Sunday 19 May 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Sin of Forgiveness by Edward F. Mrkvicka, Jr.

The Importance of Context

This book does not ask you to believe something “new,” but rather something old and true. Society as a whole, over the centuries, and especially in the last 50 years, has taken forgiveness to mean something not intended by the Bible. While we are to forgive, we are to do so as God directs, not as Dr. Phil and even some clergy suggest.

This treatise on the subject of forgiveness is not my opinion, but rather the result of a lifetime of Bible study and Bible-based counseling. There is probably no bigger mistake made by God-fearing Christians than not reading and understanding God’s Holy Word in context. I know I have made such error on numerous occasions, notwithstanding the altruistic nature of my biblical inquiries. It is just so easy to do, mainly because God’s Word is so direct and uncompromising. Consequently, when we read a verse in Scripture we immediately race to whatever seemingly obvious conclusion we glean based on the verse’s intent and the subject matter contained therein.

And yet there are many of us who have a misunderstanding about this or that spiritually, which caused me to try and learn why people of good faith could often come to what seemed to be obviously erroneous conclusions about God’s intent. The answer is biblical context. Context means (1) the text surrounding a word or passage: the words, phrases, or passages that come before and/or after a particular word or passage in a speech or text and help explain its full meaning, and (2) surrounding conditions: the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place. The word is taken from the Latin word contextus, meaning connected or to weave together. Put more clearly, context is the equivalent of a tapestry. It’s not until every single piece of cloth is woven together that we can see the picture the artists intended to paint. Without the completeness of their effort, all we would see is a pile of disconnected nothingness that may or may not lead us to the truth. The Bible is much the same. A verse of Gospel may stand by itself, but more than likely it does not. It usually has other text that fleshes out the subject and explain the entire picture. The matter of context is vital whenever we are seeking biblical answers to problems or questions we are faced with. Make no mistake from the above; God does not hide from us. He has gone out of His way to make His Word easily accessible. So what is the problem? Unfortunately, we are often in a hurry, or we’re lazy. And while being in a hurry and/or being lazy puts us at the both far ends of the spectrum, the result is always the same, we only get part of the solution or come to one that has little resemblance to God’s actual intent.

My favorite analogy in this instance is that of a father trying to assemble a birthday present for one of his children. Let’s say it is the child’s first 2-wheeler. As all fathers know, the instructions will almost always invariably start by stating “You’ll need a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.” Would any of us, after reading the instructions no further than step #1, assume we’re done after finding the pliers and screwdriver, and that the bicycle is complete? Of course not. It would be patently obvious that step #1 was just that, step #1, and we’d have to complete the remaining steps before the job was complete. Looking for answers in the Bible is much the same. We cannot just read one verse (step #1) and assume we’re done, because we’re not. It is essential to prove this point in order to show how this concept pertains to forgiveness. To do that, I want to review a prominent biblical topic that hopefully will make clear how we can come to the wrong conclusion by making doctrine out of one verse of Scripture that was meant to be but a portion of the entire picture. We’re going to look at “honoring our father and mother” by reviewing the generally accepted meaning of the Fifth Commandment, and then show how our understanding changes when we review the topic in context. In the process, I hope to give you a new perspective on Bible study, one that will expand your vision and give you a desire to know God’s truth regardless of how long it takes, or how much effort is required. From personal experience, I can share this; once given a contextual perspective, you will read the Bible in a whole new light. You will be excited, because, perhaps for the first time, you will see and understand the truth as never before. When you know the truth, you are, in fact, free. No longer will anyone, including those doing Satan’s bidding, be able to lead you astray.

The Bible says we are to: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12) There are many, based on that verse alone, who believe we are to honor our parents no matter what they say or do. Yet, Jesus said,

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his [own] household.

—Matthew 10:34-36

But how can we honor our parents when our Savior tells us He came to separate us from the very people should they stand against Him? Is this an irresolvable contradiction? Allow me to take this one step further to make the point. Are children of God to honor their earthly parents even if they are committing adultery? Ephesians 5:11 states, And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose [them]. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says, But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 we are told, Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? Lastly, although there are other references, in 1 Corinthians 5:11 we read, But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or convetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.


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Genre – Christian Life

Rating – G

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