The Spirit had led Jesus into the desert, where He and Satan exchanged Scripture:
· Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:5-6; ESV; quoting from Psalm 91:11-12)
The devil’s quotation illustrated the fact that Scripture, although cited accurately, can be used deceptively. Jesus responded by making the necessary distinction between trusting God and acting in a presumptuous manner:
· Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7; quoting from Deut. 6:16)
Jesus corrected the devil’s deceptive use of Scripture. Although we are to trust the Lord to protect us, we shouldn’t jump off a mountain to coerce Him to protect us, as the devil had suggested to Jesus. He had invoked Scripture in a demonstrably sinful way, in a way that it was never intended to be used.
Manipulating Scripture to serve our purposes or to support our cause is very common. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ™, made popular by The Beatles, claimed
· “Christ said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Be still and know you are God and when you know that you are God you will begin to live Godhood, and living Godhood there is no reason to suffer.” (Scripture Twisting, James Sire)
For one thing, Jesus never said this. Instead, it comes from Psalm 46. However, Maharishi adds a twist. Instead of knowing that God is God, he admonishes us to know that we are God – so characteristic of the non-biblical faiths.
In contrast, Jesus warned us against this kind of arrogance:
· For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)
In many ways Jesus warned against arrogance and pride and commended the humble. A Roman Captain of 100 men asked Him to heal his servant. However, he astonishingly added, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). Jesus was so amazed by this appropriate display of humility and wisdom that He proclaimed that He had never seen such faith.
Joyce Meyers is a product of the Word of Faith movement:
· “Unto every man is given the measure of faith, and faith is a powerful force.” “It says in Romans 4:17 that …we have a God who gives life to the dead and He calls things that be not as though they already existed…If there’s something in your way, speak it.” “When I talked with Dr. Roberts today and we talked about this seed-faith thing, he said…when you give you get a receipt in heaven that when you have a need you can then go with your receipt and say ‘You see, God, I have got my receipt from my sowing and now I have a need and I’m cashing in my receipt.” (CRJ, Hunter)
However, Meyers and other “word of faith” preachers have manipulated Romans 4 to say something that it doesn’t say, that we have the same power that God has to give life to the dead. However, this verse says absolutely nothing about our having this power:
· As it is written, “I have made you [Abraham] the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17)
If we do have the powers of God, this verse says nothing about it. Instead, Scripture informs us that we do not have such powers:
- Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
Another “word of faith” preacher, T.D. Jakes appeals to Proverbs 18:21 to justify his claim that our tongues have supernatural power:
- Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
However, this verse and the entire context fail to suggest that our tongues are endowed with supernatural power. Instead, they do have natural power to build someone up or to break them down.
This is a matter of using God’s Word in an improper way. The Apostle Paul had commended his ministry because this was something that they did not do:
· For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17; KJV)
To use Scripture in a way that it was clearly never intended to be used is to “corrupt the word of God” as the devil had done with Jesus.
I am particularly troubled by Christian evolutionists in this regard. In order to advance the theory of evolution, they not only corrupt a few verses; they corrupt the entirety of Scripture by claiming that Genesis 1-11 is not about history but purely about spirituality. By claiming this, they empty Scripture of much of its content and historical context.
Why do they denigrate Scripture so severely? To demonstrate that Scripture does not contradict evolution! If evolution is simply about the physical world and Scripture is simply about the spiritual world, then Scripture can no longer contradict evolution. It can no longer say that God historically spoke things into existence. Instead, the CE insists that this is a spiritual message without any bearing upon the historical, physical world.
Denis Lamoureaux provides a common CE example by his denial of an historical Adam and Eve:
- Paul was a first century man steeped in the historical and scientific categories of his generation… Paul had no choice but to believe in the historicity of Gen 3 [the Fall with the introduction of sin and death] and the causal connection between the sin of Adam and the entrance of pain and mortality into the world. Romans 5:12-19 and 1 Cor 15:20-49 are evidence of this fact [that Paul had been mistaken]. However, the historicity of Adam, the attribution of divine judgmental action for his sin, and the origin of physical suffering and death as a consequence are notions conceived from an ancient phenomenal perspective. These events in Gen 3 never happened because they are based on ancient history and ancient science, and Paul had no way of knowing this.” (Christian Research Journal, Vol. 37/Number 06, 22)
In denying that Adam, Eve, and Genesis are historical, the CE must also malign the testimony of the NT to their historicity. According to Lamoureaux, Paul was mistaken, and, therefore, Scripture cannot be trusted in every instance. But this doesn’t matter to the CE. After all, who really cares about the Bible’s teachings regarding the physical world as long as its spiritual teachings can be trusted, right?
Wrong! History and theology – the spiritual message – are inseparable. One depends on the other. We cannot have a theology of the Cross without the history of the Cross – that Christ historically died for us.
The same is true about the teachings of Genesis. We cannot have a theology of marriage without the history of marriage – how God had historically joined Adam and Eve together, making them one, as Jesus commented:
· He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female [quoting Gen. 1:26-27 as actual history], and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ [quoting Gen. 2:24 as history]? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
The various writers of the Bible have uniformly quoted Genesis as historical, even where written poetically. There is absolutely no biblical basis to regard Genesis as non-historical. This is also affirmed by the various Biblical genealogies, all assuming Adam to have actually existed.
· But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)
The CE has massively “tampered with God’s word” and, therefore, has no basis to make the same boast as had Paul, who had justifiably appealed “to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” Instead, the CE has sinfully tampered with God’s word, leading many perplexed students astray.
In contrast to the CE, God has commended those who have correctly interpreted Scripture:
- Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The stakes are high. If Adam’s role in the Fall wasn’t historical, then what Jesus had accomplished is also thrown into doubt. Here is how Garrett J. DeWeese puts it:
- If Adam is not the progenitor of H. sapiens, then the doctrine of the fall as it has been understood in Christian theology for two thousand years is false, and the entrance of sin into humanity remains a mystery… There is a strong correlation between accepting TE [theistic evolution] and rejecting substitutionary atonement [that Christ died for us] as an antiquated doctrine rooted in medieval retributive thinking. (23)
And why not? If Paul had been mistaken about the history (as had Genesis), then, perhaps also, he was mistaken about the theology. If his statements about the world of history were errant, why not also about the world of the Spirit!
The CE has corrupted the Gospel message and has made it difficult for those who seek truth, as Jesus had charged the Jewish leadership:
- "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (Luke 11:52)
As a young Christian, I too had corrupted the teachings of Scripture. I was intent to find in Scripture, not what God had intended, but instead what would validate me and my philosophy of life. The CE is doing the very same thing by coercing Scripture to validate evolution. This is sin! Let us pray that the Lord will awake them and expose this deception.