Thursday, July 01, 2010

Can You Understand Your Bible?

I meet Christians all the time who say, “I don’t really read the bible because I don’t have the training needed to really understand it.” I thought about this as last Sunday we finished our study called LIAR through 2 Peter here at Grace Church. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter speaks of the reliability of the writings of Paul giving three characteristics. First, Peter confirms the authority of Paul’s writings. In the end of verse 16 he speaks of them as being as “the rest of Scripture.” So Peter is making it clear that Paul’s writings are part of the Word of God. Back in verse 15, Peter confirms the sources of Paul’s writings by saying that he wrote, “according to the wisdom given to him.” Where did that wisdom come from? Peter said back in 1:20-21 that Scripture did not come by human interpretation or as an act of human will, but that the Bible was written as men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke for God.

But in verse 16, Peter also addresses the challenge of Paul’s writings. He says, “in which are some things hard to understand.” I have to be honest. When I read that, I sat back in my chair in my office, took a deep breath, smiled, and said “AMEN!” I don’t know about you, but I have found some of Paul’s writings to be difficult to understand. Have you? But let me follow that thought for a moment. Notice the word “some.” Peter says that “some” of Paul’s writings are hard to understand. He didn’t say “all” of Paul’s writings were hard to understand. Nor did he say that “most” of Paul’s writings were hard to understand. He said “some.” Now if “some” of Paul’s writings are hard to understand, what then must also be true of “most” of Paul’s writings? “Most” of Paul’s writings must be not so hard to understand. Are you following me?

I had this discussion with a couple of Elders a couple weeks ago. In the Americanized church we have communicated indirectly, and in some cases directly, that to really understand the Bible you have to have a seminary degree and you have know the Biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew. Now there is no question that these things are very helpful. I have a seminary degree and I find it very helpful in my study of the Bible. I was a Greek minor in college and I have found that also to be very helpful in my study of Scripture. But by our elevating these things, is it possible that we have communicated to the average church member that they can’t really understand the Bible on their own? Though there are parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand, any believer, as the Holy Spirit indwells, them, teaches them and leads them can understand the plain truth of Scripture.

Let me also point out this. Peter said that some of Paul’s writings are “hard” to understand. He didn’t say they were “impossible” to understand. Yes, some parts of Scripture take a lot more study and effort to understand than others, but by the Spirit of God I can understand it because everything I need to know to do everything God has called me to do is right here in the Bible. In other words, we can’t get lazy. That, according to verse 16, is exactly what the false teachers of Peter’s day did. As a result they “distorted” Scripture. The word “distort” means they “tortured” it. And they didn’t stop with the hard to understand passages, they went on to distort and torture the rest of Scripture as well. More tomorrow.


Jeff said...

But.... YOU ARE TRAINED!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Excellent post... thanks for your concise and organized thoughts on the matter of undertanding our Lord's Word.