Wresting Scripture

By Darrell L. Hauber

I have recently heard a discussion which was directed towards authority for collecting money into a congregation’s treasury at any time other than the first day of the week. This discussion was between a faithful gospel preacher and the elders of a congregation which had just publicized a Friday night collection of money to help defray expenses at a workshop which they sponsored (The Bulletin, Hillcrest Church of Christ, Anderson, Indiana, 10-29-78). The gospel preacher arranged the meeting with them to ask the scriptural authority for a collection of money into the church treasury as they had just done. The authority they gave for this was Gal. 6:10.

This verse when kept in context plainly teaches individuals that they are obligated at every opportunity to do good to all men, especially Christians. However for many years this verse has been used by some to justify congregational benevolence to all people. When the verse is used like this it is wrested and applied to a congregation when Paul intended individual application.

As the argument was made for congregational giving based upon this scripture, I wondered if the ones who first misused this passage for congregational benevolence would appreciate the new authority now gleaned from its now expanded usage. Beyond the false teaching of general congregational benevolence we now have men using this to teach general any-day-of-the-week congregational giving. This seems to be a real to life example of the warning in 2 Pet. 3:15-18 where Peter says the wresting of scripture will destroy the wrestler.

There has been many things already destroyed by our brethren as they have perverted the word of God. Many have destroyed the unique spiritual identity of the Lord’s Church using Acts 2 and other passages to justify congregationally sponsored social activities. Some have cast aside the pattern for church sponsored work in establishing their missionary organizations with complete disregard of the example of the apostle Paul’s receiving wages from churches (Phil. 4:15). It appears the destruction of the church’s identity in another area is being threatened as it has been in the past. Who would have thought that any congregation would ever start collecting money on Friday?

When men depart from speaking as the oracles of God and ministering according to God’s ability (1 Pet. 4:11) unity among God’s people is prevented and/or destroyed. This is just what happened in Corinth as recorded in 1 Cor. 1:10. This unity was so dear to Christ that he prayed to God about it in John 17. This unity was so important that Christ gave gifts unto men to produce it (Eph. 4). This unity has been and is being destroyed by wresting the scriptures such as we have seen in the above discussion. It appears that the possibility of unity among all who claim to be a part of the Lord’s Church will be even more remote than it has been in the past.

It certainly makes us sad to see such destruction because men have distorted and are distorting scriptures to justify their own desires. Not a single thing that has been added by the wresting of scripture is needed to furnish the church or the Christian to do God’s will. All has been provided in the inspired scriptures. Therefore, we would that all would cease such activities and once again rightly divide the word of God. The results we see from perverting the sciptures are by no means predictable so let us who wish to treat the word of God as He intended be careful to never handle the word carelessly. We must be careful to neither willingly or ignorantly wrest the scriptures. As has been demonstrated before us a little wresting will not stop until the wrestler and many other important things such as unity and the identity of the church have been also cast aside. How small a misuse of scripture can grow into a large crop of error as we reap the crop according to our sowing (Gal. 6:7).

Truth Magazine XXIII: 35, p. 570
September 6, 1979