The Bible is a great book, let’s read it correctly!

  1. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

While Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in Christian culture, many don’t realized that it’s being misused most of the time. You see, Paul (the writer of Philippians) was writing to the church at Philippi regarding his experiences. If you read the verse in context it reads like this:

“[10] I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. [11] Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [12] I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. [13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

When Paul says (about his personal experiences) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he is referring to his hardships and his abundances. That he is “content” in all things BECAUSE of Christ. This verse isn’t meant to be used in a consumer mindset, rather in a grateful mindset. Paul didn’t say to the church “YOU can do all things through Christ who strengthens YOU.” He said “I”, because he was referring to himself. In Paul’s writing it is clear when something applies to the church because he addresses the church directly. For example, “Rejoice in the Lord, again I say, Rejoice!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that our strength can’t be found in Christ. I recognize he is our sustaining, life-giving King.

2. “God works all things together for good.”

Okay, I’m on board with this one…the problem is, many don’t quote the rest of the verse! Romans 8:28 reads “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV)

If God was just good all the time and nothing else, he wouldn’t be just. This is a great verse and it applies to you if you 1. Love God and 2. Are called according to his purpose. So really what does it mean to be called to his purpose? For starters we have to LOVE God. We have to see the beauty in which encompasses his entire being. Once we love him and understand what Christianity is, we soon realize that we are CALLED. Like Philippians 4:13, it’s easy to make this verse about us and consumption, but it’s the opposite. It’s all about God. His goodness, justness, and his purpose for us.

3. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Once again, great verse IF read in context. Many Christians LOVE quoting this from Jesus when referring to prayer. Sadly, Jesus wasn’t talking about prayer at all. I mean, if this was the truth and the only way that Jesus was present was if there were two or more gathered in prayer, then anytime you pray alone, Jesus wouldn’t be there. Doesn’t quite make sense, does it? The Holy Spirit is here. All the time, no matter the amount of people gathered.

What this verse WAS referring to is church discipline. While some of you may have an image of the elders in the church all lined up with paddles in their hand ready to “discipline” you, Jesus laid church discipline out very well using this verse. Here’s the verse in context:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

(Matthew 18:15–20 ESV)

4. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Sadly, there is not compromise on this one. Jeremiah 29:11 is not whatsoever meant for us. This verse in the Bible is the prophet, Jeremiah relaying a DIRECT quote from God to the EXILES that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon (Jeremiah 29:1.) Many Christians, for some odd reason, take this verse and use it when they don’t know what major to choose in college, what big house to get, what they want for dinner; just about anything. Like points 1 and 2, this verse is slam packed with “me me me.” Once again, here’s the verse (in context.)

[1] These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon… [10] “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. [11] For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. [12] Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. [13] You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

(Jeremiah 29:1;10–13 ESV)

God’s word is very important. As a the Church, we should devote ourselves to it. In order to devote ourselves to the word, we must understand it. The word is just as alive as Christ himself, so let’s not hand-pick verses out of context. I promise, reading them in context is much more rewarding!

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