As we continue looking at the Bible Study Tool: 10 Points for More Productive Study, we come to the second thing to look for: does it produce understanding.
James said, “If any you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
God meant for most of the things He said in His Word to be understood, not just believed. Take for example, the book of Proverbs. If we look, this book is full of things to understand. It will not only teach you the difference between wisdom and foolishness, but will explain WHY certain things are wise or foolish. (For an excellent series on understanding Proverbs, check out Settledinheaven.org )
I will give an example of how to find understanding in Scripture (John 15:13-15).
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have make known to you.
There are many things to understand in the entire context of this short snippet, but I will bring out just one point. This one single point is rich enough for an entire sermon. What did Jesus mean when He called the disciples His friends?
Many take this statement, “I have called you friends,” out of context and have a very shallow, even false, understanding that every professed believer is a friend of Jesus, or a friend of God. Often, what we think He meant by friendship here is actually a completely one-sided concept. We will say Jesus is our friend because He died for us; He is our friend so we can pray and ask Him for things. The attitude is, “He is my friend, and so it is all about me, me, me.”
It has been rightly said that the biggest word in the Bible is if. If we keep His commandments, then we are His friends. We lay down our own life by choosing His way above our sinful or natural ways. We may even have to face persecution and death to follow His way. But if we do, then we prove ourselves truly a friend of Jesus. He laid down His life by suffering a horrible, shameful death for us. He was beaten to within an inch of His life, stripped naked (forget that cute little loincloth in paintings and movies) and nailed to a cross until dead, all for us. He proved that He wants to be our friend by dying for our sins. If we will lay down our lives, and keep His commandments, we return that friendship.
There is a second part to the friendship, but it still relates to the first. He said a servant does not know what his master is doing, but a friend does. While He walked on earth, He told the disciples everything that the Father gave Him to tell. They had the knowledge of what God was doing. They may have sometimes struggled with accepting it, even argued against it a few times, but they knew what He was doing.
Many believers today don’t really understand what God is doing, and don’t really want to know very much, either. They have the attitude that “as long as the pastor knows, we don’t really need to.” Now they may not consciously say this, but by their actions, they demonstrate it
Sadly, even some of our pastors and church leaders don’t really know God’s ways, either. The Bible said that deceivers would infiltrate the church, deceiving many (Matthew 24), particularly shortly before Jesus comes back. Scripture warns that in the last days we would find in the church liberalism, the false prosperity doctrine, rejection of the Bible’s account of creation, and even worse deceptions. Scripture warns of these heresies quite plainly for those who really want to understand God’s will and ways.
If we would just look in God’s Word, look at the whole of it rather than just the little snippets used by deceivers to prove their point, we would quickly eliminate many of these false doctrines. The most important bible tool of all is simply to read the Bible, consider what it is really saying. Don’t look for a way around what it plainly says, but just believe God meant what He said. Seek God for wisdom and understanding of His Word, and He will provide it.