Once upon a December:
It was the last month of the year, and I was gladly ending some seven years of exciting research and development work on Zing4Life! and for the eventual last day watch-night service, I was mainly going to present the outcome to God in profuse thanksgiving! Naturally, the thought of ‘what project to tackle next’ was on. I knew it would be good to focus on a project to help the Small & Medium Scale Businesses / Enterprises, but then, reality hit me; I was going to ignore the second crucifixion – Crucifixion of the Holy Scriptures! Crucifixion by who? Many; including some ‘men and women of God!’ most of whom do not really mean to do so; but they end up doing so all the same – essentially preaching what is more of personal opinions and presenting them as facts / truth. And that which is causing this will amaze you!
Since we cannot continue to do the same thing(s) we have been doing all this while – over and over again – and expect different / better results, and as a sequel to the original ‘What the Church Refuse to Teach About Christianity,’ in this article, I will highlight some attitudes of grave negligence we apply to the content of the Bible, as I continue to draw attention to the deep but ‘not-so-obvious’ issues that we Christians largely overlook (and they consequently harm us) alongside the obvious ones that need to be highlighted.
Outline / Table of Contents (ToC):
The Christian Problem:
I cannot overemphasise the observation that, most often, Christians’ understanding or interpretation of scriptures lead them to either half-hearted action or inaction; they see God as this all powerful father who has promised them every good thing, and so all they have to do is to please him through prescribed religious acts such as prayer, giving, etc. and He would release all the good things to them. And if things are not working, they believe that it is either the devil causing such, so they deal solely with the devil through loud and commandeering prayers; or that God is saying either ‘No’ or ‘Wait.’ But are there any relevant / contextual, authentic and unambiguous scriptures to back such beliefs and the attendant actions and / or inactions? This calls for authentic translation and / or exposition of the Holy Scriptures; devoid of avoidable and / or extreme human errors. Why am I saying this?
Take Proverbs 10:22 for instance, it says: “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it;” (NKJV) or “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (KJV) I noticed something very curious about the translation / rendition in the Akan and Ga Bibles; see the following clippings from those Bibles…
When translated into English, each of the above texts (verse 22) in the clippings mean: ‘It is only the blessing of the Lord that can make one rich. Hardwork does not add anything!‘ But is that what the NKJV and KJV are saying? Oops! Something is definitely wrong here; either that the NKJV or KJV is wrong, or that the Akan and Ga translations are wrong; all of them cannot be correct at the same time, since they clearly are saying and / or mean different things! Or could it be that they were translated from a different version of the English Bible? Well, it appears to have been translated from the NIV, except that the NIV rendition could have at least two meanings, one of which seems to have been taken for the Twi and Ga renditions; I would have gone for the other possible meaning which is more consistent with the KJV / NJKV and other passages like Proverbs 6:10/24:33 across all the versions. And these translations were made by eminent persons; if not ‘men and women of God.’ Could this be just a tip of the iceberg? I believe so; indeed, I know so!
Luke 10:1 says: “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go;” (NKJV) or “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” (NIV) Other versions of the Bible are similar to either of these renditions. Why is this so? Did Jesus send out ‘Seventy,‘ or he sent out ‘Seventy-two;’ which of them is really the case? Does it even matter (or does it not really matter) whether it is ‘Seventy‘ or ‘Seventy-two.‘? So which of the Bible versions is most authentic, and thus, most suitable for use? Another example…
What does 3 John 1:2 really say, and what does it really mean? Oops! It depends on which version of the Bible you consult, and that in itself presents the first issue that leads to misinterpretation and misapplication! Then, there is the strong – almost unyielding – influence of what you might have already heard said about the scripture (even if you heard that during your childhood – Children’s Service / Sunday School – stage) and finally, the lack of effective (diligent and Holy-Spirit-led) comprehension and interpretation skills. Other factors may also apply.
Further to the above, I have heard many ‘men and women of God’ preach what could best be described as their opinion of (or commentary on) the Holy Scriptures. Unfortunately many Christians accept whatever is preached by a ‘man or woman of God;’ they seem to swallow everything – hook, line, and sinker – as though what the ‘men or women of God’ preach / teach are exactly what God or Jesus himself is personally saying to them – verbatim – and so they usually do not bother to cross-check! This appears noble, but it could be dangerous, and there is every indication that this attitude has already caused more harm than good. Christians of today should take a cue from the zeal of the earlier brethren in Berea. “These Jewish brethren who gathered at the synagogues to hear the messages / preachings of Paul and Silas were more fair-minded (noble) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. ” (Acts 17:11 NKJV) It is said that, The greatest risk in life is to wait for and depend on others for your security;” the brethren in Berea literally lived it, when it came to the security of the truth of God’s word. Do Christians of today search the scriptures daily for truth? No! Of course many Christians do their ‘Quiet Time‘ or Daily Devotional reading of the Bible (as a Christian traditional requirement – even if just to satisfy one’s conscience – or an attempt to please God for favours) but essentially not ‘a search;’ as in Bible Studies – to unearth the truth of God’s word.
A Reality Check:
A lot of the things you believe in, or believe about Christianity may lack sound biblical foundation or sound biblical basis, and in some cases, they may be utterly false. For instance, How many disciples did Jesus have? What maximum number of years has God prescribed for man to live on earth? How many were the wise men who visited Jesus at birth, and presented gifts? How many gifts did the wise men who visited Jesus at birth present? Do you notice that Christians dress so heavily to Church; why do you think this is so? Just click here to take this survey, and you will be amazed how much truth you will unearth; based on verifiable scriptures from the Holy Bible! Well, if you have / had no idea what the correct / exact answer is / was, that’s pardonable; because as a human being you are not expected to know everything, and definitely, you cannot know everything. But to give a definite answer you are so sure of; only for it to turn out to be wrong is problematic! By extension, to hold on strongly to a belief, or a practice you think is Christian and biblical, only for it to turn out not to have any sound biblical basis for your application, is problematic, and we should avoid that. And that’s the whole point I seek to make in this article.
It’s important to know what the Bible is saying, as much as what it is NOT saying. Particularly, it’s important to know what either the Holy Spirit, Jesus or God is saying, as much as what He is NOT saying.
When we say that the Holy Bible is the word of God, what do we mean, and what does it really mean?
1 Tim 5:23 gives us another; it says: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities;” (NKJV) does it mean God is instructing people who have stomach issues and frequent illnesses and/or infirmities to drink wine?
3 John 1:2 says: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers; (NKJV) or “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (KJV) Other versions of the Bible are similar to either of these translations / renditions; but, is the true expression ‘I wish‘ or ‘I pray;’ which of them is really the case? Does it even matter (or does it not really matter) whether it is ‘I pray‘ or ‘I wish‘? And can we say, on the basis of this scripture alone, that God has promised us good health and prosperity?
In my next appearance on this subject of ‘What the church refuses to teach about Christianity,’ I will be responding to all these and more, as I throw more light on ‘The Bible as the Word of God.‘
It pays to note that there is ambiguity with many of the scriptures, and we must examine all the possible or plausible meanings, bringing to bear all other scriptures that relate to the issue or subject matter, and then have a definite and convincing / persuasive reasons for choosing one meaning rather than the other(s). Hear what Apostle Peter had to say in 2 Peter 3:15b-17, that: “…our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.”
Apostle Peter refers to people who commit such errors as ‘wicked people.’ It is no wonder that teachers would be judged more strictly; per James 3:1, and it seems to me then that there are a lot of such wicked people in Ghana and Africa! Otherwise, why is the country / continent blessed with such abundant natural resources (Africa is – largely – the richest continent in the world in terms of natural resources), and yet bedeviled with age old developmental problems? You look at the people and the environment and you can’t help but to ask: Are there no Christians in the countries? Are there no educated people there? Why are the people then so poor and underdeveloped? It’s like asking: “Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:22) Surely there are Christians in Ghana / Africa; yes there are intellectuals there, yet their interpretation and application of scripture often lead them to half-hearted action or inaction, rather than tangible and decisive action to bring about solutions to their developmental problems!
The Call to Vigilance:
So, I was inadvertently going to ignore the crucifixion of scriptures for several years thence, and what would happen to the multitude that were (and still are) being led astray by some ‘men and women of God!’ I am worker in the vineyard of God, and since I am inspired by Paul’s admonition in 2 Timothy 2:15, I pledge to be diligent and study to present myself approved to Him, and especially endeavour to divide the word of truth rightly; because I consider myself as a teacher; that’s my ministry. It is time to set the records straight; let me call it Zing4God! Am I not going to stir up controversy? No! I’m just going to be plain and objective about the Bible and Christianity, and allow for meaningful debate on everything I put out here; just hit the ‘comment’ link and let us have your understanding of the issues; you may invite your friends, and your pastor too, to do same. Let’s embark on this journey together; in so doing, we shall be helping ourselves to have a sound biblical basis for what we believe in, and thus fulfill in the most appropriate vane, the admonition in 1 Peter 3:15 which says: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Additionally, we will be more effective in this world; we will be empowered to apply sound knowledge to solve the prevailing socio-economic problems, live truly happier lives, and leave a much better world for generations yet unborn. Welcome aboard! Join my alert list (if you have not already done so) and I will alert you when the next publication comes out. You may remove yourself from the list anytime you wish. You may click here.
Matthew 15:8-9 :- “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Matthew 23:15 :- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
2 Timothy 2:15 :- “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
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