Home Media Destroying the Bible verse by verse. . Introduction.

. Introduction.

Destroying Christianity verse by verse.

Introduction.

SOVEREIGN GOD OR CHRISTMAS FATHER?

For the next many weeks we are going to be looking at the most misquoted, misused and misunderstood verses in the Bible, and some comments made by believers pretending it is Scripture but are not. While the opposite is intended these kind of quotations actually damage God, His Word and His kingdom. The reason being that when people are honest they must acknowledge that these verses do not work out for them, and somehow God’s promises are not always true.

I grew up as a child with what is called the ‘promise box’ or ‘bread for today’. In this ‘promise box’ you will find a verse to read and cherish. They were always positive, and the impression was created that this is God’s word for you for the day. My discouragement kicked in when I would apply these verse to me, just to discover that these promises did not become true. This turned me away from the Lord, because while I know that I am a sinner, and prone to do wrong things, and that I am growing day by day, one thing that was always critical for me was to be honest about my faith. I did not want to waste years, and go to my grave and know that for the sake of conformity I have been led by my nose, and believed things, and taught things that were obviously not true.

Without going into the detail now, a simple verse like ‘by His stripes we are healed’ by implication would mean that Jesus died for our physical illnesses, and that by implication I should not ever be sick as a believer. I then watched preachers who would teach health, wealth and prosperity get sick and even die of their illnesses. So, where does it leave me?  At this moment we are dealing with statements made by believers that again if taken to its logical conclusions are creating enormous problems. Pastor Johann Hulshof is now on the receiving end of these kind of Biblical statements supposedly based on a right understanding of Scripture. We all know that his wife Brenda is seriously ill, and the phone calls are coming thick and fast with the following kind of words: “We bind this sickness in the name of Jesus.” Now, we know what they mean by that. Simply this, “my words have power, and if she is healed ‘God and I’ get a lot of credit, and if not, somehow somebody did not have enough faith.” Now these kind of claims are based on Scripture as far as they are concerned. What is ignored is the 100’s of Christians crying to God for her healing. As a young man I quickly noticed that there is a greater confidence in the power of positive thinking or positive words than in a sovereign God.

Even us as pastors while meaning well can actually do an enormous amount of damage in the lives of believers. We all need to be honest with Scripture. We do not have to prove God and we do not have to explain God and we do not have to defend God. Whenever our prayers or promises do not work one of the cop out statements that you often hear is: “God’s ways are mysterious”. Even a great man by the name of Henry Blackaby, whom I greatly respect to the point that we post his daily devotions on our website creates some frustrations for me. For example, his daily devotion for 10/02/2015 is as follows:

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

“God keeps every promise He makes. When we walk in intimate fellowship with Christ, we have the assurance that every promise God has made in Scripture is available to us. This truth should motivate us to search the Scriptures for each promise in order to meditate upon its potential for our life. Jesus promised that when you ask for something in His will, He will give you what you ask (John 16:23b). This promise is available to every Christian. If you ask God if this promise applies to your life, His answer is yes. If you are not now experiencing this promise, it does not change the fact that God has said it. You may need to seek God’s answer for why His promise has not yet reached maturity in you. Paul claimed he had tested each of these promises in his own life and found them all to be abundantly true. That’s why he could speak of the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7b) and the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8b). Paul had found a wealth of God’s promises and enjoyed them all in abundance. Don’t become discouraged or impatient if you are not experiencing to the fullest all of God’s promises in your life. God may want to prepare you to receive some of the great truths He has made available to you. Walk closely with your Lord and, in time, you will see Him bring His promises to fruition in your life.”


Now, in a sense, all that he said above is true, but to the immature believer this devotion becomes a minefield. Why do I say that? Sure, all God’s promises to us are true. But, are all promises in Scripture for us? God makes a promise to Egypt in Exodus that ‘all their first born will die’. Now why does that verse not end up in ‘ye old promise box’ why is that verse not posted all over Facebook. Why do guys not post images with that verse on their websites? Aha, we will say, but we know that was to Egypt, and that they needed to let God’s people go. So there is context. So, why do we not apply it to the rest of the promises as well? The inclination of Christians today is to take any positive verse or promise to Israel and make it ours. For example, “If my people who are called by my name …………………………” We all remember it don’t we? There is a message going around at the moment on sms, whatsapp and BBM that claims if all Christians will just stop for 1 minute every night at 21:00 to pray, South Africa will be healed and we will live in a safe and prosperous country. Just one minute, WOW, what a bargain, God is not asking much is He. God has finally woken to the day and age of our business and we keep our texting short. So when Henry Blackaby says: we have the assurance that every promise God has made in Scripture is available to us”. I disagree with him, because there are many promises made that are not available to us. I can quote thousands.

Scripture is not ‘airy fairy,’ it is ‘not mystical’, it is not ‘purely subjective’. Blackaby goes further in the devotion to say: “This truth should motivate us to search the Scriptures for each promise in order to meditate upon its potential for our life.” The danger of a statement like this is that it fails to instruct and to remind people that every verse must be understood in its context, and that not all promises are for us, and how do we distinguish between the two. People should also learn how to benefit from the promises that are not for us. Many theologians see everything that is said to Israel in Scripture as being said to us. Here I part ways with them. I believe the whole Bible is God’s Word to us which contains words that are said directly to me, and then it contains words, even from God, that are not for me, but all of it is for my benefit and we can learn from it.

So, I guess all of us hear these sayings all the time! But are you hearing them as they were intended? The Bible is not merely a collection of quotes, or one-liners, but is the telling of history. The Bible is a comprehensive story, from the beginning of the world to the end – not ending 2000 years ago or in the present, but at the end of the world at the return of Christ. The end is not unknown, but is already written. The Bible is a perfectly cohesive collection of 66 books by ~40 authors, and is divinely uniform. Despite the uniformity of the Bible, verses are all too often misinterpreted or quoted out of context. If I was to write, “You should never read a Bible verse,” and you were to quote that phrase by itself, you would severely misrepresent my intent if the next thing I said was, “You should always read an entire thought or even an entire chapter to properly understand a verse’s context.”

 

Unfortunately in our quote crazy, sound bite loving, tweet happy world, information now comes one line at a time. It comes in sound bites. The reality is that chapter and verse markings were actually not added to the Bible until over 1500 years after its writing. The Bible was never intended to be read one verse at a time. Paul’s epistles for example are units, it is whole letters written to a congregation to be read as such. Just think if Paul wrote his letter to the church of Ephesus, and a year later he rocks up for a visit and he want to chat to them about spiritual warfare, and they tell him, ‘sorry Paul, we are not at chapter 6 yet’.

So, for the next few weeks, we will tackle verse after verse that is most often misquoted and misused. We will learn to be honest with Scripture. We will learn how to benefit even from those things that are not written to us directly, but that do benefit us greatly when we understand it’s meaning in context. This series is not to discourage you, but to equip you, to give you solid and honest foundations and to save you the misery of spiritual depression because God’s promises according to you are not fulfilled in your life. I find the following statement of Henry Blackaby very depressing: If you are not now experiencing this promise, it does not change the fact that God has said it. You may need to seek God’s answer for why His promise has not yet reached maturity in you.”

So, let’s ask God why? And what will the answer be? How do we establish the answer? This kind of thinking creates atheists who mock Christianity. I still love Henry Blackaby and I guess I am not worthy to fasten his shoelaces. While I see the value of daily devotions, and this is the reason we have four daily devotions on our website, I am not a total fan of daily devotions, especially when it replaces careful study of God’s Word and keeps us away from sitting under God’s Word week by week where we together can study God’s Word in a responsible manner.

My main aim is to keep you away from spiritual depression. Blackaby says: “God keeps every promise He makes. When we walk in intimate fellowship with Christ, we have the assurance that every promise God has made in Scripture is available to us.”

Has he forgotten that God has made promises to believers in the Old and New Testament who are not walking in intimate fellowship with God or Christ? Think about God’s promises to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:5 (ESV) 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” Surely this is a promise, isn’t it? So why is it never in the promise boxes, why is it not posted on Facebook, why is not sms’d to all and sundry? No wonder, many Christians never advance beyond ‘Sunday School level’ in their spirituality. It is us pastors who are to blame, because we have turned God’s Word into a Fortune Teller and Fortune Cookie textbook, and somehow God’s glory is tarnished in all of this as we have turned Sovereign God into nothing but Christmas Father.

So, fasten your seatbelts. In our next session we will tackle our first verse.