“A good understanding have they who obey His commandments” (Ps. 111:10). “A good understanding gives one favor (with God)” (Prov. 13:15). Obviously, the Lord commands that His people have a good understanding of Him and His commandments. His commandments explain His will for mankind. Man cannot obey what man does not understand. Understanding requires that the message be clear. The Lord gives the example of a watchman giving forth a confusing sound on his ram’s horn. The people do not know if all is well or if an enemy is approaching. Everyone must understand the watchman’s message, which is why he repeats it over and over. Watchmen of old are the predecessors of those in these end times who speak God’s Words time and again with clarity, exactly as they appear in God’s Holy Bible. The message, which requires understanding, is repeated time and again by a variety of messengers. The question is, how does one gain understanding of God’s oft-repeated gospel message? As is always the case, He tells us in that gospel.
In Isaiah 28:9,10 we find the prophet asking a question: “Whom can He (God) teach knowledge? Whom can He make to understand (His) doctrine?” Then he answers the question: “They who are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast (mature saints-Heb. 5:12-6:2). For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” In order to emphasize this Truth, He repeats the command in verse 13. Writing under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21), Isaiah begins verse 9 with a two-part question in which he asks how we can identify the person whom God can teach His Truths and give faith to believe and obey those Truths. In verse 10 Isaiah answers the question–the one who studies God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16) diligently by searching out every reference to the subject under consideration in an attitude of total faith. Here God is telling us never to use only one Biblical statement to determine a doctrine. Notice that He does not do this for us; He commands that we do the work.
The Bible is a coded book, much like a puzzle. The honest seeker of spiritual Truth soon realizes that spiritual things are often not as they appear to be at first. For this reason we must not assume that our first impression is THE truth concerning a particular doctrine, that much more study is needed. Proverbs 18:17 bears this out: “The first to speak is believed to be right, until another states his case.” In this symbolic statement, the second speaker has obviously done the research necessary to determine God’s Truth while the first speaker obviously has not. Many a false doctrine has been put forth as “thus saith the Lord” when further study reveals that he said no such thing. More often than not, church “truth” is the exact opposite of God’s Truth. Serious Bible students soon realize that church truth is invariably user-friendly (what man wants), whereas Bible Truth is always God-friendly (what God commands). When He warns us to “count the cost” of obeying Him, He is emphasizing this truth. As was the case with Adam and Eve, our natural desire is to make things easy on ourselves. True Christianity is not easy. As a close friend said when I told her what God requires for salvation, “Obeying God is just too much trouble.” This has become the mind-set of Catholicism/Protestantism. It is much easier to believe Satan’s false prophets who, as Jesus warned, have been able to “deceive many.”
The result of the ministries of tens of thousands of false prophets, few people bother to study God’s Word, choosing rather to believe these hirelings who tell them what they want to hear, who “scratch their itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). This deadly error causes the Institutional Church to remain ignorant of most of what the Lord has to say about His doctrines. For example, lack of Biblical research causes church people to misunderstand John 3:16, specifically the words “believes in Him.” The typical “saved” person “knows” that all one has to do to gain instant salvation is to believe in Jesus. Lack of Scriptural study shuts them off from James 2:14,17,18,20 where God tells them that without works of faith (obedience to His Word), one’s faith is “dead.” And in that God’s true saints must “live by faith,” the “all faith–no works” churchite is as dead as his faith. As a result of such dead faith, when the parishioner reads or hears the Lord’s Truth about his spiritual condition, he rejects that Truth.
Like a puzzle whose pieces must all be present and placed in their proper location in order to see the finished product, all pertinent Scriptures must be studied and believed in order for a Biblical Truth to be understood. And as God said in Isaiah 28, there is only one way to make this happen–intense, continuous, faith-founded Bible study. Beginning with the next posting we will apply this principle to the subject of spiritual “touching.” L.J.