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by Jacob Ninan
Many times when we read the Bible we don’t see what is written there because we already ‘know’ what is there. We may have read it many times or heard from preachers what the passage means, and so we don’t really expect to see anything else there. In this way we many times miss hearing God ourselves or we continue with some wrong understanding. Let me use one example to illustrate this point.
The Bible says, “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light” (Gen.1:3). I ask, “How did light actually come into existence?” Did God just say the words and then the light just came into existence? Who created light?
If I understand right, most Christians would say that God was speaking aloud, and that as soon as He said those words, light came into existence. Let us examine what this would imply in practical terms. Scientifically speaking, light is a very complex phenomenon. Scientists are not clear even now how to explain it fully using particle physics or wave theory. Think also of the complex inter-linkages light has with chemistry, biology and other aspects of science. If we think of it like this we get the idea that an extraordinary amount of intelligence is behind the design of light and that only God could have created it the way it is, with perfect balance and harmony with all other aspects of this universe. When we say that God said these words and then light came instantly, we imply that all this intelligence operated instantaneously in the process of design and creation of light. Who could have carried out such a design and creation except the omnipotent and omniscient God?
Now the crucial question is, “Is it correct to say that what God did was to speak those words, and when God’s words came forth light came into existence?” This implies for many people that God’s spoken words have such tremendous power that once He spoke, those things would get created. In other words, it was God’s spoken words that created light. Some people go on to extrapolate that when we speak, as children of God, our words too have power to make things happen.
Let us consider another explanation. Note what happened subsequently in the process of creation. God said, “Let there be an expanse …” and then He created the expanse (v.6,7). Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse …” and then He created two lights and placed them (v.17,18). God spoke about fish and birds and then went on to create them (v.20,21). He spoke about animals and man and went on to create them (v.24-27). In other words, He first declared what He intended to do, and then went on to do them. Is it possible that this is what happened even in the case of light and vegetation where it looks at first glance that things just happened automatically (v.3,11,12)?
Some others say that God the Father spoke, and God the Son who is also called the Word, executed the words. This seems like a plausible explanation because it says in the New Testament about the Word that nothing has come into being except through Him (Jn.1:3). However this also depicts the position that it was God and not just spoken words that created light.
The basic question I am bringing up is, “When we read the word of God should we just believe what is written, or should we also try to understand it?” On one hand we hear godly men say, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” This, of course, means that we dare not question what God has said. But that is not the context in which I raise the question about whether we should just believe what the Bible says, or whether we should also seek to understand it before believing it.
Put this way, almost everyone would agree that we should also understand what we believe. But the trouble is that there is such a lot of warning being given out by many preachers about reason being the enemy of faith and how we should simply believe, that we tend to neglect the actual aspect of thinking about what we hear or read from teachers and preachers. There is also such an aura built around great teachers and prophets that we hesitate to examine anything they say. We just receive what we hear or read without questioning. It is because of this tendency that error spreads so fast. Don’t we need to preserve ourselves?
-- Published in the Light of Life magazine, May 2008
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