These days I have more ideas than time and energy to execute on those ideas.
I haven’t always been that way.
I used to think about one thing and work on that one thing until it was finished. Patient, persistent, never giving up.
Here’s one idea I’ve had fermenting for a while. If I have time and opportunity, I plan to write a book about it one day.
When we study Scripture today, we have this strong desire to understand, “What does this mean for me?”
I get it.
I’m just like you in this regard. I’m most interested in how GOD’s Word applies to me today.
We tend to be impatient people who dislike reading, especially reading something that isn’t obviously beneficial or entertaining to us.
And so, when we study the Scriptures, we focus heavily on the modern application to ourselves.
Furthermore, we tend to heavily emphasize GOD speaking directly to us through the Scriptures and under-emphasize seeing them as historical writings.
The combination of these leads to a problem:
We tend to overlook or undervalue Scripture’s message to the primary audience, its original recipients.
And when we do this, we miss out on the depth of the writings themselves and, sometimes, arrive at the incorrect application to us today.
Let me give you one small example to illustrate.
Early in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matt. 5:11-12 NIV)
While I believe Christians today are also blessed when people mistreat us, these statements are much more powerful when you focus on the primary audience.
The rebellious Jews, led by their religious leaders, persecuted and killed many Christians in the first century, including the apostles.
To be a Christian in the first century took real courage. And it took faith in Jesus’ promises during those times of persecution in order to remain firm.
Now this really is a minor example, but it’s the first one I thought of. The truth is that the Scriptures are full of similar principles, many of which are far more powerful.
When you study, I strongly encourage you to identify the intended message of Scripture to the original hearers and readers first before you seek its application to us today.
Now, I realize this may sound kind of duh! to you. I thought I was good at it too until I started paying closer attention. Then I saw mistake after mistake I’d been making.
Hopefully this is helpful for you. It has been for me.
Perhaps one day I’ll be able to write The Gospel to the Primary Audience.