Friday, May 20, 2016

The Gospel According to Google

Years ago, I read a book by John Howard Griffin who said, "Every fool in error can find a passage of scripture to back him up."

I remember thinking it was funny at the time. I even thought about coming up with ridiculous positions on things solely for the purpose of finding scriptures to back them up, just to see if he was right. Now, as an adult, I see that he was... and today it's even worse than Griffin likely imagined it could be thanks to the pervasiveness of Google.

With a quick search for a couple of key words, anyone these days can not only find a verse that fits their viewpoint and a translation with just the right wording, but they can zero in on that verse without ever reading it in context.

Some, like those from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, use random verses to spew hatred... ignoring large portions of the Bible, while others focus only on the positive passages they want to read, ignoring verses about sin altogether. 

Still others are loving, respectable pastors and leaders who truly care about those they are serving. Yet, for one reason or another, they forgo the revelation that comes from studying the word, and spout Bible verses that only make sense within their message when read out of context.

Here's an example: Hebrews 10:26

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, 
there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

Read out-of-context that is a scary verse for me! Believe it or not, I still sin sometimes. In fact, sometimes (often), I still sin deliberately. Don't you? 

(If you said "no," that was probably a lie... which means you can now say, "Yes.")

In the last week I have deliberately lied to one of my children, eaten way more food than I needed or was good for me, made a rude comment about someone who annoyed me, and have even deliberately broken the speed limit! 

And while I said "In the last week," let's be honest here... 
I probably did all of them, 
within minutes of each other, 
in a single afternoon.

That is a lot of deliberate sinning... and it likely doesn't even come close to the actual list of sin in which I have participated in the last week. Thankfully, I know that it isn't a scary verse for me.

Hebrews 9 and 10 talk about the sacrifice that Jesus made at the cross for us. We can be assured in these verses that ALL of our sins: past, present, and future, have already been forgiven. So, if future sins have been forgiven already, what sin could one commit that would be held against them?

What about the sin of rejecting Jesus and His forgiveness? Someone who does this, has no other alternative. They have received the knowledge of the truth and for some reason, deliberately turned their back on God. 

Why would anyone do such a thing? I don't know. Ask Judas. He saw Jesus in action and still rejected him. It happens, which is why we are being warned about it here. The point is that we should not worry with each and every sin that we may be in danger of losing our salvation, 

In his commentary on these verses, Andrew Wommack says, "Those who truly love the Lord and yet sin, however grievously, need not fear these verses. These verses are for those who totally renounce their faith in the Lord. They know what they’ve done, and they don’t care. They hate the Lord."

And writer Paul Ellis asks, "How can we interpret Hebrews 10:26 as a warning against sin when Hebrews 9:26 says that Christ appeared once for all “to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself”?"

While I don't believe most of the people who use scripture out of context mean to hurt Christians, it is important for us to guard ourselves against teaching that might do so. When you hear a sermon or read something that contains a verse for reference. Always take the time to read it for yourself and ask God what He wants you to receive from His Word.

He (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages 
to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
~Hebrews 9:26b

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