Malachi 3:8-10 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Malachi 3:8-10 KJV

Misinterpretation: This passage is often used by many different Christians to prove the importance of tithing.

Facts: Tithing is one of the most misunderstood subjects in Christianity today, and space does not permit a full discussion of the topic. Suffice it to say that tithing is part of the Mosaic Law, it is not part of the New Testament model of giving. The New Testament model of giving is that every person gives to others as they are able (cf. Heb. 13:16; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6-8), and that they give to the one who teaches the Word (Gal. 6:6). It is safe to say that the New Testament model is that we give willingly, to those who have need, out of all of our excess, not just 10%…

Matthew 28:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Matthew 28:19 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC points out that this Scripture says to baptize in the Name (singular). They go on to say that the Name is Jesus, and they quote Acts 2:38 as proof (because Peter instructed people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus). Unfortunately, the UPC believes that if a person was baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then their baptism was invalid and they are not truly saved.

Facts: I will not open up a debate on Oneness vs. the Trinity here, or a debate on whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. Instead, I will say that I really do not think that Jesus is going to send the majority of His followers to hell for obeying Him…

Mark 16:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Mark 16:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC and some other groups often use this Scripture to say that a person must be baptized to be saved.

Facts: The purpose of this discussion is not to talk about whether or not baptism is necessary, but to point out that Mark 16:16 is almost certainly an apocryphal Scripture (meaning that it was probably not part of the original Book of Mark).

Mark 16:17-18 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Mark 16:17-18 KJV
Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often used to support the UPC doctrine that says a person must speak in tongues to be saved.

Facts: First, this is an apocryphal Scripture (see my comments on Mark 16:16). Second, if this Scripture means that all believers will speak in tongues then it also means that all believers will cast out devils, take up serpents, and heal the sick by laying hands on them. Finally, even if this Scripture is not apocryphal, there is nothing in it that says that all believers will do these things. It only lists some signs that will follow believers as a whole, not as individuals…

John 3:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

John 3:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: I have heard several UPC preachers say that this Scripture does not say that people will be saved if they believe on Christ, it only says that they should be saved. Many of them then go on to say that a person who truly believes will be baptized in Jesus’ Name and speak in tongues, at which point they will actually be saved. I am ashamed to admit that I once taught this view.

Facts: The context of the Scripture makes it clear that Jesus is saying that those who believe on Him will be saved. To understand this point, let’s look at the verses immediately preceding John 3:16…

Acts 2:37-38 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Acts 2:37-38

Misinterpretation: This is the “flagship” Scripture of the UPC and of all Oneness Pentecostal churches. There are many ways that this Scripture is mistaught by the UPC, but the only error that I will point out here is that many Oneness Pentecostal preachers and saints misquote the Scripture by reciting, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved.”

Facts: The careful reader will notice that the words “to be saved” are not found in Acts 2:37. Peter had already told the believers how to be saved in Acts 2:21, when he quoted the prophet Joel and said, “[W]hosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved…”

Acts 4:12 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Acts 4:12 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often quoted by Oneness Pentecostals as a proof for the importance of baptism in Jesus’ Name. Their reasoning is that no one will be saved except by the Name of Jesus, so that means that people must be baptized in the Name of Jesus to be saved.

Facts: No true Christian doubts that a person will only be saved by the Name of Jesus. However, Peter was not talking about baptism in Acts 4:12. He was answering the question that the high priest had just asked him, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (Acts 4:7 KJV)…

Colossians 3:17 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Col. 3:17 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is used to teach that baptism in the Name of Jesus is necessary. The logic is that we are supposed to do everything in the Name of Jesus, and everything includes baptism. UPC preachers often go on to say that Trinitarian preachers will pray in the Name of Jesus, marry in the Name of Jesus, and do many other things in the Name of Jesus, but that they will not baptize in the Name of Jesus.

Facts: First, this Scripture has nothing to do with baptism. Paul is writing about living a godly life, and he is reminding people that they need to do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

1 Timothy 3:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

1 Tim. 3:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC uses this Scripture as one of their major proofs for the doctrine of the Oneness of God. They claim that the mystery of the Godhead is revealed in 1 Tim. 3:16, because God was manifest in the flesh (as Jesus), justified in the Spirit (as the Holy Ghost), and received up into glory (where He steps back into His role as the Father).

Facts: This Scripture says that the mystery of godliness is great, not the mystery of the Godhead…

Romans 12:1-2 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Romans 12:1-2

Misinterpretation: Used to promote holiness standards, by saying that we are told to present our bodies “a living sacrifice,” etc…

Facts: “Bodies” is not “clothing.” This Scripture has nothing to do with apparel. Paul is telling people to present themselves–ALL of them, not just the clothes that they wear–to God as a living sacrifice. It’s noble to die for someone, but God already did that for us! Now He wants us to live for Him.

2 Peter 1:20 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

2 Peter 1:20

Misinterpretation: Used to say that there is only one proper interpretation of Scripture, because no “scripture is of any private interpretation.”

Facts: Peter wrote that “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation”, “not that no scripture is of any private interpretation. Please read on before you accuse me of splitting hairs and trying to get around the Scripture! There is a reason I make that distinction…

James 2:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

James 2:19 KJV

Misinterpretation: Used to say 1) that Trinitiarian doctrine is wrong, because there is only one God, and 2) that belief is not sufficient for salvation, because if it were then the devils would be saved.

Facts: Trinitarianism (belief in One Being—God–Who exists in three Persons) is not the same as tritheism (belief in three supreme beings or gods). In other words, Trinitarians read James 2:19 and agree with the UPC–there is only one God…

Introduction To The “What does the Bible say about…” Category

When I first started to examine my beliefs in 2006 I came to realize something that really shocked me: I didn’t know what Scriptures backed up many of the doctrines that I had been raised to believe and to not question! Oh, I understood the Scriptural backing for the major doctrines, such as Jesus’ Name baptism and Oneness. But when it came to many of the other doctrines (especially ones relating to holiness standards) I honestly did not know which Scriptures supported the views that the UPC took…

What does the Bible say about holiness?

Is Holiness necessary? The answer is a resounding “YES”!

The problem lies in the UPC view of holiness. For those who are unfamiliar with the UPC view, let me explain.

The UPC (again, I am using the word UPC as a general term for any holiness Oneness Pentecostal organization or church) believes that there are specific “holiness standards” that we must adhere to. Some churches debate whether or not adhering to these standards is required for salvation, but–in my experience–people who do not adhere to the “standards” are considered rebellious. Many Oneness Pentecostals view these people as unsaved. Also, people who initially adhere to the standards and then begin to doubt their validity are viewed as being “backslidden.”

So, once again, the problem lies in the UPC view of holiness.

The question we must ask is, “What does the Bible say about holiness?”…

What does the Bible say about wearing jewelry?

The UPC, along with many other holiness groups, teaches against wearing jewelry. I know that when I was in the movement I took the teaching for granted. I think that many others did as well. If new converts asked questions then the general answer went something like this: “It’s an inward change of the heart that is reflected by an outward change of appearance; as Christians we are called to be separate from the world.” Alternatively, the new convert might be given a well-meaning lesson on respecting pastoral authority even if we do not “see it for ourselves.” If the person questioning is not a new convert then they are often judged as being “cold on God” or “lukewarm.” I am ashamed to admit that I was often guilty of judging people that way…

What does the Bible say about women wearing pants?

The first thing that we must understand when asking this question is that no one in the Bible wore pants. They did not exist back then. Because of this, the Bible never dealt with the subject of women wearing pants. The Mosaic Law does, however, deal with the subject of cross-dressing. The Mosaic Law says, “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” (Deut. 22:5 NASB)…

What does the Bible say about dying your hair?

I was very surprised about a year ago to find out that at least some UPC churches teach against people dying their hair. I do not recall ever hearing anyone preach against people dying their hair until about a year ago, but since then I have come into contact with other people who have heard the same thing preached. It seems to be a fairly common doctrine in UPC churches, even though I cannot find any official UPC position about it. Since it does seem to be such a common doctrine, I have decided to write a brief article on it…

What does the Bible say about men wearing shorts?

Many churches in the UPC teach that men should not wear shorts. In my experience the only Scriptural backing that is given for this doctrine is this Scripture passage: Isa 47:1-3 (KJV). I have already discussed this passage in my article on Misinterpreted Scriptures, so in this article I am simply going to repeat the material that I have already written in that article…