“but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard
I have made known to you.”
They say that the Secret Service trains its agents to identify counterfeit currency by studying the real ones. That makes a lot of sense, and it certainly applies to the things of God. And God was very wise in that he gave us something written that we can carefully study him, over and over and over again so that we may know him better and better.
Interestingly enough, the bible isn’t a book that just anybody can understand. You see, it’s written in a type of code that only agents of God can understand. Others are not able to comprehend it. God deliberately intends it to be this way.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
Matthew 13:10-17 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
John 10:24:31 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Now, that’s not to say that the genuine believer understands everything that our Lord has to say. Hardly. But what IS understood is far different than it once was. God reveals himself a little at a time. The more a believer studies, the more God reveals and the more there is to know. One never gets to the end of this gold mine.
It’s also not to say that unbelievers know nothing of the bible. On the contrary, there are many, many PhDs out there who claim to know the bible but aren’t genuine believers. Take the encounter between Jesus and one of the biblical experts at the time he walked this earth:
John 3:9-12 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
There are times that I have been frustrated when trying to explain the gospel and people “don’t get it.” I must be careful not to be that way because it is in these times that I forget it is the Holy Spirit’s job to open eyes and unstop ears and not mine. One always is frustrated when trying to do what one cannot do. That’s pretty elementary but all too easy to forget.
What a blessing it is to have one’s eyes opened by God! What a joy it is to dig into God’s word and learn new things! What comfort it is to bathe in the lessons once learned but forgotten. For example, I found great profit in God’s word, particularly Hebrews, during my criticism of Catholicism. In it, the writer demonstrates that Jesus is not only the perfect one to be our priest and savior and mediator of God’s better promise, but that he is the ONLY one that can satisfy our salvation and that by faith alone, in him alone, is our individual salvation possible. Put simply, we can’t earn our way into heaven nor can any human do it for us.
This time in studying Hebrews, I really noticed how the book deliberately exposed the thread of Jesus that is woven from the first page of the bible to the last. Indeed, the bible is simply the autobiography of Jesus and his redemption of his bride that started before creation even began. It’s a story of God’s unimaginable mercy on a remnant of people who hated him and his transformation of them into a glory that will never end.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Amen, Father, Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers