It is said that in interpreting scripture, the three most important rules are "context, context, context", but at times I am compelled to lift certain verses from the page, to ponder them on their own, away from the verses before and after. I want to set them apart, like when I find some exceptionally lovely beads when I want to make some jewellry. They stand out from the others in the display, and I hold them up, examining and admiring them for their unique qualities. In that way, many verses are "stand alone" in their beauty and richness of truth.
Sometimes when we read scripture, verses that we have seen time and again can stop us in our tracks and let us go no further. In reading the above passage this morning, I was amazed, perhaps for the first time, by the list of incredible, encouraging truths it contains:
- We are to bless God. He is blessed already, in that He is Who He is. Yet we are to bless Him for that, praising and thanking Him for what He has done for us.
- He is merciful. Because of His mercy, His great mercy, He has acted on our behalf to make possible the following:
- We are born again. I don't think we see this term used many times in scripture. I can think of one other time, in the Gospel of John (3:5), when Jesus said we must be born again to see or enter the kingdom of God. The gist of it is, that we were once spiritually dead, but God in mercy brought us to life. In the spiritual sense, we are born dead. And it is a state that we cannot bring ourselves out of, any more than a cadaver can raise itself to life. Dead means dead, with no life or power existing to change that status. God brought us to life spiritually.
- We have a living hope. When we were still spiritually dead, we may have put our hope in various things for ultimate contentment and safety in this life, and the hereafter. Those hopes were dead; pointless and founded on lies, since they did not include hope in Jesus Christ as our Savior. But since we are now included in Christ, and are joint heirs with Him, we can be confident that our hope is secured by His perfect life, death, and resurrection. He is our hope, and He is a risen, living Saviour.
- We have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. It is perfect, secure, for sure, and forever. It will not diminish, fade, or disappear. That inheritance is our completed salvation, glorification and sanctification. It is reserved for us, and will be revealed in the last time, or the end of time as we know it.
- We are protected or kept by God! He didn't just save us, then leave us to carry on in our own strength. Grace is not just for our initial salvation; it is something that is poured out into our lives every moment that we live and breathe. God is able to keep us from falling, and to present us, blameless before Himself (Jude v 24).
God's word is so rich. These verses are not truly stand alone, in that they describe truths that are reinforced and reiterated throughout scripture. But as I consider all that is said in this one sentence, I am struck anew by God's mercy and provision for lost sinners. He gives us new birth, brings us into His family with Christ as our Brother, provides grace to keep us till the end, then welcomes us into eternity where we will enjoy sinless, blessed communion with Him forever.
If you are in Christ today, I hope these verses speak peace and joy to your soul as they do to mine.