Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why 501(c)(3) of Title 26?

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Two career changes ago I got to give money away through a 501( c )3 foundation – and there were multiple rules for how that should be done. Our particular foundation had to be doubly careful where the contributions went – or they could lose their own IRS ruling that allowed people/corporation’s donations to them not to be tax-deductible.

That has absolutely nothing to do with reading your Bible – except as an example as to why it is essential to have chapters and verses in Bible study.

Suppose I said to you that I’d like for you to read the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus in the book of John? I know (as most Christians know) that you could turn directly to chapter 3, and those sample people could tell you from their memory verse 16.

While speaking with someone wanting a donation from the foundation, I would explain they needed to comply with 501(c)(3). Rather than read the entire IRS code, or even Title 26, and figure out what was required, they could go directly to the section/paragraph/sub-paragraph of Title 26.

That’s why chapter and verse numbers are convenient – even though they are not included in the original documents. It is interesting to read the Bible without the inserted verse numbers – or arbitrary paragraphs. Yes, even paragraphs were not part of the original documents. Nor commas, semi-colons or periods. Today’s rules of grammar did not apply.

However, don’t you find them easier to keep track? At least of where you are? Even those pesky page numbers that are not original.

My thoughts on this were generated by someone who expressed a concern that doctrine is based on single verses. And I looked at that concept in a number of blogs. My favorite also mentions John’s third chapter, and this paragraph:

Read the chapter – not just that one awesome and beloved verse. Find out to whom Jesus was speaking, why the man came to see Him, the answers Jesus gave. Put the verse in context. It increases our knowledge when we do, but it doesn't change the message of the verse as it stands alone. As someone mentioned in another thought today, “It is what it is.”

No matter what verse(s) are posted in any blog or article, read them in context. In the above blog, I mentioned verses in Genesis, John and Revelation. To understand them, you need to read them in context. My personal preference is to read the Bible through at least once a year, which puts it all in context, even all the lists of names and genealogy in the Old Testament!

Since I won’t blog without scripture, here are two important ones – from that third chapter, and another about what to do with it:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Then do as well as the Bereans:

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)

Do not remove the verses from their context. Who is God? What is the world? How do we not perish? What is everlasting life? Go ahead – see if these things are so.

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