concludes our study of the question, “Can we understand the Bible?” Let’s start where we left off in the
last article. If the will of God can be understood, why then 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. Let’s consider some of these people problems.
Some people are too “smart” (proud)
to understand the Bible. Even the simplest points are seen as “foolishness” to some (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-21).
A prime example of this is the subject of baptism. The New Testament clearly teaches that baptism is essential to salvation
(Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21), but many people don’t see it that way. Why? Because it seems foolish
to them that being immersed in water could have anything to do with our salvation. And because it seems so foolish to them,
they come up with some other explanation of the passages.
Some people are too carnal (or worldly) to understand
the Bible—“the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). There
were certain teachings the Corinthians were unable to receive, because they were “still carnal” (1 Corinthians
3:3). Why do so many stumble over Jesus’ teachings on divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19:9? It’s not because
the basic teaching is unclear. It’s because some try to alter the passage to fit their worldly way of thinking. Read
the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-44, where he talks about going the extra mile, loving your enemies, etc. A carnal mind
will have an awful hard time comprehending what Jesus is saying.
Some people are not seeking truth; they are looking
for what fits their pre-conceived notions. They try to make the Bible say what they already believe. And if we “twist”
hard enough, we can make the Bible say about anything we want. To illustrate, suppose someone wanted to justify hanging himself.
He could first go to Matthew 27:5 where it says Judas “went and hanged himself.” Then he could turn to Luke 10:37
where Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” Then, for the clincher, he could go to John 13:27 where Jesus says, “What
you do, do quickly.” When we put these verses together, we’ve got Jesus telling us to go hang ourselves, and to
do it quickly. This illustration perhaps borders on the ridiculous, but it does show how we can force the Bible to say some
Finally, there’s the point we’ve made
in previous articles. Some people do not make the necessary effort to understand the Bible, and it does take some (Proverbs
2:1-5; 2 Timothy 2:15). A lot of false teaching can be traced back to a lack of study. Ideas get taught before thorough study
has been made. In last week’s article, we conceded that there are some difficult passages in the Bible. But the more
we study, and the more we grow in knowledge and wisdom, the easier these passages become.
Let me conclude with a personal note. My own understanding
of the Bible is far from perfect. There is much in the Bible that I still don’t understand. But I do not intend to quit
trying. I want my life to be conformed to the will of God, and I know that in
order to do that, I must keep reading and studying. I beg all our readers to
do the same.
We hope you have enjoyed
this study, and encourage you to continue your study of God’s word. We
hope we can help in every way possible. Please let us know. If you have any questions, please: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s final note: The only reason that we can think that someone would teach that you
cannot understand the bible is that they do not want you to try. Sound gospel
preachers teach their students to think for themselves, and they are overjoyed when they see their students studying and coming
to their own conclusions, even if this sometimes conflicts with their own thinking on some subjects. It is critically important that your beliefs are based on what God says, not on what other people believe.