I’ve been doing a different kind of study than I typically do. Or at least I’m getting a different kind of result. I study my Bible almost daily. (I refer to it daily, but some days I just don’t dive into it as an actual study, I only read…) When I actually study it, the Word speaks to me in different ways. Most often, literally. Sometimes, figuratively. And sometimes, not at all. Those times frustrate me, but make me realize that I am completely missing a point; and more often than not; an important point. (Read the Parable of the Four Soils in Matthew 13- we have to have ‘ears to hear’…) This is when my studying digs much deeper. And this is when I draw closer to Jesus.
You see, when I’m having a hard time understanding a verse, a story, or a message, then I know I need to really dig into it. Everything in the Bible has a purpose; it’s just not always an obvious purpose. And lately, I’ve been diving into some topics more than just a Book/Chapter study. For instance, I was challenged on an issue with a fellow Christian regarding a topic that differentiates our denominations. In order to understand his view and defend mine, I had to dive into multiple verses and research some historical background. Then with the controversies lately of our fellow Christians in the news, I wanted to understand why or how they could take the stance they took, and what action I would take if I were in their shoes. I have to admit, I am really enjoying this type of study. And it is consuming me with more information than I ever thought I needed or cared to know. (And through my latest blogs, you can probably see that they haven’t been my typical entries…) To me, this type of study brings the relevance of Scripture to the forefront of defense. I’ve stated it in the past, but for reiteration: you have to understand why you believe what you believe. You have to be able to defend your faith and your Jesus to others. (But note, that does not mean you have to always be on the defense.)
The gist of the Four Soils is that people who listen and want to really know Scripture understand what is written. The four types of soils represent different responses to God’s message. People respond differently because they are in different states of willingness. Those that want to continue to live their lives, don’t hear it and subsequently don’t really believe it. (Matthew 13:13) If you are truly seeking His Word, then you will understand what It says. (Matthew 13:12) But besides our understanding, we are responsible to use the knowledge we are given through it. When we stay in His Word, we not only can help others understand, but as pointed out earlier, help ourselves understand our beliefs. To have this understanding will be the only true defense of false teachings. It’s so easy to want to believe the easy way; the bountiful blessings, the peace, the easy life. But we know that that is not how this life will be while we are on this earth; (John 16:33); therefore we need to be prepared.
And being prepared means being able to differentiate between those that are trying to teach, and those that are trying to stir the pot (so to speak). And it helps us to understand that our being able to keep our mouths closed during controversy is helping to stop the spreading of false teachings. For instance, going back to a former blog, why do we insist on arguing our denominational differences? (Particularly when all that really matters is Jesus Christ. If He’s Who others preach to love, then let it go at that.) (John 14:6) We argue about details on how to worship, what to wear, who can teach, etc.; yet we miss the point that through all this discrepancy and disagreement, non-believers are even more confused at our so-called beliefs and have greater doubt. Religious speculation and theological arguments will only sidetrack us from the central message of the Bible. They may seem like valid, or even harmless debates, but they take our time away from actually doing His work. (1 Timothy 1:4) (Again, I am not saying we shouldn’t speak on topics that are strictly forbidden (ie: homosexuality, adultery, etc.), but that we should watch our arguments over some of the vague discrepancies (as stated above). (And I am not saying that having a healthy conversation or debate amongst a few is wrong; quite the contrary; it’s a great way to understand your own beliefs and a great introduction to a deeper fellowship with Jesus. (I can attest to that!))
I guess what I am truly trying to convey is that we’ve got to dig deeper into the Bible and It’s Message. Yes, It’s about our salvation through Jesus, but there’s so much more than that. We can be go with the shallow ‘faith’ that Jesus Is, Was and Is yet to come, but we don’t have to stop there… The answers, explanations and truths are there. We only have to dig a little deeper; and be receptive to what we find. (Matthew 13:23)