Philip asked the Eunuch, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30). Something prevented his understanding and thus he needed guidance. The Bible is a book given by God for the express purpose of directing man from earth to heaven. Its message is of such importance that without faithful obedience to it, one will be lost eternally in the lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. It is a Book that must be understood above all others. So much depends on one understanding what it has to say.
There must yet be some reason why people know so little about the word of God though they think they know so much about it. So let us reflect upon some of the hindrances to a proper understanding of the Scriptures.
1. “If any man will to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself” (Jn. 7:17). Jesus says in order for one to understand His teaching, he must be willing to do it. There is no promise that one desiring merely an academic knowledge of God’s word will be granted it. One must desire to know so that he might do God’s will. If one wills to do his will, this scripture says he shall know. So one thing hindering people in their knowledge of God’s will is their unwillingness to do his will.
2. Another thing contributing to the Biblical ignorance of people is that they expect something more difficult. They are looking for something unintelligible, and incomprehensible. Thus looking for something difficult, they overlook the simplicity of God’s message to mankind. It is as if one, expecting a question to have an intricate and complicated answer, is prone to overlook completely the obviously apparent answer. The Scriptures teach that God’s revelation to mankind is for all mankind. In Matt. 28:19, Jesus commands that the gospel be preached to all nations. In a parallel statement of the same commission, as Mark records it, Jesus commands that the Message be preached, not only to every nation, but to “every creature” of every nation. The gospel is not a message for a select few. It is not only for intellectuals, but for all men. Thus it must be a message simple enough for all men to understand it. So we should not approach the Scriptures looking for something difficult and mysterious.
A high I.Q., a higher education, no matter how intelligent we think we are, we must cast it aside in order to understand God’s Word. Paul said it this way, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8). This is why the wise and highly intelligent rarely, if ever, understand the Word of God. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor 1:26-29).
This is why I intentionally write simple words in lieu of a more sophisticated language, that even the most simple person can understand what the scripture is trying to convey. “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:4-5). Thus the world thinks I am simple that the simple might be wise. This I do in order to win souls, though foolish to the world yet wise to God (Prov 11:30).
3. Another thing that has contributed greatly to the present misunderstanding of the Bible is the fact that people approach the Bible with a preconceived notion as to what they shall find. They open their Bible, not opening it to see what God has said, but to see if perhaps they can find where God said something that looks a little bit like something they have said or believed. They only use the Bible to attempt to prove what they already believe, rather than studying it to believe and do what It says. If they want instrumental music, they revert to the old testament and human reasoning (Eph 5:19 f; Col 3:16). If they want women preachers, they suggest the silence of women was not written for them or didn’t mean what it exactly said (1 Cor 14:33-40 f; 1 Tim 2:11-15). If they want to commit adultery, they want to alter what Christ and his apostles wrote concerning such matters (Mt 5:32 ff; Mt 19:9; Rom 7:2,3; 1 Cor 7:39). When we go to the bible without preconceived ideas, the scripture is plain to understand. When we go to the bible to prove our desires, then it suddenly becomes complicated.
The Bible furnishes us with some examples of the fallacy of this method. Back in the Old Testament, in 2 Kings 5, we find the historical record of a man named Naaman, the captain of the armies of Syria, being healed of the dreaded disease of leprosy. Naaman had been told that Elisha, the prophet of God could heal him. But when Naaman went to see the prophet, he already had a mental picture of how the prophet would heal him. Naaman thought the prophet would surely make a big show out of his healing. But he did not. Instead, he sent a messenger out to Naaman; Elisha did not even go out himself. The messenger told Naaman to go dip seven times in the river Jordan. And the Bible says, “But Naaman was angry, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper” (2 Kings 5:11). And because the prophet did not do as he thought he would, Naaman almost refused to do what he said. In fact, had it not been for the rebuke of his servant, certainly he would not have obeyed. He wanted to be healed, but he wanted to prescribe the conditions. And if the prophet of God did not meet his self-prescribed conditions, he just would not obey. Many today are like Naaman. They want to be healed of their sins. They want their sins forgiven, but they want to dictate the conditions. If the Lord does not do it just like they thought He would, they refuse to obey His command. If the Lord’s plan is not their plan, they will have no part of it. We are not in position to dictate to God the terms of our salvation. When you open your Bible, be sure you do so with an open mind. Be sure you are seeking what the Lord has said instead of seeking to have the Lord confirm something you have already believed or said.
4. Another reason people know so little about the Bible is because of faulty study habits. In fact, it might be a more accurate statement of the situation if we were to say that people know so little about the Bible because of no study habits. Many Bible readers are not Bible students. One can repeat words without having seriously meditated on what he has read. Also many people read the Bible spasmodically. Perhaps today they will read a chapter. Then maybe two or three weeks later they will pick up the Book again, and continue their reading. One could not read any other book with any degree of success in such a way. Neither can one learn the Biblical message in this way.
5. Many cannot comprehend God’s Word because they seek the pleasures of this world and seek not to please God. Thus, God blinds them to the truth. “…because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:10-12). If we seek first the kingdom of heaven, if we seek diligently with all of our heart, if we study to be approved of God, we shall understand the will of God. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).
Conclusion: The consequences of being ignorant of some things are not so grave, but the Bible is one Box of which one must not be ignorant. The bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the travelers’ map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, the Christian’s charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibilities, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy contents.