Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Review: The Most Misused Verses in the Bible

The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God's Words is Misunderstood by Eric J. Bargerhuff. 2012. Bethany House. 172 pages. [Source: Bought]

As we begin this journey through some of the most misused verses in Scripture, we must first realize that misquoting and misusing God’s Word has been one of Satan’s key strategies and tactics in his attempts to undermine the rightful reign and authority of God in the world.
I would definitely recommend reading Eric Bargerhuff's The Most Misused Verses in the Bible. Would his choice of verse be my exact choice of verses, maybe not. But he highlights some good verses that are often--but not always--misused.

In the first chapter, he writes about how "misunderstanding" Scripture is what led to the fall of man, and the introduction of sin and death into the world. Yes, he takes us back to Genesis. He examines a little conversation with significance. He talks about how Satan both casted doubts on the Word of God AND misquoted it in his conversation with Eve. While Eve added to it in her response back. The whole book shows that we still struggle with the Word of God. We're tempted to doubt it, to question it, to change it, to take away, to add, to put it into a new context, to disregard context altogether, to make it all about us and what we want or need in any given situation. The point of this book is, "times change and applications may vary, but the original author’s meaning and intent and the subsequent principles derived from that are fixed and eternal. It is therefore necessary that we understand what these excerpts actually meant when they were written so we can apply them properly today. It is only then that we may say we are faithfully using God’s Word as the Holy Spirit intended."

So which verses are discussed in the book?!

Judging Others (Matthew 7:1)
Plans To Prosper You and Not To Harm You (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Where Two Or Three Are Gathered (Matthew 18:20)
Ask For Anything In My Name (John 14:13-14)
Working All Things Together for Good (Romans 8:28)
If My People Who Are Called By My Name (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Jesus as the Firstborn Over All Creation (Colossians 1:15)
Money is The Root of All Evil (1 Timothy 6:10)
No More Than You Can Handle (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Train Up A Child (Proverbs 22:6)
I Can Do All Things (Philippians 4:13)
An Eye for An Eye (Exodus 21:23-25)
The Prayer Offered In Faith (James 5:15)
Repent and Be Baptized (Acts 2:38)
Guarding Your Heart (Proverbs 4:23)
Where There Is No Vision (Proverbs 29:18)
Lifting Up The Name of Jesus (John 12:32)

In his book, he stresses the importance of knowing how to read the Bible, and how to read it well--how to read for understanding, putting things in context, praying and being willing to listen and learn. He tackles one misunderstood verse or passage per chapter. I found plenty of things to be worth quoting throughout the book, but, I'll focus on just one misunderstood verse.
Imagine two boys playing on opposing basketball teams. They don’t know each other, but they have something in common. They’re both from healthy Christian homes where they’ve been taught to love and serve God. Each also knows a little about the Bible. In fact, they love the same Bible verse, one of the first each committed to memory, Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV) The basketball game proves to be a fierce competition. For four quarters the boys run, jump, shoot, and rebound as hard as they can, both fortified by the thought I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But at the end of the day, only one kid and his team will be a winner. And on the way home, they’ll each stare out their car window and have two completely different thoughts. One will tell himself, You know, God is awesome—he really does give me strength. We won. What an awesome game. The other is thinking quite the opposite: Where was God when I needed him today? I guess his strength is not as strong as I thought. What a joke. So what do we do? Which boy is right? How does the promise of Philippians 4:13 work for us? Say I’m carrying a heavy bag of water softener salt into the house from the trunk of my car. Is it legitimate to say to myself, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength? If I drop it, does that make me weak, or was it God’s fault because he didn’t give me enough strength? Surely that’s not what Paul means here.
What is Paul really saying to us in Philippians 4:13? How should this truth apply to our lives? Are we talking about physical strength, spiritual strength, emotional strength, or a combination of all of them? Furthermore, what does “all things” mean? Should a bank robber rightfully tell himself, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength the moment he grabs that stack of money? That’s silly, of course, but it does reflect how some people handle Scripture. Certainly the idea of being able to do “all things” needs to be qualified. So let’s get to work and do a little digging, because I believe the real message Paul is giving here is something we all need to grasp.
But more than anything, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is meant to be a word of update, encouragement, and exhortation. Paul desires to see them grow spiritually and to serve God faithfully without any attachment to the world. He wants them to be unified, experiencing the joy that is found in Christ. In fact, the words joy and rejoice are used no less than sixteen times in the book’s four chapters. This was obviously something the Philippians struggled with. They loved the Lord but had put a lot of confidence in their own ability to live out the Christian life. As a result, they were getting worried, agitated, and seemingly irritated with each other.
Although Paul reminds the Philippians that God always provides for his people, and even uses their gifts to Paul as an example, he also lets them in on a little secret, a pearl of wisdom we often overlook. It is God’s gift of contentment—learning to be content no matter the circumstances: I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:10–12 NIV 1984) So yes, Paul received their gift and was profoundly grateful. But he uses this teachable moment to share with them a binding principle that should be the norm for every Christian: No matter what your situation is in life, learn to be content—whether well fed or hungry, rich or poor, and so on. And our ability to be content in the midst of human struggles is due to this one poignant truth: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I really wish he'd included Revelation 3:20 in this book. I do. It is one I see being misused a lot.
This verse can be applied (without damage, I think) to an unbeliever (as we often use it), but that is not its purpose here. It is addressed to lukewarm Christians who think they have need of nothing more of Christ. It is addressed to churchgoers who do not enjoy the riches of Christ or the garments of Christ or the medicine of Christ because they keep the door shut to the inner room of their lives. All the dealings they have with Christ are businesslike lukewarm dealings with a salesman on the porch.
But Christ did not die to redeem a bride who would keep him on the porch while she watched television in the den. His will for the church is that we open the door, all the doors of our life. He wants to join you in the dining room, spread a meal out for you, and eat with you and talk with you. The opposite of lukewarmness is the fervor you experience when you enjoy a candlelit dinner with Jesus Christ in the innermost room of your heart. And when Jesus Christ, the source of all God's creation, is dining with you in your heart, then you have all the gold, all the garments, and all the medicine in the world. ~ John Piper, "How To Buy Gold When You're Broke"
and from the NKJV Study Bible:
I stand at the door and knock pictures the Lord Jesus seeking entrance into His own church for the purpose of renewed fellowship. Though it is often understood as Christ knocking at the door of an individual unbeliever’s heart, the context makes that improbable.
and from the MacArthur Study Bible:
Rather than allowing for the common interpretation of Christ’s knocking on a person’s heart, the context demands that Christ was seeking to enter this church that bore his name but lacked a single true believer. This poignant letter was his knocking. If one member would recognize his spiritual bankruptcy and respond in saving faith, he would enter the church.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Jaina said...

Wow, this looks like a great book! I'll have to try to get it.