Summary: A look at one of those "Favorite Verses" that is so often used out of context.
I was a little disappointed when we put the new carpet in last year, not with the new carpet but with the removal of the old carpet.
You’ve probably heard the story about how on Thanksgiving Sunday 2005, six weeks before the building opened, we had our first service in the building.
The building was really just a shell, and after the service we handed out sharpies and invited people to write their favourite scriptures on the concrete floor to be immortalized. That was the plan, and it sounded good in theory, after all we were using permanent markers. But you know what they say, In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is.
Last summer when we tore up the old carpet I was excited to see all the promises that we had written on the floor, and there they were, gone. I would suspect that it was the glue that held down the carpet, combined with the scraping that eradicated our scriptures.
However we are promised in Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” And Jesus promised us in Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
I can’t tell you every scripture that was written on the floor, I do know what I wrote and it is on the concrete beneath my feet, I wrote 1 Corinthians 9:16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
And even though the writing on the floor is gone I can tell you that the one scripture that was written over and over again and that was Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Our preaching series this Fall at Cornerstone is “Hashtag This” and we’ve been looking at various words and phrases in the Bible that deserve a hashtag. For those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. A hashtag is simply a means of identifying a common theme in social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So you type the #sign or hashtag followed by a description of your subject, written without spaces.
Week one was #gointoalltheworld Week two was #castthefirststone and two weeks ago we looked at #turntheothercheek.
I would suspect that 2000 years ago if Hashtags had of been a thing that when Paul’s letter was being read someone would have claimed Philippians 4:13 with the hashtag #icandoallthings, and while I love the verse and I have claimed it many times, most of those times I claimed it out of context.
Let’s begin by looking at How We Take the Text Out of Context
We’ve been down this road before and you’ve heard me say it before but listen up this is really important. As you read the bible and claim the promises of the bible always, always, always remember the words of D. A. Carson who often quoted his minister father saying "A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text."
Like the man who was looking for direction from the bible and so he decided that he would simply open the bible and put in his finger and go from there. So he did and his finger landed on the last part of Matthew 27:5 Judas hanged himself, he figured that couldn’t be what he has looking for so he did it again this time his finger landed on Luke 10:37 now go and do the same. Well, that wasn’t getting him anywhere so he decided one more try, and this time he ended up at John 13:27, “Hurry and do what you're going to do."
And yes all three verses came from the bible, and if you put them together they would indeed say “Judas hanged himself, now go and do the same, Hurry and do what you're going to do." But that wasn’t the intent, those texts may be from the bible but they are out of context.
So regardless of what you might think, Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength, does not necessarily mean that you can do everything that you set your mind to through the power of Christ. We keep on using that verse, but I don’t think it means what we think it means.
If that was the case we all be ultra-talented, uber-rich, super successful and very thin and we aren’t. And as long as we cling to a promise which isn’t really a promise at all, we are destined for disappointment, guilt and doubt. Because when we can’t do it, whatever it is then we feel spiritually defeated and think, “Well, Paul said that we could do everything through Christ, so how come I can’t stay on my diet, how come I can’t learn to sing, or how come my business failed?”