Do You Really Want To Know?
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.
"HOW HAS THIS MAN BECOME LEARNED?"
"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).
"MY TEACHING IS NOT MINE, BUT HIS WHO SENT ME"
"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..."
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
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
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).
IF ANY MAN IS WILLING...HE SHALL KNOW OF THE
"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
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
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.
"...is willing to do His will..." shows the proper attitude with which one
approaches the Scripture. Jesus mentioned people who did not understand His
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
"...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;