I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Not Just Biblical Ignorance

We often bemoan the prevalence of biblical ignorance that abounds these days. And we are right to so because it is an undeniably real problem. However, I've noticed another issue that isn't directly cured by Bible knowlede per se. In my experience I come across frequent misuse and misapplication of various portions of Scripture. Just check a friends favorite bible verse and you might run into a perfect example of what I'm talkin bout. Here are two prominent examples...

1. Philippians 4:13: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

This verse, at first glance & by itself, appears to affirm that we can do just about anything as long as we rely on Christ's strength. BUT, this verse is NOT saying that I can dunk from the foul line, score 1600 on the SAT, bench press 700 pounds and start at QB for Redskins one day! Yet, this verse is a favorite because it is snatched right out of context. Go back one verse before Philippians 4:13 and we quickly see Paul is not offering a PMA motivational verse, but is dealing with contentment in all circumstances. Here verse 12: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

2. Jeremiah 29:11: "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." This verse is making rounds as a new favorite verse thanks in part to Rick Warren's misuse of it. Any rookie Bible student understands that we need to discern who is talking to whom in this passage if we are to discover its truth. Much could be written on the misuse of this verse (go here for more), but suffice it to say that it's NOT talking to you directly promising you prosperity! God is talking to His OT people who are in exile & captivity, not to some guy to day who's trying to make it big!

So can we learn from the aforementioned verses? Do they matter to us? YES! But we must first must determine what they originally meant in context before we can seek accurate application to our lives.


Soren said...

Amen brother! Tracy and were just siting here talking about how biblical ignorance. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, just as a fact. As I preacher I often make the mistake of assuming that people know the Word better than they actually do.

And you are so right about the "plucking verses out of context" issue. But (with tongue planted in cheek -- sort of), aren't there times when you are tempted?: I know this isn't what the verse means, but man that will preach!

P.S. "Bless your heart, Jesus didn't smoke."

David H. Willis said...

Been there indeed.