continue our study of the question: Can we understand the Bible? Here is quick review of the points made so far: 1) Jesus
expected people to understand the Scriptures, even admonishing those who failed to understand. 2) To say that God’s
word cannot be understood reflects on either God’s desire to communicate with us or His ability to do so—or both. 3) If God’s word cannot be understood, then God’s purposes are severely
There are, of course, some very difficult passages
in the Bible, a fact which even the Biblical writers do not deny. Speaking about the writings of Paul, the apostle Peter said:
“…in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction,
as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). Notice two things in this passage. First, it says hard to
understand, not impossible.
Secondly, there is no indication given that because
these passages are hard to understand, we can each have “our own interpretation.” The passage even condemns those
who would “twist” (or distort) the true meaning of these passages. If we “grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18), the hard passages become a little easier for us—we’re able to handle the “meat”
as well as the “milk” (Hebrews 5:11-14).
But why would God even want to make some passages
hard to understand? Why not make it where we can all understand, with the least amount of effort? The word of God, written
the way it is, has a way of separating those who love the truth from those who don’t (2 Thess. 2:9-12), the humble from
the proud (Matt. 11:25), the honest from the deceitful (2 Pet. 3:16), the diligent from the lazy (2 Timothy 2:15). Proper
understanding is reserved for those who want it very badly (Proverbs 2:1-5).
Consider one other surprising point about difficult
passages. There are some things in the Bible we will never understand. But isn’t the whole point of these articles that
we can understand the Bible? That’s right, and we’re not wavering from that conviction. In saying there are things
we will never understand, we’re not referring to those things that reveal God’s will to us. We’re talking
about those things that are incidental to the main message. We don’t know for sure the nature of Paul’s thorn
in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), but the main point of that passage is very clear. We may not know the meaning of all
the symbols in the Book of Revelation, but we shouldn’t have any trouble understanding God’s will for us in that
book. You see, there is a big difference between understanding the will of God (Eph. 5:17) and understanding every word in
But if the will of God can be understood, why do we have
so much division in the religious world? Why do different churches teach different doctrines, even teaching different plans
of salvation? Is the Bible to blame? I certainly believe it is a “people problem,” and not a Bible problem. We
will conclude this series of articles next week by looking at some of these “people problems.”
In Lesson 4 we will
take up the question of why there is so much division in the religious world today.
If you have any questions, please: