We can ALL Understand the Bible ALIKE!

We Can Understand the Bible Alike
While I was teaching at Faulkner University years ago, I had a young man get into a discussion with me about the teaching of the Bible, specifically as it related to the teachings of John Calvin. I don’t remember now exactly what we were discussing, which point of Calvinism we were discussing, but his final response was something to the effect: “You read it one way and I read it a different way.”
That, of course, is the theological foundation for the existence of various religious groups that all claim to be Christian and all claim to be segments of the church of Christ. The reasoning is, “We all have our different interpretations. And that’s okay. Just go to the church that suits your fancy.”
In Mark 12:37, the text reads that “And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.” When Rachel and I first married and I was preaching, from time to time, Rachel would say, “You are preaching over our heads.” By that she meant I was using words and concepts that the average Christian, even the mature Christian might not understand. I might still do that from time to time, but the fact is that if you don’t understand what I’m preaching, if I’m using words or concepts that you are not familiar with as a serious Bible student, it might be that I’m not preaching like Jesus preached.
When the common people enjoyed listening to Him, don’t you think it was partially because they understood Him? I want to say humbly but boldly that not only can we understand the Bible alike, but we must understand the Bible alike!
Education in the 21st century is scientific and precise. Never before have the tools for learning been so refined. Man has specialized to the nth degree. This is especially seen in the medical field when you have a primary care who does the very basics and then you are referred to a specialist for everything else. We - mankind - has separated truth from error in thousands of different ways in every area of learning. On a daily basis, millions change their minds from prejudice to reason, showing a stronger desire for wisdom and knowledge. God has created man with an unlimited horizon when it comes to attaining knowledge of truth, if man is willing to study and to learn.
This learning, especially beginning with the Renaissance and the translations of the Scriptures into modern languages of the common people, has impacted Christianity. The Scriptures have been accurately translated, providentially preserved and restored to their original clarity with scientific precision; and because of this, any man of average ability can know of a certainty God’s will perhaps better and more completely than in any previous age! What a grand thought! Our knowledge, our tools and our times have combined to reveal more completely God’s revelation than any age known to man.
When God told Adam and Eve that they should not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, did He expect they could understand what He was saying? When God told Moses to strike the rock, did He expect Moses to understand what He was saying? When God told Israel not to touch the Ark of the Covenant, did He expect them to understand what He was saying? When God told the priests to get their fire from a certain source, did He expect them to understand what He was saying?
How many times, when Jesus was asked a question, did He respond with words similar to this: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” When Jesus answered the Sadducees’ question about life beyond death, He cited the OT and He suggested that they should have understood what was written. When Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question on marriage and divorce and remarriage, He cited the OT and He suggested that they should have understood what was written.
The Bible Is God’s Revelation Of His Will
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
And again the Bible claims for itself inspiration, “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment” (1 Cor. 14:37).
The Bible is God’s attempt to reach down to man, to enable man to reach back to God.
The Bible Has Been Accurately Translated
While few of us comprehend the original Biblical languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, we have indisputable proof that our Bibles have been faithfully and wondrously translated into our own English language. Knowledge has been multiplied by our scholars and students who constantly check, recheck and verify every recognized translation. Floyd E. Hamilton says of the New Testament,
“There is no doubt that we have the text...as it came from the hands of the original writers, in 999 words out of every thousand, and that the one out of every thousand about which there is still doubt, in no instance affects the meaning of any vital doctrine of the church.” (W. Robert Palmer, How To Understand the Bible, Standard Publishing, Page 9).
The Bible Is Infallible Always!
The scriptures are unique! They completely transcend the uttermost reaches of thought. The constant unveiling of evidence of the archeologist’s spade stamps them with trustworthiness over and over again. Its historical significance is overwhelming! Its moral ethics unsurpassed! It is indisputable and undefeatable. Man can and must trust it implicitly and completely!
The Bible Is Complete And Final, Absolutely
When one studies the Bible, how completely it satisfies the greatest questions man has ever asked. It probes the depths, it scales the heights! What else could have been said? Nothing! It truly is “the faith once for all delivered to the saints“ (Jude 3). You can never outgrow it nor surpass it. It has “everything that pertains to love and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), for, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work“’ (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The Bible Is Intelligible to The Intelligent
If God has given us a message that is unintelligible, wherein lies its value? How do you know? There is no other real reason for its existence. As one has said “God has spoken by men, to men, for men.“’ God expects us to learn from what has been written, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4)
The Bible Can Be Understood By Man, Provided He Is Honest!
Man made in God’s image is a rational being. He has the ability to think, reason and reach conclusions. Man’s greatest gift, his ability to weigh evidence, is constantly appealed to by God in the Bible. Why? If God knows we cannot understand, why does He constantly present the evidence? Notice, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.“ (Rom. 10:17). Faith is predicated on understanding the Bible! There is no other way faith can come! Paul plainly states “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). That is exactly what a revelation is - the unveiling of a mystery - understanding what was not before known! Even sectarians understand this! Notice, “do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).

Those who do not understand are “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18). Such are “past feeling.” What a tragedy, what a terrible and horrible condition to be in! Yet, such is the condition of those who do not understand the Bible.
The Bible Properly Understood Is Authoritative
A steadfast refusal to recognize and understand the Bible is a rejection of its authority. The truth is always there for those who seek it. Those who love error and confusion were sternly rebuked by Jesus, “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah (6:9-10) is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.” (Matt. 13:14-15)
How strange that even brethren should deny we can understand the Bible alike!
This Understanding of the Bible Produces A Common Faith and A Common Obedience
Unless common understanding is possible (and essential) how could men possess “a like precious faith”? (2 Peter 1:1) If it is not understandable to all alike how could it be a “common salvation”? (Jude 3) Furthermore, Jesus clearly stated that our salvation is predicated on understanding and obeying His words: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).
Brethren, let us recognize that we must understand alike and “retain the standard of sound words“ (2 Tim. 1:13). Let us boldly declare them to all men and expect them to perceive the truth and obey it. We need not fear nor worry for men can and do “see” the Bible alike. Let us say with Paul, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).
And at the same time, let us admonish those who are otherwise minded: “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord” (Jer. 9:23-24).

Take home message: If we understand the Bible at all, we understand it alike. Let’s rededicate ourselves to studying God’s message so we can share it with others.


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