The biggest ill use of Scripture (in my limited perspective) is by far and above legalism. This may well be the biggest danger to our churches. It is a failure to understand the right use of the law. The gospel is distorted and we often do not even notice! This happens when our sermons are all “do this” and there is no mention of what Christ has “done”. This happens when the gospel is relegated to the end of the sermon every week when every head is bowed and eye closed. This happens when we forget that we as believers need the gospel to. There is a misuse of the law and a mismanagement of the gospel!
There are some more ways we mishandle Scripture. Sometimes looking at the negative helps to make the positive more clear. These are generalizations as we are not taking time to look in depth at each of these categories.
Elevating one portion of Scripture above another mishandles Scripture. One example of this is those that teach repentance is not a necessary response to the gospel along with faith. They take the gospel according to John and say that since John wrote so that we may believe (20:31) and John does not use the Greek word for repentance, therefore repentance is not a necessary response to our sin. They elevate the gospel of John above the rest of Scripture. Other passages do speak about repentance and just because one particular word is missing does not mean the idea is not present. They do not handle well the Word of God.
We live in a time of unparalleled resources and yet we seem to know less. Here are some places that may be helpful for you.
Scripture is a story. We are beginning to see the story. God created everything good. Adam and Eve then made a bad mistake. We call this the fall. They were kicked out of the Garden and life got much harder. The bulk of Scripture is then the story of redemption. How is God going to restore us to a right relationship with Him? When will the promise of Genesis 3:15 come true? Of course it comes true in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. He came to earth, rightly handled the Word of God, satisfied the just wrath of God, put an end to death and crushed the head of the Snake.
In Numbers 21 after the LORD gives them victory over their enemies the people of Israel become impatient and complain. We read:
5 The people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food." 6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live." 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. (Num. 21:5-9 NAU).
Here is Introduction: Mishandling Snakes and Scripture Part 1.
The pastor that got bit by the snake in the story last post lived, but the doctors said it was almost too late. He is a fourth generation snake handling pastor. His dad died four years earlier when he got bit on the hand. It only took ten minutes. You would think this would have caused him to doubt this supposed promise of God. He would either doubt God or reinterpret the text! He did neither. Now that it has happened to him, he is reportedly reevaluating his life.
I recently heard about a snake handling church here in the U.S. They carry snakes while they sing and preach based on Mark 16:17-18, which reads: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
I feel a little like Jude must have felt. I have wanted to write for a long time, but not about this. I feel compelled to write for believers to contend for the truth. Certain persons or ideas have crept in and Jesus Christ is being denied. Some do not even know it is happening.
There is a new religion in town, in our country and in our churches. The gospel message varies a little in this new religion. Sometimes it is all whites are racist and only a lifetime of conscious effort and repenting of that privilege will heal you. The problem is you actually can’t do it. It is a “do this and live” principle that you can never do. Sometimes the message is our country is full of systemic racism. So everything needs to go-statues, the confederate flag, even the American flag, the cops, history- we need to start over. The gospel is humanity and it improved instead of Christ and Him crucified.