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Friday, January 29, 2010 | Comments (48)

First, listen to this 9-minute clip:

Launch Player  |  Download  |  Full Sermon

Here's the topic for today's discussion:

Those who take God’s Word seriously spend many hours in study. Coming out of diligent study are lessons, sermons, articles, and books that are deep, weighty, sober, doctrinally coherent, and theologically consistent.

Sadly, today’s evangelicals aren’t known for being profound, sober-minded, or consistent; instead they’ve developed a reputation for being superficial, trivial, doctrinally erratic, and theologically naïve. Want proof? Walk into your local Christian bookstore, sample the preaching online, survey the blogs—the shoe fits.

So if the way back is to fear God, honor His Word, and work hard to understand and teach it accurately, what kinds of things are standing in the way?

(You can also give us your favorite anecdote on bad hermeneutics.)


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#1  Posted by Charlie Fugate  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Hebrews 4:12 gives us the characteristics of the Word of God. Our hermeneutics must be equally precise and accurate. I've heard Dr. MacArthur say that preachers of God's word must be skilled men, trained in theology and doctrine and must be skilled in the reading, interpretation and exposition of His Word. The faithful expositor must spend many hours in study and in prayer in order to rightly divide the word of truth. There can be no substitute for this study.

In answer to the question presented, there is a relatively short answer. Personal laziness and infatuation with the culture stands in the way of skilled exposition and accurate hermeneutics. Today's evangelicals seem to be more concerned with being accepted than being salt and light in the world. The latest fads seem to dazzle and seduce our churches, when we should have blinders on and to be only concerned with preaching God's Word and doing so accurately and precisely.

#2  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I will speak only for myself for mine is the only sinful heart I am intimately familiar with.

The world, the flesh and the devil all war against clear understanding of scripture. I find myself having to continually ask if I am being influenced by the culture in which I live when I attempt to understand passages. It is so easy to project your own life experiences into the pages and convince yourself that it fits. My flesh also attempts to persuade me that the scripture must not being saying something because the proclamation will be unpopular or discovery and application will be difficult and I would rather just rest a bit or have fun. Finally I have an adversary who is powerful in his use of the world and the flesh against me and victory over him is not easy. Knowing all this my heart does not always desire His truth as it must to find, my mind does not always work to search and embrace His truth as it must to understand and by not relying on the Spirit that reveals and protects I do not always manifest truth. Short answer: my sin.

#3  Posted by Marla Beale  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 2:02 PM

This is one of my favorite sermons series ever from Dr. MacArthur (Getting the most from God's Word), and I've passed it along to quite a few of my friends as well.

The most jarring example of bad hermeneutics I've heard in the last two years was a sermon about the seed and soils (Luke 8:4-15), and this particular pastor was trying to put forth that ALL the soils were saved people, and they just had varing degrees of fruitfullness. (More awful than I can describe here).

I think the desire to be unoffensive, and just plain laziness when it come to personal study have been leading contributors to bad hermeneutics, at least in my neck of the woods. The command to "Study to show thyself approved" has been discarded (that would be sin) and instead, "Preach to show thyself popular" has been adopted (that would be idolatry).

It is a real blessing to find a pastor who knows how to rightly divide the word of truth. They stand out like an oasis in the desert.

#4  Posted by Charles Shanks  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Today watching and lisening to various preachers on satelitte TV I am grieved and frieghtened by

by those who preach as a story teller with little scripture and no Bible in hand or sight. Putting forth profound teachings? At the same time a good expository preaching message lifts me to the heights and often to tears.

Some of Joy ,some of repentance.

#5  Posted by Paul Young  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 3:09 PM

A failure to adhere to authorial intent (human and divine) is at the root of many hermeneutical errors. For instance, I heard a local pastor in a very large church, a man very well known in this area, preach a sermon from Mark 6:6-13. This text is Jesus sending out the twelve to preach the gospel. The sermon was about accepting one another in marriage. He said Jess accepted and used the disciples even though they were just ordinary men. Therefore, we must accept one another in the marriage relationship. That is absolutely foreign to the intent of the author. Recently at our state convention preaching conference, a man used Isaiah 49:2 as his text. He took one phrase from that text, "a polished shaft," and preached a sermon on how God selects preachers. His whole sermon was built upon the way American Indians selected and made arrows. For instance: the shaft is selected; the shaft is shaped; etc. He never discussed the text at all. He never even referred to it again after the initial reading. It was sad. The worst thing is the poor model he put before young preachers at the conference. Again, it is an abandonment of authorial intent. The interpreter must have as his goal discovering the intent of the human author. We do not have the authority to use a text outside of the boundaries the human author intended, although application may certainly vary. One exception is when a New Testament author uses an Old Testament text. Sometimes they use it in a way that is beyond the intent of the human author. But they did so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We do not have the authority to do that. We can however, interpret that Old Testament text consistently with the New Testament usage, even though it may extend beyond the intent of the original author. That is the only exception.

#6  Posted by Orlando Delgado  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Ever since I turned my heart to Jesus, it has been my desire to speak the Word to others. Dr MacArthur gave a conference a while back when he was celebrating his 40th Anniversary, among many things he said (which he did say a lot of edifying things) this one has been with me and never leaves. He gives the story of his Dad and his seminary professor by the name “Weinberg”. To a long story short both men became a pillar in his ministry life just by saying “get it right MacArthur,” or something to that nature. According to Dr MacArthur in this conference every time he prepares something for his audiences his dad and his professor are on his shoulders telling him “get it right.”

Never be unprepared to speak the Word. Therefore, one has to immerse the entire being in the Word, consult previous successful men of God like Martin Lloyd Jones, John Bonyum, Charles Spurgeon, etc. Try to get a good commentary. I do not want to push it and I am making no money for this, it is a must you must get Dr MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary Series, and pray to God that gives him more years in the ministry in order for him to finish it.

For instance, once you read a little biography about the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans will change all pre conceived images you have about the apostle. It is awesome, responsible, and verse by verse.

God bless you all.

#7  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 7:01 PM

Nehemiah 8: 8 "So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sence, and helped them to understand the reading." (NKJV)

A common thinking in many churches is the notion that "anointing" supersedes study. Or that a "call" from God to preach or teach automaticly comes with supernatural knowledge. These people somehow find their way behind pulpits either by church leaders who may have got their start the same way, or congregations who believe this "calling" to be an acceptable approach to ministry. The reluctance of the congregation to confront error stems from their belief in the "call' given to be valid. Confrontation is seen against the Call-Giver, rather than against the called. What the church is left with is a teacher/preacher bent on fulfilling ministorial obligation, and not on Biblical study. Study in this manner is short term and will be more subjective in content. (IMO)

I once heard a preacher say that the reason people who lived before the flood lived so long was because there wasn't as much sin back then.

#8  Posted by Steve Orozco  |  Friday, January 29, 2010 at 10:23 PM

Pastor MacArthur once again gives it like it is. There is a lot of soft preaching going on right now because we don't want to offend or drive away potential converts. If they are to be converted they will respond to the Gospel message. There seems to be the belief that the intellect is a bad thing, but it is a God-given ability we all possess. The Word of God is our guide for life, but there is nothing wrong with looking up secondary sources to questions we might have. There is so much false preaching going on in tv and pulpits around the world. Lord give us discernment to recognize false teaching. In Jesus name! Amen! :)

#9  Posted by Matthew Gillander  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 2:30 AM

MacArthur brings up good points that do need to be addressed in today's churches. Too many churches lack the teaching of good hermeneutics. I didn't know anything about hermeneutics growing up in the church until I went to bible college.

There are areas in hermeneutics that are diffcult to deal with. Aspects such as how the New Testament authors use the Old Testament can be hard to understand. Also, at what point do you know enough history outside the text to finally understand the meaning? There are many great evangelical theologians and godly people that come up with different ways of dealing with these issues.

#10  Posted by Margaret Dunn  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 4:09 AM

A tragedy today is that our communication technology is teaching young people the very opposite of reading, deep thinking, and understanding anything. From email to Facebook to Twitter to texting on a cell phone, I fear that we have engrained a superficial idea of what communication is or is supposed to be. How will we encourage young people to dig into the Bible and spend the time needed for understanding when they are trained to abbreviate everything? In my opinion, it is a scheme from our enemy to distract us from the Truth. I work in government and accurately communicating to the public is essential and can't be done with a text message. I work diligently to craft a truthful message on a level that people can understand and not misinterpret. Likewise, the resources offered by GTY are so critical to reaching people with the Truth. Having them readily available to offer to others is a gift from God. I point my friends to GTY all the time and encourage them to read the sermons, listen to the radio broadcasts and the television broadcasts. Thank you so much, GTY, for your faithfulness in offering these resources. I visit the website every single day for training and encouragement.

#11  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 6:01 AM

Here's just a thought and an opportunity for comment. I remember as younger man hearing a question concerning preaching. "Would you rather have a sermon that has 20 hours of study and 2 hours of prayer or 2 hours of study and 20 hours of prayer?"

I know this is a false choice but I'm curious about what you all believe the role of prayer is in preparation to proclaim His word?

I have listened to how Pastor John prepares and will have to listen again to see what role prayer plays in his preparation.

#12  Posted by Paul Young  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 6:37 AM

Chuck (comment #11), I do not think it is right to emphasize either prayer or preparation over against the other. I think both must play a crucial role in sermon preparation. Prayer should be a vital part of the preparation process and not viewed as distinct from it. You begin the process with prayer and pray for insight and understanding all throughout the study process. You pray for the Holy Spirit to use the truth of His Word, knowing that all spiritual and supernatural benefit will be a result of His power not your own. Even if someone were to pray 20 hours over a sermon that they only spent 2 hours preparing, I still view that as irresponsible. Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved, a workman rightly dividing the Word ofTruth. You study as long as it takes, and for someone with a doctorate in expository preaching who has written quite a few sermons that is alot more than 2 hours. You pray as long as you study and even afterward until the sermon is delivered and beyond. I don't feel any amount of prayer makes up for a failure to study and do the hard work of exegesis. By the same token, I don't feel any amount of preparation excuses a lack of prayer as part of the preparation process. I personally could improve in both areas. This is just my approach, for what it is worth.

#13  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 7:10 AM

Paul #12,

"Prayer should be a vital part of the preparation process and not viewed as distinct from it."

Good word. Can it be said that in proper preparation prayer is present throughout? What I mean by that is as you study in preparation you are entering into a conversation with God. His word speaks. I respond by understanding what it says and understand as fully as I can to whom it was stated to, asking Him the entire time that by His Spirit to inform me of the eternal truth it contains; a dialog as it were between myself and His word. Me seeking, He revealing. Thus prayer?

Then my question would turn to you toward your listeners. Confident that the message is thought through and prayed through what do you believe is the role of prayer is for the preacher in the area of praying for those who are going to hear?


#14  Posted by Paul Young  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Chuck (# 13),

"Can it be said that in proper preparation prayer is present throughout?"

Absolutely! That is exactly my view. As far as praying for the listeners, I think that is important. I write out my sermons almost entirely. As I write, I pray. I pray that the truths of the text would invade the hearts and minds of the listeners. I pray that the listeners and myself would conform to the Scripture. I pray that the Holy Spirit would use the truths of the text to glorify God in the lives of the listeners. Depending on the message, I may pray some specific things for the listeners. But all of this, for me, is still part of the preparation process. However, I pray through our church directory every week. So, I am praying for those who hear me preach even when I am not preparing a sermon. I don't think there is one specific pattern that must be followed. But I do think it best that prayer be viewed as part of the preparation process, whether it be for the sermon itself or for the listeners.

#15  Posted by Paul Fredericks  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 9:45 AM

The whole process of hermenuetics is to this end: "To Help Prevent Truth Decay!"

#16  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 12:56 PM

So if the way back is to fear God, honor His Word, and work hard to understand and teach it accurately, what kinds of things are standing in the way?

The easy answer is people and the church. In the back of my bible I have some notes from Tozier written in to myself. Remember you cannot carry a cross in company. Though surrounded by "the church crowd," a man's cross is his alone and the carrying of it marks the man as "set apart and alone." Society and the church will turn against you; otherwise you have no cross. No one is the friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him and fled," and so they will to you if you carry a cross. True spiritual fellowship is hard to find. Few really want to talk about death or dying on their cross. You are a pilgrim on a journey.

A love for God causes one to spend time (a lot of time) in the WORD and studying at the feet of other like-minded men and teachers. Isn't that why we are hear listening and reading Dr. Mac. Ditto reading men like Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan and Tozier sermons or writings.

You can dive as deep as you want to go when it's God's WORD. It's all up to the individual. Unfortunately most like to just dip their toes in the WORD out of fear! Yes, fear of the deep, unsearchable, mysteriousness of an all consuming fire of this God who says, "no man can see Me and live." How many will say, "show me Thy glory" knowing full well they will die. Not many want to hug a cross today!

#17  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM

As you said Paul, prayer is an intrical part of preparation for teaching or preaching as it should be any other aspect of our lives. Our dependence on God can not be underestimated in whatever we do. The Bible says that even in the simple day-to-day things such as eating or drinking we should do them with a focus toward doing it to bring glory to God. Much less, when we attempt to teach the Bible. We must be reminded of the extra weight the Bible places on one who teaches. Are we not more accountable for what we teach? After all - it's God's Word- not ours. His Word brings life when properly brought forth, but handled in some hap-hazard, frivolous manner, it can bring forth death.

Another thing, prayer can never be seen as a substitution for study. A preacher bringing forth a study in this way has every reason the be ashamed

#18  Posted by Ryan Rosene  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Thanks again for the insiration. When I was in prison, I heard Dr. MacArthur's sermons by radio and was fed thoroughly. MacArtur always made me hungry for more and deeper things in the Word. I find it frustrating to hear others speak of things in the Word or a given passage and it is not meant to say that or give that particular interpretation. It is like scrtching a chalk board!

A try my best to follow what Paul wrote in in 2 Timothy: "Be diligent tp present yourself approved by God, a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed, correctly dividing the Word of truth" (2:15). I try to keep my theology in alignment with the Word and through pray and checking with you and your ministry, I constantly seek out those errors in my feeble thinking.

Thank you John MacArthur for your undying stance on the proper hermaneutics; for others like myself, you are one of our standards to keep ourselves straight.

Ryan Rosene

#19  Posted by John Splawn  |  Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Having come from a charasmatic background since I was saved at 16, I am finding solid Biblical teaching aqnd apologetics, teachings WITHOUT a bunch of 'hype' added to the Word, distorting it to fit a certain angle, very refreshing. I was taught to believe that any teaching ooutside the "fiery" Charasmatic world was boring, and how could those people even stay saved?! As I grew older and faced life's challenges on a daily baisis I discovered that a bunch religious 'mombo-jumbo' had no power to help me overcome and deal with life's issues, but real faith in the Lord as He really is did, and does help. the major thing I face now is (opposition?) from my Charasmatic friends that ranges from good-natured ribbing up to even open hostility! If this is some of the tribulation Jesus said we would facein this life, then I will face it openly and gladly, knowing my final and eternal reward. On a side note: I LOVE my MacArthur Study Bible!

#20  Posted by Scott Tapp  |  Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 7:27 AM

I cannot agree strongly enough with Marla Beale's comments. We must live in similar woods. I once had the displeasure of hearing a talk on Matthew 13:1-23. This man conveinently left out verses 10-17 where Jesus explains why He speaks to these people in parables. This is a classic example of what Marla was speaking of, "Preaching to show thyself popular." He did not want to be true to GOD's Word in verse 11, for it would have angered most in attendance. I recently was listening to another message form John MacArthur, where he said verse 11 is a judgement from Jesus on the stiff necked people of Israel. The self proclaimed, so-called preachers in my area are continually speaking of a jesus they have created, that does not confront sin and demand obedience. This is idolatry at it's best. I am so thankful for John MacArthur and his life long dedication to the truth of God's Word. We desperately need men like this in the desert that my family and I reside in, but I fear the judgement is already at hand.

#21  Posted by Lily Lapaz  |  Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Woe to you scribes and pharisees...

It’s easy to point the finger scornfully at others and not see the beam protruding from one’s own eye.

“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” (Matthew 23:8) “Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,” (Mark 12:38) “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13-29) These are the words of the LORD. And also, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

There is only one King, Lawgiver, and Judge. One Master and Teacher. It is the servants place to pass out the bread, the word of GOD, at the given time but the people are marrying themselves to the servant instead of the Master. They take the mark of the beast (which is the servant’s mark or name) instead of the Spirit which is The LORD GOD. “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” These are the words of the LORD in the Psalms

So why then do these who make themselves the servants and feet to the body boldly present themselves as the Head? They take His name but “make their own clothes and bread” to pass out. In one breath they proclaim the steadfast clarity of the Word of God then in another breath tell the people they are too poor and stupid, unlearned and unskilled, to rightly understand it. They make the Little Ones to believe that only they (the servants) are qualified to interpret therefore making themselves greater than their Master. They make a name for themselves at the expense of Jesus Christ and merchandise His people. They drink from the Cup of Grace unworthily then upend it for a covenant of death. What they have done to His people they do to Him. These are the “seven spirits more evil than the first”. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees…times seven. If their bellies weren't so swollen and their thighs so corrupted, the people would be able to see the miry clay that the feet are made of.

#22  Posted by Charles Shanks  |  Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 2:12 PM


Mat 16:24


Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples,.... Knowing that they had all imbibed the same notion of a temporal kingdom, and were in expectation of worldly riches, honour, and pleasure; he took this opportunity of preaching the doctrine of the cross to them, and of letting them know, that they must prepare for persecutions, sufferings, and death; which they must expect to endure, as well as he, if they would be his disciples: if any man will come after me: that is, be a disciple and follower of him, it being usual for the master to go before, and the disciple to follow after him: now let it be who it will, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, young or old, male or female, that have any inclination and desire, or have took up a resolution in the strength of grace, to be a disciple of Christ, let him deny himself: let him deny sinful self, ungodliness, and worldly lusts; and part with them, and his former sinful companions, which were as a part of himself: let him deny righteous self, and renounce all his own works of righteousness, in the business of justification and salvation; let him deny himself the pleasures and profits of this world, when in competition with Christ; let him drop and banish all his notions and expectations of an earthly kingdom, and worldly grandeur, and think of nothing but reproach, persecution, and death, for the sake of his Lord and Master: and take up his cross; cheerfully receive, and patiently bear, every affliction and evil, however shameful and painful it may be, which is appointed for him, and he is called unto; which is his peculiar cross, as every Christian has his own; to which he should quietly submit, and carry, with an entire resignation to the will of God, in imitation of his Lord: and follow me; in the exercise of grace, as humility, zeal, patience, and self-denial; and in the discharge of every duty, moral, or evangelical; and through sufferings and death, to his kingdom and glory. The allusion is, to Christ's bearing his own cross, and Simeon's carrying it after him, which afterwards came to pass.

#23  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 2:52 PM

I like what Charlie #1 stated: "Personal laziness and infatuation with the culture stands in the way of skilled exposition and accurate hermeneutics. Today's evangelicals seem to be more concerned with being accepted than being salt and light in the world."

The example that comes to my mind happened not long ago. We are new to this church (since Sep'09 only) and the youth pastor (a very young guy) was putting together a seminar for parents of teens. I was very interested and got my husband to agree to go. As I was sitting there, he started talking about this "Christian" psycologist and how great her seminar was. It was then when I realized it was no Bible-based seminar, but this secular audio-lessons on how to understand your teen. I was really upset with the entire thing. First break came and I put my hand up, I had a question. He smiles at me and gave me the go ahead and I asked "I want to know where is Christ?" He goes "Pardon me?" I repeated the question and added that no psycologist, Christian or not, will have anything to tell me or any other Christian on how to be a parent, or how to understand my child. Only God through His Word, would be able.

I stood up and left.

Later on I came back to talk to him. He asked me if I thought he was teaching heresy. I didn't reply. I told him that psycology has no place in the church. He said that seminar was for parents in the community, not necessarily Christians. I asked if he was using that as a bait, and I confess that I kinda smile while I said it.

His lack of understanding of the Word came out right there: "We are told to feed the sheep, and to renew our minds."

After a few more remarks from me, he was getting really upset and told me to go home and read Matthew 18. ?????

I have no respect for leaders who throw a verse on your face. I used to see a lot of that (and I mean a LOT) while I was attending pentecostal/charismatic churches years and years ago.

#24  Posted by Paul Young  |  Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Lily, in regard to comment #21, please forgive my slowness of mind, but what exactly is the point you were trying to make?

#25  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#26  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 6:12 AM


O.K. Uncle. I give up. I'm with Paul on this one. Unless this is an example of bad hermeneutics.

#28  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 8:03 AM


Atleast he didn't ask for crayons. Laughable if it were not so sad.

#29  Posted by Sherman Harris  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Sherman Harris

John, thank you very much for your consistent and accurate teaching in God's Word. I pray God that others will take up the banner and teach wholesome, sound doctrine..we need more decisive and accurate men to labor in the word to teach others also.I.m not just a calvinist that teach the 5pts but all the doctrinally truths of the Reformed teachings..Thank God for good hermeneutics

#30  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 2:26 PM

The way back is to fear God. What stands in the way? The fear of man is a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”

The way back is to …honor His word. What stands in the way? “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit (before God, but bold before His enemies), and who trembles at My word. (Notice the progression of the marks of regeneration from the first of the beatitudes to the last.) What stands in the way? They fear man and they fear being rejected. “Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word: your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name sake, have said “let the Lord be glorified that we may see your joy.” But they will be put to shame.”

The way back is to…work hard to understand and teach it accurately. What stands in the way? “For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace.”(George Whitefield preached a glorious sermon from this text in Jeremiah. The name of that sermon is “Method of Grace”) “And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content…But you…pursue… (same word in the Greek as persecute, i.e. it is a very strong verb).

In conclusion, many of us need to spend more time before the Throne of Grace that we might petition our Merciful and Faithful High Priest for mercy and more enabling grace. For most, I fear, their condition is much more serious. Like those in the days of Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, “So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord God. “It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying “Peace!” when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash:” or in the days of Whitefield, there are many who fill the pulpits in our land who have never heeded our Master’s warning “You must be born again!”

#31  Posted by Douglas Mollett  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 3:19 PM

I have a quick comment about bad hermenuetics, I was once approached by Mormon missionaries who was trying to convince me that the book of mormon was true, and when i asked for proof, among the standard comment that they give to ask the Holy Spirit if these things are true, they gave me some vague reference to a scripture in the Old Testament concerning a branch(the scripture reference escapes my memory). This branch is supposed to be symbolic of the book of mormon. Amazing isnt it?

#32  Posted by Carl Frederick  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 4:13 PM

I have a friend that thinks that carefully writting out his sermons henders him from opperatinf in the "overflow" of the holy spirit. He actualy believes that well crafted out lines and systematic theology based seromns limit the spirits abiblity to minister to people.

#33  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Monday, February 1, 2010 at 7:03 PM

An example of bad hermeneutics: A guest preacher preaching from Matt. 13:24-30, the parable of the wheat and tares. His message: We are to bring sinners (the tares) into the church (the field) but we are not allowed to judge them (only angels can do that), though it is ok to tell them they need to repent. His definition of repenting is to tell God that you are sorry.

My response, endeavoring to be innocent of the man’s blood, in a private phone call I declared to the man that he had butchered the text and that in verses 37-43 Christ interpreted that parable to His disciples. The field is the world not the church. I demonstrated to the man how he had actually contradicted the first commandment that Christ had given the church, namely, Matt. 18:15-20, church discipline. The man reported me to the pastor. I was rebuked for not being gentle, i.e. IITim.2:24-26. The man was invited back to speak.

Is this another example of bad hermeneutics? IITim.2:25 the word opposition; there are seven different words in the Greek which are rendered oppose or opposition or some form thereof. Those seven different Greek words were used a total of forty-four times in the New Testament. That specific Greek word used in this text was used only once in the entire New Testament. We also see the example of how our Master responded to those who were in opposition. Christ said follow Me and I shall make you fishers of men. We see the examples of how Paul dealt with those who were in opposition. Paul said follow me even as I follow Christ. We cannot use one scripture using a word which was used once in the entire New Testament and build an entire Biblical philosophy of ministry which does violence to the examples of those we are to follow as well as to so many other scriptures whose meanings are so clear. This would be a sure formula for apostasy. Nevertheless that scripture is there and we must reconcile it with the rest of the scriptures. More study, more time before His throne of Grace.

#34  Posted by Kurt Michaelson  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 7:21 AM

Almost 4 years ago, my eyes were opened to the shallow effect of preaching felt-need sermons, from a pastor that had adopted Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Church as a way to grow the church. The sermons had become so light and focused on practical living rather than doctrinal instruction. Sadly, the preaching there has remained unchanged.

My eyes began to see the horrendous misuse of Scripture by those on television I had often seen and since then, they have not changed. Hearing such misinterpretations of Scripture however has caused me to open the text and discover the correct understanding of what was misused and to provide a correct interpretation to those that have misunderstood it as well.

Since then I have come to greatly appreciate Pastor John MacArthur's expository preaching that has helped me to greatly understand the context of Scripture, more than it was ever taught to me as a new Christian. Now I desire to learn, teach and preach expositionally too, so that those who hear will not misunderstand what the text says and apply it appropriately in the lives.

#35  Posted by Freddy Gallardo  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 8:48 AM

what is standing in the way? again i think it's convenience. Tele-evangelist, books author, preachers that tech false doctrines & errors are too confortable selling their stuff, being famous, & making a living from the crowd of people following. They think God support their teachings because they have the "back up" from the people spending money & time. And if we want to be honest, many "christian" congregations have become mega churches even the heresies. So it's not easy for them to just give up the super faith / prosperity gospel that they think is been "succesful". Many of them know hermeneutics & still continue to teach false doctrines, but just don't care. Why? because they want to preach & teach whatever the people are accepting & want to hear. What is standing in the way? MONEY & FAME. In Fact, many of the recent generation false teachers just follow this heresy because they assume it works. MONEY & FAME. "For the love of money is the rootof all evil. Which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith..." 1 TIM 6:10

#36  Posted by Erik Hoffman  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Lily. In regards to post #21, John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

It appears that you are trying to make this passage say that we are not to be taught by men. If this is what your rather cryptic post was saying, then you have severely misrepresented the context. The people to whom Jesus was speaking were the very same people who penned the words we now hold so dear. He was telling them that they needn’t fear that they would be without a teacher or forget the things He taught them. They knew the awesome responsibility that faced them, to accurately preserve the words of the Lord for others to learn. This was, however, not only a promise to them, but a promise to us a well, that the words that they wrote would be accurate and God breathed. It is because of this marvelous promise that Christ made that we can be assured that the Bible that we hold in our hands today is the very Word of God.

This passage was never meant to infer that all believers for all time will no longer need teachers. Your post is a perfect example of what Pastor MacArthur is talking about in this very blog.

#37  Posted by Alvie Perkins  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 8:13 PM

Mr. Shank, So ture about sound biblical teaching, it to brings me to tears. Most of the light weight and shallow preaching is a sad fact. Most of these light weights do hold their Bible but never open it. I guess it is for balance LOL

#38  Posted by Charles Shanks  |  Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Pastor MacArthur,I lisened to your audio this morning, in full. I thank God for you! so much! there are so few Pastors (5th generation!!!!) that preach the word of God as their main and highest service to Jesus. I have been attending a small reformed church ,and I was relisening to a c-d message from a sermon,on a "very difficult passage" in the pastors words, mark 9-49&50 on Salt" He told us " this is a tough one for me I am not going to give you a new or novel meaning,and you would not want me to,better men then me have studied this passage for over 2,000 yrs."And he read several of their commentarys, before preaching the message in his own carefully weighted and I think very accurate words.My wife and I drive 40miles to go to that pastors church.The saints there are christians that I am comfortable with and have confidence in.

I have heard many great messages and enjoyed communion,prayer, counseling, already. My wife made a point to thank the pastor the first sunday she was in the church by going to the front after the message for a time to speak with the pastor a rare thing indeed for my shy wife.

We are praying and looking into moving to that area to be close to the Church there and all that offers, oppurtunitys to grow and serve..Please pray for us as we are older and on fixed income and it will not be easy.I do not want to move unless God goes before and with us. But where we live presently (the small town) has many chuches and denominations, and I have attended one 3 years and visited most of the others that I can with out going into heresy or dispair.but I so often go away in turmoil, or let down at them. I cannot and do not want to start a home church as I am not qualified by the Bible to lead it (pastoral epistles) as in my mind it is a Church.

Thanks again I have you study Bible (excellent to me) and a lot of your C-Ds, also I can read and lisen to you on internet and

DirectTV channel 378 on sunday night Thanks and God Multiply your ministry.

#39  Posted by Sean Frey  |  Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Comment deleted by administrator.
#40  Posted by Steve Orozco  |  Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:21 PM

Well Sean it looks like the administrator didn't agree with you. So I'm guessing God's Sovereignty & Man's Responsibility cannot co-exist according to GTY. Both are spoken of in Scripture, but some people just can't reconcile them.

God Bless You.


#41  Posted by Erik Hoffman  |  Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Steve. We can reconcile them in perfect harmony. However, Sean's post was meant to stir up a hornet's nest, and many of us here could have taken his post apart piece by piece and spent a week straight showing him, from scripture, where he was dead wrong. It was way off topic, and would have derailed this blog into oblivion. That's why I, for one, chose to ignore his comments. Now you are instigating controversy, and we're not going to take the bait. This is not the time nor the place to have a debate on the finer points regarding the doctrine of election, and both you and Sean know it. Believe me when I say that, regarding this subject at least, Sean is sorely misguided.

#42  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 10:26 PM


You hit the nail on the head. Thanks for stepping in.


We'll get there, my friend...all in good time. (I sent Sean a very nice email, explaining why I removed his post.)

#43  Posted by Steve Orozco  |  Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:29 AM

Lol! Erik, I'm not trying to instigate anything. Just trying to point out my position that both the Sovereignty of God and Man's Responsibility are scriptural. Unfortunately, the Doctrine of Election divides the body of Christ and that's why we have the Calvinists & Arminians at each others throats. :)

God Bless You,


#44  Posted by Kurt Mussler  |  Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:48 AM

If you're looking for examples of bad hermeneutics, I got one (of many) from a Bible study I was asked to examine a number of years ago. In Genesis 22:17,, God tells Abraham, "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore". Well this study had interpreted the passage to say that God was giving to Abraham two kingdoms, an earthly kiingdom (the sand) and a heavenly kingdom (the stars) which to rule. A huge study (300 pages of text and 23 hours of video) was built around this interpretation. In the same study, the author took the Greek word "aion" (Strong's NT165) and translated it "age" only rather than "eternity", how it is commonly used. This made all of the NT talk about eternity beccome finite, 'end of the age', with a specific end point rather than infinite. Very warped, very scary.


#45  Posted by Patrick Nolen  |  Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:01 AM

Marla they do stand out like an oasis in the desert!

#46  Posted by Patrick Nolen  |  Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:04 AM

@ John Splawn - John has great commentaries as well! Be blessed.

#47  Posted by Skyler Browne  |  Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 7:39 AM

The worst case of bad hermeneutics I can remember is when someone said that "son of" actually doesn't mean anything in the Bible when it is used for Jesus only. That is, the term "son of God" means "God" when it is used for Jesus but not for Christians, angels, Israel, etc. When Jesus used "sons of the devil, your father" was he saying that the Pharisees weren't actually human but angelic? And the word "today" means "forever" and "I have given birth to you" means "I haven't". Still wondering why the amazing change from good hermeneutics to bad. Skyler

#48  Posted by Stan Mcguire  |  Monday, February 8, 2010 at 7:45 AM

Ok, yesterday waa a perfect example of bad hermeneutics. Passage: Luke 8:26-39. This is the passage where Jesus casts out the legion of demons from a man into a herd of pigs. The topic was: Demons & Pigs-The Economics of Sex in American Society. ?? OK, I'll bite. How's he gonna apply this? Well he reads the entire passage and follows it up with several statistics about pornography. He says we should not "limit ourselves" to only the original interpretation (as clearly laid out in the passage). Then he tried to tie it all in that we are demon possessed, and for good measure, he ended the "sermon" with Mark 16:15-18. He highlighted one phrase, "In my name they will drive out demons".

It was all very disturbing, because he had a very important topic (pornography), and a wonderful opportunity to present the scriptures in a clear concise manner...and totally dropped the ball :(

#49  Posted by Raymond Sia  |  Monday, February 8, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Jer 50:14

Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.

I heard one pastor who preached with this text using the phrase "spare no arrows" as title and preached about the attitude in serving the Lord where he meant that we give our all in serving the Lord . His points is something like spare no arrows in serving, in singing, in giving and so on. I was really uncomfortable how he used the phrase out of context to drive his message. His message is not wrong but how he used scripture makes me very distracted during the sermon. Before I enjoy this kind of message and amaze how some pastors came out with such a message from a verse where I think only he has interpreted it like that until I have read some books like John MacArthur's pastor's library "How to preach Biblically" which deals with expository preaching.

It sad to say that many pastors are preaching like this here in my country.