Chances are most of us have one of the following: a favorite Bible verse, a life verse, a verse of the day, a verse for the year, etc.
Great! We all should love God’s Word and we usually adopt these verses as a response to a memorable moment in our Christian lives. So far so good. Nothing wrong with that. We ought to cling to God’s Word for encouragement, instruction, guidance, etc. Psalm 119 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 remind us of the value of God’s Word.
However, we must make sure we understand what these verses mean to understand if they truly apply to us. To understand what they mean, we must understand at what point in redemptive history they were written. Were they written to Christians? To Israel / Judah? Were they written during the Old Covenant or the New Covenant? These things matter.
For example, Jeremiah 29:11 seems to offer great hope for Christians as it is often quoted. It says:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
Sounds very encouraging, right? But we must answer a few questions to properly understand this verse.
* Who is the human author of the book?
* To whom was the letter/book written? (Hint: It wasn’t Christians. Read 29:1)
* Where does this book chronologically fit in redemptive history? (Hint: Not during the New Covenant (the covenant for Christians))
* What are the specific events the human author is addressing?
* What does the surrounding context of verse 11 reveal? (Read 29:1-23)
Once we answer these basic questions, we’ll better understand and know how to apply the Bible to our lives more correctly. This will also aid us in being better listeners of sermons.
May we all be those who rightly divide the Word of truth!
Grace & Peace,