Speaking "As The Oracles of God"

by James Needham

December 1, 2000
Copied from NEEDHAM'S NOTES, Number 22

     Peter admonishes, (1 Pet 4:11) "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God..." This passage is frequently quoted, but sometimes not followed. It is easy to give lip service to a passage due to frequent use, but not really grasp and follow what it enjoins. We could teach a parrot to quote scripture.

     We need to be very careful in teaching the Bible, especially public teachers and preachers. The scriptures warn us over and over along this line:

     "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim 4:16).

     "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

     {18} "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: {19} "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev 22:18-19).

     I learned in school that words are signs of ideas. Or to put it another way, words are vehicles upon which thoughts ride. Wrong words convey incorrect thoughts.

     Gen. 3:15: In recent weeks I have heard a preacher say more that once that Christ crushed the head of the serpent (Satan). The KJV, ASV, and NKJV all say "bruise" not crush. The Catholic version and the NIV say "crush." Now it stands to reason that if Christ crushed the head of the serpent, then he killed him. But if he killed Satan, he no longer exists, so we don't have to fear him.

     Genesis 3:15 is very clear, It says: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall BRUISE thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." There is an obvious difference between bruising and crushing; they convey two completely different ideas. To bruise is to injure; to crush is to kill. "Bruise" is speaking as the oracles of God; crush is not. Why not stay with the text?

     I often hear people, including preachers, say of a given passage: "This is my favorite passage," or "This is one of my favorite passages." Does this convey a Biblical idea and attitude toward the word of God? Is it right to esteem one passage above another? Is it Biblically sound to favor one passage above another? I have heard many preachers, some very well known ones too, make this statement, and it doesn't sound correct. If we believe in the verbal inspiration of the scriptures, then we should not exalt one passage above another. All are equally important. It is a fact that some passages may speak plainly to a matter that is close to one's heart, but that should not make it a "favorite passage." Note the following passages:

     "Every word of God is pure:" (Prov. 30:5).

     "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Mat 4:4).

     Another frequently misused passages is Psalms 37:25. It says,

     "I have been young and now am old yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."

     This passages is used to assure Christians that it applies to them, and yet, if one would just take a moment to realize that if that is the proper application, there would be no poor or hungry Christians anywhere in the world, and yet we all know this is not true. We are constantly asked to contribute for the benefit of hungry Christians in third world countries. Are they not begging bread?

     This passage, like so many others, had to do with the land promise to Israel. To see that to which it applied, read the 26th chapter of Leviticus. God promised Israel that they would prosper in every way and would remain on the land and would want for nothing as long as they remained righteous; obedient to His commandments. But, He warned them that if they did otherwise, their crops would fail, their herds would abort their young, their fruit trees would cast their fruit before it ripened, etc. So, David is saying he had never known of this promise failing. He had "not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" as long as they obeyed God's commandments. It is wrong to apply this passage to Christians. It does violence to the context, and gives false assurance.

     Truly, we need to "handle aright the word of truth." There is always a crying need for this. We need to be impressed with the seriousness of mishandling divine truth, even in ignorance.

James P. Needham

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