Friday, June 7, 2013

Stop abusing these verses!

Here is the secret to reading the Bible: Read it in context! That's it. Basic reading comprehension.Read paragraphs and see how sentences relate to one another. It is that simple. The SAT is more complicated than this. 

Yet, time and time again, I hear smart men trained in Seminaries and leading churches ignore these simple rules of English and make things say something that it does not. An aspect of these verses might have some truth but the context prevents certain conclusions from being drawn.

Here are the easiest verses to get wrong:

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

The misguided meaning: God is over all things so trust in him not matter what. So when bad things happen, don't worry. You will prosper. 

The reality: Unless you are a Jewish Exile, this verse isn't for you. It is meant to be of encouragement to the Jews in Babylon. Read the entire chapter. It does speak to God's faithfulness but not as a universal truth.

Proverbs 29:18 - "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint. . ."

The misguided meaning: We all need a vision for our life and our churches. If not, we perish or die or something. Get a vision for your life.

The reality: There is a second half to this verse. "but blessed is he who keeps the law." Proverbs are set up in couplets in order to highlight the meaning. No Bible, no guidance. With the Bible, there is wisdom and blessing. This has nothing to do with "vision" as we see it.

Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

The misguided meaning: If I believe in Christ, I can do anything I want and he will hook me up.  The patron verse for athletes.

The reality: Paul states this while he is facing suffering. He can endure suffering or wealth in Christ. It is a picture of contentment, not abundance. 

There are more but these are the worst offenders.