PITFALLS & POINTERS

 

{In Bible Study}

 

PITFALLS {Two Extremes to Avoid – “Harmonizing” & “Hacking”}

 

HARMONIZING {“Making It Fit” or “Forcing a Fit”}

 

Extreme “Harmonizing” and “Hacking” of Scripture are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to studying the Bible. Of the two extremes far more people engage in the practice of Harmonizing the Scriptures (“forcing a fit”) than in Hacking (“chopping” them up). Both of these study methods or practices eventually end up CHANGING God’s Holy words to mean something other than what God originally intended.    

 

Examples of Harmonization:

 

  • All Scriptures apply to a Christian (without exception) and therefore must be followed
  • All Promises made to the Jews are applicable to the church or to  Christians
  • All Commandments given to the Jews are applicable to the church or to  Christians
  • All Prophecies concerning to the Jews are applicable to the church or to Christians
  • All of the Lord Jesus Christ’s teachings are applicable to the church or to Christians
  • God is all finished dealing the Jews and with Israel as a nation
  • The church of God has permanently replaced Israel in God’s plan of the ages
  • The “Kingdom of heaven” and the “Kingdom of God” are the same

 

HACKING {Cutting & Chopping It Up}

 

Examples of Hacking:

 

  • The Old Testament, the Gospels, & the “General Epistles” are strictly for the Jews
  • Only Paul’s Epistles are applicable to a Christian
  • Paul’s Epistles must be “divided” into  “Early Paul”, “Middle Paul”, & “Late Paul”
  • The practice of “Water Baptism” is only for the Jews
  • Observance of the “Lord’s Supper” is only for the Jews
  • There were two churches in Acts – A Jewish church (Peter) and a Gentile church (Paul)
  • The church of God did not begin until Acts 9, 10, 15, 17, 19, or 28 (take your pick!)

 

POINTERS {“Precepts” & “Principles”}

 

The following points are examples of Scriptural “Precepts” (universal spiritual principles found in both the Old & New Testaments) that are true of all of mankind (Jew & Gentile – Israel & the Church – Lost & Saved). Please notice where the preponderance of Scripture resides.

 

The Attributes of Man: {Man’s “Substance” - body, soul, & spirit} 

 

The word “soul” – O.T. = 479 Times / N.T. = 58 Times = Total 537 (O.T. = 89%)

 

The word “spirit” (man’s) – O.T. = 96 Times / N.T. = 48 Times = Total 144 (O.T. = 66%)

 

The Attributes of Man: {Man’s “Faculties” - heart, mind, & conscience}

 

The word “heart” – O.T. = 784 Times / N.T. = 166 Times = Total 950 (O.T. = 82%)

 

The word “mind” – Old Testament = 44 Times / New Testament = 67 Times

 

The word “conscience” – Old Testament = 0 Times / New Testament = 32 Times

 

{All word totals are approximate.}

If the Old Testament is only for the Jews, how can we possibly learn all that God wants us to know about the “soul”, the “spirit”, or the “heart” if we confine ourselves to just Paul’s Epistles?

 

The following is one more example of Scriptural “Precepts” found in both the Old and New Testaments - with the words “knowledge”, “understanding”, and “wisdom”. Once again - Please notice where the preponderance of Scripture resides.

 

The word “knowledge” – O.T. = 120 Times / N.T. = 52 Times = Total 172 (O.T. = 70%)

 

The word “understanding” – O.T. = 136 Times / N.T. = 24 Times = Total 160 (O.T. = 85%)

 

The word “wisdom” – O.T. = 181 Times / N.T. = 53 Times = Total 234 (O.T. = 77%)

 

Where would our understanding of these Scriptural words be IF the Old Testament is only for the Jews? The Bible’s testimony is that ALL SCRIPTURE “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” – NOT just the Apostle Paul’s Epistles!

 

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

The “Wisdom Books” of Job, Proverbs, & Ecclesiastes alone have:

 

The word - “knowledge” 62 Times = 36% of all references

 

The word - “understanding” 72 Times = 45% of all references

 

The word - “wisdom” 105 Times = 45% of all references

 

If a Christian wants to obtain knowledge, understanding, and wisdom – where do you suppose he (or she) should go (at least to start with)? With one third to nearly half of all of the verses dealing with these subjects located in just three Books - the answer should be obvious!

 

There are many New Testament Precepts & Principals that are found in the Old Testament; the following are just a few more examples:

 

All have sinned

 

Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

 

Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

 

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

 

Psalms 14:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

 

Psalms 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

 

Psalms 53:1 To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

 

Psalms 53:3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

 

Man’s Righteousness

 

Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

 

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

 

Man’s deceitful heart

 

Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

 

Mark 7:18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

 

Genesis 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

 

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

righteousness

 

Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

 

A TIMELY WARNING

 

I believe that we are nearing the time of the “fullness of the Gentiles”:

 

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [See Romans 11:1-28]

 

We live in evil times and our Western culture is, without a doubt, one of the most corrupt and deceptive in the recorded history of mankind. The Bible describes the times we now live in by comparing them with two other particularly evil times:

 

Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

 

An examination of the verses in the Bible regarding the spiritual, moral, and physical condition of the people living in those past times reveals an amazing and startling similarity to conditions in the world at this present time and the deplorable state of the vast majority of the people living on the earth today!

 

 

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

 

Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

 

Genesis 13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

 

Genesis 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

 

Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

 

Wickedness, evil, and violence are nothing new in the world; they have been in existence on this earth since the fall of Adam and Eve. However, the Bible records two (2) specific times in man’s history when wickedness was exceedingly great; when evil abounded continually in the hearts of men and women; and when violence so filled the earth that God brought forth terrible judgment upon the earth and upon the people who committed all of the above sins. 

 

In Noah’s time God flooded the whole earth with water and destroyed every living thing (with the exception of Noah and his family) that breathed upon the earth because of man’s terrible sinful state. In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah God rained down fire and brimstone from heaven upon those wicked cities and the surrounding areas and killed every man, woman, and child in them (with the exception of Lot and his two daughters) because of the wicked and grievous sins of the people.

 

 

As for today - a comparison of just three (3) of the many popular areas of endeavor: {Entertainment -TV, Movies, Radio, Magazines, etc. – The sad lack of character in the majority of the participants and perverse and corrupt content; Sports - The obnoxious character of many of the participants and the mean spirited manner in which the games are played; and Schools - The perverse content of much of the curriculum and the lack of morals and character of the teachers and administrators} with the same institutions of the 1940’s and 1950’s will demonstrate an obvious and alarming decline in the spiritual and moral character in the people of these United States, to say nothing of the rest of the world.

 

The popular approval today of the common practice of fornication and the nearly unanimous opinion of adultery as being just an unimportant and harmless offense, is indicative of our spiritual and moral state. The general acceptance by more and more people of Sodomy and Lesbianism as an “acceptable alternative lifestyle” and the fact that anyone who objects to these sins or speaks out against them is now subject to ridicule, censure, and in many western nations – possible prosecution, punishment, or jail, clearly demonstrates that we are living in a very corrupt world.

 

The catalogue of personal sins and offenses are too numerous to list here but the following roster is a representative sample of just a few: The rise in crime in general (murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, theft, fraud, embezzlement, etc., etc., etc.); the general acceptance of almost all forms of pornography; the dramatic increase in sex crimes against children; the increase in the use of drugs and alcohol; the increase in divorce; the perverting, corruption and abandonment of traditional marriage and the corresponding destruction of the family. All these sins clearly demonstrate that our present world abounds in wickedness and is only evil continually.

 

As to the earth being “filled with violence”, we live in one of the most violent countries in the world and in one of the most violent times in recorded history. Murder is commonplace and is being committed for petty reasons; violence in the government schools has risen dramatically; rape is often treated lightly in the so-called “criminal justice system”; the rape of minors and young children is on the increase; and people are assaulted daily for little or no reason. The list of offences could go on and on. However, the offenses listed above are only those which are being committed by individuals. The offenses committed by governments [states] in the last century have exceeded individual offenses by far. 

         

The following quote demonstrates just how violent our present world really is:

 

“In practice, communism is nothing less than sheer barbarism that makes even the horrors of Naziism pale in comparison. Professor Rudolph J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii outlines that barbarism in his book "Death by Government," a comprehensive detailing of the roughly 170 million people murdered by their own governments during the 20th century. From 1917 to its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union murdered about 62 million of its own people. During Mao Zedong's reign, 35,236,000, possibly more, Chinese citizens were murdered. By comparison, Hitler's Nazis managed to murder 21 million of its citizens and citizens in nations they conquered. Adding these numbers to the 60 million lives lost in war makes the 20th century mankind's most brutal era.  {Are academic elites communists? By Walter E. Williams - August 16, 2006}

 

Please keep in mind that the above quote is limited to just the Communist, Fascist, and Nazi atrocities. If we were to include the number of murders, rapes, tortures, and persecutions committed by Dictatorships (on the right & left) and Democracies (of all stripes) in Africa, Asia, and the Americas; and then add the atrocities committed by Muslim Nations throughout the continent of Africa, the Mid East, Asia Minor, Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines; and if we  were to add to the list of offenses - the cruel enslavement of millions upon millions of people by all of the governments listed above; we can easily say that in the last century the true scope and volume of violence perpetrated by individuals and by governments upon the people of this earth is incalculable, and in regards to numbers – far exceeds any known time in the recorded history of mankind.

  

While American women and abortionists are “free” to exterminate millions of unborn babies, it takes decades to execute a serial killer. While the foulest, most disgusting, dirty, filthy, obscene and truly offensive language is commonly in use throughout the public square, the Ten Commandments are prohibited from being displayed. While teachers are “free” to espouse practically any perverse idea or concept that may come into the heart and mind of degenerate individuals in the so-called “public” (i.e. government) schools, we are prohibited from quoting even one verse from the Bible or freely expressing our faith. While Christian parents overwhelmingly have a deep concern about the genuine welfare of their children, the so-called “family” courts, government social service agencies, and government schools are continually intruding into legitimate family issues and concerns and interfering with parents exercising their legitimate and lawful (God-given) Constitutional rights.

 

But why go on with the litany of the obvious moral and spiritual corruption sweeping our country and the world? (And even more tragically – God’s churches) We have reached the point in the history of the world where conditions are such that it is “easyto practice evil; as a matter of fact we are encouraged (by: the schools, the media, entertainment, etc.) to do so. At the same time it is getting much more difficult with each passing day to walk after the Lord God and to serve Him according to the truth; as a matter of fact we are either being discouraged (by: churches, schools, media, entertainment, etc.) from doing so, or are even being forbidden (by: churches, courts, schools, government agencies, etc.) to do so! 

 

Throughout recorded history every State (government) that has ever been in existence has embraced and promulgated an “official” or “approved” Religion. Although (throughout history) some States may have tolerated, to some degree or another, some religions (other than the “official” religion), the fact is that most States, most of the time, have used the power of the State to persecute or destroy any religion other than the State (government) “approved” religion.

 

The disturbing fact is that in most of the world today people’s hearts are so deceived and their minds have become so blind and corrupt that they have surely embraced a “religion” without even knowing or acknowledging that it is a “religion”. That “religion” is called Humanism – from which many State (government) “official” religions have emanated [Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Socialism, etc.].

 

Just as most of the countries that were in existence at the time of its founding, the United States had an “official” [undeclared] religion at it’s founding also - Judeo–Christian. However, unlike the other States (governments) it wasn’t an organized religion - it had no “official” headquarters or clergy.

 

In the Western world, as the various State (government) “official” religions (Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, etc.) have been changed, ignored, or abandoned, Humanism, in all its forms (Religious-Secular-Atheistic-Psychological) with one or more of its attendant Ism’s has filled the void left behind.

 

Through the influence of the schools (K-12 & college); the media (print, radio, & television); government agencies (local, state & federal); and the courts (local, state & federal); our culture (and as a consequence our Country) has been radically changed from one that was based on Judeo-Christian laws, precepts, and principles to one that is based on the subtlereligion” of Humanism. (Humanism has become the “official” [but undeclared] “religion” of the United States – Please check out the substitution of unreasonable, untested, and failed “Psychological solutions” in the present day Court systems (especially the so- called “Family” Court) in place of the tried, tested, and proven Laws (based on Judeo-Christian principles) that guided our country from its founding up to the turn of the twentieth century).

 

The religion of Humanism has succeeded in:

 

  • Searing the consciences of most people, in regards to good and evil.
  • Occupying the minds of most people with superficial things of this world.
  • Alienating most people’s hearts from God and God’s word.

 

By the evidence and testimony presented above it is quite evident that the world (people, institutions, & governments) is at war with God’s people, and that war is being waged on two (2) main fronts. In Communist, Fascist, (Dictatorships) and Islamist (Muslim) countries the war against God’s people is being prosecuted mainly in physical terms (murder, torture, physical persecution). In Democracies and Socialist countries the war is much more subtle – to the degree that most of today’s Christians aren’t even aware of it - (Economic, social, political & religious discrimination; intimidation; coercion; ridicule; and government harassment are some of the weapons used i.e. the fear of man). But it is still a war!

 

Christians today must be on guard (from within the churches and from without). The world is full of False Religions & Cults; and False Prophets & Teachers. We can not just accept that everyone who professes to be a Christian is truly a genuine Christian – “Wherefore by their FRUITS (NOT their “WORKS”) ye shall know them” [Matthew 7:20]. We must examine every “doctrine” & “teaching” that comes our way and compare such with the Holy Scriptures.

 

The “fullness of the Gentiles” is at hand; we are either living in “the last days” [Timothy 4:1-2; 2Timothy 3:1-7] and “end times” [2 Timothy 4:3-4], or very close to those times. We must be on guard against “every wind of doctrine” and equip ourselves with the whole armour of God if we expect to be able to “stand” in these evil days that we are living in.

 

Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

 

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

We must “hold fast the form of sound words” and doctrine and avoid all false doctrine and teaching (i.e. “leaven”) and those people who promote such.

 

2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.