The Most Common False Doctrine
The Lord calls us as Christians to not only share the Word of God through evangelism, but also explain and teach it to the unsaved through a ministry I refer to as “reasoning.”
One of the biggest motivations for reasoning is the huge amount of false doctrine that is either being taught, or believed by the unsaved around us. This refers to those who believe in works salvation, question Scripture being God’s Word. or don’t believe Christ was the Son of God.
But the truly dangerous false doctrine is one very few people notice…….
It’s when Scripture verses are taken out of context.
Last year I was having a discussion with friends about the churches responsibility to feed the hungry during the pandemic. We do provide food for those in need, but in times of great crisis it seems as if everyone is hungry. I explained it wasn’t my responsibility Biblically to feed everyone whose hungry.
A friend objected and I handed my Bible to him (you can read about why I always use an open Bible here)
He took my Bible and immediately turned to 1 Peter 5, asking me to read the first two verses.
I immediately saw where he was going because verse two states “Feed the flock of God which is among you.” 🙂
Now my friend was being funny but it reveals a very serious problem with Biblical interpretation. Individuals pick and choose verses that they can found their own beliefs on without paying attention to the context (surrounding verses).
A simple reading of 1 Peter 5:2 reveals it’s a MENTAL and SPIRITUAL feeding referred to here with doctrine instead of physical. Immediately after the phrase my friend used the passage says “taking the oversight thereof,” which emphasizes leadership and organization. The emphasis of the verse is not on helping others at all, but being a strong shepherd for the local church.
This kind of interpretation that overlooks context is very dangerous because it chooses to interpret the text by their wisdom instead of Scripture. This breaks what for me is the second most important the rule for interpretation, “we interpret Scripture with Scripture” (the first is “We interpret literally”).
Dr. Howard Hendricks in his excellent book “Living by the Book” explains that many Christians skip past the most important part of Bible study observation (asking “what does it say?”) moving directly to the step of interpretation which asks “what does it mean?” This is where many false beliefs are born because the interpretation is based on our own understanding.
We live today in a culture that knows bits and pieces of Scripture. It is our job to show them the whole picture.
I have a somewhat “old school” approach to destroying the false doctrine of personal interpretation.
We study books of the Bible one verse at a time.
It is important for people to “stand on their own feet spiritually” by defending their own beliefs with Scripture. But I’ve found going through verses slowly and explaining truth as we go allows the Holy Spirit to show where they interpret with their own ideas instead of Scripture. Exegetical (verse by verse) study also emphasizes what Scripture emphasizes, the redemptive plan of God instead of what speaks to them.
It is vitally important to fight against those cult groups who want to destroy our foundational beliefs. But we must also challenge those who ask “what does it mean?” before asking “what does it say?”