Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— (1 Cor. 15:51 NIV)
I first noticed this scripture from 1 Corinthians 15:51 about “change” a few years ago on a hallway mural in our church nursery.
I laughed at the clever connection to taking care of the babies in the nursery. But the quote also prompted me to discover the context of the scripture.
Do you know someone who regularly takes scripture out of context to prove her belief? Perhaps she wants to make a humorous observation like the lady who painted the mural in our church’s nursery. Or maybe she just wants to prove a point by twisting the meaning of the scripture to fit the point she wants to make.
This practice of “proof texting,” applying scripture out of its biblical context to support your belief, can often lead you away from the truth. Often we may not be aware that we are taking scripture out of context. But it can have a devastating effect on others who have trusted this inaccurate interpretation scripture.
What truth does the scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:51 reveal? Perhaps the surrounding scriptures will bring some light to the meaning of the text.
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:50-58 NIV)
I wrote about the power of God’s Word in my book, Words That Change Everything: Speaking Truth to Your Soul. I know how vital it is to apply God’s Word to my life.
I’ve also witnessed the sting of misapplying God’s Word, implying that the verses of scripture say something different from intended. Seminary dean, Dr. Bill Tolar, once told his class in Biblical Backgrounds, “a text without context is a pretext.”
That sums up my response to those who use the Bible in a frivolous or thoughtless way.
So, the next time you see a “cute” saying, using scripture out of context, remember to do a little Bible study and find out what it really means.
“Words are powerful; take them seriously” (Matt. 12:36 The Message).
Can you think of an example of taking scripture out of context? Have you ever held on to a belief based on a number incorrect application of scripture?