Posts Tagged With: Bible Misunderstandings

Coach Tressel Demonstrates the Meaning of Taking God’s Name in Vain

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

– Exodus 20:7

I guess I can add this to the Bible Misunderstandings category.  I say that because I always heard this commandment explained as not using God’s name as a swear word or something like that.  While that is certainly something to avoid, the actual meaning of the verse holds more depth than that.  The word commonly rendered as “vain” also means empty and can connote lying or just empty speech of other kinds.

This is the command Jesus was speaking about when He told people not to swear oaths at all because we typically break our oaths.  If we make promises and invoke God’s character with phrases like “I swear on the Bible,” or “by God” or any other number of permutations, and find we are unable to keep them; that empties God’s name of meaning in the eyes of others.  So don’t even do it, simple instruction from Jesus.

This came to mind when I was reading some sports stories last night and I saw some news about Coach Tressel from Ohio State.  In full disclosure, I have never liked OSU very much and as a Razorback fan, my opinion didn’t go up any in the wake of the scandal that hit before the bowl game this past season.  But Tressel has inadvertently provided an object lesson of the lesser realized meaning of this command, because suddenly there are people who are dragging God’s name through the mud a bit on his account.

For those who are unaware of college football goings on, several Ohio State players violated NCAA rules by selling merchandise for benefits and when the story broke last December, Tressel acted with complete surprise and shock and lobbied to allow these boys to play in the bowl game.  Now, the truth is out that Tressel wasn’t caught off-guard in December; he had known about the problem since April of last year.  Instead of taking responsibility, he ducked for cover until he could hide the truth no longer.  He is now facing consequences for his own rule breaking as well, but some of you may now be asking, “how does this drag God’s name through the mud?”

Well, as I was reading stories about this new development, I came across this news item from a local media outlet.  This article is making a case for why Tressel should be fired for his offenses and includes the following:

When Regular Joe with a normal job breaches his contract, he gets the boot.

So should The Vest.

“I am sorry and disappointed this happened,” Tressel said. “At the time the situation occurred, I thought I was doing the right thing.”

Doing the right thing? Surely a deeply religious man with a newly released book titled “Life Promises for Success: Promises from God on Achieving Your Best” knows the difference between right and wrong.

Or does he?

Maurice Clarett and Troy Smith, the highest-profile players of the Tressel era other than current Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were both suspended for accepting improper benefits. Tressel also had a player do the same thing at Youngstown State.

I didn’t know anything about Tressel being a Christian until I saw this.  It may be that he doesn’t talk about his faith much (I don’t know), but he wrote a book and invoked God in the title.  Now he has given cause for others to “empty the name of God” by his actions and his words.  This isn’t Christian media citing the issue, it is the local school paper.  I find it a little ironic that a secular media source is so keenly able to spot the problem here.  This isn’t even a one time mistake, but appears to be a pattern of behavior.  Let me be clear that it is not my intention to single Tressel out for ridicule or judgment.  I am citing him because this is a textbook illustration of the point.

It was this same “emptying” of God’s name that won many condemnations for the nation of Israel back in the day as well.  Jesus instructed us to hallow God’s name, which means to set it apart or keep it pure.  Let us take heed to our Master’s words and be careful how we represent the name of God as the people of God.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Misunderstandings, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Commandments, Culture, Discipleship, Faith, Football, Grace, Law, razorbacks, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Putting On the Armor of God

I have heard lots of people teach about the armor of God in Ephesians 6.   Do a search for this topic and you will find analogies and comparisons with Roman soldiers and their armor along with insights that there is no armor protecting the back to show that we never retreat and on and on it goes.  But I think these teachings miss a couple of key points.

We stumbled onto this in a God way a few weeks ago when my wife was making plans to teach about the armor of God for a council time at AWANA.  That week I was listening to the weekly podcasts from El Shaddai ministries and heard a reference to the priestly garments as the armor of God.  If you click on the link above it is the podcast for 3/16 that contains some of the seeds of these ideas for me.  In any case, here is the Ephesians 6 passage on the armor of God: Continue reading

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, devotional, Discipleship, ministry, theology, Truth | Tags: | 5 Comments

You Must Be Born Again

Here is another installment in the highly acclaimed (by at least a half a dozen readers) and hopefully enlightening series known as Bible Misunderstandings.

Today, I want to tackle another passage that is a personal favorite of mine.  I have seen this passage brought up and used incorrectly a couple of times just this past month.  I am referring to John 3, specifically to verse five.  Here is the verse in context:

3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

4“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:3-12)

Verse five in this passage gets ripped out of context all of the time as some kind of proof text for baptism.  Let me just patiently say that every mention of water in the Bible is not a reference to baptism.  This one would be much better understood if it is left to stand with the verses around it.  In verse four, a puzzled Nicodemus asks Jesus how it is possible for a grown man to “reinter the womb” to be born again.  Jesus says that “no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”  Remember that Jesus is talking about being born twice.  The first birth is water, which is human physical birth and the second birth is Spirit, which is birth into God’s family.  Further proof of this is found in verse six, where Jesus explains that flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit gives birth to Spirit.  If Jesus were intending to speak about baptism in verse five, verse six would make no sense whatsoever.  Verse eight corroborates this as Jesus only mentions the need to be born “of the Spirit” when speaking about those who are “born again.”  The water in this passage has nothing to do with the “second birth,” it speaks of the “first birth.”  Further proof comes in verse nine through twelve.  When Nicodemus expresses some confusion, Jesus explains that He can’t explain the Spiritual until Nicodemus grasps the natural, earthly things.

There is plenty of great teaching about baptism in the Bible, but verse five in John is not part of it.  Jesus is just making a distinction between a natural birth and a Spiritual one.

Categories: Apologetics, baptism, Bible Thoughts, Gospel, Kingdom, theology, Truth | Tags: | 4 Comments

Romans 10:4 – This is not the “End”

Look up Romans 10:4 in almost any English translation and you will find the same general statement.  I will reproduce it here from the New King James Version, New International Version, New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version and Holman Christian Standard Bible translations for a sample cross-section.

  • For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (NKJV)
  • Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (NIV)
  • For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.(NASB)
  • For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a] (ESV) – footnote says Or end of the law, that everyone who believes may be justified
  • For Christ is the end [a] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. – (HCSB) – footnote here says, “or Goal”

I looked at five others and only one of the ten total even hints at the possibility that the Greek word telos in this verse could possibly be thought of in any other way than “end.”  I don’t generally make a big fuss over translation decisions, since I am a Greek and Hebrew novice and know just enough to get in trouble most of the time, but this is a glaring problem.  And I am not going to just use the Greek to show why.  The rest of the New Testament makes the case for this misunderstanding to be fixed and thought of properly. Continue reading

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Discipleship, Gospel, Grace, Law, Questions, theology, Truth | Tags: | 12 Comments

The Keys to the Stone – Bible Misunderstandings

OK.  I was going to go on to my next verse to take a deeper look at, but Will asked for an explanation of my offhand comment that Matthew 16:18 doesn’t establish Peter as the first Pope, so I will oblige him and anyone else who was curious.  This necessitates a look at the larger context of this passage and the illumination of a couple of extra passages.  The larger context for the immediate verse under concern is Matthew 16:13-20:

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Now, we know that Jesus gave Peter that name, but we have no indication that it was given to him at this moment.  Jesus is indeed making a play on the words for Peter and for rock in Greek, but He isn’t doing it to infer or imply that Peter is the rock He is speaking of.  Much is made of the mention of the keys and binding and loosing authority here, but this same phrase reappears in Matthew 18 and it is clear there that Jesus isn’t giving some special authority to Peter alone or even just to the disciples.  Look at Matthew 18:15-20: Continue reading

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, Questions, Roman Catholicism, Truth | Tags: | 8 Comments

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