The longer I study God’s Word, the more I realize how little I know of it. Life was so simple when understanding Scripture meant realizing that I was a sinner needing a Savior, that God loved me enough to send Jesus to by my Savior, and that having place my faith and trust in Him, I was a child of God! I was so hungry for His Word, and I read it as often as I could. As I grew in my understanding, as I began “putting the pieces together,” something happened. I could no longer just read the Scripture; every verse seemed filled with “gems” needing my attention. I began to remember similar verses, and for some strange reason, I found I needed to connect them with notes in the margin of my Bible. The best example would be my notes in the margin next to Galatians 5:13-14, which reference Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:43-48; 7:12; 22:40; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Thes. 3:11-13; 1 Tim. 1:5; and 1 Jn. 3:23. The Apostle Paul’s “bottom line” when it came to the two Great Commandments was basically, if you are loving others, you are doing so as an act of love for God.
Another “discovery” I made early on, was that every Bible teacher, every preacher, every theology professor makes mistakes. Part of my understanding of the flawed, imperfect teachings of man came when something one said did not harmonize with what I understood the Word to teach. Somehow, it just did not resonate. As a young believer, it bothered me that I felt as though I knew the speaker was mistaken; after all, such “arrogance” seemed to be nothing more that pride. Who was I to question the validity of respected Bible teachers? Still, I seemed to know when they erred.
It wasn’t long before the Lord gave me peace about my “impudence.” While reading the Book of Acts, I came across a verse that seemed to say, “It is not your pride that questions men, but the Holy Spirit protecting you from being deceived.” I read that the Apostle Paul had a great deal of respect for those in the Synagogue of Berea because they did not take his word as truth, but they listened respectfully to what he had to say, and then they went home and compared it to the Scriptures. Luke described the Bereans as being noble for doing so (Acts 17:11). Can you imagine? Paul was recognized by the Church at Jerusalem as an Apostle to the Gentiles, and carried his “credentials” given him by James (Acts 15:22-29; Gal. 2:7-8). He was known as one who worked miracles (Acts. 13:11; 14:8-10; 20:7-12; etc.). And yet, Paul respected them for not taking his word for truth.
I frequently discuss the Bible with other believers, and I have made two observations: 1) way too many “seem to know what the Word teaches,” but they cannot support their view with Bible references – in other words, they are little more than opinionated; and 2) many believers will refer to great Bible “experts” as evidence for what they declare as truth – in other words, they believe their “expert’s” opinion is equal to the Word of God. And to add to the problem, God help anyone who questions their view or who suggests that the “names they dropped” may not be correct! It seems they are not interested in other points of view, because they KNOW they are right.
It amazes me that Bible teachers like Jack Van Impe, who repeatedly announces the number of verses he has memorized, the number of newspapers he reads every day, and that his latest C.D. is an absolute must for every believer, has changed his interpretation over the years I have listened to him. Don’t get me wrong; he is a wonderful, knowledgeable Bible teacher, but he certainly is not perfect. I have come to believe that when listening to him or other Bible teachers, I need to apply these verses: Acts 17:11; Philippians 4:8; and 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Born again believers need to keep a check on two things:
Bible teachers and their own humility!