Archives For Confusing Parts of the Bible

I’ve ripped on health & wealth theology (also called the prosperity gospel) for a long time.

What I’d like to do here is slow down and examine the intent behind health & wealth theology, what parts are true biblically, and what parts come from reading the Bible incorrectly.

When the New Testament gives verse after verse promising Christians we will suffer, and most of the early Christians did suffer and die for their faith, beating up on the caricature of health and wealth theology has always felt too easy.  That caricature being something along these lines:

If you start this video from the beginning you’ll hear the theology that goes along with these sort of antics, which is essentially that you have to give money to the church (and already very wealthy pastors in a lot of these cases) in order to get blessing, a.k.a. money from God in return.  So this brand of health-and-wealth theology serves as a get-rich-quick scheme to pastors and offers God as a slot machine to churchgoers.

So this brand of health-and-wealth theology serves as a get-rich-quick scheme to pastors and offers God as a slot machine to churchgoers.

I’m beginning this article with the worst (and most notorious) form of prosperity gospel so you can see why it’s been so easy to beat up on it using basic and obvious Scriptures.  But this type of caricature is not the whole picture behind health and wealth theology.  Let’s first look at where adherents of H&W theology draw from in Scripture, followed by looking at a more complete way of understanding these texts.

The video above covers the “wealth” side of health and wealth, with the other side being “health.”  This one is more self-explanatory, that God wants you to be healthy, and has a lot more New Testament scripture to back in up.  These Scriptures focus around the miraculous healings Jesus and his disciples did and how healing is listed in the New Testament church’s spiritual gifts inventory in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.  Another vein of New Testament scripture you will find prosperity preachers using are New Testament verses on prayer where it makes it seem you can demand something of God by having enough faith, and he must give it to you.  So you demand money or health, and he must give it to you. Continue Reading…

I read The Associated Press article “Noah’s ark of biblical proportions ready to open in Kentucky” (by Dylan Lovan) in the Grand Rapids Press this morning.  There is one quote from this article that makes me so sad.  Sad as a word doesn’t even begin to describe the depth of emotion and righteous anger I feel to defend the gospel of Jesus, much like Paul felt in Galatians.  Here is the quote, from Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built the ark:

“I believe this is going to be one of the greatest Christian outreaches of this era in history” -Ken Ham

Christian outreaches?

When did we start evangelizing people to Christianity using Noah’s ark?  Is this what Jesus had in mind in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)?

I am so serious with this.

Rather than going off in this blog post, which my inner filter is telling me not to do, I ask that readers check out a previous article I did about Noah’s Ark and how to read Genesis.  It was in two parts, the 2nd part is where you’ll find the meat of my argument against the view Ken Ham is peddling:

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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Related:

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And no, this Scripture passage is not a direct shot at Ken Ham, but it ought to give all of us plenty to pause over.  Paul was not messing around, and neither should we:

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

What does the Bible say about the Sabbath?

Why did God institute the Sabbath on the 7th day of his creation?  Was he tired?  Did he need a nap after all that creating?  Of course not.  So why in Genesis 2:2-3 does God rest from all of his work, blessing the day and making it holy?

And yes, there are Sabbath commands in the old covenant, the Old Testament law, including the 10 Commandments and then given much more detail later.  And no, we don’t have to follow the old covenant, we follow the new covenant in Christ.  Which means we don’t have to follow the much stricter regulations to the Sabbath commanded in the law, but does the existence or non-existence of the law do anything to change what God put into the very fabric of creation as holy and blessed?  Again: of course not.

What’s unique about Genesis 1-2 is they are the only chapters of the Bible completely unstained by sin.  They are the world as it was always supposed to be.  If you are looking for a design for humanity, go to Genesis 1-2.  God created a Sabbath day of rest as part of the design of every single human being that he has created.

Jesus never canceled the Sabbath.  Far from it!  He said he was Lord of the Sabbath, the master of it (Mark 2:28).  He said that the Sabbath is his, that he owns it, not that it doesn’t exist anymore.

What Jesus did is remove all of the non-Sabbathy parts of the Sabbath, all the legalisms that the Pharisees had added over the years that had completely contradicted the purpose of the Sabbath in the first place: which was to delight and rest in God!  Jesus removed everything from the Sabbath that was non-Jesusy and pointed it back to himself.

Do you know who the Sabbath was first given to?  As in, do you know who Genesis and Exodus were written to?  These books were written to the just-freed Hebrew slaves.  The ones who had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years.  Do slaves get a day of rest?  Of course not!  The idea of Sabbath would have been so radical to the Israelites when they first heard about it.  It would have been such a gift, so freeing, so refreshing.  Just like it’s meant to be for us today.  Jesus says in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made for man.  Sabbath is a gift for man.  Just like bread is a gift for someone who is starving.  He goes on to say in that same verse: not man for the Sabbath.  This means man is not meant to be a slave to the Sabbath, which is what things had turned in to in the 1st century thanks to the religious leaders’ legalism.  The Sabbath was never canceled, it regained its designed function.

The irony of all this is we are slaves in 2016.  While not on the same level as the African American slaves who were dehumanized and abused to found our country’s economy, or the Hebrew slaves of Exodus who were dehumanized and abused to found ancient Egypt’s economy, but we are slaves nonetheless.  Slaves to the treadmill of “you are what you produce.”  Slaves who go, go, go, go and do, do, do, do and work, work, work, work and achieve, achieve, achieve, achieve and who can’t stop to rest if their lives depended on it.  Slaves who think the world can’t go on if we take a day to rest.  Slaves who think God needs us.  This is a very real form of slavery as well.

Our emancipator is a weekly Sabbath rest centered on delighting in Christ.  It’s in the blueprint of creation in Genesis 2 and carried on by Jesus in Mark 2.  To ignore this is to willingly keep the chains of slavery bound tight, and to willingly disobey our loving God’s plan for us.

Just like a car is designed to have its oil changed every ~3000 miles, we are designed to rest every 7 days.  It’s obvious what happens when a car’s oil service is neglected, and it’s no less obvious when it comes the command and the gift given to us to delight in Sabbath once per week.

Audio:

 

Video:

4.17.16 Sabbath from Lansing Crossroads Church on Vimeo.

 

There are lots of parts in the Bible I don’t like.  And I’m not talking about sins I’d like to commit that the Bible tells me not to, that’s a different conversation.  I’m talking parts of the Bible that make me cringe.  Parts that don’t make sense to my 21st century American mind.  Parts that feel like they don’t fit with my idea of who God is supposed to be.

Most of us, if we’re honest, feel the same way about various parts of the Bible.  Here’s the number one thing we cannot do:  We cannot dismiss or alter parts of the Bible we don’t like simply because we don’t like them.

We can’t do this because the Bible is where we find out who Jesus is and how to be saved.  If we start selecting the parts we like and don’t like, where is the credibility of any of it?

Before jumping into my personal most-cringe-worthy Bible texts, two very important things to remember: Continue Reading…

What does the Bible say about the Trinity?

The Best Way to Explain the Trinity

The Trinity.  How can such a core doctrine of the Christian faith be so confusing?

And why does it even matter?

trinityThe doctrine of the Trinity is the understanding that God is 1 essence and 3 persons (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).

Muslims accuse Christians of worshiping three different gods.  Do we?

The word “Trinity” is never mentioned in the Bible, so is it even biblical?

What exactly is Jesus doing when he is praying to the Father?

Many questions have been raised about the Trinity and many metaphors have been created to try to explain it.  At the end of the day, many Christians just shrug their shoulders and put their faith in something they’ve been taught that they figure they’ll never really comprehend.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Continue Reading…