Misusing the Word of God

Nothing upsets me more that hearing someone violate the rules of interpretation so they can make a point. I was recently at a preacher’s meeting where this happened more that a few times. Preachers are charged with preaching the Word of God, not their own ideas.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make1 full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

This passage speaks of a time when they (those who profess to be Christians) will not want to hear sound doctrine. We live in that time. God said that time would come, but He did not cause it to come. It is the preachers who have brought this upon us because we are more afraid of people, than we are of God. Jesus said we are not to fear those who can kill the body, but to fear God, who can destroy both the soul and the body in Hell.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Many are afraid that if they preach what the Bible actually says, they will lose church members. They are right, but those you lose are not worth having anyway. I know from experience, if you preach the whole counsel of God, and preach it loudly and clearly, God will bless you with people who want to hear it, and who want to follow it.

Corrupting the Word of God is not a new thing. It happened first in the Garden of Eden when Satan corrupted what God had said so he could get Adam and Eve to fall into sin.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5)

Satan was more subtil than any beast of the field. This means he was sly, cunning, and crafty. He insinuated that God was not good, and that He was withholding something good from them. When Eve misquoted what God had said, Satan contradicted God, and say they would not surely die.

There were false prophets in the Old Testament who did the same thing. There were those in Paul’s day who twisted the Word of God for their own purposes.

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17)

The word “corrupt” in this verse is the same word they used when someone added water to wine so they would have more volume to sell. We usually use the phrase “water down” to mean the same thing. That is only one way that the Word of God is corrupted. The modern Bible version corrupt it by changing the words, which changes the meaning. They add to, and leave out passages.

Our text commands us to preach the Word, and it means preach the Word, not our ideas. We are not to change it my adding, subtracting, or changing the meanings of words.

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

It is dishonest when we leave things out or add things that are not meant by the text. We are to preach the truth as it is spelled out in Scripture, and not as we see it. Commend means to present someone or something as worthy of notice. Our mission as preachers is to present the truth in such a way that it is noticed by every man’s conscience. Conscience has two parts, “con,” which means with, and “science,” which means knowledge.

Our text reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ will judge the quick and the dead. This verse tells us that what we preach is preached in the sight of God. We, as preachers, will give account to God for what we preach.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

Both the preacher and to hearer have responsibility according to this verse. The preacher is to watch for the souls of those God has put under them, and the hearer must obey what the preachers says as long as it is faithful to the Word of God. The preacher must preach it correctly, and the hearer must make sure that he does by checking it out by the Word of God.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

They had a ready mind which received the Word of God. They also checked it out by the Scriptures to make sure it was true. Anything that does not square with the Scriptures must be rejected.

I want to look at some the things that were said at the meeting I went to, and show how they did not square with Scripture. The preaching was very good overall, but these things did not line up with what God has said.

The first thing I want to look at is what was said when one preacher was explaining the importance of the phrase “the Lord Jesus Christ.” He explained the meaning of each part. Lord is His title, He is Lord of all. Jesus is His earthly name, and it identifies Him as Jehovah our Saviour. Christ tells that He is the anointed High Priest, the only mediator between man and God.

We must believe on Him in all of these aspects if we are to be saved for the consequences of our sin.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)

If we don’t believe on Him as Lord, we don’t believe we have to do what He says. This is a common error among professing Christians today. They say we are not under law, but under grace, and we have liberty in Christ, so we don’t have to follow the teachings of the law. My question for those who say this is, is murder or adultery OK now? I don’t think so.

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace, through faith, without works. The very next verse tells us that God has ordained that we walk according to good works.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The truth is, we are not saved by works, but we are saved to work.

We must also believe that He is Jehovah, our Saviour. We must believe in His deity, and we must trust Him alone for our salvation. Jesus said we must repent or we will perish. We must turn from our own dead works, and turn to Him alone for our salvation.

We must believe that He is the only mediator between us and God. There are not many ways that lead to salvation. We must come through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Outside of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, there is no salvation.

I said all of this to show that the message preached was a good message. There is one point where the preacher did not line up with what the Bible says. To prove that Jesus is our High Priest, he told us that everywhere we see the title “Christ,” it is somehow related to His resurrection. If you just do a superficial search on the Scriptures, you will find that this is not so.

I know that this is a small point, but false doctrine always starts with small errors. When a preacher makes statements that cannot be backed up by Scripture, he encourages others to make small changes also. This is dangerous because when we add up the small changes, we have a major change.

In a different message, the same preacher taught on the covenants of God. For the most part, his teaching was pretty good. He did, however, make one major mistake. He told us that the Noahic covenant was between God and Noah alone, and that it is not for us. The rainbow was only a sign for Noah, and is not a sign for us. What did God really say?

And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:8-11)

He did not have us turn to the passage to see what it said, and he only quoted part of what God said. The thing that told me I should look deeper is that he quoted God as saying, “I establish my covenant with you.” You is plural, which means that the covenant had be be between God and at least to others. It was not to Noah alone. We see from the text that it was with Noah and his sons. It is also with their seed, that means everyone born on this earth, because we are all of the seed of Noah and his sons. You will also notice that it is between every beast of the earth.

God also explained the meaning of the rainbow.

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:13-17)

Here we learn that the covenant was between God and the earth. A token is a sign or mark that represents something. It is a reminder of what it represents. The rainbow is a reminder, both to man and to God, of the covenant that He made between Noah, his sons, and every living creature of all flesh.

This error is much more serious that the first because it takes away a covenant that God made with all flesh. Every time we see a rainbow, we are reminded that God will not send another world-wide flood to destroy the earth. It is a sigh of God’s grace toward mankind.

Another preacher taught that to be a saint, you must be the member of a New Testament church. The point that he was trying to make with the message was, only New Testament church members, not all the saved, will be caught out at the Rapture. He said it is the Rapture of the Church, not the Rapture of the Saints. To back this up, he used a number of passages of Scripture that speak of saints and faithfulness. Here are a couple of them:

And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. (Psalms 89:5)

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:2)

His contention was that if you are faithful, you will be a member of a New Testament church. This is true, but making that mean that if you are saved and not a member of a New Testament church, you are not a saint, is taking it further than the language allows. The fact that God’s faithfulness is in the congregation of the saints, and the fact that the Epistle to the Colossians was to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ, do not necessarily mean that only those who are in the church or congregation are saints.

Here is another of his proof texts: Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints… (1 Corinthians 1:2a)

The problem is, he only quoted part of the verse. He ended his quotation where it says “called to be saints.” He based his argument on the fact that the verse says, “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,” and that this is written to the church at Corinth. He said that it is, therefore, talking only about church members.

Here is the rest of the verse, which he conveniently left out: …with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (1 Corinthians 1:2b)

It is true that this was written to the Corinthian church, but it was also written to “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” This would mean that it is written to all who are saved, whether they had been baptized into a New Testament church or not. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

The Greek word translated “saints” means sacred, pure, or blameless. Our English word has the same meaning. The same Greek word is also translated as “holy.” Sanctified means to be made holy, which is the state of all who are saved, because all the saved have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.

The Bible assumes that, once a person is saved, they will follow the Lord in baptism and be added to a New Testament church. This will always happen when a person is faithful, but it does not follow that a person is not a saint until such time as he is baptized into a New Testament church.

He also used the statement “sanctified in Christ Jesus,” to say that if we are not baptized into a local, New Testament church, we are not in Christ. He based this upon the fact that baptism brings us into the church (local), which is His body. It seems that he is saying that we are not in Christ when we get saved, but we must wait until we are properly baptized into a scriptural church.

Let’s take another look at what Paul said in Ephesians Chapter two.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

When we are saved, we are created in Christ Jesus. This does not happen when we are baptized, unless the Catholics and Campbellites are correct when they say baptism is required for salvation.

Here is another passage that speaks to this subject. It is a bit long, and I won’t have time to look closely at it, but it does teach that all of the saved are in Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:1-9)

There is no condemnation to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” Does this only pertain to church members? You might try to imply that because it says, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Will that hold up to the rest of the Word of God? No, because condemnation is removed when we believe, not when we are baptized.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

We became saints the instant we are saved because our condemnation has been removed. It is only removed for those who are in Christ. To say that we are not saints until we are baptized into a New Testament church is to make baptism necessary for salvation. I say this because when we are saved, we are new creatures “in Christ,” and we have the Holy Spirit in us.

Time will not let me go any deeper into the subject of corrupting the Word of God. Many are misusing the Word of God today. Preachers have the responsibility to ensure that they don’t do this. The hearers have the responsibility to check out what the preachers say, and make sure they don’t follow the teaching that are based upon the misuse of Scripture.