Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 9, 1959

Understanding The Bible

Robert L. McDonald, Lufkin, Texas

The divided condition which exists in the religious world is evidence that the professed followers of Christ do not understand the Bible alike. Why is this? Could it be that God was unable to reveal His Will? Or, was God unwilling to reveal His Will? Those who love the Bible will answer in the negative to both questions. The truth of the matter is when people understand the Bible, they understand it just like everyone else. When men "understand" the Bible "differently", we know that some and possibly all do not understand the Bible at all. The cause of confusion is in man, not God. The apostle Paul wrote, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17.) We then ask the question: "Why do men not understand the Bible alike?"

Do Not Study The Bible

Before we take our place in the business world we go through a period of education in the public schools and many who are fortunate enough go to college. We know the importance of properly preparing our children by sending them to school; helping them with their lessons; encouraging them to make good grades. We want them to be educated — this requires a great deal of study.

But, one thing that everyone knows everything about is the Bible and is capable of discussing any Bible subject with anyone — with little or no time spent in Bible study. The Book no man has mastered, and everyone knows "all about it!"

Christians, of all people, should spend much time in Bible study. The Lord said, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God." (John 6:45.) Timothy was instructed: ". . . give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (1 Tim. 4:13.) David, in the long ago, penned, ". . . his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psa. 1:2.) And, yet, so many of our brethren spend so little time in Bible study. Why? Apparently they see no need. How foolish is the man!

Jeroboam taught Israel to sin. He built altars and appointed special days for worship. The Law of God was replaced with the words of man and thus Israel was slowly led into apostasy. For about a hundred and fifty years, Israel worshipped and served God in error. Finally, God said, concerning this apostate people, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6.) When Hosea came to teach Israel the truth and to expose the error of the false teachers, he said, "I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing For Israel hath forgotten His Maker ..." (Hosea 8:12,14.) So long had been the time since the chosen people had heard the Law, that when the Law of God was revealed to them, they "counted it as a strange thing."

Israel Turned Away From God During The Days Of Jeroboam For "Lack Of Knowledge." During The First Century And The Early Days Of The Dark Ages, The Church Of Christ Drifted Into Apostasy — For "Lack Of Knowledge." Apostasy Will Come In Any Age When There Is A Widespread "Lack Of Knowledge Of The Law Of God Among His Children.

Prejudiced Mind

Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32.) When man closes his mind to the truth, he then turns his back on the salvation of the Lord. All must guard against the weakness of a prejudiced mind. We should be willing and ever ready to accept the truth of God.

The religion of the parents has a tendency to "prejudice" the minds of people. "Mother and Daddy just couldn't be wrong and they wouldn't teach their children error," they say. For years, one has accepted a certain religious doctrine to be true and when truth, in contradiction to the accepted doctrine, is taught, men scoff and mock. "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked." (Acts 17:32.)

The Jews had been taught through the years that the Messiah would rule a restored Kingdom of Israel. They looked for an earthly kingdom and for it to be a great political power like the nations around them. But, when Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," they rejected him. Jesus said of the Jews, "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Matt. 13:15.)


Jesus was questioned by the Jews of Jerusalem one time, "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread." (Matt. 15:2.) The Jews, by tradition, considered one to be a sinner if he failed to wash his hands before eating. Jesus and his disciples did not keep this tradition and they were called in question for not submitting to the traditions of the fathers. "But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (verse 3).

Romanism is based on the idea if something is practiced long enough, then it becomes law. As pagans were fellowshipped by the church, those who were not convened to the truth brought with them their pagan practices. As time passed, religious holy days, which corresponded to the feast days of the heathens, such as Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc., began to be celebrated. Pageantry made its way into the church during the apostasy. How soon they forgot the Law of Christ and counted it a "strange thing." Time had not been so long since the inspired apostle warned, "Beware lest any, man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col. 2:8.)

I am afraid too many of our brethren today are placing too much emphasis on the writings and deeds of outstanding gospel preachers. Often, one may hear, "Brother David Lipscomb said so and so" or "Brother Alexander Campbell did this or that." Then, another uninformed brother will say, "But look how long we have done it this way." Listen to inspiration: ". . . not to think of men above that which is written." (1 Cot 4:6.)

"Why can't people understand the Bible alike?" Because they are looking through colored glasses. They blindly accept the words of men with little or no knowledge of the Bible and without taking the time to "search the Scriptures" to see if the teaching is true. (Acts 17:11.) There are those who hold onto the religious practices of their parents which has prejudiced their minds to the truth — just like the men of Athens. (Acts 17.) Or, as others who love the traditions more than they love the Will of the Lord. No wonder there is so much division and confusion which exists today.

The Holy Spirit instructs: "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17.) How can we know the Will of God? "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15.) As we study the Scriptures, which will guide us perfectly (2 Tim. 3:16,17), let us follow the instructions contained therein and be satisfied with the wisdom that cometh from above. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psa. 119:105.)