Monday, September 15, 2014
What Can I Make the Bible Say?
There is much amiss in the Christian church today. There are rampant doctrines within the church being passed off as biblical, yet they are anything but. Despite their unblibical (I would go so far as to say anti-biblical) doctrines such teachers employ the Bible to enforce their views. To that end I would like to explain my reason for an apologetic regarding this topic; you might say it’s an apologetic for my apologetic. Most false teachers, or teachers who errantly hold false doctrines, migrate toward a select count of Scriptures that favor their point of view. They tend to ignore context, both within the passage they lift the verse from as well as the overall theme regarding that particular topic as found throughout Scripture as a whole.
I have been accused before of trying to reason too much about a particular teaching. When debating about the subject of baptismal regeneration my opponent asked me “how can you misunderstand nine words?” (This was in regard to Mark 16:16; a topic we will address later, God willing.) I’ve also been accused of attempting too hard to explain how Eternal Security is Scriptural by reasoning from Scripture rather than just pointing to simple verses that clearly indicate that the doctrine is true. The problem with this position is that citing Scripture alone really reveals no knowledge about whether or not the person quoting it understands what they’re affirming. 1st Timothy 1:3-7 states: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge (command) some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment (to adhere to orthodox doctrine) is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”
Later Paul writes to Timothy a second time, about the same topic, telling him “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound (uncorrupt) doctrine but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap yup for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables,” 2nd Timothy 4:2-4. This culminates with Paul stating: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” 2nd Timothy 3:16-17. The key words in this final passage are “all Scripture;” which means that the whole counsel of God is supposed to be used to determine doctrine. The more that is said about a particular doctrine, the more comprehensive the doctrine in question. In this instance isolating a few random verses is a certain way to assure error. Opposite this, of the topics that little is said, the few verses that canvas the doctrine must be analyzed to determine what is being taught. Reason, no matter how sound, must be subject to Scripture. That is why it is written that Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures,” on numerous occasions, Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19. It is the same method Peter used in his first sermons in Acts chapters 2 and 3, citing Scripture and building an argument from the Bible.
We must not forget that Satan can quote Scripture quite well when it suits his purposes, Luke 4:10-11 (from Psalm 91:11-12.) We also know that Satan’s apostles (2nd Corinthians 11:13) can likewise use Scripture to their advantage; Peter calls them untaught and unstable, twisting or wresting Scripture to their own destruction, 2nd Peter 3:16. Jesus spoke of those who misused His word to support their own teachings: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,” Matthew 15:7-9. He concluded by informing His apostles that such as “blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch,” Matthew 15:14. Have such false teachers who use the Bible falsely been prophesied about? Indeed they have. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber,” 2nd Peter 2:1-3.
Twice the activity of these false teachers Peter spoke of are referred to as destructive. The double expletive of “destructive heresies” seems especially daunting. The teachings destroy unity in the Christian church and often destroy the comfort and hope that the Scriptures ought to give to believers, Romans 15:4. It also destroys a seeker’s interest in God, and the way of truth (the Christian faith) will be blasphemed due to these aberrant teachers and their doctrines. The purveyors of these odious doctrines are either purposely deceptive or unwitting pawns of others who have “proven” to such disciples that such teachings are in fact biblical. Judgment awaits those who follow these destructive heresies. To the unsaved who propagate such error judgment for the perversion of God’s word awaits. For the saints who have since been misled with the error of the wicked (2nd Peter 3:17) loss of reward at Christ’s judgment seat will occur, 1st Corinthians 3:11-15; Matthew 5:19; 2nd Corinthians 5:10.
This is why I feel it necessary to preface this series of posts with an explanation. Adherents to certain doctrines seldom (if ever) come out of their fortified defensive position to critically assess how sturdy (or unsturdy) their doctrinal shelter is. They have their collection of verses that at least to them validates what they believe is true, and ignore or explain away the voluminous evidences from Scripture that invalidate their position entirely. Three such approaches can be made to demonstrate whether a view is doctrinally sound. The first is that each verse is examined in light of the surrounding context, both of the passage in question and the book that the verse is lifted from. The second is to contrast singular statements about a doctrine with the rest of the Bible that addresses the issue. One should expect conformity throughout the Bible regarding anything it touches upon. Finally, the whole of Scripture’s testimony is considered, or perhaps to put it differently, the theme of a given doctrine. Both directly and indirectly how is the topic treated? As we complete this introduction, it is my fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit illuminates our understanding, that we may rightly divide the word of truth, 2nd Timothy 2:15. This verse definitely indicates a special need of the saint to diligence and hard work in study in a sincere effort to handle God’s word with honesty and godly integrity; something that obviously does not instantly occur or such texts would be void of merit to even write. This is the mindset I desire to bring us into as we consider the Trojan Horses in the church, and what the Bible really says about them.