In Part I of this series, we discussed the importance of studying the Scriptures with faith, and using the Old Testament as a resource for correctly understanding the New Testament. We ended with the passage in John when Jesus scolded the Jewish leaders:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John: 5:39-40
Back up a couple of verses, and you will find the reason their Scripture study was ineffective:
“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.” John 5:37-38
Most of those who “listened” to Jesus refused to hear the voice of their master; most of those who “saw” Jesus refused to see that God stood among them; and most of those who “knew” the Scriptures did not believe in Jesus because they did not have God’s word in their hearts.
I had a Bible study with a man in California who knew the Scriptures better than I did; he could quote many passages verbatim. But his heart was completely unrepentant, and he scoffed at the words he quoted.
That experience still amazes me, but it shouldn’t. At times, I catch myself reading without belief. My heart resists the words the Spirit is trying to write there. My mind ignores the Spirit’s prompting. My conscience burns, but I continue to act as though God’s words are not true.
Humans share these traits: stubbornness, pride, and willfulness. We only want to hear what we want to hear, and we shouldn’t be surprised by the current trend in preaching–cutting and twisting Scripture to say what people want to hear. Paul warned Timothy about this very thing:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Paul experienced this willfulness first hand, and Luke’s account contrasts the people Paul met in Thessalonica, where the Jews made dire troubles for Paul, and the people of Berea, who received Paul “with readiness of mind.” KJV
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scripture daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:10-11
Readiness of heart and willingness to hear are critical to hearing, seeing, and knowing Christ. More about this in the next part of this series.
- Searching the Scriptures in Vain – Part 1 (christsreflections.wordpress.com)