unhappy in closet

I read the Bible every day. Commendable, right?

Not so much. Almost every time, I find myself daydreaming, sideswiped by a random thought that pops up and the trail of which I follow. Suddenly I “awake” and go back to re-read the part I had read but hadn’t read. I continue, pressing on.

And find myself daydreaming again.

I really don’t know the Bible very well. The prophets often leave me in a fog. Some of things Jesus said leave me wondering. I forget where passages are. I forget some of the facts I once knew.

However, in all of this, the Lord, by His grace, has shown me some wonderful truths in Scripture, and all of them, I think, have been revealed because He opened them up in context. In addition, I am so very grateful to Him that He has given my wife and me a love for truth—yes, even though I daydream often when I read His Word.

Some of these opened-up contextual readings end up slaying certain sacred cows that I was taught in my Christian upbringing, like the passage from 2 Corinthians 10 brought forward here a couple of weeks ago. So, this leads me to an encouragement to the reader: Please read Scripture in context. Certain forces are at work that hinder Christians from doing this, and they are detrimental to our spiritual maturity.

One of those forces is the use of devotionals. I would advocate to the reader that if he or she has replaced daily Bible reading with a devotional, that the devotional be ditched. The reason I advocate this is because devotionals present only a couple of verses and then thoughts on those few verses. One will not obtain an adequate and helpful understanding of God’s truth in this way.

The second detrimental force is, unfortunately, topical preaching or any preaching that simply inserts some out-of-context verses to give proof to a topic. I am not criticizing the men who preach in this way. The intentions of such preachers/pastors/speakers are not evil. I won’t go into the reasons our preaching has, from my point of view, devolved to this state. That’s for another time, and ample resources are on this site if the reader is interested in diving into this subject.

Below are two passages that I recommend the reader study in context, ones which will require some thought, because one must un-think the way he or she may have been taught. I’ll add a hint or two to spur this thinking along.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:15–20).1

The above passage is not about binding bad spirits, nor is it simply about Jesus being in the midst of a gathering, regardless how small. After all, isn’t Jesus with me even when I’m alone? What, then, is it about?

Here’s another passage to take a look at:

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:23–32).

This passage is not simply to be read when the church “takes communion” to make sure that the believer has confessed his or her sins before partaking of the bread and cup. These are the verses that precede this passage:

“But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not” (1 Corinthians 11:17–22).

Hints:

Notice 1 Corinthians 11:23 begins with the word “for”. Why?

Notice that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:29, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” What “body” is Paul referring to?

That’s it for this week. These two passages should give the reader adequate pause for serious reflection.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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