Studying God’s word in context

 
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Do you really believe in God’s word?  

That question seems a little tricky, because your obvious answer would be a resounding “YES, I DO!”, but we sometimes act as though we don’t.

For a person who really understands and believes in the gospel, there are certain “Christian songs” you wouldn’t sing and some “prayers” you would no longer pray, not because they aren’t good or godly, (in fact some of these songs and prayers are actually found in the bible), but because they are done “out of context“.  

Let me try to explain what I mean by “out of context” with this illustration.

If I said, “Mr. Jones has a lot of money; but he spent all trying to win a lottery.”  

Anyone who reads the first part of the statement without considering the second would think that Mr. Jones is still rich, whereas in actual fact, Mr. Jones is now very poor because he spent all he had trying to win a lottery.

Unfortunately, this is how many of us read God’s word. The most interesting part is that some of us have actually never read the word for ourselves, we have simply taken in what we heard others say about God’s word (whether half-baked or not).  

For a long period of my life, I had heard this popular verse of the bible that reads “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23 NIV  

I am sure you are wondering, what’s wrong with that scripture. In actual fact, nothing is wrong with it, just that nobody ever told me ( and I never bothered to find out for myself too) that there is actually a next verse that reads ” and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”. – Romans 3:24 NIV

  You would often hear people say “we are all sinners” based on Romans 3:23, but you know what? That was only true until Christ died on the cross. Therefore, in reality, you are not the sinner you think you are; for you have been justified freely in Christ Jesus and you are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)

  “Again, it shall greatly help thee to understand scripture, if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and unto whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstance, considering what goeth before, and what followeth after. For there be some things which are done and written, to the intent that we should do likewise: as when Abraham believeth God, is obedient unto his word, and defendeth Lot his kinsman from violent wrong. There be some things also which are written, to the intent that we should eschew such like. As when David lieth with Urias’ wife, and causeth him to be slain. Therefore (I say) when thou readest scripture, be wise and circumspect: and when thou commest to such strange manners of speaking and dark sentences, to such parables and similitudes, to such dreams or visions as are hid from thy understanding, commit them unto God or to the gift of his holy spirit in them that are better learned than thou.” – Miles Coverdale    

  Without a complete and “in context” study of God’s word, all we would mostly end up with is a misinterpretation of the word. Hence in order to understand God’s thought concerning a verse, we have to read both the pre-texts (that is, verses before) and the post-texts (that is, verses after).     God’s word is complete and perfect, and it’s very important that we know that the entire scripture is Christ-centred.    

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