Summary: Work hard at handling the Word of God because how we handle God’s Word determines whether we’ll be an approved worker or an ashamed wanderer.
Getting it Right
Rev. Brian Bill
April 22-23, 2017
The Bible clearly says, “There is no God.” Does that surprise you? I’m not making that up. This strong statement comes as a direct quotation from Psalm 14:1. That’s a problem, isn’t it? How could the Bible, which is all about God, say that there is no God? How do we handle something like this? Does that rattle your faith? Anyone have a solution for this?
Hang on. Before you think I’ve gone hurtling into heresy, let’s actually look at this text in context. Here’s what Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” And this is just half of the verse. Here’s the rest: “They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.” A fool does not believe there is a God and as a result he behaves grossly. If you’re an atheist, there’s nothing to keep you from doing abominable deeds. If there’s no God, then why be concerned about doing good things? Reading this phrase in context changes everything, doesn’t it?
A text taken out of context is a pretext for a proof text. The Bible is a life-changing book but used in the wrong way, it can be dangerous.
In his book called, “The Most Misused Verses in the Bible,” Eric Bargerhuff describes how subtle Satan is when it comes to attacking the Word of God. Satan wants us to misinterpret and misquote Scripture as he seeks to undermine God, which is what he did all the way back in the Garden of Eden. God had given specific commands to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17 regarding the trees in the garden. He could enjoy all of them, except he was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lest he die. It was his job to teach Eve this command once she was created.
Listen to how sinister Satan is as he undermines God’s voice in Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?’” His first ploy was to cast doubt in Eve’s mind: “Did God actually say…?” Notice next that the serpent intentionally misquotes God: “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” Satan expanded what God said to make it seem like God was prohibiting them from eating of any tree.
In verses 2-3, Eve herself adds to the command: “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” God never told Eve she couldn’t “touch” the tree. In verse 4 Satan negated the penalty of death God had given when he said to Eve: “You will not surely die.” Satan’s big lie is that we can sin and get away with it. In verse 5, the serpent questions God’s character by suggesting He was jealous: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…”
Bargerhuff writes, “The serpent wanted [Eve] to see God’s restrictive commands in a new light, to perhaps understand them differently from what was originally intended, and to give them a new context.” He continues, “At the heart of all human sinfulness is lawlessness and the prideful appeal to be our own god…to doubt the trustworthiness of His Word. And all we need to do in order to start down that path is to give Scripture a new context, twist its meaning, or interpret it in a way that appeals to the supremacy and glory of man.”
In an effort to make sure we’re interpreting and applying Scripture correctly, we’re kicking off a new series this weekend called, “Context.” We’ll be setting some of the most misquoted and misunderstood verses in the Bible in their respective contexts so that we can both learn and live them out in our relational contexts.
Next week we’ll be unpacking the phrase, “Where two or three are gathered in my name.” In two weeks Pastor Kyle will be helping us learn what “The truth will set you free” really means as we celebrate what God is doing in our student ministry. Other topics in the series include what Jesus meant when he said, “Judge not,” how the context of Jeremiah 29 helps us better understand the depth of, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” and we’ll also unpack the commonly misquoted motto: “Money is the root of all evil.”