Five misused Bible verses

“We are nothing more than the result of evolution, born out of primordial ooze which started on a planet in a universe that was nothing more than a collection of elements that came from a random expansion some 14 billion years ago.”
This is a quote from my last post, as it is quoted here this would probably result in more than a  few questions from my brothers and sisters, and possibly from my minister?
On closer inspection of the original post you will see that this was in the context of those with no belief in a creator God, and not my own personal views.
In all forms of media and communication , context is everything. It forms the simple difference between:
“…the fire burnt for the rest of the night and was seen from the next village…”
and
“After the fireworks display and the barbeque were done, the fire burnt for the rest of the night and was seen from the next village, as the celebrations continued.”

Those who attack the word of God often like to quote the Bible out of context, either intentionally or through ignorance of the wider context.
But the fact is that Christians are also guilty of cutting down the word of God into tweet-sized pieces, and in doing so, ripping the verses out of it’s original context in order to fit in with the point we are trying to make.
I am not saying that we must always quote the whole paragraph or chapter, some verses are perfectly clear  when they are quoted as a single verse.
The problem arises when we cut and snip the text into verses which sound great, and which might well carry some truth about God, but which do not reflect the full meaning  or the context of the passage that we snatched them from.

Starting with Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered…”, we can go on to look at five commonly misused Bible verses.

Think Before you Buy – Amazon or High Street Bookstore?

Originally posted on The Wee Flea:

Yesterday I learned a valuable lesson. I needed to buy a book (Mere Christianity) for someone and did my normal…looked it up on Amazon and was just about to press the button, knowing that it would arrive within a day and that it would be cheap. However before I pressed the thought struck me – ‘why are you doing this? There is a Christian book store in the centre of your town”. So I went to CLC, bought the book. Result? It cost me £1 more, I got it instantly and I got the opportunity to support a Christian presence on the high street in my own city. CLC is a rapidly improving Christian bookstore in the centre of Dundee – should all of us who are believers in this city and who want to support this Christian witness make a habit of buying our books there more often? And…

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Stephen Fry, Suffering and God

Recently an interview featuring Stephen fry has gone viral, in it he is asked the question “What will you say when you meet God?” [paraphrased]

To which Stephen answers:

“I’ll say, “Bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you! How dare you create a world in which there is such suffering that is not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god, who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

At it’s essence this is the common question “why does God allow suffering?”
This question is certainly not a new one, it has been asked for centuries. No one says that this is an easy question to answer. But if we look at Stephen’s answer he blames God for causing the suffering. This problem of suffering is often used as evidence that there is no God.

So let’s, for now, assume that this is true, that the problem of suffering in this world shows without doubt that there is no God. We are nothing more than the result of evolution, born out of primordial ooze which started on a planet in a universe that was nothing more than a collection of elements that came from a random expansion some 14 billion years ago.

The child still has bone cancer, but now they must have cancer in a cold, lonely universe that doesn’t know or care about what they are going through.
Removing God does not remove the problem of suffering but it does remove any sense of hope that exists in the midst of that suffering.

With God we have the sure hope that all things are in his capable hands, we don’t claim to know why everything happens but we do claim and proudly proclaim that “Our God is in the Heavens he does all that he pleases”(Psalm 115:3), he is in control.

It was no capricious, mean-minded, stupid God that saw humanity in the prison of sin, a prison of their own making, a sentence which resulted in eternal death. A God Who then sent his only beloved Son to die in the place those who rebelled against him. This same Son who broke in pieces the chains and bars that held those in this prison, and who so utterly destroyed their imprisonment so that it would never hold them again (Psalm 107:10-16, Ephesians 4:8)

That is the God we worship and the God we sincerely pray that Stephen will one day come to call his Lord and Saviour.

Comments are always welcome

“The preparation of sermons involves sweat and labour. It can be extremely difficult at times to get all this matter that you have found in the Scriptures into [an outline]. It is like a … blacksmith making shoes for a horse; you have to keep on putting the material into the fire and on to the anvil and hit it again and again with the hammer. Each time it is a bit better, but not quite right; so you put it back again and again until you are satisfied with it or can do no better. This is the most grueling part of the preparation of a sermon; but at the same time it is a most fascinating and a most glorious occupation.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Preachers and Preaching

Why do we say Amen ?

Let’s be honest how often have we said the word “Amen” and not really known what we are saying or why we are even saying it !?

The word is used throughout Scripture, both in the Old Testament and the new. In fact the book where it occurs most is Deuteronomy (chapter 27)
The Hebrew word and it’s Greek counterpart in their simplest form means something that is firm, sure and truthful.
We can see this clearly in Isaiah 65:16 where God is called the “God of truth”, the Hebrew literally has it as “God of Amen”. So the word conveys it a sense of truth and authority, one that can only come from God.
Most often it was used by those under the hearing of the words of God to affirm what was being said was the truth:
“And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands.” Nehemiah 8:6
It is often included in the Psalms, like in the beautiful Psalm 72
“Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!”  Psalm 72:19

In the New Testament we read of Jesus using “Amen“, but each time He uses it in the sentence, He places it at the beginning: [The ESV translates it as “truly”]
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24
Why is important where the word comes in the sentence?
Like we saw with the Old Testament passage the “Amen” signified an agreement to the revealed words of God were the truth. But with Jesus starting with the word, he is declaring that what he has to say were the very words of God, no small statement.

Why then do we end our prayers in “Amen“?
Some translations do include an “Amen” at the end of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 5, but not all (most of the ‘modern’ translations do not include it). It is however included at the end of all the Epistles. John ends his Gospel with “Amen”, he uses it nine times in Revelation. Christians use Amen at the end of our prayers to point towards the fact the God is faithful and true, and we have the promise that he hears all the prayers of his children. All through our mediator and High priest Jesus:
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:5
 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4: 14-16

So the next time we read or say Amen let’s think about how that wee word reflects the truthfulness and faithfulness of God.