“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” — 2 Peter 3:16
The Scripture verse above plainly warns that those who wrest the Scriptures from their intended meaning do so to their destruction. Peter uses the same Greek word in 2 Peter 2:3 where it is translated as damnation. When Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy of the church leaders of His day in Matthew 23, He warned in verse 33, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” In John 5:29 we learn that those who do evil will suffer the damnation of hell: “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
To wrest means to twist or exert by violence, to pull or force by violent wringing or twisting. Metaphorically, it means to distort; to turn from truth, or to twist it from its natural meaning by violence; to pervert. 1Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (see Ellen White CD) And that is just what Pastor John McLarty of the Green Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church did recently in his sermon titled, “What to do with real people.” 2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBDqng3YMZg (sermon starts at around 56:43 minutes)
In his sermon, posted on YouTube, he repeatedly taught his congregation and the wider church, that in order to be faithful to God, we need to discard “ancient words” or “ancient texts” — a term he uses to refer to the Bible. Telling people they need to discard the Holy Scriptures does not sound quite right and is sure to incite prejudice, so he changes the wording, and now it is easier for his listeners to accept his words. And why would he give this advice? To silence what the Bible says about LGBTs, and welcome them into the church. Notice the following quotes from his sermon:
“If we are going to be faithful to God, there are times when we must push back against the ancient words.”
“Faithfulness to God does not always mean obedience to the ancient word. That was dramatically illustrated in our New Testament reading this morning.”
“It is time for us as a congregation to let go of the ancient texts that we have used to exclude people that God has clearly included.”
“Let’s not use the ancient texts as a basis to exclude people that God has received and welcomed.”
“How dare I say let go? First because you have already done it. There is no one in this building that would read our Old Testament passage and do it. Not one of you. You wouldn’t even be tempted to do it. You have already taken plain clear words of Scripture and said no. We’ve already done it in the places that are congenial for us.”
Jesus warned us of people like McLarty when He said:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” — Matthew 7:15
This does not have to apply only to people calling themselves prophets. It can easily apply to pastors, leaders, and teachers as well. The apostle Paul likewise warned:
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” — Act 20:28-30
We have been warned that men will arise speaking perverse things. The Greek word for perverse shares a similar root word to that of wrest — that is to twist, turn around, or reverse. Men like McLarty are ravening wolves pretending to be one of the shepherds of God’s flock. They take the Word of God and cunningly make it say the exact opposite of what it says.
So, how does McLarty manage to twist the plain meaning of the Scripture? In regards to homosexuality, the Bible is very plain.
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” — Leviticus 18:22
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” — Leviticus 20:13
For many today, in the church and out of the church, these verses are no longer acceptable — they are considered divisive, offensive, unloving, and used to exclude people. And for good reason. The Bible does not mince words. Homosexuality is an abomination. It does not matter how much society accepts it. It does not matter how touching the story is of one who perseveres in this sin. It is still an abomination. However, people like McLarty will not submit themselves to God’s Word. They think they know better.
In his sermon, McLarty uses two passages of Scripture to support his idea that it is alright for God’s people to reject parts of His Word. The first comes from Deuteronomy 13:6-10, and the second from Acts 15:4-10. The passage in Deuteronomy cautions against following a friend or relative into idolatry. The punishment for departing from Jehovah God is stoning. Notice what McLarty had to say about this passage of Scripture.
“If we are going to be faithful to God, there are times when we must push back against the ancient words. And I chose this morning’s Scripture to be the most, well, to be at least a dramatic statement in Scripture that if you found yourself going, ‘Yes, amen,’ you are sick. You are! You’re dangerous! Did you hear the words that were read? Idol worship is bad. Don’t do it. And then, here is what I want you to do. Keep your ears opened and if you hear somebody hint that they might be opened to idol worship, grab a rock and grab all your friends and kill them. Do this if it’s your best friend. Do this if it’s your kid. Do this if it’s your spouse. If you can read those words and go, ‘Yea, let’s do that,’ may we keep this pile of rocks here, here in the church, so that we are ready. If there is anything in you going, ‘Yea, amen. I could get into that,’ you need some healing. (pause) What do you do with that text? It is in Scripture; it is part of our history as people of faith, and we are repulsed by it, and we should be. Faithfulness to God does not always mean obedience to the ancient word. That was dramatically illustrated in our New Testament reading this morning.”
McLarty is certainly cunning. In effect, he uses the Bible against itself. His reasoning is that if we no longer follow the command to stone idolaters, then why should we obey the texts which condemn homosexuality? The problem with using this logic — putting the Bible against itself — is that in the process, you destroy the Bible’s authority. You cannot omit one verse or passage without destroying the entire Word. What else are you going to discard because you do not agree with it? Is adultery alright now? After all, we do not go around stoning people anymore! And what about the Sabbath? If we do not follow the command to stone idolaters, why bother keeping the Sabbath? You can see where this reasoning ends up. What does the Bible say?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” — 2 Timothy 3:16
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” — Isaiah 8:20
All Scripture, including the parts that condemn homosexuality, is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Now, of course, we do not go around stoning people today. McLarty is right on this. But the reason is not because we have discarded those passages of Scripture, like McLarty would have us believe. The sins that called for stoning are still sin. That will never change. But the punishment is now left to God.
“In our day there are many who reject the creation Sabbath as a Jewish institution and urge that if it is to be kept, the penalty of death must be inflicted for its violation; but we see that blasphemy received the same punishment as did Sabbathbreaking. Shall we therefore conclude that the third commandment also is to be set aside as applicable only to the Jews? Yet the argument drawn from the death penalty applies to the third, the fifth, and indeed to nearly all the ten precepts, equally with the fourth. Though God may not now punish the transgression of His law with temporal penalties, yet His word declares that the wages of sin is death; and in the final execution of the judgment it will be found that death is the portion of those who violate His sacred precepts.” — Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 409
Furthermore, in Old Testament times, Israel existed as a theocracy. It was given the power by God to judge and condemn sinners. But when Israel lost its ability to rule over itself, it also lost the ability to put sinners to death. Ellen White wrote in reference to the woman caught in adultery:
“Their pretended reverence veiled a deep-laid plot for His ruin. They had seized upon this opportunity to secure His condemnation, thinking that whatever decision He might make, they would find occasion to accuse Him. Should He acquit the woman, He might be charged with despising the law of Moses. Should He declare her worthy of death, He could be accused to the Romans as one who was assuming authority that belonged only to them.” — The Desire of Ages, p. 460
“To the law and the testimony.” McLarty is proved wrong on this point, and as such, the Bible says there is no light in him.
The second passage McLarty uses to support his homosexual agenda is in Acts 15:4-10. This passage recounts the division in the early church over whether or not the Gentiles should be circumcised and follow the Jewish customs. Notice what McLarty says about this passage:
“I want to, I want us to see as clearly as we can. That when Peter stands up and says, ‘Let us welcome the Gentiles. Let us let go of the requirement of circumcision,’ he does not cite Scripture. When we in today’s world talk about why Christians don’t require circumcision, we run to the writings of Paul, and Paul developed a theology that supported getting rid of circumcision — and he quotes ancient texts. That was written after Peter’s speech. That was written after the church had decided. Peter called for the church to make a firm, clear decision based on the clear, present leading of God, and the experience of God’s people carrying the weight of being perfect law keepers. It had killed them. It was crushing them. It would crush. Why put on others a burden that we cannot carry ourselves? I argue. I have done so in print, and now I will do it from the pulpit--that it’s time for us as a denomination, and it is time for us as a congregation, to let go of the ancient texts that we have used to exclude people that God has clearly included”
McLarty’s argument here is that just as God accepted the Gentiles as they were, so we are to accept homosexuals just as they are. The Old Testament required every male who was born or joined to Israel to be circumcised. This practice started with Abraham (Genesis 17:1-10). The Gentile Christians, however, were not being circumcised, and this resulted in division between certain Jewish Christians and those who understood it was no longer necessary. A council was convened at Jerusalem and, as a result, a decision was made that circumcision was no longer required by God. McLarty accuses Peter of citing no Scripture in regards to what he had said. Although this is technically correct, Peter was, nonetheless, expressing exactly what God had revealed to him. Notice what Ellen White writes in regard to this issue:
The various points involved in the settlement of the main question at issue seemed to present before the council insurmountable difficulties. But the Holy Spirit had, in reality, already settled this question, upon the decision of which seemed to depend the prosperity, if not the very existence, of the Christian church.
When there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, “Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." He reasoned that the Holy Spirit had decided the matter under dispute by descending with equal power upon the uncircumcised Gentiles and the circumcised Jews. He recounted his vision, in which God had presented before him a sheet filled with all manner of four-footed beasts and had bidden him kill and eat. When he refused, affirming that he had never eaten that which was common or unclean, the answer had been, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." Acts 10:15.
Peter related the plain interpretation of these words, which was given him almost immediately in his summons to go to the centurion and instruct him in the faith of Christ. This message showed that God was no respecter of persons, but accepted and acknowledged all who feared Him. Peter told of his astonishment when, in speaking the words of truth to those assembled at the home of Cornelius, he witnessed the Holy Spirit taking possession of his hearers, Gentiles as well as Jews. The same light and glory that was reflected upon the circumcised Jews shone also upon the faces of the uncircumcised Gentiles. This was God's warning that Peter was not to regard one as inferior to the other, for the blood of Christ could cleanse from all uncleanness. Acts of the Apostles, pp. 192-193
Notice Peter’s argument was twofold. First, it was based on prophetic insight. Peter was given a vision to illustrate that God would accept Gentiles who feared Him. To fear God is to love and obey Him (Deuteronomy 10:12). This vision did not contradict what God had commanded in the Old Testament regarding circumcision. Circumcision was only ever an outward symbol of the commitment in the heart. This practice was abolished at the cross. The disciples may or may not have known about it at that time, but God certainly did. Second, the Holy Spirit demonstrated His acceptance of Gentiles who had not been circumcised by bestowing on them the same gifts as He had bestowed on the Jewish Christians.
How does the acceptance of the Gentiles compare with accepting homosexuals? Has God sent a prophet with a message that the Old Testament verses which condemn homosexuality as an abomination are no longer true? No, He has not. Instead, God has sent a prophet with the opposite message:
“Next, the guide discusses how leaders and pastors are pushing for the acceptance of those who choose a homosexual lifestyle, even though it is immoral and an abomination in God’s sight. Whether it is practiced by men or women, this choice is not God’s design and is never to be accepted in any situation or under any circumstances. He stresses that the heavenly Father made it very clear in the Garden of Eden that He designed marriage to be only between a man and a woman. The evil design of men with men and women with women is Satan’s plan. This style of life is never to be accepted, even if it is considered to be socially or politically correct, because it is a base crime against the second institution God ordained during earth’s creation week.” — “God is Angry,” June 7, 2014
Furthermore, has God demonstrated in a way that cannot be misunderstood, like He did with the Gentiles, that He now accepts homosexuals? No, He has not. Look at the fruit of those who are homosexuals and those advocating the acceptance of homosexuals. They are destroying the very authority of the Bible. This is the work of Satan.
Once again, we see that McLarty’s interpretation of Scripture is violently twisted. Yes, Paul later developed a Biblically-based theology which proved circumcision was not necessary after the cross. But this in no way means that Peter discarded parts of the Old Testament to welcome and accept the Gentiles. He was obeying the Word of God, which never contradicts itself.
In regards to people like McLarty, we have been warned:
“But Jesus presented the law in its original significance. In clear, distinct language he opened before the multitudes the misleading principles of these hypocritical teachers, who were twisting the plainest precepts of the royal law, through the means of their traditions, so that an entirely opposite conclusion would be reached than the plain precept of God required. The man who was punctilious in the matter of observances was looked up to with the greatest reverence, although his inner life was selfish, immoral, and depraved. The teachings of the prophets were not regarded, and the principles not obeyed which wrought holiness of life. All these were set aside as unessential; but the exactions of the rabbis, in which was not a particle of divinity, in which was only darkness, were regarded with superstitious reverence.” — Signs of the Times, October 24, 1895.
McLarty might think he is doing the right thing by standing up for the “rights” of homosexuals, but the Word of God condemns him as one who calls evil good.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” — Isaiah 5:20
None of this should surprise us; although we should be disheartened by what is happening in Seventh-day Adventist churches. Many pastors employed by the church are leading their members to perdition.
“Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan. If doubts and unbelief are cherished, the faithful ministers will be removed from the people who think they know so much. "If thou hadst known," said Christ, "even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."
Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure. The Lord knoweth them that are his. The sanctified minister must have no guile in his mouth. He must be open as the day, free from every taint of evil. A sanctified ministry and press will be a power in flashing the light of truth on this untoward generation. Light, brethren, more light we need. Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm in the holy mountain. Gather the host of the Lord, with sanctified hearts, to hear what the Lord will say unto his people; for he has increased light for all who will hear. Let them be armed and equipped, and come up to the battle,--to the help of the Lord against the mighty. God himself will work for Israel. Every lying tongue will be silenced. Angels' hands will overthrow the deceptive schemes that are being formed. The bulwarks of Satan will never triumph. Victory will attend the third angel's message. As the Captain of the Lord's host tore down the walls of Jericho, so will the Lord's commandment-keeping people triumph, and all opposing elements be defeated. Let no soul complain of the servants of God who have come to them with a heaven-sent message. Do not any longer pick flaws in them, saying, "They are too positive; they talk too strongly." They may talk strongly; but is it not needed? God will make the ears of the hearers tingle if they will not heed his voice or his message. He will denounce those who resist the word of God.” — Special Testimony for Ministers and Workers, No. 11, p. 8
We can praise God that He will clean up His church. All the unfaithful ministers will soon be removed. We pray that people like McLarty will see their unfaithfulness to the Word of God, repent, and follow the counsel we have been given:
“Let the Bible explain its own statements. Accept it just as it reads, without twisting the words to suit human ideas. "What is the chaff to the wheat?”” — Loma Linda Messages, p. 55
Finally, may all of us heed the warning given us by God’s prophet, Ellen White:
“Let no one quench the Spirit of God by wresting the Scriptures, by putting human interpretations upon His inspired Word; and let no one pursue an unfair course, keep in the dark, not willing to open their ears to hear and yet free to comment and quibble and sow their doubts of that which they will not candidly take time to hear. Let men be careful how they handle the Word of inspiration, which has been preserved for ages through the power of God. If men were themselves controlled by the Holy Spirit they would bring heart and soul to the task, searching and digging in the mines of God for precious ore. They would be eager to come into harmony with the writings of inspired men. If they are not controlled by the Spirit of God, they will give evidence of this by caviling over His word and by sitting in judgment upon its teachings just as did the Jews.” — The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 167
|1.||↑||Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (see Ellen White CD)|
|2.||↑||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBDqng3YMZg (sermon starts at around 56:43 minutes)|