I meant to have this out yesterday but over the weekend I had a tremendous burst of energy and plenty of time to use it, so I took the opportunity to get a lot done around the house. I sat very little all weekend, which was nice but also tiring. The good news is that it’s still on my mind, so it works to use it for a post today.
Have you ever thought about the fact that we tend to memorize verses without giving the context for those verses?
I think it’s extremely important to memorize Scripture. It gives us an anchor in difficult times, the security to stand up to temptation, and the reminders we need of who God is. So I bring this up only to point out how we could be doing ourselves even more good as we memorize Scripture.
Perhaps we should start with an example. Hebrews 4:12 is an often quoted, often memorized verse that is quite powerful on its own. It tells us (I’m quoting from the NKJV): “The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Good word. For sure. But the one verse without the context takes away some of the impact of the meaning of it. The book of Hebrews is all about how the law of Moses was not enough. It was good, but it’s purpose was to point out that we cannot achieve perfection. Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, died a horrific death with our sin placed upon Him, and rose again to conquer sin and death so that we could be clothed with His righteousness. This was necessary and it was a one time deal. Nothing more had to be done. Nothing more could be done. Christ is sufficient.
Hebrews 4:12 actually fits in super well with this theme, but we memorize it without considering that. But think about it. The law dealt with outward actions, yet all of Scripture, even the law, shows us that in our hearts and in our minds we are completely depraved. Scripture pierces us; it discerns our thoughts and intents. It tells us we are evil. If we left it at the law, and frankly if we left it at just Hebrews 4:12, we would be pretty depressed. There would be no hope, and what is the point of living if there is no hope?
BUT THERE IS HOPE!!!!
Keep reading in Hebrews 4 and you will find three verses we also often quote and perhaps even memorize. Here are the last three verses of the chapter, thanks to blueletterbible.org [Heb 4:14-16 NKJV] 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all [points] tempted as [we are, yet] without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Guys! I’m literally almost in tears here. This is such good news! Christ KNOWS what it is to be tempted, to be tried, to go through the worst humanity has to offer, but He. Didn’t. Sin. Ever. Not once. He knows hunger. He knows pain. He knows rejection. He isn’t surprised by it because He’s sovereign and He isn’t unaware of it because He’s human. And because of this, because He is perfect and holy and righteous and just, because He is acutely aware and human, He was able to truly conquer our sin, to take the punishment of death we deserve, and now, oh now, dear ones, we can go to Him. We can bring our hurts. We can bring our needs. We can bring our wants. We can lay it all at His feet with the absolute confidence and certainty that He knows all and loves us in spite of that.
So is Hebrews 4:12 a powerful bit of Scripture? Absolutely! I love to consider how we can be so absolutely certain that the Word of God is more than just a great piece of literature. I love the knowledge that it has power. But how much more meaningful it is to consider that the power in it brings me to my knees with sorrow for my unworthiness of God’s love and lifts my chin and says to me, “But God…”
See, not only does this verse exist in a chapter and a book, it exists in the context of the entirety of Scripture. And there we find passages like Ephesians 2:4-7. Again, I could weep with joy over what these verses tell us, the hope found in them. Read them slowly, cherish them, savor them. Here they are, again thanks to blueletterbible.org [Eph 2:4-7 NKJV] 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
We were dead, you and I, and we couldn’t do anything about it, but God could and did. He made us alive. And He didn’t stop there. He raised us up. He seated us with Christ Jesus in Heaven. Positionally, the moment we believed in Jesus as sufficient for our salvation, we were seated next to Christ in Heaven. Now, we can tell pretty clearly we aren’t in heaven yet. But the day is coming when we will be there and we will see the ultimate fulfillment of these words. God’s mercy and grace and love mingled perfectly with His justice and holiness and righteousness at the cross so that He could be glorified and we could be with Him. That is very good news! But without the context, Hebrews 4:12 and so many other verses we memorize lose some of that power that points us to hope.
So memorize verses! Please! It’s a wonderful habit to have, but I challenge you when you do to consider the larger context of that verse and I bet it will become even more meaningful as you fill your mind with it.