.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Interpretation of Scripture -- Part II

(Article for publication week of 11-25-2009 AD)

"Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39).

Last week we showed that all believers have a liberty and responsibility to read and interpret the scriptures for themselves. However, the scriptures have but one meaning (II Peter 1:20), so we must know how to interpret them.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us here in our text this week an important rule regarding hermeneutics; all the scriptures testify of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when we are trying to understand a text we should see what that text is saying regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

All the Bible is about one major theme- the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of sinners. All of the Old Testament is saying that Christ the Redeemer is coming, and all the New Testament is saying that the redeemer has come. As all roads led to Rome, so all texts lead to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Genesis account of creation testifies of Christ, Who is God and the Creator of all things (John 1:3). The typical sacrifices of the Old Testament point us to the One Offering that would be made for sin forever (Hebrews 10:14). All the ceremonies of the Old Testament point us to the Covenant Head of God's elect Who would come to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Matthew began His gospel by writing, "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ." Mark begins,"the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ", and then quotes from Malachi's prophecy. John concludes his gospel by saying that if all Jesus did should have been written the whole world could not contain the books that should have been written. Luke begins the Book of Acts by saying, "of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach." And John began the Book of Revelation by saying "The Revelation of Jesus Christ."

Many difficulties can be resolved by simply seeing how the text leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be a terrible shame if you read the scriptures and never came to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Search the scriptures, not to try to find some esoteric meaning, but to find Christ. Search the scriptures, not just as an interesting Book (and it is indeed the most interesting Book in the world), but to discover a saving interest in Christ. Search the scriptures not to try to show how smart you are, but to see your ignorance and learn of Christ. Search the scriptures for in them there is eternal life, and they testify of the Only Saviour of sinners.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Interpretation of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 11-18-2009 AD)

"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:20-21).

Since (as we wrote last week) the Bible is clear concerning such things as creation, the law, and the way of salvation, it is possible to come to a correct interpretation of the scriptures. All believers have a liberty and responsibility to read and interpret the scriptures. However, none of us have a right to any private interpretation of the scriptures. As the scriptures came not by the will of man, even so they may not be interpreted by the will of man. All believers have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14), and so all believers may read and interpret the scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit.

That all believers may read and interpret the Bible is seen by the example of the noble Bereans who "received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 15:11). It is evident from the way this is worded that the Lord approved of the Bereans searching the scriptures for themselves. Notice also in Acts 8:26-40 in the account of the conversion of the Ethiopian, that Phillip found this man reading the book of Isaiah. Phillip did not condemn the man for reading a book that can only be interpreted by "experts", but rather took his text from the place the man was reading and preached Christ unto him. These two examples show us very clearly that all men may read the word for themselves. The reading and interpretation of scripture is not reserved for clerics or "priests".

The infallible rule of scripture interpretation is the scripture itself. Let us note for example in Matthew 19:3-9, how the Lord uses scripture to interpret scripture. In this passage the Pharisees asked the Lord a question regarding divorce that they hoped would discredit Him, regardless of how He answered. The text they referred to was Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where the Lord allowed a divorce for "uncleanness." Our Lord used Genesis 2:24 to interpret this passage and showed that divorce may not be sought except for fornication. (Those of you who have gone and obtained a divorce without scriptural cause have sinned greatly and I urge you to repent before it is everlastingly too late.) So we see our Lord teaches that we are to interpret scripture by scripture.

The interpretation of scripture must not be attempted lightly. We must approach the scriptures with reverence and with prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit Who is the Teacher and Guide of the Lord's people (John 16:13). My dear readers, I urge you to be Bereans and search the scriptures daily. May the Lord bless you all, my dear friends.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Clarity of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 11-11-2009 AD)

"Have ye not read…” (Matthew 19:4). In the passage cited the Lord was answering a question from the Pharisees regarding divorce that they supposed would discredit Him regardless of how he answered. Our Lord answered them by reminding them of the clear words of Genesis 2:24.

Contrary to what many people think, the scriptures are actually very clear and simple to understand, as our Lord shows by simply asking the Pharisees, "have ye not read?" The way He asks the question shows that Genesis 2:24 was clear enough that anyone could understand it.

Admittedly, there are many things in the scriptures that are difficult for our small minds. Biblical concepts like the Tri-unity of God are above our thinking. And, there are some scriptures that are obscure. And there are some scriptures like the Book of Revelation that are very mysterious. But, generally speaking, the Bible is clear in its meaning.

For example, the truth of creation is very clear. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The only way you could misunderstand that is for some atheist to help you! The Biblical account of creation is so clear, that anyone can understand it. Friend, if you deny the Biblical account of creation, you sin against the clear light of scripture and show that you are unregenerate.

And, concerning what God requires of us, the scripture is clear. The moral law of God, the Ten Commandments are so clear that anyone can understand it. That is the reason unbelievers hate the law of God. It clearly condemns them in their sin and rebellion. Be honest now. What part of "thou shalt have no other gods before me" don't you understand?

But, most importantly, the gospel is very clear. The way of salvation is so clear that a little child can understand it. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" is very clear. "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" is so clear that multitudes of unlettered people have believed it for their salvation. The simple gospel message that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ Alone is so simple that you could believe it right now to the salvation of your poor soul, if the Holy Spirit would give you an understanding heart.

And I might add to this, that our Authorized translation is clear also. The majority of it is written in short words of four to eight letters. Yes, there are some words like "propitiation" that we don't use as much. But it is so exciting to find out what such words mean!

But with all its clarity, the Bible will remain a closed Book for you unless the Lord has mercy on your poor soul and regenerates you. This is the reason people reject such a clear Book- they have hearts that are hard as the millstone. They are dead in sin. They cannot see the kingdom of God for they are not born again. May the Lord have mercy on you and give you spiritual perception.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Inerrancy of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 11-4-2009 AD)

"...the scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35).

In our study of the doctrine of scripture, we now come to the subject of inerrancy. By inerrancy we mean that there are no errors in the Bible. There can be no errors in the word of God, because there are no errors in their Divine Author. The scriptures are the production of the Triune God Who is thrice holy and perfect in all His ways. He is of such purity that he will not look with favour on sin. He is unchangeably good and will do right. To question the inerrancy of scripture is to question God Himself. If we believe in God, we must believe in His word, for it is written by the One Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

One of Satan's subtle attacks on the inerrancy of the scripture is in the notes found in certain modern translations of the Bible. Most of these newer translations have notes or comments on certain verses, which question their authenticity. Such "notes" by "learned" men have done much to undermine people's confidence and faith in the word of God. This is Satan's old trick of asking, "hath God said?" Such seeds of doubt have grown into plants of infidelity and produced unholy fruits.

I want to encourage the Lord's people to have confidence in your Bible. Our Lord and Saviour has said, "the scripture cannot be broken." Our Lord Jesus Christ believed in the inerrancy of scripture. He quoted it as a book with no errors. As you have believed in Christ for your salvation, so believe His inspired word. Don't ever let anyone put any seeds of doubt into your mind.

The Bible must be inerrant. If it could be proven (and it can't), that there were errors in the Bible, then we could have no confidence in any of it. And of course this is the reason the faith of some have been overthrown. Some who once professed faith in Christ no longer walk with Him because they believed the lies of some "higher critic". Of course this proves they were never genuinely converted, for a faith that can be overthrown was not genuine saving faith, but the danger is real that temporary faith can be and is overthrown. The seed of doubt was sown that perhaps there was an historical error here, or a "scientific" error there, and the poor temporary believer began to think, "well if there are some errors in this book, I can't believe any of it", and so they renounced their profession. I know some in this very condition.

Those who are truly saved know the Bible is inerrant, because they are experimentally acquainted with the Divine Author. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent." For those of us who truly know the Lord, we will believe the Bible, and every word of the Bible. We know the author of the Bible and know Him to be One Who cannot lie.

The scriptures cannot be broken. Every word in the Bible is true. There are no mistakes in the Word of God. "The words (notice the plural) of the Lord are pure words.." (Psalms 12:6). The scriptures are inspired of God, and they are inerrant. May the Lord strengthen the faith of His people, and may He bless you all, my dear readers.