Identify timeless truth!
At my mom’s home in Gardena, California, hangs a valuable wall clock. It’s the kind with fancy wood and a real wind-up spring. And every hour it ding-dongs to remind us of its presence. And with time its value has increased.
This wall clock, although important, often gets overlooked. It just hangs out, keeping quiet for the better part of each hour of the day. It is one of those furnishings we rush by without paying any attention to. That is until…
We need to be somewhere and are running late. During these fiascos, we jerk our head toward the clock to gauge the time, calculate how late we’re running, and then we rush out the back door.
Now suppose we open our Bible and rush through reading a chapter without stopping to see what its timeless truth is? What if we fail to grab the author’s main point? What if we miss that advice which works well in all generations and proves worthy in all of life’s circumstances?
Identifying the timeless truth proves crucial. It gives us greater perspective on life. It teaches us about God’s character. It guards us from misinterpreting His Word by giving us an eternal perspective.
So how do you find the timeless truth in a Bible passage?
First, start with a paragraph of Scripture, which is the basic building block of Bible fun. Read a paragraph and ask yourself, “What does this say about the character of God?” And “How does this fit with other Bible verses?” Asking these questions will prompt you to view this text from a larger vantage point.
Next, ask yourself how this paragraph fits within the book’s chapter? At this point, you can compare your proposed interpretation to see if it meshes with what the whole chapter says. Your timeless truth statement should fit within what the chapter argues or states. If not, you may need to revisit that paragraph in light of the chapter.
For example, take the challenging verse in Philippians 2:7 where Paul says Christ emptied Himself. By reading the verse alone, one can misinterpret that Paul is claiming the timeless truth is that Jesus was not divine since He emptied Himself of divine privileges. But this interpretation misses Paul’s point.
So we read verse seven in light of the paragraph, which begins with verse one and ends with eleven. This paragraph argues for unity. That we should look out for others’ interests. And then Paul gives us the example of Christ who exampled how to sacrificially serve others. And in serving, Christ united Himself to His Father’s will. Jesus and the Father were united just as we are to be united with other Christians.
From this, we learn the timeless truth that Jesus is united with the Father’s will. We also learn Jesus is humble and a servant. But lest we minimize Jesus to a non-divine man, we learn He will receive our confession of His Lordship to His Father’s glory.