First published in the weekly bulletin at the church of Christ at Elkins on 11/2/2014
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE READING?" (Acts 8:30)
If anything is true about the Bible, it is that God intends for us to understand it. Jesus said, "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it . . ." (Matt. 13:23). Paul prayed that the Lord would give Timothy understanding in all things (II Tim. 2:7). It is a reflection on God's wisdom to assert that He gave us a book designed to lead us to salvation which cannot be sensibly understood.
However, several nagging hindrances may be identified which can keep us from understanding the scriptures. Sometimes there is a deliberate determination not to understand. Jesus, speaking of certain ones said, "The heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears and should understand with their heart (Matt. 13:15). It is a simple axiom of life, "If you won't, you don't."
An insincere motive will keep us from understanding. To use the Bible for personal and selfish reasons to prove ourselves right and others wrong is to short-circuit our understanding of its teaching. The apostle Peter writes of those who would twist the scriptures to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16). Almost anything can be "proved" by the Bible when it is read with a destructive and insincere attitude.
Some read casually or carelessly and make little effort to comprehend the will of God in scripture. They have read the Bible all their lives and still do not understand its basic teaching. Paul writes of those who, "Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Tim. 3:7).
Jesus declared, "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine . . . (John 7:17).
To read the Bible is important, but to understand what we read is more important. The Ethiopian Eunuch is portrayed as an honorable man, worshipper of God, one who had traveled far to worship and was interested enough in things divine to read the scriptures as he traveled. In view of dangers of misunderstanding and hindrances we ought to give diligence, take heed, and our prayer should be, "Open thou mine eyes that I may understand the word of God."
----- Earl Sutton