Over the last two weeks I have repeatedly seen articles and blogs posted on the internet that use the Bible. Each time someone was trying to prove why we should not really listen to the Bible. They quoted some random Old Testament verses and said, “See, no one believes that anymore.”
Each time I read these articles the hair stood up on the back of my neck. They were like fingernails running down a chalkboard. The Bible was misinterpreted, misapplied and ultimately misunderstood. My biggest fear is that people are listening to these articles as accurate. People are believing total misrepresentations of the truth.
So on behalf of all Bible believing Christians let me say, “Beware of bad Bible.” Just because someone can quote the Bible doesn’t mean they really understand it.
Let me also give you one huge rule for understanding the Bible: CONTEXT IS KING
Whenever you hear a verse of scripture then ask yourself, “What is the context of that statement?” Here a few questions to help clarify that initial question.
1. Was it said in the context of the Old or New Testament? As Christians there is a huge difference between the two. Jesus fulfilled the Old and started the New. Our understanding of an Old Testament law is far different from a statement made by the Apostle Paul to the Church in one of his letters.
2. What type of literature is it? This is the question of genre. Was it history, law, a letter or was it poetry or wisdom literature? Different literature must be handled in different ways
3. What is the context of the surrounding verses? Lifting one line out of a paragraph can violate the original meaning. Sometimes this doesn’t matter especially in places like the Proverbs but in other places it is essential.
4. Does it fit the story of the whole Bible? Taking one line out of one book can also be misleading. The Bible is 66 books – 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament. We need to make sure that the words of one book align with the words of another.
I believe that the Bible is not an overly complex book. What makes it difficult for most people to understand is that they have not read it in context. To understand a verse completely you need to read the whole paragraph, but also the whole book. Then not only the whole book, but also the whole Testament. Then not only the whole Testament, but also the whole Bible. Unfortunately that takes a lot of time and effort that most of us do not want to give. The sad result is that we listen to everyone who tries to explain it to us even if they are doing a lousy job. We must always beware of people using bad Bible, knowing the context will help us do that.