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How Do They Do That?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

You watch as the magician waves his hands and mutters mysterious words. Suddenly, the handkerchief he was holding becomes a dove. You know it is a trick, but you wonder how he did it.

You read yet another account of a con man taking the money of several people. The lies he told seem so obvious in the article that you wonder about the mental capabilities of the people he conned. How did he manage to make a bold-faced lie so appealing?

Millions of people attend services at churches whose practices do not even remotely resemble the teachings found in the Bible. They are pleased to hear a minister say that God is happy with just the way they are. They are thrilled to learn that God didn't really mean what He said when He condemns certain practices. It isn't that God's Word isn't clear on the matter, but you can't help wondering how these ministers of false doctrine manage to get people to ignore the truth.

To illustrate how religious error is propagated, I picked an article which illustrates several methods of deception. The article is titled "Is John 3:16 Old or New Testament Doctrine?" and was written by Dan Billingsly.

The premise

The article, as most articles do, starts with a series of assertions which the author will attempt to prove. The very first statement is

"John 3:16, like all other passages in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - before the cross - was Old Testament teaching of the law of Moses for only the nation of Israel."

This then forms the premise which needs to be proven. The author gives no verses as of yet to back up this bold claim, but he will supply them throughout the article. It is important to note that just because the author has made this assertion, it does not cause the assertion to be the truth. The author has the burden to prove his point to the reader.

Only prove part of your point, the reader will assume the rest is true.

"John 3:16 was the old covenant teaching of Jesus the Messiah, the last Old Testament 'prophet' that God sent to Israel (Deut. 18:15-18; Lk. 13:33; 24:19; Acts 3:12-26)."

Here the author cites several passages to back up his assertion. However, citation alone does not prove a point. Let's examine each passage to see what it says.

Deuteronomy 18:15-18 is a prophecy by Moses that promises the coming of a future prophet. The prophet will be like Moses, he will come from the Israelite nation, and the prophet will only teach the words of God. Now compare this to the author's statement. This passage does not teach that the prophet would teach old covenant doctrine. This passage does not say the prophet would be an Old Testament prophet. While it says the prophet would come from Israel, it does not say God would send the prophet to Israel. Very little of the original statement was proven.

Some may object, pointing out that the prophet would be like Moses and Moses did teach the Israelites the laws of God that we call the old covenant. The point is true, but it is assuming that when Moses said "like," that the teachings of the prophet would be restricted to the Old Law. The prophet could be like Moses in other ways. Moses was a prophet, a leader of Israel, the deliverer of Israel from bondage, the giver of a new law (at that time), and a mediator between God and His people. The prophet could have one or more of these attributes of Moses and be like Moses. One person can be like another person without doing and teaching exactly the same things.

The next verse is Luke 13:33 where Jesus calls himself a prophet. In Luke 24:19, the disciples call Jesus a prophet.

The last passage is Acts 3:12-26 where Peter is delivering a sermon to the Jewish people. In verses 22-26, Peter states that Jesus was the prophet whom Moses referred to in Deuteronomy. However, notice again that Peter did not say Jesus taught the old covenant and he did not say Jesus was an Old Testament prophet. Peter did say that Jesus was the seed of Abraham through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. He also pointed out that God sent this blessing to the Jews first.

Going back over the verses, we find the author has proved that Jesus was a prophet whose's teaching blesses all the families of the earth, starting with the Jews. Unfortunately, this is not what the author asserted. He only proved a small portion of his claim. The statement, as a whole, remains unproven.

This is a common tacit among false teachers. Prove part of your statement and your readers will assume the remainder is also true. How can we avoid this trap? Break any assertion down into small individual points. List those points down the left-hand edge of a paper. Across the top, list the verses given to prove these points. As you read each verse, place a mark under the verse besides each point proven by the verse. When you are done, every point should have at least one check mark besides it. If there are lines with no marks, then the author has not fully proven his point.

Combine two truths into a falsehood.

"At the time of John 3:16, as described in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - before the cross, while under the authority and force of the law of Moses, Jesus came to 'seek and save' only 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matt. 1:21; 2:6; 15:24; Lk. 19:10) . . . Jesus did not come to [sic] only to Old Testament Israel to 'seek and save' alien Gentiles. The Gentiles did not enter into new covenant relationship with God until Acts 10."

Notice the use of the word "only" twice in this assertion. To prove an exclusive relationship, the author must either show a verse where the Bible states the exclusiveness or show that the exclusion was never broken. The former is easy if a verse exists, but the latter is very difficult to prove unless we examine all passages related to the point.

The author once again references verses to lend credence to his point, so let us examine each one as we did before.

Matthew 1:21 is a prophecy to Joseph by an angel of God that Jesus would save his people from their sins. This proves that Jesus came to save Israelites, but it does not prove that God excluded Gentiles from Jesus' mission on earth.

Matthew 2:6 is a quote of a prophecy by Micah that Jesus would shepherd the people of Israel. Again, it does not suggest in this verse that his shepherding was exclusively to Israel.

In Matthew 15:24 the author makes progress toward proving his point. Jesus is talking to a Canaanite woman (verse 22) about freeing her daughter from a demon. In verse 24, Jesus declines to fulfill her request because he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. If the story ended here, then perhaps the author has a point, but if we continue to read we find that Jesus grants the woman's request in verse 28. If Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel and was to have nothing to do with Gentiles, then it appears that Jesus violated what he just stated to the woman. If he did not contradict himself, then there is more to Jesus' statement in verse 24 than it first appears. Being sent only to the lost sheep of Israel did not preclude the healing of a Gentile woman's daughter.

This is not the only time Jesus interacted with Gentiles. In Luke 7:2-10, a centurion approached Jesus requesting healing for his slave. The centurion, most likely Roman, declined Jesus' offer to come to his home, stating that a word from Jesus would be enough to heal his servant. Jesus proclaimed to all that this Gentile's faith was greater than any Israelite.

It seems that the author is assuming that since Jesus was only sent to Israel, then Jesus's mission was limited to the saving of Israel. However, there are many passages in the Bible which contradicts this conclusion. In Isaiah 42:1 there is a prophecy that Jesus would bring justice to the nations, not to the single nation of Israel. In the same chapter, Isaiah 42:6-7, we learn that the Messiah would be a covenant for the people and a light to the Gentiles. However, the best verse is Isaiah 49:6. God declares that the saving of only Israel was too small of a mission for His Son. Jesus would be a light to the nations and bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

The author quoted several prophecies made near the birth of Jesus, but I noticed he skipped the one made by Simeon which Luke records in Luke 2:28-32. As the earlier prophecies of Isaiah stated, Simeon declared that Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles. We must conclude that while Jesus was sent only to Israel, his mission was to save all nations.

Jesus had Gentile followers while he was on earth (John 12:20-21). While he stayed within the borders of Israel during his ministry, he did teach Gentiles at times. A fact often overlooked is that within the borders of Israel, communities existed which were almost exclusively composed of Gentile people. One of these cities was Decapolis. Just outside the town, Jesus freed a man possessed by demons. The man wanted to follow Jesus, but instead Jesus tells him to go and preach what he has learned to his people (Mark 5:19-20). Look closely at what Jesus said. He did not say "our people," but "your people." This man went among the Gentiles of Decapolis preaching the good news of Jesus. Yes, Jesus limited the twelve disciples once to preach only to Israel, but not all preaching was limited to Jews.

We have one more verse to examine. In Luke 19:10, Jesus' mission was to seek and save the lost. However, the passage does not mention the scope of whom Jesus was seeking to save. In another verse, John 10:14-16, Jesus stated he had more sheep than just the house of Israel. It is a very poor assumption to state that Jesus was only looking to save Israelites while he was here on earth.

The problem is the author has pulled verses out of the context of the Bible to support his position. The verses by themselves seem to support his assertion, but the assertion contradicts other verses in the Bible. Yet there is a deeper error here. Look at Matthew 15:24 again. Does this verse say that Jesus came only to seek and save the lost sheep of the house of Israel? No, it only says that Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The "seek and save" portion comes from Luke 19:10. What is being discussed in Matthew 15:24? It is whether a miracle can be done for a Canaanite woman's daughter. What is being discussed in Luke 19:10? It is the mission of Jesus to save the lost. Portions of two different verses, discussing different topics, were combined to produce a statement which neither verse states nor supports.

When you are analyzing the position of someone, it is not enough to look to see if they fully backed up their position with Scripture. You need to look to see if Scripture supports the combined thought. As you read each passage, jot down who was talking in the verse, who was being addressed by the speaker, and most important what was the topic being discussed. Often to get this information, you will need to look at the verses before and after the ones cited in an article. If the author combines two different ideas from two different verses and those verses are discussing different topics, the author is attempting to pull a fast one by you. You cannot combine two truths on different topics to produce a new, independent truth.

Imply exclusion.

"In the Old Testament age of John 3:16, God 'loved' his old covenant people in Israel. God's old covenant 'love' for Israel, during the Mosaical age, excluded all Gentile nations of the alien 'world' from this old covenant 'love' for only Israel (Eph. 2:11-12) . . . [the author then quotes Deut. 7:7-9] . . . The Old Testament 'love' of John 3:16 was confined only to the 'world' of Old Testament Israel, it did not extend to 'all nations' of the pagan, heathen, Gentile 'world.'"

Notice the use of exclusive language. God loved the nation of Israel. Therefore, He did not love the Gentile nations. However, to prove exclusion, the author must show verses which state that God's love was only for the Israelites or the entire context of the Bible needs to be searched to show that God never showed love to the Gentiles.

As we have previously done, let us first examine the verses the author gives as his proof.

In Ephesians 2:11-12, Paul states that the Gentiles were excluded from the covenant, having no hope, being without God in this world. Deuteronomy 7:7-9 states that God loved Israel and showed His love by freeing them from slavery and giving them a covenant.

Neither passage states that God did not love the Gentiles while the old covenant was in effect. True, Ephesians 2:11-12 does say that the Gentiles did not have a covenant with God and that they were without God. However, this passage does not state why they were without God. The author wants you to assume it is because God did not love the Gentiles, but God has not stated the "why" in this passage. Ask yourself this very important question, "Did God leave the Gentiles or did the Gentiles leave God?" Paul said the Gentiles left God. In Romans 1:21-23, he said they left the knowledge of God. Later he went on to explain that while the Gentiles were without a written law, it did not mean they were without any law (Romans 2:13-15).

Did God only show love to the nation of Israel during the Mosaical Law? In the book of Jonah, the Lord sent Jonah to the Assyrian nation, the great enemy of Israel, to bring them to repentance. When they did repent, God spared the city of Nineveh. Does this sound like a God who did not care? The Jews nearly stoned Jesus when he pointed out that God showed love to the Gentiles (Luke 4:24-27).

The author claimed God's love was exclusive to the nation of Israel and tries to support this notion by quoting only a few verses. However, the exclusion is not stated in these verses. This method of argumentation is no different from those who read the verses about faith saving us and then declaring faith alone saves us.

Watch out when the word "only" comes up in an argument. When a person argues with exclusive terms, he is taking on a greater burden of proof, but too often such a person will gloss over proving the exclusion. He is counting on you to assume the exclusion exists.

Play round robin with the facts and define words with unrelated passages.

"The word 'world' in John 3:16 refers to the 'world' of Old Testament Israel, not to the alien 'world' of the Gentiles nations, because every other word in John 3:16 speaks only to Jews under the Old Testament law of Moses. While the word 'world' sometimes refers to the whole 'world' or inhabitants on the planet earth, the word is also used to describe only the 'world' of Old Testament Israel. This is the way the word 'world' is used in John 3:16."

The author goes on to cite John 12:19 and Matthew 18:7 as proof of this idea.

Before looking at the verses, notice the circular reasoning the author is presenting. He claims that the word "world" in John 3:16 has to refer to Israel because John 3:16 is addressed to Israelites. However, the author's purpose in writing the article was to prove that John 3:16 was addressed only to the Israelites. You cannot use your premise to prove a point to support your premise.

This is the type of reasoning evolutionists use in their dating methods. The age of fossils is established by the strata of rock the fossils were found within. However, most rock cannot be dated by any direct measurement, so they give approximate dates for various strata based on the type of fossils found within them.

Although the author has poorly formed his argument, let us again examine the author's supporting verses.

In John 12:19 we find a statement by the Pharisees complaining that the world is following Jesus. There is nothing in this statement which suggests they were only talking about the nation of Israel. In fact, if you read the next two verses, we see that Jesus had Gentile as well as Jewish followers. The statement of the Pharisees makes perfect sense if they were referring to the entire known world and not just the nation of Israel.

Similarly there is nothing in Matthew 18:7 that suggests the word "world" is limited to only the nation of Israel. If you examine the context, you will find that the coming kingdom of heaven is under discussion (see verse 3). Establishing that the kingdom of heaven is another term for the church is easy and we know the church drew its members from all nations. It makes more sense that the word "world" in Matthew 18:7 refers to the entire world than just the nation of Israel.

The word "world" is used 77 times in the NASB version of the gospels. I examined each usage and found only two verses where a person could possibly contend that "world" only referred to the nation of Israel.

The first verse is Luke 21:26 where Jesus was discussing the destruction of Jerusalem. He talks about "the expectation of things which are coming upon the world." While Jesus could be referring only to Israel, the verse still makes sense if you read it with the word "world" referring to the entire world. Concluding that Jesus was only referring to Israel is not necessary.

The second verse is John 18:20. Here, Jesus said he spoke openly in the world - referring to his teachings in Israel. Again, one could argue that Jesus only taught in Israel, but you could also state that he taught in the physical world. You can read the verse in either manner and still be sensible. Concluding that Jesus was only referring to Israel is not necessary.

I went through all 77 uses of the word "world." I found verses where I knew the author was referring to the physical world. I found verses where I knew the author was referring to all the nations in the world. And I found verses where the author was referring to the lost people within the world. However, I did not find one verse which showed an obvious limited application of the word "world" to only the nation of Israel, though I found many verses where the word is obviously applied to things greater than the nation of Israel.

Even if a verse could be found that proved the word "world" was used in some instance to refer only to the nation of Israel, how does this prove that the word "world" in John 3:16 is limited to the nation of Israel?

Be careful to notice when an argument does not proceed in an orderly fashion, but attempts to prove itself by its own assumptions. Circular reasoning is never proof of a statement.

Also, be on your guard when someone offers a reference to prove the meaning of a word. The use of a word in one manner in one verse is not proof that the word is used in the same manner in every verse. Often a word holds a consistent meaning throughout the Bible. In such cases, a reference can support the definition of a word found in a dictionary. However, this is not always so. Even the author admitted there were multiple meanings for the word in questioned. His assertion that one of those many possible meanings is the only right definition in this verse does not make it true.

Present reasonable assumptions as proof.

"Notice that the word 'gave' is in the past tense. It refers to something that had already occurred before the time of John 3:16. It did not refer to something that would happen at some time in the future, such as Christ giving himself on the cross. The word 'gave' in John 3:16 refers to the fleshly birth of Jesus in Israel and God's giving Jesus as the Messiah to Old Testament Israel. The biblical fact is, at Christ's birth, God 'gave' him to be the Redeemer and Savior of Old Testament Israel. . . . Christ was not the Savior of the world at the time of John 3:16. He did not become the Savior of the world of alien sinners until after the 'end' of the Old Testament age, his resurrection, his ascension into heaven, and the beginning of the New Testament age in Acts 2."

It is very reasonable to assume that a word in the past tense refers to a past event. However, there are many cases where the Bible uses the past tense to refer to a future event. For example, in Isaiah 53:4-5 there is a reference to the death of Christ. Isaiah was written more than 700 years prior to Jesus' death, yet the prophet used the past tense.

The use of the past tense for a future event is often done to show the certainty of an event. It is a foregone conclusion that an event will happen. It is so certain that you might as well consider it a done deal. It is similar to Jesus' statement concerning prayer in Mark 11:24. We are to pray as if what we are requesting has already been granted. We are so certain that it will happen that we can use the past tense to refer to it.

However, let us also look at the author's assertion from another angle: When did God give Jesus to the world? Was he given at his death? Was he given at his birth as the author contends? Or did the gift come at another time? Peter said that God gave Jesus as the Savior of the world before the world was created (I Peter 1:18-21). When Jesus spoke the words found in John 3:16, the gift of God had not been delivered, yet God already gave the gift because God planned it before the world's foundations.

As you read the author's statements, notice that the author is stating Christ saved Israel first and then He saved the Gentiles shortly thereafter. We should look in our Bibles to see when in time Jesus saved Israel. In Hebrews 9:22, we learn that sins cannot be forgiven until blood has been shed. In Hebrews 10:4, we learn that shedding animal blood, as done under the Old Law, was not sufficient to bring about forgiveness. Instead it required the death of God's son. In Hebrews 9:15 we read that redemption came with the death of Jesus for those who lived their lives under the Old Law.

Take careful note of this. When Jesus spoke in John 3:16, salvation had not yet come to the Israelites, nor to anyone else. Salvation only came when Jesus died. Again, a past tense verb is being used for a future event.

However, that one death by Jesus was not just for the Jews. In Hebrews 2:9 we learn that when Jesus died, he died for everyone - Jews and Gentiles alike. When Jesus died, he became the savior of the whole world (Romans 5:6-10, 18).

Be very careful when assumptions are presented without proof. Even reasonable sounding assertions can be found false when we examine them in detail. Christianity is not based on the philosophy and reasoning of men, but on the statements of God (Colossians 2:8).

Play the shell game with the meaning of words.

"Christ's use of the word 'whosoever,' like that of God and Moses, referred only to the Jews of Israel - 'whosoever' in Old Testament Israel."

The author then refers to Leviticus 20:2, Exodus 31:15, and Leviticus 19:20-21 as proof that "whosoever" refers to the Jewish nation.

Don't you just love it?! I have a hard time not laughing each time I read this statement. Here we take the English translation of a Greek word, find a verse where a Hebrew word is translated to the same English word, and then assert they all have the same limited meaning!

Even if every use of the Hebrew word translated as "whosoever" was limited to the Jewish people, it does not imply that the Greek word carried the same restriction. Nevertheless, the Hebrew does not restrict the meaning of the word translated as "whosoever" to just the Jews. Similarly, the English word "whosoever" is not limited to just the Jewish nation. Nor is the Greek word translated as "whosoever" limited in every use to the Jewish nation. Even if you can find a passage where the Greek word is limited in scope to the nation of Israel, it does not prove that the word's usage in John 3:16 carries the same restriction.

Watch out for slight-of-hand tricks where substitutions are made without justifiable reason. Magicians do this for entertainment. False teachers do it to deceive the masses.

Limit what the people see.

"The Old Testament plan of salvation for Israel during the time of MMLJ - before the cross, as Christ himself taught, was for the Jews to 'believe' in him as the Messiah and to keep the law of Moses. Christ makes this clear in Matthew 19, by his commandment to the Jewish man who had asked what he had to do to have eternal life under the Messiah's teaching of the law of Moses. . . . [Matthew 19:16-20 is then quoted] . . . John 3:16 contains the Old Testament plan of salvation for only Israel, it did not contain the New Testament plan of salvation."

There is some truth to the author's statements. The Old Law did require the Jews to look for the Messiah, believe in Him, and believe in His message. We have already seen this in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19. However, do not make the assumption that belief in the Messiah and His teachings was exclusively an Old Testament doctrine. The New Law also requires a belief in the Messiah (or Christ) as can be found in Acts 16:31.

Not found in the Bible is the assertion that there is a difference between the belief in Jesus as taught in the Old Testament and a belief in Jesus as taught in the New Testament. I can pull two quarters from my pocket. They do not look exactly the same - they have different dates stamped on them. Are they truly different? They have the same name - they are both called "quarters." They have the same value - 25 cents - although one is older than the other. For all practical purposes they are equivalent even though they are not the same coins.

As we have shown earlier, salvation did not come to the Jews solely because of belief. Their salvation was dependent on the death of Jesus upon the cross. Yet, we can say the same thing of the Gentiles. The Gentiles had to believe on Jesus to be saved, but they could not be saved without the death of Jesus. How is the faith of the Gentiles different from the faith of the Jews?

Notice too that there is an assertion that Jesus only taught the Jews to follow the Old Testament and to believe on him. If you read Matthew 19 carefully, you will find that Jesus never tells the rich young ruler to believe on him. The verse quoted does not support the author's statement. Secondly, it does appear that Jesus taught the young man to only follow the law of Moses. The verses quoted appear to support the statement - until you continue reading into the next verse. Can anyone find a commandment in Moses' law which states that a Jew must sell all that he has and give it to the poor? Such a commandment does not exist in the Old Testament!

Some may argue that as a prophet, Jesus could reveal a new requirement. If Jesus could reveal one new requirement, could He not also reveal two new requirements? If he can reveal two new requirements, then Jesus could, as a prophet, reveal a whole new law. This is the very thing that this author is trying to disprove.

When an author is quoting verses, make sure you read the verses before and after the quotation. False impression can easily be given when only part of a passage is given. A good teacher will try to keep passages within their context, but a deceiver will only show the parts that seem to give his view a favorable light.

David Copperfield, before an audience on the New York Harbor, once made the Statue of Liberty disappear. What he did was to place curtains on his stage to restrict the audience's view. He then planted the suggestion of what he wanted them to believe - that the Statue of Liberty would disappear. After much drama and hocus-pocus, the curtains were opened briefly to reveal an empty harbor. While the curtains were closed, the stage and the audience seating area were rotated a very small amount - just enough so the audience could not see the statue off to the side because of the limited view.

False teachers work the same way. Their statements are just slightly off from the truth and they give the appearance of following the Scriptures by only revealing a small portion at a time. Make it a habit to read the verses before and after any passage that an author cites. Never just read the text cited in an article.

Overwhelm them with numerous passages.

"The phrase 'eternal life' is used fifteen times in MMLJ - before the cross, and every time it refers to the promise of 'eternal life' for obedient Jews who kept the Old Testament law of Moses. This phrase is not used in MMLJ - before the cross - to describe 'eternal' or 'everlasting' life by faith and obedience to the New Testament 'gospel.' The phrase 'everlasting life' is used eleven times in MMLJ - before the cross, and every time it refers to the promise of 'everlasting life' for obedient Jews who kept the Old Testament law of Moses. Here is what Jesus said about 'eternal' or 'everlasting' life to only the Jews of Old Testament Israel. You will note that Jesus never reveals the New Testament plan of salvation for 'eternal life' in any of these Old Testament passages."

The author then goes on to cite John 3:36; 5:24, 38-39; 6:47; Matthew 15:24; John 10:27-28; 5:46-47; 6:29, 68-69; 8:31-32; 12:11; 6:38; 7:16-17. It is an impressive list of passages, but I want you to note that they are not a complete list of passages which mention eternal life or everlasting life. Some of the passages cited do not mention either phrase.

The passages cited show that belief in Jesus Christ is essential for salvation. It is also true that those being addressed in these passages were Jews. However, the missing ingredient in the author's proof is that none of these verses show that this teaching was exclusively for the Jews. We only have the author's assertion that this is the case.

Let us look at one passage cited: John 10:27-28. Jesus states His sheep will follow him and have eternal life. Using the lesson we learned in the previous section, let's read the passage again, but starting with verse 25. When we start at verse 25, the meaning of verses 27-28 changes dramatically. Jesus is telling the Jews He was addressing that they were not His sheep. The true sheep of Jesus would follow Him, but the Jews were refusing to listen to Jesus. Because he quoted a small portion of Jesus' statement, the author gave the impression that the Jews were Jesus' sheep.

If we go back farther in John 10, to verses 14-16, we find that Jesus says he has other sheep (i.e., non-Jewish followers). These sheep know their shepherd and would follow him. Jesus was declaring eternal life for the sheep who listen to his voice. The Jews refused to listen, but Jesus had other sheep who would listen. Obviously, the eternal life discussed in John 10 was not limited to the Jews.

Later, in John 12:50, Jesus declares that God's commandments are eternal life. Eternal life for whom? If we look back at verses 44-46, we learn it is for everyone who believes in the Christ. Again, eternal life is clearly not limited to the Jews in Jesus' teachings before his death on the cross.

However, as we look for the passages on eternal life which the author skipped, one very plainly discusses eternal life for Jews and Gentiles. In the discussion of the final Judgment, when the sheep and the goats are separated, we learn that the righteous will have eternal life (Matthew 25:46). So who are the people being divided? In Matthew 25:32 we learn they are people from all nations. This clear passage speaks of all nations (Jews and Gentiles) receiving eternal life if they are found righteous. The passage is found in Matthew and is spoken by Jesus before his death on the cross. This is a direct contradiction of what the author asserted to be true.

Watch out when someone tries to overwhelm you with numerous passages. Don't get lazy and assume he has overwhelming evidence for his point. The false teacher is counting on the fact that most people won't look at a large number of passages thoroughly. Examine each passage. Does it address the points being asserted or is it only filler? One religious group, the Jehovah Witnesses, is notorious for filling the pages of their pamphlets with filler verses. All the references look impressive until you find out that very few have anything to do with the doctrines they are spouting.

As you look at each passage, examine the context of the passage. Is it really saying what the author claims it says?

When an author says every instance of a phrase has some particular meaning, look at every instance to see if this is so. Pay particular attention to the passages which the author did not cite. Often the passages not cited are the interesting ones.


False teachers use many methods to spread their beliefs. The ones illustrated here are just a few of those methods. I hope you have learned to read and listen carefully to what an author is saying and what an author is proving. After all, as the Bereans listened to Paul, they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). We must learn to do this as well or false teachers will toss us to and fro by every wind of doctrine that blows our way (Ephesians 4:14-15).