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Pointers along the way #93

Misunderstanding God's word
- Jacob Ninan

It is one of the common questions unbelievers ask us Christians, about why there are so many groups among Christians each with its own interpretation of the Bible. What they would like to say is that this goes to prove that the Bible is unreliable. That is a gross mistake. The fact is that we human beings are fallible creatures and that no one of us has understood everything rightly about what the Bible says.

What are some of the reasons why we misunderstand the Bible? My intention in looking at the subject is so that we can be more careful in future when we try to understand the truths of the Bible.

1. God promises understanding to those who fear (deeply respect) Him (Ps.25:14;111:10). Such people earnestly desire to honour God, to do His will and to be pleasing in His eyes. Can we expect to receive understanding if we approach God in a casual manner?

2. Jesus said that it is those who are sincerely interested in finding out God's will in order to do it who will be be able to see His will (Jn.7:17). If we are just curious to know many things but have no real interest in doing God's will, don't we think God can see through that?

3. What is our motive in getting understanding? Is it to make ourselves bigger or greater? How was Paul able to get such a high level of revelation of God which he could not pass on to us (2Co.12:4)? Is it not because he was not living for himself but for God (2Co.5:14,15)?

4. Those who want understanding will be always spiritually alert and seeking for it (Pr.2:2,3). In other words, it is something they value very much in their heart and they are always on the lookout for it, just as a businessman is looking for business opportunities.

5. God's wisdom is so wide and with so many sides to it, and all of us have so many limitations, biases and prejudices that we are unaware of, that it is impossible for us to get a totally balanced understanding of any part of the truth. Therefore if we want to be able to get nearer to the perfect truth about any subject, we must be open to correction and willing to change (Pr.15:32). We must keep in mind that other people, especially those who see things differently, have something to contribute that can round off our understanding (Eph.3:18,19).