Sunday, April 6, 2014

at face value

The Word for today:
Luke 19:11-28
mark this: Luke 19:15-17
Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, "Sir, your gold coin has earned ten more."
"Well done, my good servant!" his master replied. "Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities."
Q. What does Jesus mean when he says that he's going to put a person in charge of ten cities?
A. Well, what Jesus means is that he's going to put a person in charge of ten cities.
Q. That's it?
A. Why, isn't ten cities enough for you?
Q. That's not what I'm asking. I'm wondering if there isn't more to it than that. Isn't there some deeper symbolic meaning to what Jesus is saying here?
A. None that I'm aware of.
Q. So where are these cities?
A. In the Kingdom of God.
Q. And when will this occur?
A. When his Kingdom comes.
Q. When's that?
A. When his will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Q. You're toying with me.
A. I am not. I am trying to point out that the Bible is actually deeper when we take it at face value than when we read it on an "interpretive" level.
Q. Can we go back to the ten cities?
A. Sure.
Q. If it's his Kingdom, how come I'm going to be in charge?
A. Because he wants you in charge. He's always done things that way. Right from the start, he ruled Eden through Adam:
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28)
Right now, he has placed his program in the hands of the church. He has entrusted us to administer his plan of salvation.
Q. Entrusted?
A. Entrusted.
Q. You mean, God trusts us.
A. He trusts Jesus. Insofar as we are the body of Christ, he trusts us. So he placed the keys of the kingdom in our hands:
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
Q. Wow. Taking things at face value actually does shed more light than "interpretation" does! But isn't there a limit to taking things literally?
A. Yes. When the Bible places a neon sign over a word, blinking "Symbol!…Symbol!…Symbol!" then we should read that word symbolically.
Q. An example?
A. Alright. We know from the rest of the Bible that Antichrist is a man. In Revelation 13, he is called a beast. So "beast" is a "Symbol!…Symbol!…Symbol!" of a man with bestial morality and intentions.
Q. But how about "the keys to the kingdom?" God never gave the church any key.
A. He sure has. What does a key do?
Q. It opens a door.
A. Right. So what's that in your hands?
Q. The Bible.
A. That's the key.
Q. But that's being symbolic!
A. Not at all. I went to a hotel last weekend. When I checked in, the clerk handed me something like a credit card. "Here's your key," she said. It didn't look like a key; but sure enough, it opened the door.
Just so -- because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (1) -- the Bible opens the door of God's Kingdom. It is, very literally, the only key. A metal key or a plastic credit-card thingy won't do.
Q. Face value is fun!
A. It definitely is. So don't slip back into symbolic or interpretive reading when you can learn so much more, and have so much more fun, by taking the Bible at face value!
(1) Romans 10:17


  1. Thanks for your insights ... hope all is going well for you and the Shellster. Think and pray for both of you often.

  2. Thanks! And I just sent out a prayer for _____________. I'll let Jesus fill in the blank.