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How do we read?
- Jacob Ninan
You know the story. Jesus and the disciples had set out in a boat into the Sea of Galilee, and a great storm arose that threatened to sink the boat. Jesus was sleeping, and the disciples woke Him up, asking Him why He was not bothered that they were going to perish. Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and the sea became calm. You also remember how the Sunday School teacher told us about how Jesus was so much at rest in the middle of the storm that He could sleep calmly, and you have never questioned it! This is an example of how we accept things from Bible teachers without questioning, and how afterwards whenever we read that portion we merely recollect the teaching and go on. Have you thought about the fact that Jesus was sleeping, totally unaware of the storm going on till He was woken up? It was not a matter of being calm in the midst of the storm! (On the other hand, when He woke up suddenly and found Himself in the midst of a storm and He kept His presence of mind - that's something else, isn't it?)
Is this typical of how we read the Bible? If it is, we have placed ourselves at the mercy of our teachers! If they are wrong, so will we be! This was the case when only the teachers had the Bible with them, and the rest of the people had to simply take what was spoken to them. But fortunately now we all have Bibles with us, and also access to all kinds of translations, concordances, dictionaries, etc. Now there is no excuse for us to take things second hand from the teachers. Even the least of us can read the words ourselves and ponder over them. We can ask the Lord to enlighten our eyes (Ep.1:18), speak to our hearts and give us the understanding that can equip us for life (2Ti.3:16,17). Why is it that we still let the teachers do our thinking for us? Either we are lazy or we honour them too much!
This is in spite of God warning us that in the last days there would be all kinds of false teachers and prophets around, and even the elect may get deceived (Mt.24:24;2Pe.2:1). There are many such going around nowadays, aren't there? Can we afford to place our lives at the mercy of such people who try to impress us with their forceful personalities and emphatic deliveries? Don't we need to check things for ourselves (1Co.14:29;1Th.5:20,21)?
Of course, not all of us are teachers, and we need to value those to whom God has entrusted such ministries. But that does not absolve us of our responsibility to check what they teach. It is my considered opinion that no teacher - even good ones - is 100% correct on everything. We don't have to agree with everything that people teach just because they are well known preachers or writers (even though we give more weightage to the ones we trust). But now we have false ones too, and we have to be especially careful about them.
Many point to the Bereans who checked with the Scripture even when the apostle Paul spoke ((Ac.17:11). Actually Paul was a new teacher on the scene at that time! Ha ha!