A Text out of Context is a Pretext!

There’s always something that sticks in one’s mind when a great preacher declares something profound. Personally we will never forget the above, made decades ago by an outstanding pioneer of Pentecostal truths.

For me (Robert) it linked perfectly with scriptures the Holy Spirit had burned into my heart three years previous when out-of-the-blue he spoke to my spirit. When he had stunned me by saying clearly that he would use us both to teach God’s word simply but in-depth, challenging Christians and leaders to understand what scripture is really saying, not what they think or suppose, or some ‘new voice’ declares as being ‘the latest thing in God.’

We refer, of course, to 1 and 2 Timothy. The Lord strongly impressed on us to deeply study these two books, to wholeheartedly devour Paul’s warnings about end time lack of hunger for truth in Christians and churches.

Spiritual junk food
In particular, he influenced me about a coming lack of desire for God’s word, a careless Christianity, and burned 1 Tim. 4.7 into my heart: ‘Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion’ and especially 2 Tim.4:2-4, ‘Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages.’

Sadly over the years many Christians have done just that – ran after ‘the latest thing’ and in many cases have been deceived because they themselves haven’t taken time to read and study the word of God. They have fallen for weird so-called doctrines, have not sought a sound Bible-based shepherd’s guidance and have got caught up in wackiness. Unfortunately many end up totally confused and losing a grip on their faith.

Old chestnuts keep coming round… false end time predictions such as Harold Camping’s Judgment Day and Rapture date of May 21quickly followed by a ‘Sorry, it’s October 21.’ And what about last year’s ‘Want the anointing and a miracle? Then join in and do the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey’? (US version of Hokey Kokey)

The latest we’ve heard about that is causing much confusion and has already led to some losing their faith through going back into worldliness? A wrong teaching about God’s grace.

A current deceit
For decades there’s been a saying: Weird church stuff soon filters from America to other western countries. Sad but true. But even sadder is this…because of wrong teaching and a lack of biblical knowledge among Christians and church leaders, Satan, that old wolf in sheep’s clothing is able to sneak in with destructive corrupted ‘doctrine’ and bamboozle uninitiated ministers and churchgoers alike.

Thank God for great balanced revelatory teachings by anointed preachers that have come from the States over the years but a current one is dangerous! The latest erroneous teaching going around stupidly states that once a person accepts Christ as Saviour they are so under God’s grace they are free to do whatever they want and never have to repent again!

Some naive Christians have foolishly embraced this false teaching. They’ve been told it’s all right to be worldly, have extramarital relationships, smoke, booze and just enjoy life to the full. And ‘Don’t worry – you’re under grace. You don’t have to ever apologise to God or ever repent again. God will overlook everything because you’re under grace.’ More like being under a spell!

Without God’s grace we would really be lost. We’d be condemned by God virtually every day because of wrong thoughts that slip in never mind wrong actions and words spoken in haste, as even the noblest but most honest leader will admit.

The grace of God is so precious. The only WTC Tower 2 actual impact zone survivor, Stanley Praimnath acknowledges God’s grace preserving his life. That’s scriptural, but one aspect of God’s incredible grace. (See ASSIST News Service’s September article by Mark Ellis). In respect to grace and forgiveness of sins we must never trifle with scriptures and make them read as we want them to read! They become texts out of context and therefore pretexts!

An old deception
As our good friend Dr Jim McClure says: ‘Such false teaching is a result of “easigesis”, that is, reading one’s own ideas into the biblical text, rather than exegesis, that is, understanding what the text actually says!’

Bible college students, indeed anyone who has studied the Bible know that exegesis means seeking the correct explanation of scripture. Really understanding doctrine, linking and balancing relevant passages and verses before trying to expound that subject. It’s no wonder James warned in James 3:1 ‘Not many of you should presume to be teachers…because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.’

Unfortunately some Christians have been grievously deceived and wandered away from biblical truth through erroneous grace teaching. We can only pray that some friend, soundly balanced in the word, will come alongside and patiently help them back to reality and that they’ll find a church with a quality teaching ministry.

Incidentally this current wrong teaching is not some new ‘latest in-thing’ but one that goes back to the days of the early church and became known as Antinomianism.

We must always ask forgiveness!
The Bible assures us that yes, we are definitely under grace and our sins past, present and future are truly covered by grace. But it also tells me that we’re still only sinners saved by grace and we cannot afford to go on breaking God’s laws! Paul strongly warns in Romans 6:1-2: ‘Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?’ 

The Message Bible puts it this way: ‘So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there?’

John warns us that sinning is living dangerously before God (1 John 3:4). That if we claim we’re free of sin we’re only fooling ourselves – ‘a claim that is errant nonsense’ (1:8) but, verse 9, ‘On the other hand, if we admit our sins – make a clean breast of them – he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.’ It’s so clear: If we sin we have to admit it and ask forgiveness afresh!

May every Christian be on guard lest any heresy slips in. Jim McClure’s scholarly new book Grace Revisited is recommended (Email jbmcclure@gmail.com). Discover what grace is really is. Note especially chapter 7!

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