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Look in the Bible

“Don’t believe what I say just because I’m the pastor. Look in the Bible and make sure it’s there.”

That’s something I told every church I pastored.

One of the subjects I taught in Bible college was hermeneutics — a high falootin’ word that simply means interpreting the Bible. One of the basic principles of interpretation is: Place the Scripture in its context. This simple procedure is often neglected. Neglecting it leads to proof-texting — looking for isolated verses to prove what one already believes. It is so easy to read the Scriptures before and after any verse in order to determine if an interpretation is correct. Yet many Christians fail to do this.

There are many Scriptures that are clear, yet erroneously taught.

Here’s an example:

Proverbs 23:7 is often quoted this way: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This is then used to say that you can be what you think; you receive what you can conceive; in order to be successful in life one must have a positive self-image.

Though this may be a healthy thing to have (in a godly manner), you can’t use this verse to prove it.

Here’s the exact wording: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” That’s not so far off … but it’s not all of the verse. The rest of it says, “Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

To find out what kind of man this is, read the verse before. Here’s the NIV of Proverbs 23:6,7: “Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you.”

Doesn’t sound much like a positive thinking principle. This is not any man who can be better by thinking better, but a stingy, hypocritical man who is resentful in his thought life, while outwardly being accommodating.

The simple act of looking in one’s Bible and reading the context can be one of the most important things a Christian does. I encourage you to practice it regularly.

— Ken Horn

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