One of the things we say at the Christian Research Institute without equivocation is that the Bible is divine as opposed to being merely human in origin; that God has spoken, that these are His Words, and that the Bible is the infallible repository of redemptive revelation. If God has spoken, what has God said? That of course is a question meant to focus your mind on learning to read the Bible for all its worth.
One of the common characteristics of false faith preachers today is their failure to be able to read the Bible for all its worth. This is typically personified by taking the Bible out of context. As such, they consistently use texts as pretexts for their faith fantasies. With respect to immediate context, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer misuse Romans 4:17 as a pretext for persuading their devotees that through the force of faith they can call things that are not as though they were. In other words, from their perspective of faith, we can create realities by speaking these realities into existence. Of course, the examination of the immediate context demonstrates that Romans 4:17 says nothing of the sort. To the contrary, Paul says that it is the God who gives life, and He calls things that are not as if they were—not us.
What Joyce and Joel do with respect to the immediate context of a verse Kenneth Copeland does to the broader context of a passage; the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 is a classic case in point. Rather than reading Mark 10 within its intended context, one verse is pulled out of context, and used as a pretext for the hundred-fold give-to-get hoax. The broader context of the passage precludes the pretext. Far from being a chapter focused on how one can get a hundred times what he gives, Mark 10 portrays the deceitfulness of riches. As such, the multiplication and division by Jesus is spiritual not physical; metaphorical not literal.
John Hagee takes text out of context phenomenon to a whole new dimension. Not only does he take text out of their immediate and broader context, but he also perverts the entirety of the biblical message. This is particularly disturbing when Christ is the object of his pretext. With bravado that quite frankly boggles my mind, Hagee asserts that the Jewish people wanted Jesus to be their Messiah, but Jesus absolutely refused. He goes on to say, the Jews were not rejecting Jesus as Messiah, it was Jesus refusing to be Messiah to the Jews: a clear perversion of the overarching context of Messiah’s teachings. It is hard to envision, anyone who’s read through the Gospels once knows full well that Jesus emphatically contradicted such sentiments throughout the entirety of His earthly ministry. Who can forget His emotionally charged words as He’s leaving the temple; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matt. 23:37). What about the words of the apostle John? “He came to that which is his own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Common decency alone should have been sufficient to absolve Jesus from Hagee’s unwarranted implication as self-contradiction. Giving Jesus the benefit of the doubt, on a matter of such grave consequence, I rightly have deemed an interpretive imperative. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, indeed the author of eternity does not contradict Himself, neither does He confuse His hearers.
Context! Context! Context! That’s the antidote to the compromise and to the confusion and to the contradiction of Christ and the Canon. We as Christians need to read the Bible for all its worth, otherwise we are going to be misled by a cacophony of voices that have a siren call that is leading us not towards biblical truth but rather away from biblical truth.