When I was fifty years old, I made the decision to follow Jesus, accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I had no church affiliation, and few Christian friends. When the Holy Sprit took up residence in my heart, I couldn't wait to find out more about Jesus. My husband and I found a small church, and I began to read the Bible. One evening, my husband, who was not a believer yet, said to me, "I think you could become a fanatic, if you're not careful." Two weeks later, he went forward and accepted Christ. Then we both tried to read the Bible together. The Bible is not an easy read for a baby Christian. We bought books, many books to help us understand the Bible, and to say the very least, we found the authors had opposing points of view on many things. Some said the Bible contradicts itself and is full of inconsistencies. One Author actually based his book on the premise that the Bible was only a book of history and myths. Finally, with the help of our pastor we found a Bible study. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we found God's principles, connections, and no inconsistencies in His Word. We still read books about the Bible, but with a better understanding, and a little discernment, we're able to make wiser choices.
Never Study Counterfeits
The genuine article in this case is God‘s Scripture--the Bible. If you're consistently studying its contents, you'll come to find you gain a very clear discernment of truth. Treasury Department agents used a similar practice in the early 20th century for spotting counterfeit currency. They simply studied the legitimate bills until they memorized all of their characteristics. The applied reasoning here is that there's only one authentic process against many attempting to copy or duplicate the bills. It's so much easier to master the one than to frustrate over the many. In addition, the closer the fake comes to appearing real, the easier it's accepted. Try your Monopoly money at the grocery store.
I'm sure most of you have heard this analogy before, but this simple approach also applies to understanding the Bible. The books on the Bible confused us with their different interpretations. Find the one and only truth by studying God's Word while being guided by His Holy Spirit. You should never pursue truth on intellect alone. Nor should you rely solely on the varied and opposing positions of earthly scholars and then pick-and-choose from these points of view to satisfy your acquired beliefs. Just let the Bible interpret the Bible by diligently ferreting out all of its subtle truths, connections, principles, and consistencies, while asking God to reveal them as you genuinely allow Him to direct the process. (Mark 12:13 14) Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth…
Whoa, does this mean that any modern or ancient belief system grounded in human intellect alone, and does not follow authentic Scripture to the letter, becomes counterfeit? Let's take a little side trip into the Religion of Evolution. Here we find scientists, actually studying God's Creation. They arrogantly use intellect to explain our existence. The more they use scientific facts in their attempt to prove this position, the more they lull their many followers into a state of satisfied success and pride.
Romans 1:20 22 (NIV) For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…
Since the same Creator who made all things also gave us His written word, we can use His physical world to glorify Him by looking at its laws and principles from the perspective of intelligent, design and purpose. When the spiritual and physical match, we can be sure the Creator is teaching us something. The amount of truth we find is always directly proportionate to our heart's desires and motives.
Can we find truth by simply trying to prove our own point-of-view? My denomination says, - or - our Hebrew/Greek scholars say, - or - Dr. Knowitall's studies reveal...instead, maybe we should listen to His point of view. Please Lord, help me understand You better. I love You and I'm seeking Your truths. Reveal them to me even if they go against the limited understanding I have acquired over the years.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 4:3 4 (NIV) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. Does this sound familiar. Do the teachers in your children's school tell the kids that everyone is a winner--there are no losers? Just wait until they get out into the real world and find out the truth.
Never Manipulate Scripture to Fit Your Own Needs
"God helps those who help themselves." Most people think this is a verse from the Bible. I'm far from an expert, but I've never found it, and it's not in Strong's Concordance. Sometime in the distant past, someone made it up and passed it off as a Bible verse, or took a different verse and put their own spin on it--and many folks believed it. The truth is; this is exactly opposite to God's principle. Jesus wants you to turn to Him for help. (Proverbs 3:5 7) Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (Luke 11:9) "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
To discover the authentic truth about God and His ways, we need to follow the entire Word of God using fixed Bible principles. This doesn't mean carefully selecting verses out of context and applying predetermined ideas. This kind of forced manipulation leads to slightly modifying the original word meanings or twisting verses around to fit belief positions. Even in the most sophisticated reporting systems, financial gurus can easily arrange data to show profit or loss, outstanding performance and the need for more budget money. (Do you really believe our unemployment rate is 8.1%? I think it's much higher.) We have a perfect model of that on Wall Street and in our Banking Systems. Our economy is upside down because we have manipulated our system until it's as weak as a rotten rubber band. Scientists can show the Evolution of Mankind from Apes.
This Scripture manipulation technique was evident with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They continually utilized Scripture and applied their own belief systems to prove their points throughout Christ's ministries. Selective searching is an important study method used by some to enhance the meaning of the Bible, or to prove a point-of-view contradictory to its overall teachings. There is only one truth in God's Word (John 14:6) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I Corinthians 2:14) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. A God-fearing person must always rely on God's Spirit to find wisdom, understanding, and truth. Without a doubt, Bible schools and scholars enhance our understanding of God's Word. Thank the Lord for the universities and colleges that educate our pastors and leaders, give the teachers in those institutions the wisdom to instruct. Many of the men and women who graduate, have the power of the Holy Spirit guiding them as they move on to their churches or mission fields. But regardless of how impeccable their credentials, some of the good and faithful folks who come from those schools walk out into a world where Satan is waiting for them--they get involved in a religion that isn't Bible based--or they soon become progressive and politically correct. They write books that are full of error. We have a personal responsibility, Christian, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to stay in God's Word. Saul is a classic example when he meticulously studied the Law (Old Testament) without God's help. Then, he doggedly persecuted early Christians through his error of understanding. Should we rely on man's understanding? On the other hand, do we seek God's counsel? Who would prove to be the most beneficial and accurate?
Humbly look to God for understanding and truth when you study His Word. Be willing to listen as His Holy Spirit guides your thoughts through to a clear revelation of truth, sometimes unfolding a bit at a time over many years. Other times, Scripture becomes clear in an instant, like a brilliant light. Words seem to jump off the page as you read them. When you listen to the Holy Spirit, it will surprise you what God can do.
Many people say, "What difference does it make if we don't understand the Bible? Just accept it by faith. God said it; I believe it. It's finished."
Others say, "This doesn't change my love for Jesus, or His love for me."
Thousands of believers have claimed these statements, and they're true. However, Satan uses these statements to cloud issues we should clearly understand from God's Word. He would also have us believe there's information in the Bible with which we needn't bother.
God is, and always will be interested in every minute detail of our individual lives. Would we want it any other way? Why, would we think for a minute, He isn't pleased when we're interested in everything He has to tell us in His Book of Love? Everything in His Word is there for our benefit. (2 Timothy 3:16 17) All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
In the end, the reason I went on my search, picked up my Bible to begin with, was to find out about Jesus. I wanted to know everything I could find out about the One who died to make me free. I didn't want to miss a thing. The source of His truth is His Word. If we want a wonderful closeness with our Creator, we'll take time out of our busy lives to look into the Book of Life with a concerted effort and eager enthusiasm. Sure, it’s OK if we don't. We can simply rest on our God-given eternal life. But what a joy to search the Scriptures for the endless bits of information He put there, not just to add color to an ancient story, but for our benefit. I wanted to know Him more intimately by reading all of His Love Letters. The Psalmist puts it so well in (Psalm 42: 1-2) As a deer pants for streams of water, my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
The answer for the child of God is, any time we desire, because He dwells in us, we can search for Truth and have a relationship with Christ through His Word.
Jacki McGuyer - Christian Fiction Author
Where Inspiration and Fiction Come Together for a Great Read