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Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Cor. 4:2, NIV.
Ever since the Scripture was given in written form, evil people have launched attacks on the Bible, trying to distort it, abuse it, or disprove it. The fact that the Bible has withstood thousands of years of vicious attacks is one of the evidences that it is the Word of God.
Herod the Great used Scripture to discover where Jesus would be born in his villainous attempt to murder this “rival” King. Satan himself quoted Scriptures to Jesus in the temptations in an attempt to make Him move out of the perfect will of God.
We can expect attacks on the Bible to continue and increase as ungodly lifestyles and choices become more publicly acceptable. This can come in the form of misquoting Scripture to arrive at a false conclusion [like the Bible forcing a woman to marry her rapist] and then criticizing the false conclusion as if it were true. It can, like Herod, use the Word of God to gain information to the harm of God’s people [like essential doctrines to then undermine] or, like Satan, to distort the Word of God to tempt Christians to act in an unBiblical way [like a misunderstanding of love and forgiveness].
While attempts to distort the Word of God from the outside are not surprising as people try to justify their rejection of God and His ways, Satan does not limit his attacks to frontal assaults. He also uses people inside the church and who call themselves Christians to attack the Bible. Some of these people do so with the deliberate intention of destroying the Scriptures; others love the Lord and are well-meaning but deceived.
One of the most devastating attacks on the Bible is the attempt to harmonize the first 11 chapters of Genesis with the hypothesis of evolution. No such harmony is possible - the timeline is wrong, the events are in the wrong order, the death before sin issue is wrong, etc. I am sure you have noticed that whenever people try to mix evolution and the Bible, it is not evolution that makes the compromises but the Biblical teaching. Many young people from good Christian homes reject Christianity and go out into the world as they grow up because they have not been taught that the Word of God is totally reliable from the very first chapter. This has been a masterstroke of Satan. Like in the Garden of Eden, he knew that if he could get people to doubt the integrity of God’s Word, they would be helpless before him. Every major doctrine in the Bible has its roots in Genesis. To cast doubt on Genesis is to cast doubt on the entire Bible.
Another attack on Scripture from within has been a false end-time teaching. Satan has used this teaching to distract Christians from understanding and applying the Word of God in this current age. Instead, they are encouraged to look for, debate, and spend vast amounts of money on the “signs” of the soon Second Coming of Christ. In place of becoming good soldiers of Jesus Christ willing to endure hardship for the kingdom of God, they are encouraged to pray for the Second Coming so they can escape the problems of this world. This teaching also divides the Word of God instead of seeing it as a unified whole in the purpose of God [See our Covenants course].
Still another attack which distorts Scriptures and distracts Christians is the renewed emphasis on all things Jewish, from keeping the Jewish feasts to wearing prayer shawls. The Jewish feasts, as described in the Old Testament, were shadows of what was to come in Christ. By studying them, we can learn much about Jesus and the ways of God; however, a return to literally observing them is a rejection of the New Covenant to which they were intended to point. Again, attention is diverted from the true purposes of God to a sidetrack where it is easier for Satan to make train wreak of their lives.
One other attack on the Bible that we must watch out for is studying the Word of God simply to gain knowledge. The Pharisees had a great understanding of the Old Testament, but it was not only useless to them but also harmful because they were not seeking with humble hearts to know God and apply it to their lives. We need to realize that studying the Word of God, as vital as that is, is not an end in itself. The reason we study the Word of God is so we can develop our understanding of Jesus, our love for Him, and our relationship with Him and use it to discover and confess sins in our lives that hinder that relationship. We must learn how to apply the Word of God to ourselves and then to our world.
At the very least, Christians who are deceived and distracted by the above [and other] distortions of Scripture will not accomplish everything God desires them to accomplish. If not outright shipwrecked, their lives become a shadow of what they could have been. Let us be on guard, for greater men and women than we are have been led astray.
So, where do we stand in all of this? How do we avoid deception? How do we resist the attacks on the Bible?
We must invest time to study the Word of God for ourselves. In studying the Word of God, we must look for balance and well-rounded understanding. Only studying one or two favourite topics can cause an unbalanced view. We need to keep in fellowship with a solid body of believers. Spending time reading Christian books from trustworthy Christian authors and comparing their conclusions with Scripture is also good. As we study the Bible, we need to look for personal applications, how we can be encouraged, how we should be changing, a fresh view of Jesus, etc. Expect God to speak to you as you study His Word. Be sure to keep things in context. Many of you have already taken or are taking our Feed Yourself course - don’t let its principles slip away…keep practicing them.
How do we respond to attacks on the Bible? Our response must be directed by the Holy Spirit, considering the situation. Whether the attack is from the outside or the inside, here are some factors to consider:
Is this person open to correction? Are they seeking the truth? Will they give fair consideration to my response? If they are closed-minded with no genuine interest in any view except their own, then responding will likely only lead to endless debate, and even if you “win” the debate, you probably will only have wasted your time and not changed their mind at all. Of course, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to respond, you may be planting a seed that will bear fruit later. Just don’t allow yourself to get trapped in endless debates. It is probably a good time to close the conversation if you sense they have no genuine interest in listening to you or changing.
One possible exception to the above is if there are other people involved who are open-minded or undecided. Answering the attack on Scripture may persuade them even if it doesn’t do anything for the “attacker.” At least, the listeners will know there are reasonable answers to the attack, which may prevent them from accepting a false view by default. As Gary North is fond of saying, “You can’t beat something with nothing.” If people don’t realize there is more than one side to an issue, they may accept what they hear as the only viable choice.
Finally, remember God is God. He is not threatened in any way by the arguments and attacks of men. He laughs at their impotence [Ps. 2]. God does not need defenders. He is perfectly capable of defending Himself when He chooses to do so. While He may use our defence to spread the gospel and silence evil men, His power, character and glory are in no way diminished, no matter the outcome.
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:7-9. NIV
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