Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chapter 8.5 That Is In The Bible?!

       You are right "this too shall pass" is not in the Bible but when times are rough bro remember what it says in Jeremiah 29:11 "for I know the plans I have for you". Wait, what? That's not what that scripture is talking about. You can not just pull scriptures out of context and apply them to what you are going through. Another thing that really bothers me is when we, as followers of Christ, pull scriptures out of context. In the second part of this chapter, like always read the first one to get CONTEXT (lol), I plan to show how we take scriptures out of context and make them something that they are not. There are a lot of scriptures that get pulled out of context that people make a whole theology off of. Again I do not plan to tackle the prosperity gospel or the "hyper grace" gospel in this chapter and trust me there are many scriptures pulled out of context to make up those theologies.
       Context is the key to understanding the word of God properly. Just like anything else, when something is taken out of context it can mean something totally different. Lets say you told somebody something like, "I do not like to hang out with my brother/sister when they are acting stupid", but when quoted back to your brother/sister someone says that you said, "I really do not like to hang out with my brother/sister". At that time you would say, "Hold on, that is not all that I said, you are taking that out of context". No one likes to be taken out of context so why do we so readily and easily take the Bible out of context? Well the answer is easy, we do it because either it makes us feel better somehow or we do not know the whole context. This goes back to simply studying the Bible for ourselves and not just being hearers of the word. Like the earlier part of this chapter I am only going to cover three scriptures (the list is a lot longer than that, I promise) that are taken out of context by a lot of people.
       Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope". Now this is one of those scriptures that brings a lot of people hope and I really hope that it does not hurt to many feelings but I do plan to talk about it. I want to say first that I am not against quoting promises from the Bible for us and I think that there are many promises for us but not this one. Let us look at this scripture in its context.
First, we must look at who is saying this and then who it is being said to. The book of Jeremiah is Prophetic Oracle and Narrative History, although not completely in chronological order. The prophet Jeremiah wrote it sometime during his ministry about 626-586 B.C. Key personalities are the many kings Judah, Baruch, Ebdemelech, King Nebuchadnezzar, and the Rechabites. Its purpose was to warn of the destruction that they were about to face and to urge Judah to return and submit to God. Jeremiah was a priest who God calls to be His prophet. Jeremiah identifies their sins and treachery, as he wants them to realize the serious condition of their sinful ways. He then gives prophecies of the coming king and the New Covenant that would be made. Now more specifically whom is Jeremiah writing to in chapter 29? Well let us look at the first verse: "Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar". So now in context we see that what is written is for a specific group. Who is this group? Well, the exiles of Jerusalem. See, even though I do believe that God does know the plans He has for us I also see that we can not just assume that those plans are for us to prosper but at times go through hard times. If we just simply take this scripture  out of context then we have to contend with many o
ther verses (that Christ himself said) that tell us otherwise. Christ tells us that we will be hated and even killed because we are His followers. This is in stark contrast to the idea of prospering, having good, and not having evil happen to us. This scripture is a hard one for me to talk on because I know many people will say that I might be saying that God only wants us to suffer but that is not at all what I am saying. What I am saying is that we can not simply quote scriptures out of context to give ourselves false hope. We must always rest in the strength of God and know that even if His plan for us is hard times we must be content with that. Paul on many occasions tells us exactly that. The last thing with Jeremiah chapter 29 is that later in that chapter there is another promise God makes that I never hear anyone quote. In verse 17 it says: "This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat". Now I never hear this quoted but it is in the same chapter. Many will say, "well there is a direct group he is talking to", exactly my point. Context, context, context, we must read the Bible in context and not pull out things and say that one promise is for us and the other bad stuff isn't.
       On to the next one; Matthew 7:1, "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged". Oh this one really gets me. I have heard this from believers and nonbelievers alike. This scripture seems to be almost as well known as John 3:16. The funny thing is that the reason this one bothers me is because it does not take much research, not as much as the last one at least, to see how it is taken out of context. In context it would look like this: "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye". (Matthew 7:1-5) Lets look at it like this: If one person is on drugs and tells another person on drugs that they should stop doing drugs then they are in the wrong for judging but if the first person gets off drugs and goes to the second person and says, "hey I use to be on drugs too but I have found a better way, you should try it", then the first person is well within his/her rights, biblicaly, to say that. We do not like to see that scripture like this because we think it is a get out of jail free card to any rebuke brought to us. Well it isn't. If someone comes to you to rebuke you in a subject that they have went through and overcame it through the power of Christ then they have all right to lovingly call you out. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5: 12, "It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning". It is simple. If someone is inside the church and sinning then we have a right to openly and lovingly rebuke them for that sin. We need to stop taking scriptures out of context to make ourselves look like we are being attacked when we get rebuked and realize that, at times, an open rebuke is just what we need.
       This last scripture will get a little hairy because it is an issue that is very big for our time. I want to give a disclaimer before I go on. I whole heartily believe that homosexuality is a sin and that in no way does the Bible say otherwise. I believe the word of God is very clear on this subject and that we should always stand in line with the Bible. With all of that, one of the scriptures that gets quoted on this subject, out of context of course, is Leviticus 20:13-"If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense". Now, before you go off the deep end on me with this one let me explain. See, first the book of Leviticus is the of laws for the tribes of Israel, more specifically the Levites hence the name Leviticus. Second, in this book there are a lot of things that we do today that it calls unholy yet we do them and say that it is okay. Finally, there are better scriptures to use that are in the new testament that we should use to make our point. Let me show you why I say this. So yes Leviticus 20:13 said that but right before that verse it says in 20:9, "Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death. Such a person is guilty of a capital offense". I do not hear a lot of people quote this one, why? Well because it is common place for disrespect from child to parent, we just call it teenage years, and even though it is wrong we still do not think that they should be put to death. How about 20:10, "If a man commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death". This happens a lot in our day in age, sadly probably more in the church then we like to admit, but again we do not quote this scripture at them. We must make sure what scripture we use to stand for or against things can not be simply dismissed by just looking at surrounding verses. So if you are going to stand against homosexuality, as I believe we should as believers, then how about use this verse instead: "That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved." (Romans 1:26,27)
       Like I said in the first part of this chapter there is nothing that gets to me more than the misuse of scriptures. We must study to show ourselves approved just like the Bible tells us to. We can no longer hear scriptures from the stage, TV, or anywhere else and just take that at face value. We must hear the word, read the word, and most of all study the word. I would like to say after all that I have just written I may still be wrong on some of these scriptures so please go and do your own homework and see if what I have said is in context of the Bible. I am just a man and I can make mistakes but I will say that not only do I study before I write any chapter I also study any time I read the word of God. We must get back to making sure what we believe what the word says is really what the word is saying. We can not just rip things out of context and plug it in to our lives like it really is the whole truth of the word of God. We must be diligent with our studies so when faced with things we do not just look stupid or give ourselves a false sense of reality. Please, can we stop making God look bad, or at worst bipolar, by taking things out of context to suit our lifestyles. Instead we should be changing our lifestyles to fit in to the word of God.
       Finally I will ask some questions. What have you believed was in the word of God that really was just out of context? Do you study enough to be able to tell when something is misquoted? Are you making God look bad by twisting the Bible to suit how you live? Are you making God look bad by simply not knowing what is in the Bible?

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