Tuesday, May 31, 2011

8 Cute (But Most Misused) Verses in the Bible

8) John 3:16
Yes, I know. It's the most popular verse EVER. But it's in #8 because of a wrong assumption that leads many to misapplication. I'm referring specifically to the word "whosoever". Some thought that this verse proves that any human has the "ability" to believe[1]. Arminians love to call it "free will" (in contrast to Total Depravity). But even if you're an Arminian, you must admit that the word "whosoever" implies general availability, NOT general ability. It implies that they may believe. It does not imply that they can believe. (For example: "whosoever will fly to the sun may own all my properties!") [click for further explanation][2]

7) 2 Chronicles 7:14
This is used oftentimes for religious Patriotism. They pray to God to "heal their land" (nation) from political dilemmas, natural disasters, moral disintegration, etc. The problem is that the verse is referring to the chosen nation Israel, not the Philippines or other countries (2 Chron. 7:18), and the prayer place is referring to the temple built by Solomon (2 Chron. 7:15,16). Israel is God's chosen people, distinguished from other nations. (Deut. 7:6) Unless we read and interpret these Old Testament verse within its historical and cultural context, we'll be at a loss. [click for further explanation]

6) 1 John 4:8
"God is love" is at no.6 because of a misconception about biblical "love". So many people think that love is tantamount to niceness. They think that if you're already offending or hurting or being disliked, you're no longer loving. Those who hold to this concept of love use this verse to degrade the truth that of God's wrath, or of church discipline. But that is a wrong concept of biblical love. Love "does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6) so it does not tolerate the untruthful sinner. Genuine love hates evil, and clings to what is good. (Rom. 12:9) [click for further explanation]

5) Matthew 18:20
It is theologically true that God hears all corporate, church-oriented prayers even if there are only two or three persons. But this verse is not about that. Neither does itl make God a genie. The context is about church discipline (Mt. 18:15-19). "For" in verse 19 means that the said verse is a reason of the preceding verses. The corporate asking here has something to do with the church's dealing with sin in the church. "Whatever you bound on earth will be bound in heaven" (v.18) has something to do with the church's heavenly authority to exercise discipline. [click for further explanation]
4) Revelation 3:20
So often do we use this verse in evangelism. We tell people that God is knocking at the door of "their hearts" and they should let him in. The illustration however does not pertain to individual unbelievers but to believers from the church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14) whom God loves (Rev. 3:19). The call here is for the lukewarm to be zealous (Rev. 3:16,19). To "open the door" means being zealous to the extent of being ready for Christ's future coming (Rev. 3:21). This fits the context more. [click for further explanation]

3) Matthew 7:1
Methinks this is the most foolish misapplication: it is wrongly taken to mean that all forms of judgment are wrong. So when you seem to be judging someone about his beliefs or practices, they'll point you to this verse. Such people are actually self-contradicting because they too judge you as someone who judges others. In actuality, the Bible does not forbid all forms of judgment. For example, the Bible commands us to judge professing church members who sin (see 1 Cor. 5:11-13) and to judge a dispute between believers with wisdom (1 Cor. 5:4-6). Mt. 7:1 refers to hypocritical judgment (Mt. 7:3-5), being guilty of what you're condemning in others. [click for further explanation]

2) Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Here's a cute one too, especially when a person has a problem and you want God's word to cheer him up. Knowing God has wonderful, prosperous plan for someone is comforting. But Jeremiah 29:11's promise "to prosper" (lit. wholeness) people is not a promise for anyone, nor is it a promise of economic well-being. Those who apply this verse to themselves are even unwilling to apply the succeeding verses. (Jer. 29:17-18) Just like in #7, the promise is for the exiled Israelites at Babylon (Jer. 29:1-10). It was a comforting message of restoration for God's exiled people whom God disciplined for years. [click for further explanation]

1) Philippians 4:13
DANDARARAN!!! I think it's one of the cutest verse! But this verse always reminds me of a motorcycle exhibitionist. When I was in highschool, a print ad of evangelistic-campaign-with-motorcycle-exhibition was labeled with that verse. In the same way, people abuse this verse and say they can be healed from all sicknesses through Christ, be never gunned down through Christ, be a millionaire through Christ, fulfill all their ambitions through Christ, and the like. Context is not in line with such interpretation though. The context is contentment even amidst sufferings. (Phil. 4:11-12) Paul is saying that he can endure with contentment all these sufferings through Jesus Christ who strengthens Him. Those who use this verse to make themselves somewhat "superman" through Christ are erring. [click for further explanation]

Twisting God's Word is Abominable
Cute as it may look, if we twist God's word we are sinning. God hates those who twist his word (Deut. 18:20; Rev. 22:18; 2 Pet. 3:16-18). Our duty then is to learn proper bible interpretation or hermeneutics(2 Tim. 2:15) And be very careful with how we interpret and use even a single verse from the word of God.

Recommended books:
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Gordon Fee; Douglas Stewart)

[1] The gospel offer is available to anyone. It summons everyone to faith. But it doesn't imply that anyone has the innate ability to believe just as God can call the dead to "come forth" even though the dead has no innate ability to do so (John 11:43-44). The gospel works in the same way, man is spirituality dead, God commands them to live through the gospel, God sovereignly gives them spiritual life, then they respond to the gospel by faith.
[2] That the recommended links are cited does not necessarily mean that I completely agree with and recommend the whole sites or the author.


ganda kuya! God bless you more!

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