The Danger of Misunderstanding

Posted on: February 23rd, 2014

There is much in this life I do not understand or grasp, but then everyone is in this boat.  How would you do sitting through an advanced class in organic chemistry, abstract mathematics, or quantum physics?  If you are like me you might have to look up some these studies to even know what they are.  Now I am not too upset about this because few people understand these subjects in depth.  And besides, no one is an expert on every topic; even though some may think they are.

While I can accept not knowing and understanding everything, I should never put up with not grasping God’s Will.  His Words have more value than any other source of information in the world.  If you can think and reason then you can figure out His meaning, so you have no reason to misunderstand what He wants you to know.

Yet I have heard many religious people, including some in the Lord’s church, say the Bible is too difficult to understand.  So they excuse sin and push open-mindedness because no one can say for sure what the Bible teaches.  At least that is the reason some give for so much misunderstanding, but does Scripture support this?

God knew that many would not and do not understand His teaching.  Even His faithful disciples did not get the Lord’s meaning until after His death, resurrection, and ascension.  Once the Holy Spirit came to the apostles on Pentecost they began to understand as His revelation continued. (Acts 2)

I do not mean to put the disciples into the same category as those who rejected Christ during His ministry.  His followers believed Him and recognized Him as the Son of God. (John 6:68)  However, most of the Jews did not and they went to great lengths to discredit Christ.  Their actions were foolish, silly, and dishonest; it made no sense, but that did not matter because they just wanted to find some reason to deny Him.  They shut their minds and thus closed their understanding. (Matt. 13:14-15)

We also read about some who did not “understand” because they did not “listen to” or “hear” His word. (John 8:43-44)  In other words, they would not stand for or tolerate His word.  Jesus said the devil was their father and they followed his desires.  Now these people denied what Jesus accused them of and I am sure they thought they were serving God, but they were not.

Sadly, many people today think they are serving God when in truth Satan is their father, because they follow his desires.  They think they understand, but they do not listen to His word.  People do not believe what the Bible says about sexual issues, homosexuality, modesty, and many other sins. (Rom. 1)  I know they may deny what the Bible accuses them of, and I am sure many think they are serving God, but they are not.

There is nothing too difficult about how God saves us.  Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)  The Jews on Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  Peter told them to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins….” (Acts 2:37-38)  Nothing too difficult here to understand, but again many reject the simple words.

It is remarkable the great lengths some will take to discredit what the Bible clearly says.  “Mark 16:16 should not be in the Bible” they tell us.  “’For the remission of sins’ does not mean what it says. (Acts 2:38)  It should read because your sins have been forgiven.”  “Baptism does not save us” they say, even though Peter says it does in 1 Peter 3:21.

I know the Bible is deep and challenging, and I know we can study diligently and never learn all there is to know about God’s Word.  Thankfully God does not expect us to know it with Divine understanding.  Most of the problems and issues, however, come from the basic teachings of His Word.  People do not understand God’s plan to save, the one church, morality, and any number of other points the Bible clearly defines.  There is no reason for this since Paul said we can understand his writings, and by extension understand the Bible. (Eph. 3:3-4)

Paul makes it clear that God will not excuse ignorance and misunderstanding, and neither should we. (Eph. 4:17-19)  Each one of us will face Christ at the judgment, and we will give an account of ourselves and our faith. (Rom. 14:12)  If I misunderstand God, then shame on me because the result is eternal.  Remember what Paul said to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Terry Starling