pc-usa 2002-04-12 - The Whole Message

On a recent trip, I did a double-take when I saw a restaurant sign that said "Bread $8.99." Even if it was the best French bread available, that sounded a bit steep to me! It turned out that the sign marquee was an animated one, and I had missed the first part of the message, which said "Steak, salad and." Missing part of the message made quite a difference!

Sometimes we do that with the Bible - we receive only part of the message. Some preachers emphasize God's judgment, without much mention that He literally IS love, that He removes our sins "as far as the East is from the West," or that "His mercies are new every day." Some teachers read the verse about wives submitting to their husbands, but leave out the part about mutual submission and men loving their wives sacrificially. These are only a few examples.

People can take a verse of the Bible out of context and make it "prove" almost anything, while the message can be completely different if we read the same verses in light of the entire Bible's message. When we read God's word, to get His true meaning, we need to read it carefully. After all, it is the most important book in the world. Below are a few suggestions to help us grasp the true meaning of a verse or passage.

  1. Pray for the Spirit's guidance, before reading any of God's word. Ask that God will show you what it means.
  2. Read the entire paragraph or chapter, and not just one verse or brief passage. This often provides needed background information.
  3. Read commentaries or use a Study Bible, to get additional information which can sometimes help us understand the deeper meaning. What a blessing, to be able to take advantage of the knowledge of people who have studied the original language of the Bible!
  4. Compare how different translations render a verse or passage. I personally like "The Message" for a refreshing look at the Bible (and it's especially helpful to new believers, as it is written in very clear language). But I also like to use a more literal translation (like the NASB), which is very true to the original language. Sometimes knowing the original word (and some study Bibles are helpful with this) makes a big difference in meaning.

I encourage you to delve a little more into God's word, and get to know it - and Him - on a deeper level.

Jan

[email jan]  cfdevpray@juno.com
http://www.cfdevotionals.org