But The Bible Says This...
God’s word is often taken out of context, especially by those trying to justify their desires. Taking a single verse to make a point is a very dangerous thing. You can take any verse and twist it enough to teach anything you want. What people fail to understand is that the Bible is full of checks and balances. A failure to understand context can result in many distortions. Two of the biggest distortions are: “It is okay to drink socially” and “All I need to be saved is a prayer.”
We can’t take one verse from the Bible and say it is the whole truth. The Bible gives many verses pertaining to the same subject so that it can be understood in its entirety. For instance, reading Numbers 14.23-24 without regard for any other verses would lead one to believe that Caleb would be the only person to inherit the Promised Land. However, from Numbers 14.29-31, we can see the full picture: “The carcasses of you who have complained against me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised.”
A common verse used to justify social drinking in today’s society is John 2.6-10, where Jesus turned water into wine. However, in Proverbs 23.30-32, we read, “Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.” This passage talks about fermented (“when it sparkles”) wine as something to avoid. In addition, from 1 Peter 4.1-3, we can see that the Bible clearly distinguishes between the terms “drunkenness” and “drinking parties,” thereby showing us that social drinking is just as sinful as drunkenness.
Prayer is one of the many duties of a Christian. This duty has become increasingly idle in many people’s lives, while other people misuse the act of prayer for greed or personal gain. But are those prayers heard? Many people turn to Matthew 21.21-22, which reads, “So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.’” Many people make the argument that if you believe, then all you need to do is just ask and it shall be done. Is that correct? In John 9.28-33 we read, “Then they reviled him and said, ‘You are his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we don not know where he is from.’ The man answered and said to them, ‘Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where he is from; yet he has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does his will, he hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’”
If God doesn’t hear sinners, then how are their prayers going to save them? We read in Acts 10 about a man named Cornelius, of whom it is written that he was a devout, God-fearing man. He was a praying man, yet he was still in his sins. Acts 10.3-4 reads, “About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’ And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.’” How is it then that God heard Cornelius’ prayers? God knows the hearts of men — Cornelius wasn’t saying a sinners’ prayer for his salvation. He was worshiping God (though incorrectly) so a means was sent to him to make things right with God. Cornelius sent for Peter as he was instructed, and then heard the word preached. As a result, he and his house were converted the only way the Bible says one can be saved — Acts 10:48: “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”