WOW! I don't know if I am supposed to be encouraged by all the answers to my question pertaining to misused verses, or discouraged. I'm encouraged so many folks participated, but I am somewhat discouraged that SO many verses are perceived to be used wrongly! And let me say right now........I think every person who answered had a verse that for sure has been abused in some way or the other. Isn't that sad? God forgive us!
Ok, I am going to cheat and give two verses. Hey, when I make up the game, I get to make the rules.......or change them! :) The thing is, I really believe these two verses have been the most misused.......at least in our fellowship.
They both come from my favorite Gospel, John. The first is from John 3: 5. I have talked about this before on this blog. Any serious student of the Bible knows that baptism is part of God's plan for man. Jesus talks about it (which seals it for me), and I believe every convert in the book of Acts has a baptism experience. A person would have to be blind to think that baptism is NOT part of what a believer does. Having said that, I don't believe Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about baptism in John 3. Can we get a baptism lesson out of John 3? I think so.
But FOR YEARS we have preached that Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about baptism here. I think it was motivated by wanting to be able to show other denominations that salvation is not "faith only", so we found a verse that has "born of water and Spirit" to show baptism HAD to be a part of salvation. Why do I think Jesus is NOT talking to Nicodemus about New Testament regenerational baptism? Two reasons: A) Jesus had not even died yet, so how COULD he be encouraging Nicodemus to "contact the blood of Christ" via baptism? In other words, if Nicodemus had said "where is the water, I'm ready right now".......what was Jesus going to say. "Well ole buddy ole pal, you are going to have to wait a while.........I haven't died yet." C'mon. There is a sense of urgency in Jesus's talk with Nicodemus, and it would have been ludicrous for him to have told him he needed to do something.......then to have told him he was going to have to delay that commitment. B) Jesus was the master teacher, and when Nicodemus does not understand what Jesus is saying.............Jesus NEVER talks about baptism in his explanation about what he is teaching. NADA.....ZIP......ZERO. Not even a pitiful teacher would do that......let alone the teacher of ALL teachers. It just doesn't match up with who we know Jesus is. That is not his character. Was he coy at times in his teachings? Sure, but not to the honest seekers like Nicodemus. Jesus was that way to the folks who had wrong motives......aka the Pharisees. Some are saying: "Well David, what WAS Jesus trying to teach Nicodemus then?" I think he was teaching Nicodemus that there was a new game in town, that you weren't a child of God anymore JUST because of your pedigree.........being born a child of Abraham. God now wants people who want Him.............and that doesn't come from a birth-right, it comes from the heart. I believe the "born of water" is a physical birth in verse 5, hence followed up by "flesh gives birth to flesh" in verse 6. I wouldn't argue with anybody about that interpretation of those two verses.........I concede I could be wrong. But I do know this...........Jesus had not died on the cross yet, so THERE IS NO WAY he could have been talking to Nicodemus about needing to be "born of water" in the sense of what we teach happens in baptism. The Romans 6 sense: "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead throught the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." We have enough verses to teach baptism without using one out of context just because it helps us in a debate. God forgive us.
The second verse is John 4:24. "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth". I really believe this one is the MOST misused......the Nicodemus verses would come in second. A VERY DISTANT second. "Truth" has ALWAYS been defined as what position I hold on any particular doctrine. If I don't believe you can have a Family Life Center at your congregation, the scripture I will back that up with is you aren't "worshiping in spirit and truth". If you support orphans out of the budget, and my theology says you can't do that..........you are not "worshiping in spirit and truth". And we could go on and on and on and on...................and ON! Right? You name ANY disagreement, and I promise it will eventually fall under the "spirit and truth" category. What was Jesus saying? I love the way "The Message" has this verse: "It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself.....Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration". Is that not powerful? And is that not a FAR CRY from the abused way we have used it? Why would we do that? To be RIGHT! Isn't that the bottom line.........we gotta be RIGHT.
So never mind we use a verse out of context, if it helps our argument. Hence the "water and the spirit" usage..........and the "spirit and truth" usage. God forgive us.
Thanks again for ALL of your participation.