Secret Decoder for Scripture?
Monday of Pentecost 4
13 June 2016
Several years ago at the height of DaVinci Code mania, in a package of books I received from Barnes & Noble there was included the inevitable advertisements for various products that Barnes & Noble thought they could entice me to buy. Among the advertisements there was one for your very own DaVinci Code "Cryptex." "What is a Cryptex?" you ask. I shared your puzzlement. The advertisement glowingly natters that you can store in it "notes, poems, jewelry, keys or other valuables. The most amazing thing about this Cryptex design is that it is made so you can change the password yourself." Ah, now that is convenience; your own "Cryptex" and you can change the password any time you want. This really is a step up from the Superman decoder ring! What will they think of next? This advertisement offered some moments of unrestrained mirth, so that my wife wondered, "What is so funny?" Well, how do you explain it?
 
People often treat Holy Scripture like it is susceptible to reinterpretation according to their own decoder ring or DaVinci Code "Cryptex" password. The nifty thing about having your own interpretive key is that you can change it as necessary, so that by using your infinitely changeable secret key for Scripture you can get out of it exactly what you want.
 
There is an interpretive key to Scripture. The interpretive key to Scripture is itself. Some years ago, Immature Christians complained to me that they didn't understand the Bible because it was impossible to understand. When I finally asked if they had actually ever read it, they replied rather shamefacedly that they had not read the book. They had been told that it was impossible to understand and had believed that lie rather than the words in the book itself. God speaks for Himself in His book. There is no secret decoder ring to give you some hidden meaning, which the rest of humanity could never see. There is only the self-revelation of the eternal Son of God in these last days (Heb 1:1). Augustine of Hippo aptly shows Scripture's own internal interpretive key in regard to the relationship of the Father and the Son. The key to understanding Scripture is careful study of the Scripture itself. In it we shall find the divinely faithful revelation of God in Christ.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"Some things, then, are so put in the Scriptures concerning the Father and the Son, as to indicate the unity and equality of their substance; as, for instance, 'I and the Father are one' (Jn 10:30); and, 'Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God' (Phil 2:6); and whatever other texts there are of this kind.
 
"Some other passages are so put that they show the Son as less on account of the form of a servant, that is, of His having taken upon Him the creature of a changeable and human substance. For instance, that which says, 'For my Father is greater than I' (Jn 14:28); and, 'The Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.' For a little after He goes on to say, 'And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.'
 
"Some other passages are so put, as to show Him at that time neither as less nor as equal, but only to indicate that He is of the Father. For instance, that which says, 'For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life in Himself;' and that other: 'The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do' (Jn 5 passim)....Therefore, these texts are so expressed, because the life of the Son is as unchangeable as that of the Father is. Yet He is of the Father; and the working of the Father and of the Son is indivisible, and yet so to work is given to the Son from Him of whom He Himself is, that is, from the Father; and the Son so sees the Father, so that He is the Son in the very seeing of Him. For to be of the Father, that is, to be begotten of the Father is to Him nothing else than to see the Father; and to see Him working, is nothing else than to work with Him: but therefore not from Himself, because He is not from Himself.
 
"Therefore, those things which 'He sees the Father doing, these the Son does likewise,' because He is of the Father. For He does not do other things in like manner, as a painter paints other pictures, by copying pictures painted by another man; Nor does He do the same things in a different manner, as when the body expresses the same letters, which the mind has thought. Instead, He says, 'whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise' (Jn 5:19). He has said both these same things,' and 'likewise;' and hence the working of both the Father and the Son is indivisible and equal, but it is from the Father to the Son. Therefore the Son cannot do anything of Himself, except what He sees the Father do.
 
"From this rule, then, by which the Scriptures so speak as to mean, not to set forth one as less than another, but only to show which is of which, some have drawn this meaning, as if the Son were said to be less. And some among ourselves who are more unlearned and least instructed in these things,endeavoring to take these texts according to the form of a servant, and so misinterpreting them, are troubled. And to prevent this, the rule in question is to be observed by which the Son is not less, but it is simply intimated that He is of the Father, in which words not His inequality but His being begotten is declared."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 1.1
John 5:18-29

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
 
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
 
"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."   (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord Christ, You draw Your life from Your Father to give us the life which You have in Yourself. Grant us to live in this life by the faith that You have died for us. Amen.
 
For all those who have suffered the loss of loved ones, that they might be comforted by God's promise of eternal life to all believers
 
For all the many former vicars of Memorial Lutheran Church, that the Lord Jesus would be with them as they lead the parishes they serve

For Hannah Burmeister, as she recovers at home from foot surgery, that the Lord would grant her feet to carry the good news about Him
 
For Jack Ogden as he undergoes surgery to repair a torn ACL, that he would be granted a full recovery
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016