Enjoy Your Bible - Part 1
Enjoy Your Bible
The Question of Motivation
The Bible itself provides all the incentives that one needs to study the Bible diligently. 1. Apart from the Bible, man is blind and incapable to discovering spiritual truth on his own (Proverbs 16:25; Jeremiah 10:23). 2. The only way that we can know what is on God’s mind is for God to reveal it to us, and the Bible is God’s complete and final revelation concerning everything that is right and wrong and good and evil(1 Corinthians 2:9-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 16:13; 17:17). 3. There are many false teachers and false doctrines in the world, many false teachers are deceptive in their approach, speech, and practices (Romans 16:18; 2 Peter 2:1), and the only accurate measure of truth and error is the Scriptures (1 Timothy 6:3-4; 2 John 9; Hebrews 5:14). 4. If we embrace error, even ignorantly, we can end up condemned! ("Let one no deceive you" Ephesians 5:6; "who has bewitched you" Galatians 3:1; 4:11; "I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument" Colossians 2:4; "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception" 2:8). Being deceived by a very good speaker or a very subtle error, doesn’t remove our accountability to God (1 Timothy 2:14 "quite deceived, fell into transgression"). If people really believed that their eternal destiny depended upon the proper understanding of what the Bible teaches, then the question of motivation would take care of itself.
Jesus and His apostles clearly did not believe that grace would cover those who teach or embrace doctrinal error (2 Timothy 2:15-18; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 22:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23).
The Love for the Truth
"And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance" (Luke 8:15). "And with all deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved…in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). Note, one has to be willing to be honest before they ever become a Christian. Bible study will be a waste of time if we refuse to be honest with the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:7).Well, what does a love for the truth look like on a practical level?
- People who love the truth are willing to accept the idea that God has the right to tell us what to do, that God is capable of giving understandable instructions, and that God never demands more than man can provide or accomplish.
- I am willing to abandon and reject all preconceived ideas and practices which contradict what the Bible teaches (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Mark 16:16; 1 Timothy 3:1).
- I have abandoned a personal agenda and only desire to know what God wants me to do and believe (Acts 17:11; 10:33 "Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord").
- I have rejected all human measurements of success, truth, importance, and status, and only desire to do the will of God. What God thinks about me is of far more importance than what people think about me (John 12:42-43; 9:27-38; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29 "We must obey God rather than men"; Philippians 3:7-9).
- I am willing to turn my entire life over to God, including my entire thought process. I am willing to let the Bible dictate to me not only what I should do, but also what I would think, feel, and believe (2 Corinthians 10:5 "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"; Philippians 4:8 "Let your mind dwell on these things"; 1 Peter 2:1 "….putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander"; James 1:21 "…. putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness").
- I realize that I don’t know everything, but I am willing to sit at God’s feet and humbly receive instruction. "In humility receive the world implanted, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21).
- I am willing to believe the truth, even if it causes division in my family, or among my closest friends (Matthew 10:34-37).
- I am not offended by the truth even when it condemns me, my favorite opinion, pass time, pleasure, or activity, and even if it condemns someone that I dearly love (Acts 2:23,37; Galatians 2:11-13).
- I will believe what the Bible says even though all the influential and powerful voices in the surrounding culture argue otherwise(Romans 3:4; 1 Corinthians 1:21 "The world through its wisdom did not come to know God"). I will believe what the Bible says even though I am ridiculed, belittled, and classified as an ignoramus for doing so (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 6:4-8). I will believe the truth even if that belief costs me material possessions, promotions, financial security, human-praise, or dear friendships (Hebrews 10:32-34).
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6). The person who hungers after a relationship with God, who longs to be approved in His sight, and desires to be with Him for eternity will realize that one cannot separate a love for God from a love for His word, "I delight in Thy law" (Psalm 119:70); "I wait for Thy word" (119:81); "O how I love Thy law!" (119:97); "Therefore I love Thy commandments" (119:127); "For I longed for Thy commandments" (119:131).
This hunger for the rightness of God must take precedence in the heart of an individual over a hunger for wealth, human praise, status, pleasure, human family and friendships, peace, comfort, and every other earthly incentive, "Above gold, yes, above fine gold" (Psalm 119:127); "They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb" (Psalm 19:10).
You Can Understand The Bible
Another critical foundation stone to enjoying your Bible and understanding it correctly is the conviction that you can understand what you are reading (Ephesians 3:3-5). When people start thinking that the Bible can only be understood by some elite class, or can only be interpreted when someone discovers the secret code, or, can only be explained when we cast aside reason and opt for some off-the-wall dreamy and fuzzy thinking, they have forgotten that God gave this book to the common people (1 Corinthians 1:26). That the Bible speaks to us not only of the things which constantly surround us, but in the language which a plain people can most easily understand. Remember, the Bible is called a "revelation" (that is, an "uncovering", something "made known" (Ephesians 3:3). If the Bible cannot be understood by the common man, or by the sinner, then it is clearly not a revelation, and is absolutely useless.
- David believed that the Bible was very understandable and practical (Psalms 19:8 "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple"); "Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies ...I have more insight than all my teachers ...I understand more than the aged…From Thy precepts I get understanding" (Psalm 119:98-104).
- Jesus believed that even His enemies could understand the Word of God (John 5:46-47; Matthew 22:31). He also believed that people who understand the will of God and put God’s will into practice (Matthew 7:21,24ff); "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" (Luke 10:26); "Go and do the same" (10:37).
- Various instructions are given on the assumption that one can understand the Bible. Would Paul have commanded us to "all agree"(1 Corinthians 1:10); "understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17); and "handle accurately the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), if we could not understand the Bible or understand it alike? "If Eve, Noah, Saul, and Naaman could understand their instructions from God, one living in a better age should be able to do the same" (The Spiritual Sword, October 1970, p. 49). This last point should really make us think. "Where in the Bible did God ever excuse people for not properly interpreting the Scriptures which had been given to them?" "Where in the Bible do we find honest men and women unable to understand God’s instructions to them?" "Where does God ever apologize for giving a revelation which is simply too confusing for the average person to interpret?"
- Do not be intimidated by people who claim that only experts can properly interpret the Scriptures. First, Jesus said, "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself" (John 7:17). A willingness to obey God is far more crucial to understanding the Bible than even a secular education. Second, many intelligent people in the First Century rejected the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:26; 1:20; 3:19-20). Thirdly, history has proven that when it comes to spiritual truth, the academic world is often leading the way towards apostasy rather than towards the right interpretation.
One Must Believe it All
"The sum of Thy word is truth" (Psalm 119:160); "I esteem right all Thy precepts concerning everything" (119:128); (Matthew 5:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:16). It is pointless and profitless to study the Bible and yet pick and choose what one wants to believe and what one wants to reject. Believing part of the Bible is not good enough (Numbers 20:12).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017