28 March 2012

A Pet Peeve

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people quote the Bible out of context. I know I should let it go but it's one of those things that can really change the way a person sees themselves, their neighbor, their enemy, and God. Context is a huge deal! And some of the worst culprits are those "daily verse" emails or books. I'm sure you've seen those. A "gift book" that has a single verse of the Bible for each day of the year. Maybe it's just me but I go to that verse and then read the whole chapter to see what the writer is trying to get across.

Well, today, one of the worst verses popped up on my screen, a verse I see it all the time - 1Corinthians 2.9: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him" (NLT). People respond to this verse by saying things like, "Yes!" or "Amen!" or "God is so good!" The idea, that is, the interpretation of this verse, is something like, God has something so great in store for us that we can't even fathom it. But, and please hear my heart on this, that's not what Paul meant. At all.

First of all, Paul was quoting from Isaiah 64 (verse 4, specifically). This is crucial because that chapter is about the coming of God, the brokenness of people, and the cry for mercy. What Paul does is actually answer Isaiah 64 in 1Corinthians 2. First Corinthians 2 doesn't stop with verse 9. The whole paragraph is:

2Corinthians 2.6-12; NLT: Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
   and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
   for those who love him.”

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

Notice Paul’s point is that God has revealed what was once hidden! He says God’s “plan...was previously hidden...But it was to us that God revealed these things by [the] Spirit” (emphasis added). In other words, the things that “no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, and no mind has imagined” has been revealed! And what has been revealed? It was that through Grace all humanity would be restored because of the work of Christ! Paul wrote about this in Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, and Titus. Over and over again, he stated that the promises for the nation of Israel were actually for all humanity and creation.

Romans 16.25ff; NLT: Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.

Ephesians 1.9-10; NLT: God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

Ephesians 3.3-6; NLT: As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1.25-27; NLT: God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Titus 2.11-14; NLT: For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

So, next time you get 1Corinthians 2.9 in your email, remember, God has revealed what was once hidden. It is there, in that revealing - that revelation - where we find the Good News.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

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