Bible Arithmetic: Division

For 40 days Chirst wandered the desert, hungry, parched, and lonely. Throughout this time Satan tempted him to sin. In one attempt Satan tried to convince Jesus to put God to the test by jumping off the top of the temple and calling down angels to catch him. As part of his temptation, Satan quotes from Psalm 91. Satan quotes the Bible! But wait, isn’t scripture good? Of course it is, unless we do Bible arithmetic. Satan divided these verses out of their context to misuse them.

Have you ever heard an athlete quote Philippians 4:13? “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I can even score touchdowns, hit homeruns, and nail slam dunks. But there’s a problem: this verse never works for me. I’m not athletic, so no matter how much faith I have, I will not be strong enough hit a homerun or slam dunk. So what’s the deal? Is the Bible untrue?

Nope. Unfrotunately this verse has been divided out of context. In its context, Paul is describing God’s ability to keep us strong even in poverty and suffering! It has nothing to do with our talents or abilities. You see, when we divide verses out of their actual context, our theology suffers. Most ‘christian’ cults start with biblical arithmetic like division. But even worse, many authors today quote the Bible completely out of context as proof texts for outlandish assertions.

Do you watch out for biblical division when you read? Do you think through what you’re hearing in sermons? Especially when someone says something out of left field? Especially when we like it? We need to stop and make sure that our theology is not shaped by division, but the whole wisdom of scripture.

More in this series:

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About Patrick K. Miller

Currently I am living in Columbia serving at the University of Missouri with Veritas, The Crossing's campus ministry. In December 2010 I graduated from Mizzou with a degree in English Literature. My beautiful wife, Emily, works is an Interior Designer with a local firm. I like espresso, 30 Rock, and books. My favorite old dead guys are John Owen, Augustine and Francis Schaeffer. You should read something by them.
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