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.
Another example of this is those that think the red letters in the Bible are more important. The red letters are of course the words that Jesus spoke. The red letters are not more important than the rest of Scripture. Scripture itself states this clearly. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. They key here is All Scripture. We know what the Scriptures are; the sixty six books that make up the Bible and all of it is breathed out by God. Timothy has known from childhood the sacred writings (3:15). To elevate one section of Scripture above another is to misuse Scripture.
Any worldly philosophy that undermines Scripture and its sufficiency is a misunderstanding of Scripture. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. Do we really trust secular theories to tell us how to live our lives? Does not the Bible do a sufficient and adequate job of telling us how we are to live? Would God leave something out that is important and then reveal it through immoral men hundreds of years later? Do we need some new insight in order to be effective Christians? Who can comfort better then God? Who can change the heart and not just dull the pain with drugs? If the Bible can’t guide us in day-to-day problems how can we trust it to lead us to eternal life? Putting man’s wisdom ahead of or above God’s Word is an error. Many today fail to see how the gospel is necessary for our day to day living as Christians. Yes the gospel is for eternal life, but it is also for everyday life.
Scripture is not a science book either. While all of Scripture is inerrant and infallible we should not read it like a science book. Scripture does not set out to prove the existence of God. It assumes it. God’s Word should not be read like something that it is not.
If you think you need new special revelation you mishandle Scripture. God has given us all that we need (2 Pt 1:3). If you think God is giving you new revelation and it contradicts the old revelation (the Bible), it is not God that is speaking to you! We do not need to wait for a special word from God; He has already given it to us! There is nothing that we need that we do not have. Scripture is not a dead letter and it is always relevant. God has not left us and He has communicated to us all that we need. The Bible is not like cat-litter, it does not get old, it does not need to be replaced or changed out, it is always fresh; it is living and active after all.
Many, including some of the teachers I have had, tell us to ask what the human author of Scripture meant. What did Paul mean when he said…What did Moses or Hosea mean when they wrote…While understanding the style and context of the human author certainly has its place, this is not the best question to ask. The better question is what did God mean when He had Paul, Moses, Isaiah or whatever human author write. Remember that God wrote Scripture through men. There is a reason God had Paul write at the end of Romans “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;” and why God through Peter wrote that the prophets searched to understand what they were writing and it was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but us (read 1 Peter 1:10-12). The human authors did not always understand the full extent of what they were writing. We are blessed to live on this side of the cross and to have the mystery revealed. Let us not try to read the OT like we are OT Jews that do not have the rest of the story. Scripture is one grand story with One grand author.
There is no doubt that Scripture is often not cut straight. Sometimes by those that are openly antagonistic to it, but also by those who claim it to be their own. Satan from the beginning as sought to undermine the Word of God. Undoubtedly many more ways of mishandling the text could be noted, but we will settle for two more. These are perhaps the most vicious misuse and often done by the most well-meaning.
Jay Wipf is a former student of Coalt Robinson and attended Grace University where he earned his degree in Christian Education. Jay is currently studying at Reformed Baptist Seminary in the comfort of his home in Huron, SD. By grace and at Grace he met his beautiful wife Rachel, and they now have three young children. Jay and his family live in Huron where he works in facilities at a local credit union and serves within the local church.