Recently I ran into a woman that I knew and hadn't seen for awhile. She was so sweet and caught me up on all that is going on in her life. She said she had some Scriptures that she was looking for clarity on and asked me about a particular one. I said I didn't know the Scripture specifically and asked her lots of questions. Then I simply shared that I have been learning how important it is to read the Word in it's proper context and that there were many things to consider when trying to understand individual verses for their proper meaning. I wrote a post awhile back titled, "Rightly Dividing the Word." I thought it was time again to write a bit more of what I am learning about in regards to reading the Bible in context. (which no one ever taught me, I had to learn it the hard way and dig out these truths for myself.) It is just so important to understand that the Bible is divided into 2 parts, no I am not talking about the Old and New Testament here, but the divide between the 2 covenants. The old covenant continues through the New Testament, and some of what Jesus preached was the law, the old covenant. It is the cross that divides the Covenants, before the cross was the old and after came the new. The main clause of the New Covenant is the forgiveness of all your sins because of Jesus shed blood. It says that God is merciful to all your unrighteousness and has forgotten all your sins, and your lawless acts. New Covenant believers have been freely justified and are now seen as God sees Christ, perfectly righteous. So God doesn't see our sin, he remembers it NO MORE. So, anything that does not line up with this truth, is not for you to internalize literally. The more we understand this truth, the more we will internalize God's truth of the Gospel and we will learn to discern the Word better and better.
I am also learning how important it is to understand the original languages the Bible was written in, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, or at least refer to them when trying to discern a passage.( Not always are the words in our current Bibles the best direct translation.)
Many of the preachers, whose teachings I am currently listening to refer to the Greek meaning of certain words to get a better understanding of a passage. Don Shorey pointed out how helpful understanding the literary meanings of the Scripture can be. As well as simply understanding the culture of the time when the word was written and the history of the time. Also look at the Bible with an arial view, take into consideration the whole of Scripture when you read. Don't just get to the parts that seem like a to do part and ignore the whole of Scripture and assume you have to "do" it. The new Covenant life is more about relationship to God, not a religious duty or responsibility.
It is important when reading the Bible, to know to whom is the passage directed or spoken to, who wrote it and why did they write it. And then to note if it is even applicable to us as believers.
Joseph Prince says this....."When you read the Bible, be sure to read everything within its context, because when you take the "text" out of its "context," what you are left with is a "con"! Many believers are hoodwinked into believing "cons" and erroneous teachings when something is lifted and taught out of its context.
...and Rob Rufus taught me something interesting, in his latest message, that I was not aware of, when you read something in the Word that is in italics, that means it wasn't part of the original manuscripts.
It can be very dangerous to take passages of Scripture and lift the Word of God out of it's context. We should be very careful not to take a verse out of it's context and build a teaching or doctrine around it. Again I will quote Joseph Prince; "Bible teachings have to be confirmed by several supporting verses and these have to be studied within their proper contexts. When you hear teachings that put fear in your heart and place you under bondage, don't just swallow them hook, line and sinker, fisherman and boots. Look at the context of the verse, and see if it is a new covenant truth or an old covenant teaching. Who was the verse spoken or written to, and how is it applicable to you today? Just remember that all new covenant truths exalt Jesus and His finished work. Hallelujah!"
Another thing I have to mention here, is those read the Bible in a year programs. You know, the one where you get a hand out and it breaks down the passages in four sections so you can get the Bible read in a year. I think that these programs and lists and breakdowns can be very confusing. They break down the Bible so you are reading 4 different books at the same time, instead of digging through a passage to get it's full context and understand it fully. And these programs are all in the name of helping you to get the whole Bible read and under your belt. Honestly, I think there may be good intentions behind them, but I personally find this method to be potentially harmful for Christians if they are not understanding all the above mentioned ways to interpret and analyze the Scripture. I mean you are reading through the geneologies thinking this is so boring, but I should read it, just so I can say I read the whole Bible. The geneologies are so important when wanting to understand the history the Bible. (anyway, I won't get into that..) But the truth is I used to use those reading plans and only felt condemnation when I couldn't keep up to date and only grew confused as I read. If you want to read the Bible in a year, just read it!!! I am not saying all of this to be judgemental or offensive here, I just think these plans can be a potential hazard and felt the need to point it out!
One more thing to leave you with. And again I am quoting from Joseph Prince,
"The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of Christ. I know that in most of your Bible translations, it says that faith comes by hearing "the word of God." But if you study the original Greek word for "God" here, it is not Theos for "God", but rather Christos for "Christ." You see, faith does not come by simply hearing the word of God because the word of God would encompass everything in the Bible, including the law of Moses. There is no impartation of faith when you hear the Ten Commandments preached. Faith comes only by hearing the word of Christ. This doesn't mean that you should only listen to preaching from the portions in your Bible that are printed in red, indictating that Jesus spoke those words. (Putting the Bible in red letters what Jesus said is a human convention anyway.) To hear the word of Christ is to hear preaching and teaching that have been filtered through the new covenant of grace and Jesus' finished work. You can preach from Genesis to Revelation from the perspective of Jesus and His grace. In my church, I am known to preach and teach extensively from both the Old and New Testaments. After all, Christ is in the Old Testament concealed, and in the New Testament revealed. In the Old Testament, you will find shadows of Christ in the five levitical offerings, the tabernacle of Moses, and even in the high priest's garments, but it takes a new covenant minister to draw Christ out. Only when Christ is preached will faith be imparted. Hallelujah! I love talking about Jesus!"
So do I! Well that about wraps up what I really want to drive home here. All of God's Word is written for our benefit, but not all of it is written to us.
If any of my grace blogging friends, or non blogging friends have anything to add here that would be additionally helpful, please feel free to do so in the comments. Grace and peace to all who read here!!