I grew up going to church and my parents read one of those little comic book Bibles to me every night. I was always familiar with scripture and hadn’t realized that most kids didn’t grow up with that kind of exposure. My family moved around a lot while I was growing up which meant I had lots of experience with different churches and different pastors and different denominations. As a child I was very inquisitive and had so many questions about the bible for all these people in my life and they were more than happy to indulge a curious child about scripture and freely gave me their opinion from experience or from other pastors. As I grew up with these different teachings from pastors, parents, and friends I struggled with a cohesive look at the Bible because an opinion that satisfied one verse would then contradict another. I knew God’s scriptures were his word and that the fault was mine, but what could I do? I became frustrated reading the Bible.
I wrestled with the ideas of Christianity for a while, how could there be so much division over one book, wasn’t it supposed to make sense? Why would God give it to us like this? I went through the motions of attending church and I made sure to be a good girl but I was unable to read the Bible by myself (in general to read a book you need to understand 97-99% of it, or else you are unable to have good comprehension, it was like the Bible was still written in the original Greek for the amount of cohesion it had to me). Most Bible studies I did and church sermons I listened to weren’t based on scripture, but rather used a verse or story to launch into whatever topic or theme they felt appropriate. However, my Sunday school teacher during high school challenged us to ask the questions again that we had asked long ago. That we should approach scripture with hard work and effort to find the gems in scripture. This was a foreign concept to me.
She presented to me the story of Abraham and Isaac, and what Abraham must have been thinking when he took Isaac to be sacrificed, this child of promise whose existence defied all physical odds. Consider what he said in Gen 22:5 to his servants “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Why did Abraham say that “we” will come back to you if he knew he was going to carry out God’s will? We can speculate all we want, and offer our various opinions and most people do… isn’t that our nature? We want to find answers! If it doesn’t say it right there we like to make something up for ourselves so that we can mentally move on having given an answer, after all, what does it really matter why exactly he said “we” instead of “I”, was it so that his servants wouldn’t stop him? Who knows?
Scripture is it’s best commentary. Scripture will explain itself. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. If you keep hunting, digging as if to find a precious jewel you will find the wisdom God has wrapped up in the scripture. If you rely on a contrived answer you miss out on the truth of God.
In Heb 11, the chapter of faith, it comments largely on Abraham, the father of faith, and specifically mentions the sacrifice of Isaac and what was going on in Abraham’s mind. It is explained clearly in verse 17-19 that
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Faith and promises are not new ideas that came with Jesus’ first coming, it is something that has been in existence ever since God first reached into the history of man and gave us his precious and trustworthy word.
Consider one of the first promises made in human history to Adam, “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gn2:17) Had Adam truly had faith in that promise his action would not have been to eat it. Let’s examine this story a little more carefully. God made a promise, but then another promise was introduced. The serpent questions God’s promise, you will not surely die, but rather be like God, knowing good and evil. Eat fruit and die or eat fruit and be like God. Which one does Adam believe? How do you know? Because of his actions! He ate the fruit but wait; did he immediately fall down dead? No. Does this make God a liar? Hmm… We know better than that (Num23:19) God is not man that he should lie. If what he said is true and we didn’t see it perhaps the fault is in our opinions of what the Bible says. Adam’s real death was much more tragic than a physical death, it was the death of his spirit, the divide between humans belonging to God and belonging to God’s enemy.
Excellent, we know that Jesus fulfills and because he had the knowledge of God he explains the prophecies of the Old, but what about the New Testament? Do you understand all that clearly? If we had a perfect understanding would we have so many denominational splits? If perfect belief in a promise leads to obedience (Abraham sacrificing his son, Adam not eating the fruit that would kill him) then why are we still stuck in sin? Did you know that not even Paul claimed to have a perfect knowledge? (1 Cor 13:12 a poor reflection now/ known now in part) Paul, the author of most of the New Testament. Jesus left promises throughout the New Testament specifically hidden in parables (Ps 78:2/Mt 13:10-15), just like the gems from the Old Testament that were hidden until Jesus could reveal them. That should scare you, that should cause you to mourn. The secrets of God’s kingdom are hidden from us. If you don’t care about this it means you’re already dead. Think of the passion in Rev 5:1-4, Apostle John was unable to understand the sealed book of God and he wept and wept. When was the last time you were so stirred about understanding God’s word? We must ask questions! We must care!
Still, I thought to myself, do I really have time to study everything in the Bible? Should I quit my day job? Abandon school? How do I know the answers when they’re scattered across the Bible? Read it all? By the time I get to the end I will have forgotten what was at the beginning. I was still frustrated but I kept searching. I did a Bible course and got my degree. No answers yet, just more opinions and ideas and a little more familiarity with scripture. I actually did a book study through the Bible with my friend over Skype and we read a passage and then I would read the commentary to explain it because neither of us understood it. I went from church to church with knowledge and understanding and ideas that impressed most pastors, but it was not enough. Listening to people who had been able to find some gems was never enough. Are we to accept the word of another or are we to know it? If we just accept everything are we not truly in ignorance? I wanted to be able to understand the word personally and short of learning Greek and Hebrew, and all the histories I felt unable. The Bible was still locked to me. Consider the promise Jesus gives us, that he will send a Counsellor in his name that comes in the spirit of all truth (Jn 14) and that Jesus himself will open the words of the sealed book in Revelation (Rv 5:5). Do you have faith in those promises? Do you believe that one day scripture can actually be understood? Not from what man teaches, but from what God has given us. Just as in the time of the first coming, that it was not the pharisees and teachers of the law that had the revealed word from God, but Jesus. At the second coming it will not be the pastors of mega churches but rather the Counsellor the spirit of truth from Jesus is with.
My friend contacted me about a study that changed her life. How often had I heard that? Fantastic. Another study, another study book, and another series of opinions. But I was desperate because I still didn’t understand and I finally agreed. Same as all my studies I figured that I’ll take what opinions make sense and leave the rest. My Bible study teacher sat me down with just the Bible in front of us and began “I’m about to share with you what I can certify is all 100% true according to the scripture.” Ya right, I thought in my head, isn’t that what I’ve heard my whole life? Every one claims to have it, what makes you any different? It wasn’t until the study was on it’s way and I had tested the words she spoke against scripture that she really was simply using scripture to explain scripture. That it was 100% logical and 100% free of opinions. She taught without a handbook or study guide, she simply had the understanding of God’s word within her and was acting as a living concordance giving me a free tour through the page’s of His book. She wasn’t using her thoughts to explain scripture but simply showing me verses that explain other verses. It wasn’t just one or two, it was a growing foundation which was allowing me to understand more and more clearly other scripture through the same lens. I’ve had to toss away the opinions of myself and others that I’d put on scripture which was not easy. If we truly want to call ourselves Christians, we must believe all the Bible, which is God’s word (1Tim3:16-17).
We are not at the time of the Old Testament, we are not even at the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the time we’re in is looking at the Second Coming, the Last Days, the Harvest. We are meant to know the promises and heed the warnings Jesus gave us for the second coming. Remember, this word is not given to the unbelievers, these warnings are for Christians. They’re not for that church down the road, or that Christian who thinks his walk ends with a Jesus fish on his car, but they are for you to heed and make sure that it is your heart that is right before God. We’re closer now than ever before to the fulfillment of these promises and warnings. Let us have humble hearts that seek to know the answers from God and aren’t blinded by our own interpretations. The word I learned is trustworthy, but it’s up to you to test it and see that it is good (Job 34:3). My questions haven’t stopped but neither have answers from scripture. Hear the message, ask the questions, and certify scripture is true.
It would be wonderful if we all had one of these built into us (see above picture of the Truth-o-meter) but the fact is we do have one of these, we just need to install it. It is the Bible. Having the understanding of the word of God is all we need to be able to discern correctly.
Discern for yourself… hear the words of Shinchonji, hear what the Bible is truly telling us, and verify the truth for yourself!