Read the Whole Thing!


Reading random verses with no context is the fast track to confusion. For instance the Book of Romans is a complete discussion of salvation, and the Christian life. However, if you pull out a random snippet, you might end up confused. In chapter 2 Paul says:

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Well look at that. It sounds like Paul teaches salvation by works. I thought he was the "grace" guy. Well, keep reading. When we get to chapter 3, he says:

There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands;  there is no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away,   they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13“Their throats are open graves;    their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16ruin and misery mark their ways, 17and the way of peace they do not know.” 18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Never mind, apparently no one is righteous. So what do we do? Keep reading. He goes on to say:
21But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

The problem is that we can't just quote a verse a build entire doctrines on a verse out of context. Romans is a masterful work, and Paul takes 5 chapters to establish that:

  • Knowing the truth is insufficient (knowledge without action)
  • We can be righteous if we are good
  • By the way you aren't good or righteous - you failed
  • There is a righteousness from Christ, not by works.
  • God provided this while we were terrible sinners.

Understanding the word can be a lot of work sometimes. Not understanding it leads to a lot of pain and hardship. When we do not know what God has done for us, we tend to spend our time trying to figure out what we have to do for God. Know God, know His Word, and know the context--and that will help you to truly know Him.

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