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Posted: 02/26/08

...the Bible actually means something

A few years ago a gentleman approached me after a concert with a question about what I had been teaching that evening (it was Hebrews 2:9-18). He mentioned one of the verses to me that he gave a very unusual meaning to. He was taking completely out of context, but defiantly said that he couldn't be challenged on what that verse meant, because regardless what I had to say-this is what he "felt" it meant. When he calmed down and actually inquired what I thought the verse meant I replied with a bit of sarcasm saying, "I think that this verse means that Michael Jordan is going to come out of retirement, return to the Bulls, and they will win another NBA Championship." He looked puzzled at me and then barked out, "that isn't what this verse is saying!!!" I said, "Oh, we're not concerned with what it's actually saying... just what it means to me and what it means to you." He then reluctantly acknowledged what I was driving at… that the Scriptures actually mean something textually apart from any experience or proclivities we bring to them.

Dr. MacArthur is famous for saying, "The duty of any faithful exegete of God's Word is to find out its true meaning and then preach it to the people. In other words, what does the Bible mean if we were dead?" …that graphically really says it. In our postmodern world that we live in everyone has become their own Bible; every man has become his own authority; and people think that they can make any verse mean whatever they want it to mean.

Words have meaning; and their context gives weight to their import. Biblical truth is no exception. The terms and the truth they represent have meaning and their context gives the weight of meaning in application to our lives. It seems to be th fashion of the day to want to make the Word mean whatever you want it to mean in your situation regardless of what it is actually saying.

Here are three of the most taken out of context, misplaced, misapplied, misappropriated, and misinterpreted Bible verses that we hear. All three of these verses are found in Matthew 18:18-20; all three of these verses have to do with church discipline; and all three of these verses can mean only one thing in their proper context. Let's take a look…

1. "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" -Matthew 18:18. This is a favorite on the TBN Network; where embellished meanings of biblical expressions is left to whatever they think it means absent of proper hermeneutics.

This first verse under consideration is usually applied in regards to spiritual warfare (confronting Satan and winning victory over him.) TBNers will say that you are to "bind Satan" from your life; places of ministry; from one's home; or any negative influence you might "feel" occurring in your life. And then you can "loose" the blessing and the victory that the Lord has given to you. All that you need to do is command that reality "in Jesus name" and it is yours for the demanding. This is patently false beloved. If believers in the Lord can bind Satan and if believers all over the world are binding him day and night; then why isn't Satan caught in a state of perpetual bound? Why is he still "loosed?" And when you do "bind him" how long does the binding last for? One hour; till the next worship service starts; until after the concert; until you're done praying; etc.?

"Binding and loosing" has nothing to do with satanic battles or spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness. Those instructions are given in other passages (James 4:7; Eph. 6:10-17). "Binding and loosing" has to do with someone being repentant or unrepentant in their sin. It is a command given to the church for confirming whether a brother or sister in Christ is unrepentant in their sin (bound) or has been repentant of their sin (loosed). In the Greek, this phrase is stated in the past tense: whatever you bind on earth has already been bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth has already been loosed in heaven. The Lord is speaking here in the context of church discipline over sin. When someone is unrepentant in his or her sin--they are bound; when someone is repentant of his or her sin--they are loosed. And this is given to the body of Christ to definitively affirm in the lives of other believers. All church discipline is for restoration, reconciliation and repentance-never retribution or revenge. It is for the health of the church and the purity of the individual in Christ.

2. "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven" -Matthew 18:19 This verse is commonly used for prayer-"if two of you agree on earth about anything…" Firstly, if this verse was used for prayer, then private prayers could never be heard; because there wouldn't be two to agree on earth about anything in His name. Secondly, the context once again is church discipline. The two that the Lord is speaking of here, are the two that are going to confront someone in their sin, to confirm the reality of their sin, and their repentance or unrepentance. Matthew 18:16 says, "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED." Anytime that a few believers go to another trapped in sin and confront them in it they have this promise: "that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." The Lord will grant such "asking" if they agree as to the sin of another and have affirmed their repentance or unrepentance. Televangelists are notorious for using this verse as a means for soliciting money; promising miracles; getting your healing; obtaining financial success; and tragically, even for the salvation of a loved one. It is a cheap charlatan idiom and should be decried and avoided for what it is-unsound doctrine.

3. "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" -Matthew 18:20. This is the last of these three verses and the most commonly recited out of context. How many times have we been in a church service, a Christian concert, conference, or festival and someone shouts from the microphone, "there is more than two or three gathered in the name of the Lord here tonight and therefore He is with us... give Him a praise offering!" This may rev up the crowd but has nothing to do with this verse.

The Lord is always with us; He will never leave nor forsake us. Even when we are alone-He is with us. Nothing can separate us from His love and He lives in our very lives. "Christ in you," Paul says, "the hope of glory."

Once again, the issue here is church discipline and the two or three spoken of are the ones going to confront another in their sin. The church is in no greater way like the Lord than when we are lovingly confronting another in their waywardness and walking with them to the place of repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. This verse describes part of that process. When two or three are gathered in the name of the Lord to deal with sin issues in a fellow believer, the promise is profound: "I am there in their midst." The Lord is honored when such loving humility is given to a wayward brother or sister in Christ and seeks their repentance from sin.

The duty of any faithful preacher/teacher of the Word of God is to "give the sense of it." That is known as expository preaching. The Bible means something in its words and truth constraints; it means something apart from the baggage that we bring to it. We honor the Lord by honoring His Word-rightly dividing the truth.

So next time you turn on TBN (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) and they start to bind Satan; ask for you to agree with them for your financial miracle by sending in a donation or ordering their prayer cloth they're peddling that month; or if you are in a church service or meeting and are told the Lord is here because two or three are gathered in His name; just smile, go up after the service and lovingly correct the pastor or Bible teacher; encourage them to read their Bibles more carefully and remind them that James 3:1 encourages not many to be teachers-for a more stricter judgment will be awarded to them.

Guard the Truth,
2 Tim. 2:15

Distributed by

By Steve Camp

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Texts out of context
Posted On: 11/16/08 01:57:03 PM Age 61, WA
What is the context for the scripture, "Slaves obey your master"? Had African Americans done that literally, they would still be slaves in America. Had Jews done that literally, they would still be slaves in Egypt. Had Africans done that all over The Continent of African... You get the idea. So what is the context of that scripture since enslaving anyone means the enslaver is also enslaved and I do not believe that the Heart of God wants any of us to be enslaved by another.

Lack of Historical Context
Posted On: 03/04/08 11:51:39 AM Age 45, MN
With all due respect to the author, this article fails to consider the historical context of binding and loosing. In an article on this site this past April (07) Pastor DeWay correctly stated that the terms are commonly used in rabbinic writings, and should be understood within this historical context. To properly understand the function of binding and loosing, one only has to examine the historical usage amongst the sages; Hillel and Shamai, as A.T. Robertson notes (as quoted in the 4/07 article), are two very good examples. The terms "to bind" and "to loose" are best understood with reference to a practice of determining the application of a Scriptural commandment for a particular situation. The sages "bound" an application of the Law (Torah) when they determined that a commandment was applicable to a particular situation, and they "loosed" it when they determined that a commandment (while eternally valid) was not applicable under certain specific circumstances. We should note too, that some applications by Jesus applied to the written Law (Word of God), while others applied to the Oral Law. Within the milieu of Second Temple Judaisms (within which Jesus and the Apostles practiced), debates over the applicability of the Law to specific situations were common; they appear in famous arguments between the first-century schools of Hillel and Shammai (as noted, which predate Jesus' ministry). Many of these arguments would become a defining part of the discussions that would ultimately be codified in the Mishnah. Many of these debates are codified in the Gospels as well. It is important to understand that for the sages (as well as for Jesus) loosing the Law never meant abolishing the Law or countering its authority, even for gentiles (Mat. 28:19-20). The Law was never wrong when it was rightly interpreted (1 Tim. 1:8, Rom. 7:12). The issue, rather, was discerning the Law's intent and sphere of application. This is to say—binding and loosing applies to HOW a commandment is to be observed. This does not (as stated) apply to binding Satan, people, or the Word of God, but to halacha (the manner in which a commandment is walked out). These terms are not open for allegorical interpretation either. Binding and loosing does not have anything "to do with someone being repentant or unrepentant in their sin" as the author would have us understand these terms. An historical text taken out of context is a pretext for an allegorical proof-text.

Love is not the answer
Posted On: 03/04/08 09:36:26 AM Age 47, MO
Friend: I'm sorry but I have to take issue with your post. I see your intent but your premise is not valid. Love as a verb is an action. Love as a noun is an emotion. However, we can't trust our emotions. People have been a basket case of emotion and unable to act. Jesus (who is Love and loves the most) was able to go to the cross and demonstrate His love to the world. So, His overwhelming Love (as God) did not prevent His action. However, our actions in and of ourselves, don't equal squat. There is nothing we can sacrifice or do to please God. All we can do is be obedient to His will. This is love. Jesus said: "If you love me, you will keep my commands." and "My sheep hear my voice." Jesus is the only answer. Hope this helps (I try not to get to wordy and lose meaning.) John

What is love?
Posted On: 03/03/08 12:57:12 PM Age 47, MO
Friend: You say "Love will win in the end." By that, do you mean Christ will win? If so, then you are correct because God is Love. This is not a definition of what love is, but a fact of the nature of God. If love is a definition of god then if we say that God is love, we would be obligated to worship love as God. However, what is love? Good feelings, compassion, sacrifice, ??? Haven't our understanding of the definition of love changed over time? Indeed, God is love is a fact because all good things come from God. We would not know, and do not know true love without knowing Christ. God Bless, John

I'd like a clarification...
Posted On: 03/02/08 10:23:34 AM Age 20, MN
"Yes the cross made a way for us to approach God, but it doesn't stop there..." Did Jesus die so that there "a way" to God, or was it "the way" to God? Thanks! Have a great day and God Bless!

Anti Catholic rhetoric
Posted On: 03/01/08 11:20:44 PM Age 61, KS
Anti-Catholic rhetoric isn't a way to bring people to a fuller understanding of God's great Love for all of us. Religion is just religion and there are plenty of them in our world. I keep asking which one that God belongs to. Let's see, His Son was a Jew! God's Love is the only way and truth. He gave His Son for all of mankind. It is best to remain faithful to your religion and allow others to remain faithful to theirs. Love will win in the long run. God bless!!

Thanks for your insight
Posted On: 02/29/08 08:33:22 AM Age 61, KS
This is a very well done article and puts in context the reality of bible teaching a preaching. I only want to add that there would be no confusion if we were to finally learn God's Love for us....all His people. The divisions and mis-interpretations would dissappear. It is so simple and yet we want to make it complex. Love God and give Him thanks and praise for our lives and for giving mankind His Son Jesus so our sins can be forgiven. Love ourselves and each other. If we can truly do this then SIN will be no more than an occasional minor sore. Love is the salve that heals all wounds both emotional and physical.

More to ponder
Posted On: 02/29/08 06:33:10 AM Age 53, VA
While pondering your crucifix you might ponder a sampling of some false Roman Catholic doctrine. 1. Justification by works—not simply by faith; 2. Baptismal regeneration—that a person is saved by baptism; 3. Worship of images 4. Celibacy—forbidding priests to marry, a further distinction between clergy and laity; 5. Confessionalism—where sins are confessed to a priest who then declares absolution of those sins; 6. Purgatory—a place of confinement which is neither heaven nor hell, but a place where one has to be refined before going to heaven, hence sanctification was not complete at death; 7. Transubstantiation—the concept of the continual and perpetual sacrifice of Christ; 8. Indulgences—where through the giving of money, a person’s time in purgatory could be reduced; 9. Penance—involving the torment of one’s body in order to reduce time in purgatory; 10. Mariolotry—the worship of the virgin Mary, her elevation as the mother of God and the declaration of her deity.

Out of Context
Posted On: 02/29/08 05:21:27 AM Age 68, KY
Eph 2:8-9 are a couple of verses many people like to read out of context. To be put in the proper context verse 10 must be read along with verses 8 and 9.

Not so fast...
Posted On: 02/28/08 05:22:24 PM Age 21, AR
You said, "We do not become joint heirs simply because we are saved." Yes we do. If children, then heirs, if heirs then joint heirs. Simple. Yes we must die daily, and yes we must allow God to transform us from the inside out, but we are children we are heirs...period. You said, "But Copeland, and others like him, leave out the Cross, which is the very means by which the power of Jesus comes to be manifested through us. We never hear it in their teaching. They bypass that completely, and make spiritual authority a THING God gives us apart from any necessity of us being formed together with Christ." That's a pretty bad generalization. They don't completely leave out the cross. It is not spoken of quite as much as it is within fundie circles because these people recognize that Christ did much more than die on the cross. He lived an entire lifetime in which He taught a great many things. Just like you have a problem with them "downplaying" the cross, they have a problem with you "downplaying" the rest of His life and more importantly the glory of His resurrection. Christ wasn't just one of these things...He did all of them. They are all significant. Yes the cross made a way for us to approach God, but it doesn't stop there...

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