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Why People Don't See the Bible Alike
Whether we like it or not (and I donít), we must all admit that people do not see the Bible alike. This is true, but certainly not desirable. The various churches and denominations do not see things alike, people within a particular church do not necessarily agree on all points and individuals do not agree with themselves at all times. I certainly have changed my mind about several things.
We also recognize that some difficulties are external to ourselves, some are within ourselves. This article is primarily addressed to that internal factor.
Why people donít see the Bible alike?
The question has been asked many times but for the most part the answers have been superficial. Usually an attempt is made to blame other persons or groups for the differences or to excuse themselves for factors beyond our control. Hopefully we will not indulge in either of these two alternatives to a great extent. Instead we want to look at factors that are common to all, factors over which we have some control, before we do, letís briefly look at two answers that are commonly given.
Are denominational differences the reason people do not see the Bible alike?
Many believe denominational are the reason. We donít accept this view, because it seems clear that denominational differences are a symptom of the problem and not the real cause. A runny nose is a symptom of a cold and not the real cause. The real cause is a virus. Denominational differences are a serious concern but not the real cause. We shall never deal with them effectively until their cause has been understood.
Are the Scriptures themselves, the cause of not seeing the Bible alike?
Many people believe that the Scriptures are written so loosely, so lacking in unity that they can be interpreted in many ways. We reject this answer also.
In this world, differences are inevitable, when we go to the Scriptures; we find that divisions and faction are condemned. Our differences should not expand into factions. . Disciples are admonished to be of the same mind and to speak the same things but we also find that there were differences. The fourteenth chapter of Romans deals with instruction as to how disciples should treat one another so as to maintain the unity of the body even when there are differences.
Why donít people see the Bible alike? The answers are to be found within us, not external to us. Lets look at some of these factors. We will be considering four factors. The factors are common to all to a greater or lesser extent and they are interrelated, forming the proverbial vicious circle that keeps us from realizing our full potential as His disciples.
Why donít people see the Bible alike?
One of the basic causes is the grid through which we process all sensation and information that we receive. Some, especially those with a scientific bent, may think this is not true of them. But none of us is totally objective. This grid is composed of our education, attitude, social and cultural background and those other factors that go into our makeup. Michael Polanyi in his book, Personal Knowledge, makes a convincing case that this is true of everyone. We all have our mind-sets, world-views, and assumptions, biases and prejudices. Overcoming our presuppositions is one of the greatest challenges we face in attempting to understand the Scriptures.
Why donít people see the Bible alike?
Ignorance is a primary cause. ďIgnoranceĒ should not be equated with ďstupidityĒ; ignorance is a lack of knowledge. A little thought reveals there are two types of people, those who study the Bible and those who donít. It has been estimated that 75% to 90% of the people who claim to be Christians do not seriously study the Bible. Oh, we donít mean they never read the Scriptures, or donít go to church, or never hear sermons, but most donít study the Bible as they would their school courses when they were children, If this estimate is close, is there any wonder why people donít see the Bible alike? If you are not knowledgeable about the Scriptures, it is almost impossible to have a real understanding. But ignorance is not always the result of failing to apply yourself. Some have diligently studied the Bible and are still ignorant. The Apostle Paul, educated at the feet of Gamalial, a doctor of the law, stated that he had acted ignorantly in unbelief prior to his conversion. Paul was certainly one of the best educated at that time. This brings us to the third factor.
Why are people ignorant?
1. Most are ignorant because of lack of study.
2. Those that have studied and are ignorant are ignorant because they are
We can readily understand why those who donít study, and therefore lack knowledge would not understand, but why do well educated, honest people trained in seminaries and religious schools hold greatly varying positions on the Scriptures. The answer can only be that they are deceived. Deception is the primary tool of Satan in controlling the hearts and mankind. There are many warnings in the Scriptures to not be deceived by others and to not deceive ourselves. The Apostle Paul admitted in his epistle to Titus that he, himself, prior to his conversion, was deceived although he had lived in all good conscience. When are conclusion are at variance with reality, we are deceived. We have all been deceived. It is an all to common human trait. When you are deceived, you donít realize it, hence your thoughts about yourself can be sincere and positive.
We get many of our beliefs from those we trust most, at a time when we are not able to evaluate them. Likewise many of the religious leaders receive their beliefs from their mentors who they trust and are under considerable pressure to accept.
Why are people even educated people deceived?
Unjustified self-confidence or pride is the last factor. But in such serious matters, matter of life and death, why will people allow themselves to continue to be ignorant and deceived. We all think we are right and our ways are as good if not better than any others. When we know that we do not know, we are approachable and teachable but when we are ignorant and do not know it or learned but deceived, we are very difficult to approach. The Bible warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we should, but we often do. We hold on to our ideas and concepts because they are ours, or because we have received them from those we love and respect, our parents minister, priest or friends. We are reluctant to examine our beliefs because a great part of ourselves is vested in them. We call this pride.
Thus we find that the reasons people do not see the Bible alike are because of a Lack of Objectivity, Ignorance, Deception and Conceit. These four factors, often acting together, blind our hearts and mind so that we cannot see the Bible alike.
What can we do about these problems?
Much! Thank God! Just to be aware of these four enemies is the first step. But you canít stop there. If you want to be a disciple of Christ we must understand His word for ourselves. This will take time and effort but it is essential to have a personal knowledge and not be dependent on others. If you donít have much knowledge get a Bible; I suggest a New American Standard Version (you need a word for word translation) and start reading the Gospel according to John in order to get a basic understanding of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then read the Acts of the Apostles. This letter, Acts, will tell you how to become a Christian.
Can ordinary people, without formal religious training, understand the Bible?
In the Scripture the people of Berea were nobler than those of Thessalonica because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if the words of the Apostle Paul were true. Be like the Bereans. Be noble. Ignorance can be overcome. ďBe diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of God.Ē 2 Timothy 2: 15
Why must we constantly be on guard?
We must learn to test the things we hear and read by the Scriptures and not the reverse. Satan appears as angels of light to deceive the elect. Substantive differences in interpretation of the Scriptures may indicate that at least one and perhaps both are inaccurate. It is not our objective to suggest that all differences are potentially condemning nor to pass judgment on others. On the other hand it would be foolish not to recognize that faith leads to obedience. I donít know how much digression, if any, God will allow. I for one am glad that salvation is of faith and not works. I do know that Jesus prayed that His disciples be one. If we love the Lord we will want to follow and honor Him as best we can. I also know that some requirements are stated as life or death issues. We do them and live; we fail to do them and we die.
What is the first thing we must do if we would come to Christ?
Jesus said that if anyone would come to Him he must deny himself. Jesus emptied Himself taking on the form of man and then humbled Himself to become obedient to death by crucifixion. We must humble ourselves. We must be willing to examine and change if necessary our most cherished beliefs to arrive at the true. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. By so doing conceit can be overcome.
Paul, or Saul of Tarsus before His conversion, placed his confidence in the flesh. He was born of the nation of Israel, circumcised the eight day, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as to the law a Pharisee, self-righteous and of great zeal. Yet, when he came to know Jesus Christ, all that he had formerly took great pride, was now counted as rubbish or dung. Let our confidence ever be in Christ and not ourselves. We must first deny ourselves.
There will be differences in any group of believers. God has instructed us how to relate to one another. Those who have some peculiar ideas should not try to bind those on other. On the other hand those who are better instructed should not hold the weaker brother in contempt. Every brother should be concerned with the welfare of other and not cause his brother to stumble; realizing we all ultimately answer to God and not to one another. God abhors those who cause divisions and factions in the body. God in His wisdom, knowing we need fellowship and encouragement of other believers, has called us into a family, the church. Romans 14
God bless you in your efforts to learn and understand His will.
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Last Update 09/26/12