Too many folks pick and choose individual verses to create a doctrinal standpoint that suits their desires; and nearly the planet entire misquotes or at least wrongly uses one or two verses on a regular basis. Generally to defend themselves or their actions against truth, such as the ever popular “Judge not!” that is flung about as casually by professed Christians who ought to know better as it is by secularists who ought to learn better.
It’s never ever a good idea to build a doctrine on one verse of the Bible, as you are pretty much guaranteed to end up with a false doctrine. Take a long look towards the Vatican for an immense example; all of Roman Catholicism from the Pope on down is built on one verse (Matthew 16:18), and that one verse misinterpreted to provide the meaning wanted.
False teachers, false prophets, are all knowable for this exact thing. If you listen to them for any amount of time, you’ll know they are lying, and at some point the basis of their lies will show itself in what they teach/offer. Even the lost will know they are lying sooner or later, or else they’d have an excuse at the judgment (Romans 1:18-20). They will offer no support verses or texts, or if they do, they will be obvious misquotes or perverted ones taken entirely out of all proper context. All of the “name it and claim it” types do this, all the “seed theologists”, all the “prosperity” proponents, all of them. TBN is positively rife with this garbage, and it has a clear presence on other religious networks and networks offering religious programming as well.
That isn’t to say that all preaching on television is by false profiteers, there are some good solid God-fearing and truth-teaching folks on television, but the majority of it is not only worthless, but dangerous as well.
This verse (Acts 17:28) has struck me time and time again as being an obvious choice for pseudo-Christian pantheists and universalists to point to in order to promote the falsity they choose to follow. By separating it from the context of the passage, it becomes quite easy to twist it unto their use.
“for in Him we live”…we are all alive within God, and we live in Him because He is everything, the whole universe, that’s why we…
“move, and have our being” in Him, because He is in all things, in all beings everywhere.
“your own poets have said”…this is not a new concept, people have always known this, and the apostle Paul was teaching that very thing, but legalistic folks with fundamentalist mindsets could never quite get it, so they condemned it instead.
“we are also His offspring”…we are God’s kids, we are all of us God’s children; so since we are His kids, and we are of Him, and we live and breath inside Him, we and we have God living inside of us,…we are Gods! You,..me,..all of us, are,..Gods!
Each of us IS his or her own God, how cool is that???
See just how easy that is to do? Granted I spent an awfully long time as a devil;s advocate, but anyone can do it easily, all you have to do is start with appealing to people’s vanity…and then stay on that horse.
Just like that, in a passage that should be giving insight about God to the reader, one verse can instead be raped, fouled, into outright and complete heresy. All false teachings ultimately lead back to the same roots: our not wanting to be held accountable for our actions (i.e. being rightly judged), and our wanting to be God and having the whole world worshipping us as we worship ourselves and our selfish desirous natures.
If we are all God, or a part of God, as these teachers say, then we only need answer to ourselves, not to God, nor to one another – no one can even claim otherwise.
“Free will” then means we are free to do anything, no matter how vile or evil it is because we are not held accountable. And since we are “all God’s children”, we are all then going to go to Heaven, because no one – especially not a loving and “Good God” – would send their own kids to something so horrible as Hell right? So then no one is going to have to go to Hell, it’s just a misinterpretation of the Bible, or the scriptures have been somehow sullied by men’s hands, etc; what sense does it make to even have a Hell at all if everyone is going to Heaven to be with their/our “dad” – God. We will all be saved, even satan. Yes, even satan! After all, he’s God’s first child isn’t he? He’ll be forgiven and brought back home just like everyone else.
So heck, you don’t even need your fire insurance since there is no fire to be feared! No need to repent and be saved, you’re saved already because you belong to God just like everyone else! It’s a big Win-Win for the whole wide world!! Now who’s for a sing-along of Kumbaiya and some Smores?
Creepy stuff isn’t it?
But that is how easily false doctrines first lead us away from the foundations of truth, and then eventually, from any semblance of real truth at all.
ALL false doctrines and teachings will ultimately lead to some form of pantheism, universalism, or some blending of the two, even atheism. Why? Because they allow us to proclaim ourselves as the center of the universe, to hold ourselves on high, to worship us. Idolatry, pure idolatry, and in it’s most insidious and popular form: self-idolatry. I love me and you should too!
It’s only two verses later that God commands ALL men, EVERYWHERE, to repent of their sins. Why? Because he won’t blow it off (“wink” at it) any longer, and He has chosen a day in “which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained”. Not He will judge the world AS righteous, He will judge it IN righteousness – the world will be judged as it deserves to be; and it will be done by the one God chose to do it, the “ordained” one, His son, Jesus. Jesus Christ, “whereof he hath given assurance unto all men,” – through the resurrection of Christ from the dead we were/are all given the promise of either eternal life OR eternal death.
After being pretty much chased out of two other cities for preaching the gospel and converting people to Christ, Paul (who was in Athens waiting for the return of Silas and Timothy), had his spirit “stirred in him” when he saw that the entire city was “wholly given” over to what? …Idolatry! “wholly given” – everyone was doing it! And Paul being Paul, he started preaching all over the place – in the synagogue, in the market, in the streets.
Since the Athenians spent all their time always looking for the “newest thing” they could find (that sounds more than a little familiar doesn’t it?), they asked Paul to come and tell them all about it, since what he was saying was “new” to them. And Paul of course jumped into the ring, and began teaching them about God. He began by going right after the elephant in the room: their idolatry (much like Jesus who always went right to the heart of a matter with all the folks he dealt with too).
He mocked the fact that they had idols to everything you could think of, that there was even one inscribed “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”. Since they were dumb enough to create idols to Gods they didn’t even know about – what a perfect starting point to tell them all about…the God they knew nothing about! The one true God!
The God who made the Heavens and the earth, who made all things, who made everything. So what good is a temple that does not hold what cannot be held: He who holds all things within His own hands? Why make a chair or an altar or a pile of food for one who needs nothing, who gives life and breath to all things?
The one true God. The one who wanted “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (v.27a). If they would look for Him “haply” – with a right spirit/attitude for the joy of knowing him, they would find him. They’d find him easily in fact because “he be not far from every one of us” (v.27b). Why is He never far away? Because “in Him…we live…and move…and have our being”(v.28a) like we said back at the start. Not because we are “all God’s children”, we’re not; but because we are all His “offspring” – ginomai (ghin’-om-ahee) in Greek. It’s a verb that means to cause to “generate”, to come into being, to BE…CREATED.
We are all within God’s creation, and we are all creations of God.
None of us are Gods, none of us are outside of God’s creation, none of us are outside of His wrath, and absolutely none of us are outside of the desperate need of a loving and merciful Savior.
Lord God, harpoon the hearts of the hardened with the pure spear of your Holy Spirit, drag each of them kicking and screaming into the glorious light of You where they have no ability left to do anything except submit. Do this just as you did with each of us who has been mercifully redeemed Father, lay the weight of your irresistible grace upon their shoulders until their knees give way and they kneel before you in complete surrender. Bring as many as you will to repentance, to redemption, to a home forever with You. In the beautiful and powerful name of Jesus Christ – Amen!