Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -- Romans 12: 16-21 (ESV)
The Bible is God's holy Word. His final revealed will before He returns for His bride. It contains the answer to any question we may face in this life. We may not always like the answer but that is what it means to have Jesus as our Lord and not just a friend. A friend's advice we consider but our Lord's direction we should be compelled to follow because He is in charge. The great thing about the Bible is if you approach it honestly, inquisitively, and sincerely desiring to hear from the Lord, He will never fail to speak to you. The problem becomes when we approach it as a prop. As something to wield to prove our pre-conceived points. As something to support our distorted world view or favorite political talking point. Then we typically see what is known as "proof texting." The vast majority of seeker-friendly, purpose driven pastors today use proof-texting as their primary tool in the carnal sermons they deliver. I say carnal because when you approach the Bible with your conclusions already in hand then you are not seeking to hear from the Lord at all. You are seeking to use the Lord. It is a completely carnal exercise. What usually happens then is verses are ripped painfully out of context and twisted to fit the conclusion that was already in hand. Why would someone engage in this sort of chicanery? Because they know that deep down the Bible does not really teach what they are standing for.
For example, Jesus loves guns.
I kid you not beloved there are people who firmly believe this notion. That the man called the Prince of Peace, who forgave His own murderers, while they were murdering Him, would somehow be packing a semi-automatic weapon. That man who healed the man who was arresting Him and rebuked His own disciple for injuring the man to begin with, would have a conceal and carry permit. Anyone who has performed a cursory read of the Gospels knows how silly such a notion is. The reality is it is the people trying to make this argument who love guns, not Jesus. One such man is Matt Barber from Charisma News, who recently wrote the following article:
You know you are in trouble when the article is entitled, "Would Jesus Join the NRA." True story here, when I first saw this on my news feed I thought it said "NBA." I only relate this because it is more likely that Jesus would join the NBA before He would join the NRA. But none of that matters to Matt Barber as he sets off to prove an unprovable point. To do so he engages in two deceptive practices. One is the previously discussed proof texting and the other is a version of the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad absurdum, which means argument to absurdity. Barber routinely presents absurd arguments instead of the real ones. The first third of the article is in defense of Jerry Falwell, who recently encouraged all Liberty University students to arm themselves to "teach those Muslims a lesson." That and attacking Hillary Clinton who had repudiated the comments from Falwell. So at least Barber makes it known right away that this is a political article and not a Christian one. The problem is then he tries to pretend it is a Christian article or cause when it most certainly is not. So we will pick up the article right where it seems to off the rails. Right where arming oneself is described as "Biblical as a shepherd boy's slingshot." Ugh. Barber makes the claim that the right to bear arms is a God given right that Jesus Himself validated:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his house, his possessions are secure. -- Luke 11: 21 (ESV)
This is our first example of blatant proof texting. Remember, the set up here is that Jesus Himself taught that we should arm ourselves and this verse sure seems to say "fully armed." Except Luke 11:21 actually exists within the full context of Luke 11: 14-26, where the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by the power of Satan. Why would Jesus teach about arming oneself and enrolling in the National Rifle Association in the middle of a discussion about the power of God versus the devil? Oh that's right, He didn't. Beloved Luke 11:21 has absolutely nothing to do with arming oneself, protecting oneself or anything about us per se. Consider the summary form The Pulpit Commentary:
"The exegesis is easy here. The strong man is the devil; his palace is the world; his goods especially here the poor possessed; the stronger than he is Jesus Himself""
In the mind of Matt Barber, you are the strong man who needs to be fully armed but the reality is not what Matt Barber is teaching. Jesus was teaching that the strong man is actually the devil. That is how far Matt falls from the truth to try and prop up his Jesus as the Terminator vision. Undeterred however, Barber continued to seek verses to support his pro-gun cause and then completely butcher what they mean:
He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. -- Luke 22: 36 (ESV)
These are the instructions to the disciples as Jesus is heading to the cross. Where in the past they were to take nothing with them now they would be going into all the world to preach the Gospel and they should be prepared to survive and expect resistance. Not to their politics but to the Gospel. Sinful man is always opposed to the Gospel. Then there also is the fact that in all likelihood, Jesus was actually speaking symbolically in spiritual terms; not to literally sell their garments for swords. Consider the commentaries regarding this verse:
"At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spake only of the weapons of spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciple of Christ must furnish themselves." -- Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
"These words of Christ are not to be understood literally, that he would have his disciples furnish themselves with swords at any rate, since he would never have said, as he afterwards does, that two are sufficient; which could not be enough for eleven men; or have forbid Peter the use of one, as he did in a very little time after this: but his meaning is, that wherever they came, and a door was opened for the preaching of the Gospel, they would have many adversaries" -- Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Once again, when you approach the Bible to confirm your worldview you can make it say whatever you want. Here Barber wants Jesus to be pro-weapons so this verse takes on a meaning for him that God never intended. He misses the larger points about opposition to the Gospel and the difference between when Jesus walked the earth and when He was heading to the cross. Because he was so focused on proving his point, Barber also misses that his conclusion does not square with the remainder of Scripture, including verses immediately surrounding this. Jesus was not imploring His disciples to "arm themselves for imminent self-defense" in carnal terms but in spiritual disciplines. Not content, Barber then tries to dismantle scriptural arguments he knows ruin his worldview: