Sometime ago, I heard a woman express her dissatisfaction with her local church priest. Her chief complaint was that he never taught any Bible studies at her church and that his homilies contained nothing of real substance that she could chew on and digest. In this woman’s mind, she remained ignorant of spiritual things and was wholly lacking in biblical knowledge because of her pastor’s shameful negligence.
In faithfulness to God’s Word, I couldn’t allow her statements to go unchallenged. Lovingly and respectfully, I explained to her that it was up to each individual believer in Christ to study God’s Word on his or her own if he or she desired to grow in spiritual knowledge and understanding.
In ancient times, when many people didn’t know how to read or were too poor to pay for the expensive scrolls containing God’s Word, it goes without saying that they were utterly dependent upon their teachers and church leaders to teach them everything about God, His Kingdom, and how he desired them to live. The church leader or the teachers were the only ‘Bible’ such individuals had.
Today, however, when the Holy Bible can be purchased at minimal cost, and most Christian homes have at least one copy resting on a shelf or coffee table, there is no excuse for our remaining biblically ignorant and still expecting church leaders to teach us everything we need to know about God.
Christ Himself put upon each individual the responsibility of growing in the knowledge and understanding of God. In fact, according to Jesus, the more we demonstrate our faithfulness to learn the Word on our own, the more God will bless us with wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discernment beyond our years.
In the fourth chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus compared the Word of God to a lamp which gave off precious light. Let’s examine what Jesus said concerning this ‘lamp’ as well as the responsibility that each of us has when it comes to growing in spiritual knowledge. "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?" [Mk 4:21]. The purpose of a lamp is to give light to everyone in the room. You don’t hide the lit lamp under a bowl or bed, for this defeats the purpose for which the lamp was lit.
Likewise, God’s Word is a light. He gave it to us so that we could walk in the light of His Truth and not stumble by the darkness of this world. Christians who have Bibles in their homes, yet never take the time to study those Bibles so that God can reveal His Truth are like those who take a lamp, shove it under the bed, and remain in the darkness of spiritual ignorance.
Then, Jesus went on to say as follows: "For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open." [Mk 4:22]. God wants the hidden and concealed truths of His Word to be disclosed and brought out into the open. People who believe that God desires to be shrouded in mystery while ruling over an ignorant people need to reflect on what Jesus is saying. Are there times when we will read things which will be difficult to comprehend? Are there times when the meaning of certain things will be hidden from our eyes? Absolutely...but this is not permanent, and it is not because God is trying to play ‘hard to get.’ If the meaning of certain truths are hidden from our eyes, they are only hidden temporarily! God fully intends to reveal His Truth to your heart, but only when He decides that you are ready for such knowledge. Nothing is temporarily kept secret except in order that it may be revealed to us in the future. I cannot emphasize this truth enough. There are things that I am able to see in the Word of God now that I could not see twenty years ago. But I kept at it. I continued to study. I continued to seek. I continued to meditate, and God increased my understanding. He was faithful to His promise to eventually reveal to my heart those spiritual truths which, in my earlier years, were ‘concealed and hidden.’
Listen carefully to the warning that Jesus gave to us - a warning in which He expresses our individual responsibility to learn on our own. "Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you - and even more. Whoever has will be given more..." [Mk 4:24-25]. According to Jesus, the measure of thought and study we give to the Light of God’s Word will be the measure of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discernment which comes back to us.
It’s up to us to listen to and study God’s Word carefully, faithfully, and diligently so that God can increase our knowledge and understanding of spiritual things. According to Jesus, if we are faithful to do this, the Lord Himself will reveal more and more Truth to our hearts by blessing us with a knowledge and understanding beyond our years. The more we put into the study of God’s Word, the more He gives back to us in the way of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. You simply cannot outgive God.
Many don’t enjoy reading the Bible because when they do so, they read it improperly. The Bible should never be read like a novel, a newspaper, or a magazine article. It should be read slowly and thoughtfully. There has to be time in your reading to meditate and reflect on what you’ve just read. If you set aside an hour a day for Bible study, read for a half hour and then reflect on what you’ve just read for the remaining half hour. Reflecting and meditating on God’s Word make it come alive to us. They give God a chance to speak to us through His Word. But when we zip through the Bible, reading so quickly that we don’t have a chance to reflect, absorb or digest it, absolutely nothing is gained. We close the book, return it to its shelf, and walk away unchallenged and unchanged.
If we remain ignorant of spiritual things, it is because of our own laziness, negligence, and lack of discipline to study God’s Word on our own. It is not fair to put the blame for our ignorance and lack of understanding on the leader of a church. Jesus didn’t say, "With the measure the church leader uses, it will be measured to you..." Instead, Jesus put the responsibility on each of us as individuals by saying, "With the measure YOU use, it will be measured to you..."
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear what the Lord is saying to His Church.
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