About one year ago, I started doing things a little bit differently in my personal Bible study. Up until this point, I never really had what you would call “structure” to it. Most of the time, it was read, pray, and be done with it. And there isn’t much more to it now. But after listening to a podcast by a pastor of a larger church, the structure he gave was something I had been looking for.
Burk Parsons, a pastor of a reformed church, tweeted around the same time I was changing my study structure. The tweet said,
“I want my children to have boring testimonies.”
After analyzing this tweet, I realized that I was this kid. I was thinking as I was reading that my testimony was boring. I didn’t do anything that was too far off base. While I was growing up, I tried my best to stay within the boundaries my parents gave me. Because of their discipline, I never veered off too far from what I was supposed to be doing. Of course, those of us who have lived long enough know that correct, gospel-driven discipline does not guarantee what your children will do or not do. But I lived a pretty boring life.
What was also boring was my Bible study. My Bible study lacked authenticity from me and I knew it. So I searched and searched for ways to enhance it and bring myself to grips with Scripture. I told you I “re-structured” and had a new plan, but I also started reading through books of the New Testament. My starting point was the Gospel of John. Of course, the Gospel of John is different from the other three synoptic Gospels and is also the most textually criticized Gospel of the four. But I did not read chapters; I read paragraphs. I literally would read at most three to five verses at a time on average and meditate on those specific verses throughout the day.
I started in John on that specific day, whenever it was. Now I am in the fourth chapter of Romans. This brings me to the title of this post – “Reading the Entire Passage.”
We all know those specific verses (I call them “Instagram verses”) where they are like a good one-liner. I think Romans 3:23 would be one of them.
“..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23, ESV
This verse is a part of several in the Roman’s Road to Salvation, a habitual verse to lead someone to Christ, but do we really understand what the verse is actually meant to say? As I was reading through this specific paragraph, I realized that if we would read the entire paragraph, we could understand more about the Bible than we do already. Here is the paragraph (vv.21-26):
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, who God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Romans 3:21-26, ESV
When we take a step back and group the entire paragraph together, we get the context of the passage. God came to show His righteousness through His Son and because of His gracious gift, we can have eternal life through Christ. Of course, we look at 3:23 and think the same meaning, but now we can further understand why God did what He did. God sent His son, the justifier, to earth so filthy, lowly, depraved sinners could spend eternity in Heaven. God made sinners guilt-free through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
You do not see this truth unless you read the entire paragraph.