These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. -- Jeremiah 29: 1 (ESV)
Perhaps sometimes it is done with the best of intentions. It is after all an uplifting verse. It is a motivational Scripture. It can provide hope. I know this is going to sound harsh but none of that matters if God did not actually it that way. The Bible is not our personal playground to find what scenarios and verse fragments make us feel warm and cozy beloved. The Bible does occasionally drive people away. Jesus Himself said that. He also said that we would experience tribulation as long as we were in this world but that through Him we overcome the world. Meaning we transcend it not that we get enamored with it. In these end days, we see the church compromising the true message of Scripture with increasing alacrity and arrogance. The Purpose Driven models of church growth teach pastors to steer clear of the true Gospel in favor of the sugar coated, watered down, Santa-Jesus that the goats would be willing to worship. As such, it seems most messages these days are a mixture of self-help and Kumbaya feel good sermonettes. The result is that purpose driven false teachers and even well intended yet deceived pastors everywhere have discovered the Rosetta Stone of false Christianity -- Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -- Jeremiah 29: 11 (ESV)
Beloved you know what I speak of. If you have spent any time in a modern Pentecostal church you have heard this verse promised to you over and over again. It is the verse Rick Warren used to fabricate the purpose driven theology. That God has some grand plan for you set before the foundations of the earth. Just complete this SHAPE application, let us baptize you, and you can get right to that purpose in our Security Ministry as soon as the results of your background check come in. Feeling down today? Don't you worry weary Christian because God has a plan for your life! Not for evil but to give you hope and a future! Except God did not actually say this to you beloved. He did not say it to me either. In short, we are being promised something God never promised. It is time for people who are charged with bringing the Word of God to stop Abusing Jeremiah 29:11. Let us reason together and go through the specifics.
The first point is very simple. This Scripture is not written to us. How do we know that? Read the key verse today which is the first verse of the chapter and you will see that God is specifically speaking to the exiles in Babylon. He is assuring them that He still has a plan for their future. I saw a pastor defending the misuse by stating that every verse is efficacious for the believer and that while not every verse was written to us it is written for us. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference of a verse being profitable and applying it directly to our lives. We can learn from every verse beloved. God does not waste a letter in His Word. You can read Jeremiah 29 and learn that God is a God who keeps covenants and does not forget His people. You can learn that He is overflowing in grace and mercy. What you cannot do however is take the promise that He made to the exiles and apply it to yourself. Why? Because that is not what God said! Let's apply this loose application logic to other verses:
And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. -- Matthew 27: 5 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." -- Matthew 19: 21 (ESV)
Are we starting to see what happens if we treat every Bible verse as direct application to our lives? Now, can we learn about consequences from the hanging of Judas? Of course. Does this mean God is providing some kind of instruction or direct application? Of course not. What about this promise made to the rich man? Is God instructing all of us to sell all we have and give it to the poor before following Him? Once again, of course not. We can however learn about turning money into an idol that blocks us from being able to follow God! All Scripture is God breathed for our learning beloved and even our rebuke. It does not mean that every verse directly applies to us. God promised Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky -- not us. He foretold Peter that he would deny Him three times -- not us. He promised the exiles that He still had a plan for their lives -- not us.