Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 10 October 2015
Page 6

Wresting the Scriptures

Peter D. DeGraff

The term “wrest” is seldom used in our vocabulary today, but it was familiar to those who lived prior to and during the time of the early church. Moses first wrote about it when encouraging the people to not “wrest judgment” (Exodus 23:2, 6; Deuteronomy 16:19). The word means to “distort, pervert, stretch out, turn aside or away” (Young’s).

David’s use of it caught my attention. As a spokesman for God, David was frustrated because he was honoring God’s Word, but his people refused to do so. He lamented, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil” (Psalm 56:4-5).

Peter referenced Paul when he said, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). It just so happens that Peter had been writing about the coming of the Lord and how everything was going to be burned. It appears they changed the threatening message.

We are in the throes of football playoffs this week, and I see some similarities, simplistically speaking, between the Word of God and a football. Everyone is concerned about the safety and comfort of the players, but the ball also is subjected to rain, snow and abuse. Everyone is after it, wanting to grab, throw, fall on or abuse it in some other way. Actually, it is not the ball they want, but personal gain that comes through having the ball. Without it in the player’s possession, they cannot advance, no first down can be attained, and certainly no touchdown can be made without it. After the touchdown is made, the player throws the ball down for it has served its purpose and permitted personal gain. The players are not particular about how it is used; they hide it, use it deceptively in a fake play or hold on to it selfishly.

There are those who use the Scriptures for personal gain. They are used to win arguments for arguments sake. Often, the Bible is used to justify an ungodly behavior by manipulating it (fake play) or “wresting” it to conform to individual needs and wants, to make personal gain or to advance one’s cause. When finished with it, many dispose of it. When not willing to defend it or have it in their possession because of it attracting attention, they “hand it off” to rid themselves of it. We must carry the Word with pride, forthrightness and objectivity!

An Illustration that
Became an Experience

Raymond Elliott

Raymond ElliottNormally, a public speaker uses illustrations from personal experiences; however, this writer experienced the reverse on an occasion. In a sermon entitled, “How to Understand the Bible,” I have made the point that there is not one contradiction in the entire Bible. I would also mention that there are those atheists, skeptics, agnostics and others who try to deceive the hearts of the innocent by charging that the Bible is filled with contradictions. I would then use the illustration about the person who asked the men on the porch of a general store if they believed the Bible. Upon receiving a positive answer, the doubter would then mention a ‘sure’ contradiction. He would say that Matthew related how Judas Iscariot “went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). Then the unbeliever would mention how Luke recorded how that Judas, “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18). He would then turn to the men and say, “Just how do you answer that?” One man stood up and said, “Easy, the rope broke!” So, instead of a contradiction there was harmony between the two writers.

Well, I answered the door one Saturday morning and there stood two very young ‘elders.’ They desired an opportunity to discuss with me their peculiar doctrine. Treating them like I would like to be treated, I asked them to come into the house. I observed one young man had a copy of the Bible while the other young man carried a copy of the Book of Mormon. At the beginning, I insisted that in order to have agreement in religious matters we must establish what constitutes authority. In the course of our discussion, one young man said that his church accepted the Bible as long as it was translated correctly; however, it was but a moment later that he stated that the Bible was filled with contradictions. Much to my surprise, he illustrated his assertion by the same story that I have used many times and mentioned to you in this article regarding as to how Judas Iscariot died. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Although I have used this illustration (which I borrowed from another source), I had never heard any person use this story as proof to show that the Bible is filled with supposed contradictions.

It was indeed sad to hear an intelligent young man use such flimsy reasoning to try to prove that the Bible contradicts itself. Of course, I explained the harmony between the two writers (Matthew and Luke) relating to the death of Judas. Then, the young man brought up another so-called ‘contradiction.’ It was then that I stated that his church did not really believe in the Bible or else all of these ‘contradictions’ would not be mentioned in our discussion.

In any religious discussion there has to be an agreement on what constitutes authority, otherwise, there can never be unity. There is no need to further pursue a discussion in religious matters if the parties involved cannot accept one authority, that is, the Word of God. It is indeed surprising and disappointing to learn of the various religious organizations that will not accept the Bible as the only guide and authority pertaining to what God desires us to know, believe and obey. It is not the Bible and something else. It is the Bible only! The Lord promised to guide the apostles into all the truth (John 14:26; 16:13). Paul declared that he preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Peter later wrote that “he hath granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness‚Ķ” (2 Peter 1:3). Jude stated that “the faith” has been once delivered (Jude 3). The Scriptures, being inspired of God, are all that we need (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If the religious world would discard all the writings of men and accept only the Bible, there could be unity among believers.

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