Authority figures have been claiming to speak for God ever since the beginning in the Garden of Eden.

There are mostly harmless misreadings of Scripture such as: the belief that the forbidden fruit was an apple (no fruit is specified), that Jonah was swallowed by a whale (it was “a great fish”), and that angels have wings (they don’t). These and other fables parade as facts only because we have heard them for so long and fail to examine “the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The following questions are designed to test your knowledge of the Bible. No interpretation is needed. These are simple questions of fact alone:

  1. The following phrase is found in the Bible: “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”True or false?
    2. Noah’s ark landed on Mt. Ararat. True or false?
    3. “Pride goes before a fall?” True or false?
    4. Complete the following: “The ______________ will dwell with the lamb.”
    5. Elijah was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. True or false?
    6. How many wise men came to visit Jesus while he lay in the manger?
    7. Jesus stumbled and fell while He was carrying His cross. True or false?
    8. Where in the Bible is 6-6-6 found?
    9. Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus will reign on the earth for a thousand years.
    10. What is the biblical definition of “antichrist,” and in which book of the Bible is he mentioned the most?

How well did you do? (The answers and much more can be found in Gary DeMar’s book, Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths. Listen to a previous episode about this topic here.) If Christians have adopted myths as truths where little or any interpretation is needed, is it possible that they may have adopted myths as truths in areas where greater study is needed?

Jesus encountered a similar problem with those who misread or misunderstood what the Bible actually states. “You have heard that the ancients were told. . .” (Matt. 5:21) and “You have heard that it was said. . .” (5:27) were repeated five times by Jesus in a series of twenty-eight verses. If we were to translate Jesus’ words into a contemporary setting, we might hear Him say: “Contrary to what you may have heard, you are mistaken on what you think the Bible says on this issue. You are, therefore, equally mistaken on how these passages should be interpreted and applied. Let Me clear up the confusion for you by directing you to take a closer look at Scripture.” Jesus was correcting erroneous beliefs about the Bible. He was not rebuking His listeners for not believing that the Bible is God’s infallible and inerrant Word. Jesus touched on four areas:

• An out-of-context reading and application of a text (Matt. 5:21).
• A misreading or an incomplete reading of a text (5:38).
• A misstatement of fact (5:43).
• Faulty reasoning from an incorrectly established premise.

Jesus was not declaring a new set of rules for the church to obey by discounting what had been written in what Christians know as the “Old Testament.” He was simply holding His first-century audience accountable for how they were misreading Scripture and urging them not to rely on what they had heard was written. For example, if you read Matthew 5:38–40 and compare it to Exodus 21:22, you will notice that Jesus did not replace capital punishment with a turn-the-other-cheek ethic. Exodus 21:22 clearly states that “judges” are to decide what punishment is to be imposed. Victims could not take personal vengeance (cf. Rom. 12:18–21; cf. 13:4). There were some in Jesus’ day who were taking a law that was meant for civil authorities to adjudicate and carry out and were applying it to personal situations. The consequences can be devastating (James 4:1–2). Jesus appears to be concerned with two things: overthrowing erroneous traditions, and indicating authoritatively the real direction toward which the Old Testament Scriptures point.

These misreadings led to misunderstandings which resulted in creating a mythological tradition that had the effect of nullifying what God’s Word actually said and meant. Over time, the traditions were used by religious authorities to supplant the truth and misdirect the people down an unbiblical path. Jesus said the following to the Scribes and Pharisees: “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men… You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mark 7:8–9).

Like the Bereans of Paul’s day (Acts 17:11), Christians should check the veracity of all opinions against the only reliable standard of authority that God has placed in our hands: the Bible. This may mean a change in belief systems. There is no novelty in this. God confronted Peter directly about the inclusion of Gentiles into the household of faith (10:9–16). Paul confronted Peter “to his face” on a similar matter (Gal. 2:11–14). There are times when we all need to be knocked off our horse of mistaken opinions (Acts 9:4). “Testing” is a biblical mandate (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 John 4:1).

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Takes a closer look at God's Word and applies it to erroneous misinterpretations of the Bible that have resulted in a virtual shut-down of the church's full-orbed mission in the world (Acts 20:27). Due to these mistaken interpretations and applications of popular Bible texts to contemporary issues, the Christian faith is being thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matt. 5:13).

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Gary discusses a news story about the governor of New York claiming that the Bible supports abortion. Since most of her supporters have little to no real knowledge about what (or what is not) in the Bible, claims like this go without being challenged and a whole generation of people adopt a falsehood as truth. This is nothing new. Authority figures have been claiming to speak for God ever since the beginning in the Garden of Eden.

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