When I commented to wife recently about a young lady, she asked me if I wasn’t talking about the girl’s sister because they look a lot alike. I said that I didn’t know she had a sister, much less one who could pass as a twin. Upon further investigation, I learned that the young lady did, in fact, have a nearly identical-looking sister, at least from an, albeit, short distance. I’d had a gap in my knowledge that was corrected and my wife’s information was ratified.
Many religious beliefs today perpetuate because they go unchallenged against scriptural ratification. This problem wasn’t actually new to Christianity, having started early in Israel’s history and was even prevalent in Jesus’ day because the religious leaders sought to establish a righteousness all their own (Matthew 15:1-14; John 5:39-40; Romans 10:1-3; Exodus 32:1; Numbers 12:1-16; 16:1-11). They studied the scripture, God’s commandments, but not to find out his will. Rather, they wanted to follow their own desires, which God will let people do (2 Corinthians 4:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Incorrect teaching continued after Christianity began because leaders misled the people regarding the means of coming to God and the people willingly followed them (Acts 20:28-31; Titus 1:10-16; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Their teachings are often close to the truth, but that’s a parallel road that eventually diverges from the truth leading its unwitting followers into the path of destruction (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Matthew 7:13-27).
Only the truth can make us righteous – free from sin – and only God is the source of truth (John 17:17; 8:24, 31-36, 43-45). Consequently, we must be careful to prevent or overcome gaps in our knowledge of God’s will by delving into his word regularly to compare what we’re being taught with the standard of truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:13-17).
Beware of anyone who tells you that what the Bible says isn’t what God meant or who tries to show that the Bible contradicts itself or that you cannot understand it on your own (2 Peter 3:15-18; 1:3-11). God’s word is understandable, being written at an elementary grade level, but it must be studied so it can interpret itself (Ephesians 3:4-5). Being hard to understand doesn’t mean that something cannot be understood; we just have to keep working at it to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the truth (Philippians 2:12-13; 3:15-16).
Use a concordance for your preferred Bible version to help you find verses having the same word (use a Bible version translated/developed by a committee rather than a paraphrase by one person). Also look up associated or synonymous words (e.g., Romans 6:3-11 connects our baptism with Jesus crucifixion and Galatians 2:20-21 says that being crucified with Christ doesn’t set aside God’s grace). Be sure to read the context of each verse to learn the background and to whom it was directed – to whom it applies. Then just take God at his word without looking for any hidden or secret meaning (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Are you a Berean-type Christian?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org