This article is one I have been ruminating about for some time. It was about three years ago when the Lord laid the title on my heart. I began praying about it and searching the Scriptures and turning it over and over in my mind.
Finally, the message began to burn in my heart for a release, and so I decided to pull it together for presentation at our annual Bible conference.
I consider it to be a personal testimony about my faith. As such, you may not agree with what I have to say, but I hope you will respect it, even as I respect those fellow believers who would disagree with me.
Let’s get started by taking a look at the words that begin and end the Bible.
The Bible begins with these words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The Bible ends with these words: “He [Jesus] who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
The Bible begins with a revelation. The Bible ends with a promise.
Do you believe these words? Do you really believe them without reservation?
If you do, then you are an exception to the norm, for the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of professing Christians — both Catholic and Protestant, including even Evangelicals — do not accept the plain sense meaning of these verses.
The reason is that the beginning and ending of the Bible are the two most abused areas of God’s Word. That’s because they have been spiritualized into meaninglessness.
The Abuse of Spiritualization
For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, spiritualization, let me explain that it means to argue that the plain sense meaning of Scripture is not its true meaning.
Let me give you a classic example of spiritualization taken from the writings of a theologian by the name of Loraine Boettner. It has to do with his interpretation of Zechariah 14:1-9.
That passage says that in the end times Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemy forces and will be ready to fall to them when the Lord will suddenly return to the Mount of Olives. When His feet touch the Mount, it will split down the middle. The Lord will then speak a supernatural word that will instantly destroy all the enemy forces. And on that day, the Lord will become King over all the earth.
In his commentary on this passage, Boettner completely spiritualized it.1
He argued that the Mount of Olives stands for the human heart. The enemy forces symbolize the evil in this world that surrounds and attacks the heart. The Lord’s return represents what happens when a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Thus, when Jesus comes into a person’s heart, their heart (the Mount of Olives) splits in contrition, and all the evil influences in the person’s life are defeated, and Jesus becomes king of that person’s heart.
That’s what I call an exercise in imagination!
I personally know a lot about spiritualization because I grew up in a church that specialized in this perversion of Scripture. Let me give you an example, and once again, it relates to Zechariah 14, verses 1-9.
I discovered that passage when I was 12 years old, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it, because all the preachers I had ever heard had been hard core Amillennialists — people who do not believe that Jesus will ever return to this earth to reign for a thousand years. Over and over I had heard these preachers proclaim, “There is not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus will ever put His feet on this earth again.”
Well, here was a passage that did more than imply. It said point blank that the Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives and that when His feet touch ground, the mountain will split in half!
So, in fear and trembling, I went to my pastor, showed him the passage, and asked what it meant. He studied it a long time, and then he stuck his finger in my face and said, “Son, I don’t know what this passage means, but I will guarantee you one thing, it doesn’t mean what it says.”
Why People Spiritualize
People love to spiritualize the Scriptures because when they do so, they can make the Bible say whatever they please, and in the process they get to play God.
Most professing Christians today are members of churches whose leaders use spiritualization to play fast and loose with the beginning and ending of the Bible. The preaching and teaching they hear is based upon spiritualization, and it converts the opening chapters of the Bible into a mythical story, and the ending of the Bible into mythical promises.
In the next part of this series on the beginning and the ending of the Bible, I’ll look at how people spiritualize the Creation account.
1) Loraine Boettner, The Millennium (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Co., 1957).