Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)
Since God wants everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4), surely He has ensured that this knowledge is attainable. In fact, understanding the will of God is not only possible, it is something the Lord expects (Ephesians 5:17). Jesus promised that those genuinely wanting to follow Him can and will know the truth (John 8:31-32). We have not only been given a Book that can be understood, but God has provided a revelation of His will that we can all understand alike! (see 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 1:27). The fact that there are currently so many conflicting interpretations of the Bible and so much religious division is not God’s fault. The problem is the many ways in which the word of God has been misused, misinterpreted, and misapplied. Jesus said to the Sadducees, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures…? (Mark 12:24). To possess the knowledge that God wants us to have, and has promised we can have, what is required?
The state of one’s spiritual heart is paramount to understanding God’s word. In John 8:27 the Jews did not understand what Jesus was trying to teach, and later He explained the reason. “Why do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to listen to my word” (v. 43). Their biased minds, hardened hearts, and preconceived misconceptions prevented them from understanding the truth (cf. v. 47). No matter how much of God’s word a person is exposed to, if his heart is not inclined to the truth he will never understand it (Matthew 13:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Jesus also said, “If anyone wills [wants] to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17). Notice that in order to know the will of God there must first be a personal willingness or desire (cf. 1 Peter 2:2; Revelation 22:17). But it is not simply a desire to know God’s will – one must first have the willingness to do God’s will. Bible study has to be more than a mere academic exercise. If one does not approach the Scriptures with a sincere desire to obey whatever the Bible instructs (Matthew 28:20), knowledge of the truth will always be beyond that person’s ability to grasp. Unfortunately, only a relatively few exhibit this willing disposition (Matthew 7:13-14).
The Lord also said that one must follow Him (i.e. be His disciple) in order to escape spiritual darkness and “have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus then revealed what is required to be His follower: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). One cannot abide in Jesus’ word unless he knows and understands it, and one cannot know and understand it until he takes the time to read, study, and meditate upon it. But even that is not enough. One must combine the acquired knowledge of God’s will with the existing desire to obey it. “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” (John 8:51).
Understanding the Bible is not for the lazy and indifferent. It takes time, patience, and concentrated effort. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). “These were more fair-minded than those [unreceptive Jews] in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed…” (Acts 17:11-12).
To help maintain the necessary attitude that leads to an understanding of God’s word, it is important to couple Bible study with prayer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). This does not mean, however, that God miraculously bestows wisdom on you without any personal effort on your part. The wise man Solomon instructed to “incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice to understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:2-5). Furthermore, by studying the Bible with a humble, prayerful attitude, it will become much harder to be misled by improper thoughts and personal biases.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you begin Bible study. Do I really want to understand God’s word? Do I have the desire to do whatever the Bible instructs me to do? Am I willing to invest sufficient time and effort to understand the Bible? Am I open-minded enough to change whatever beliefs or convictions I currently have if they conflict with what the Bible teaches?
“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Adapted from Getting to Know the Bible by Kevin L. Moore, pp. 35-37.
Originally posted on 7 April 2011 by Kevin L. Moore at http://www.poriruachurch.com. Quotations are from the NKJV.Original Photo Source