Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. - John 17: 17 (ESV)
It seems in the church today the truth has become a malleable property. Something we can mold and shape to look as we want it to look. Like spiritual play-doh, Christians simply treat the holy Word of God as if it were a toy. Something to self-justify their own carnal leanings while still maintaining a veneer of piety. The key verse for today are the words of Jesus Christ in prayer to the Father. As such it should be taken very seriously when we consider how the Word should be viewed. Here Jesus is praying that we be separate from the world. That we not be corrupted by the world. That we are sanctified - which means set apart for His service. Yet how do we achieve this sanctification when there are so many worldly influences all around us? How do we defend ourselves from becoming more like the world instead of more like Jesus? God always gives us the answer beloved. We are set apart unto the service of God through His Word. Thus it becomes vital that we approach the Word of God in a serious manner. Not seeking to prove ourselves right or righteous. Instead we should approach the Word of God to hear what sayeth the Lord. As long and often complex as the Bible can appear, we make it far more difficult than it ought to be simply by our own biases. I have heard seemingly well intended Christians claim that the truth cannot be gleaned because everyone can have different interpretations. Or because we cannot understand the cultural influences on the writers. As if the Word of God, which has been sufficient throughout all time has suddenly become obsolete. To that I say nonsense. We always take cultural influences into account when interpreting the Word but we start from the understanding that it is all God-breathed. God inspired every single word written in the Bible and He sees all time. It is just as relevant today as it was 1000 years ago. But we have to approach it understanding that it is our plumb line. It is how we measure everything in our lives. It must not only have sufficiency for our lives but it must have supremacy. It is the truth and it sets us apart to God - but only if we handle it correctly.
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. - 2Timothy 2: 15 (ESV)
The New Testament is filled with warnings to us about false teachers. These people will be the true cause of division within the body of Christ. With smooth words and flattery they will deceive the hearts of the naive. Smooth words are nice sounding words. Comforting words. Seeker friendly words. Flattery is designed to butter us up. To scratch our itching ears. To tell us what we want to hear. About how great we are instead of how great God is. In order to accomplish this however, the false teachers must approach the Word of God falsely because the Word will always glorify God, not man. One such common tool of deception is known as eisegesis. This defined as "The process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one's own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text." So this means the person approaches the Bible not to hear what God has to say but instead to try and prove what they want to say is supported biblically. The truth is when you look throughout history we can see that the eisegeses approach distorts the Bible. It perverts it into something it was never saying in the first place. The Bible was used to justify slavery and segregation. It was used to promote discrimination against women. It was used to justify the crusades, the slaughter of the American Indian, and the Salem witch trials. Today it is used by some in the church to create their own religions ignoring clear moral instruction from God, to excuse their sin. It is used by false teachers today to build their own personal empires and fortunes, fleecing the poor and naive in the name of God.
When it comes to modern false teaching the king of eisegesis is Joseph Prince. He is the master of what is commonly referred to as hyper-grace heresy. It is a most insidious false teaching because it takes something so vital to our faith, the grace of God, and it perverts it to ends it was never intended to go to. It seeks to remove sin from the collective consciousness of believers and turns God into a cosmic blessing machine who is always infinitely pleased with us. When Prince first rose to power he had a lot of Bible verses about grace from which to preach, which made the falseness of his theology difficult to spot. Still, many respected preachers and theologians expressed their discomfort with it. What we have seen recently is that he has run out of the old stand by Scriptures because he has preached them all. Now he is reduced to scouring the Bible for stories and verses he can read hyper-grace into. Do we understand that today? He does not approach the Word of God to hear from God but rather to prove that his gospel, which he readily admits is a different gospel (claimed it has been delivered to him by God Himself) is correct. We have highlighted many glaring errors already. He once preached that the verses in Revelation 3 about the warnings to the church at Laodicea were about law and grace - an absolute absurdity when you read the verses. He once preached that Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 were unbelievers. Another absurd claim when one reads the full context, which stretches back into Acts 4. He once mishandled the Parable of the 99 and 1 to conclude that repentance should be defined as merely, "consenting to be loved." There are plenty of other examples but one must understand what we see here. There is a false notion out there that every Bible verse can have multiple interpretations. There is only one Spirit beloved. God certainly did not intend for their to be confusion, since He is not the author of confusion. There is only one correct interpretation. Which is why following rules for interpretation are critical. You do not read into the text with presuppositions what is clearly not there . When you read Revelation 3 and Acts 4 and 5 there is absolutely no question that the assertions made by Joseph Prince are flat out wrong.
So why does he make them? Because he has a pre-supposed gospel that does not match the actual truth in the Bible. He needs Revelation 3 to be about grace and law because that is all he preaches about. He needs Ananias and Sapphira to be unbelievers because the truth lays waste to his entire false gospel. We will examine another example today taken from this sermon: