The Expository Files.

Do You Really Want To Know?

John 7:14-17


But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, "How has this man  become learned, having never been educated?" Jesus therefore answered them, and said, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." (JOHN 7:14-17).
I once was involved in a study of the Bible with a young couple who were members of a denomination. We were noticing what the Bible said about baptism and its role in becoming a disciple of Jesus. The woman had talked to her clergyman who had denied the very things she was reading out of her Bible as I directed her from passage to passage. She was becoming visibly alarmed at what she was  reading and finally in frustration said that her clergyman  had warned her that without attending a theological school she couldn't possibly understand the Bible on baptism by  just reading it. She needed a professional guide to interpret things for her. She expressed confidence that he would not lie to her, so all he said about baptism as well as about the inability of the common man to understand the Scripture must be true.

But Jesus said that such was not the case. Isn't it strange that Jesus found Himself at odds so often with the clergy of His day? Is Jesus being simplistic when He says that all one needs is the will to do God's will as he approaches the things God teaches us in order to know them? Notice with me some important points on understanding the Bible from the text above.

"Now these were more noble-minded than those at Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." (ACTS 17:11).

They wondered how Jesus had "become learned". Though Jesus was the Son of God, He grew in stature and wisdom as a human being. Certainly Jesus is an exceptional case, but the Bible suggests that the proper way to "become learned"  is by a personal, diligent study of the Scriptures. It calls such an attitude "noblemindedness". In ACTS 17:11, the Bereans are commended for such. In fact, if they had gone to the religious leaders and clergymen of their day with questions about Jesus, they would have received the wrong answers! They instead went to the Scriptures and got the right answers. Good for them! Good for us today as well when we follow suit (EPH 3:4; II TIM 2:15).

"God, after He had spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son..." (HEB 1:1,2). We are fortunate that the Scripture is adequate for us and we are adequate for the Scripture. By the Scripture being adequate for us we mean simply that it is a sufficient guide for our lives. There is simply no need for a conglomeration of human religious laws and creeds, which can be quite confusing, especially when they are in conflict with one another as well as with Scripture (II TIM 3:16,17).

By ourselves being adequate for the Scripture we simply mean that God would not give us a document that we could not understand and then tell us to understand and live by it! Yes, we can understand the teachings of God. Timothy did! Not because he went to a seminary either, but as Paul told him, "You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; that from childhood you have know the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation which is in Christ Jesus" (II TIM 3:14,15). Note two things here: first, that Timothy had learned these things as a child; and second, He had been taught them not by a theologian but by his mother and grandmother (II TIM 1:5).

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (JOHN 8:32). Back in our text, Jesus said that "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." Notice some of the implications of the passage: "If any man..." shows the universality of the statement. It includes you and your neighbor. The diplomas and degrees on the wall, or lack of them, does not really enter into it. A good education may well enhance someone's understanding of the Bible by informing him of how people lived, dressed, talked and so forth, but it will not save him.

" willing to do His will..." shows the proper attitude with which one approaches the Scripture. Jesus mentioned people who did not understand His message, not because they were intellectually incapable but because they have "closed their eyes" (MATT 13:14-16, see also the parable of the sower in the following verses 18-23). It is not the mere hearer who understands, but the doer of the word (JAMES 1:22-25).

"...he shall know the teaching..." show the results of the proper attitude. It is not who you are that determines how well you understand the teachings of the Bible but how you approach it. Anyone can twist and distort the Scriptures, but do so "to their own destruction" (II PETER 3:16). On the other hand, anyone can "understand what the will of the Lord is" (EPH 5:17).

"For My hand made all these things, Thus all things came into being," Declares the Lord. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." (ISA 66:2). It seems to be a matter of attitude then. Why does one so readily grasp a Bible truth while another complains of such difficulty?

Attitude. Why do some go only so far in their growth as Christians and then stall? Attitude. It is not that the truth cannot be known, its whether we really want to know it!
 By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 1.1; January, 1994