Understanding Scripture

Christians are gold miners in the respect that most scripture is written in factual form meaning the story is told as one would witness it with their eyes, but each of those stories are packed with underlying golden nuggets of truth used by God to enrich our spiritual understanding and to help us grow and mature in our Christian experience. Like any good investigative reporter the Christian must ask the questions of who, what, when, where, and why, when reading scripture to get a clear understanding of what the Word of God is telling us in these stories. If you understand the role of the principle players in the story, the story becomes much easier to understand. For example, last week I wrote about the disciples sea crossing from Mark chapter four in which Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the otherside.” And the events that followed are clearly portrayed but not written into the story. It is from the parts of the story not written in scripture that we gain spiritual insight into the lives of the disciples of Jesus. Of course everything in the story such as the terrible storm that came upon them in the middle of the night, the boat filling with water, the fear of the disciples, etc., took place; but real insight reveals unto us why Jesus rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith. For example, in the statement, “Let us cross over to the otherside.” Jesus was saying to His disciples, “I guarantee you, we will set foot on the other shore.” Instead of understanding that when Jesus said, “Let us cross over to the otherside,” He was personally guaranteeing them a safe passage. His disciples were envisioning several hours of toiling at the oars even though they had already put in a full days work. They understood their role as servants, but they didn’t understand the role of the One in the boat with them. So when the storm came upon them in the middle of the night, they were overcome by fear. The guarantee Jesus had given them just a few hours before was no where to be found. How do we know this is what happened? We know it happened this way because Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, the one who guaranteed their safe journey was in the boat with His disciples and they had absolutely nothing to be afraid of. If the boat went down, God in the flesh, the one who created the oceans of the world was going down with it, and that was not going to happen. The second thing they didn’t understand was that they were under His protection and He wasn’t about to let anything happen to them on this learning assignment. But instead of understanding this great truth; when the storm arose their thoughts were not on the fact that God in bodily form, the one who had created the oceans of the world was in the boat with them, their thoughts were consumed by the fierceness of the wind and the waves of the rolling sea filling their boat with water.  There wasn’t any doubt the disciples believed Jesus was the Messiah, but they did not really believe in their heart of hearts He was God in the flesh. And today, Christians believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins, but how many of them really believe in their heart of hearts He lives in them? That’s why many times we fail to win over our problems. When the storms of life beset us like the one that set upon the disciples in this story, we, like they, oftentimes get our eyes on the fierceness of the storm instead of the one who lives in us and guarantee’s us safe passage through this life. And like them, when our eyes are not on the Lord God in us, they are focused on the storm raging around us, and when we allow ourselves to get more involved with the storm we are encountering, than the God who lives in us, fear will overwhelm us just as it did the disciples in this story and our devastation is close at hand.

The bible instructs us, “To not be weary in well doing.” But how many of us get tired and forget what the Word of God tells us to do when a certain situation arises? We have all been there haven’t we? And that is the condition of the disciples when this storm came upon them in the middle of the night. They were tired, scared, probably hungry, and their thoughts were focused on the terrifying situation confronting them rather than what the Word of God had said to them just a few hours earlier. Jesus rebuked them because they did not remember God was in the boat with them, and that He was responsible for their safety on this journey. As a result of their forgetfulness, they let fear which is the opposite of faith overwhelm them. I also wrote, “Jesus knew the storm was on the sea and would come upon them at a certain time. He could have waited a few hours before leaving, and let the storm pass them by. But if He had waited the storm out, His disciples would not have learned a valuable lesson that would benefit them later in their ministry after Jesus had been crucified and went home to be with His Father.” God doesn’t make mistakes; He designs plans. He has designed a plan for our life just as this plan had been drawn up for His disciples benefit. It is when we understand that we benefit from our trying situations that we grow. If nothing happens in our life to upset our boat, we learn nothing; and when tough times come, we, like the disciples, will be overcome by fear and fail. But if we dig the gold nuggets out of God’s stories that are really plans He used to develop the faith of others who went before us, we will be ready for the times of testing when they come, and we will overcome them by the word of our testimony, the blood of the Lamb, and our faith. We won’t be forgetful hearers, but doers of the Word. In this God receives glory, we grow, and reap the benefits of our trials.

If we expect to live a victorious life in this world and rule and reign with Christ Jesus over all of creation for eternity, this world is the classroom in which we learn to be overcomers and to rule over circumstances. We are not only capable of ruling on earth, but God expects us to live beyond the authority of Satan and the storms of life. If He didn’t, He would not have rebuked His disciples in the above story. Instead He would have told them, “Good try, guys. We’ll get them next time.” But that’s not what He said to them because He expected them to understand that He was in the boat with them, as He is with us, and He expected them, as He does us, to use that knowledge to overcome the storms of life and move on to the completion of our journey with Him. We cannot do that if we do not read beyond the surface story given to us in the scriptures. The stories in the bible are written in the way they are so that even unbelievers can identify with them. But to gain a more full understanding of them, the Christian will have to spend time in them like the prospector does his mine. And they might have to break a sweat digging for the golden nuggets contained therein if they want to enrich their understanding. I will conclude with one last short story. One day a Pharisee asked Jesus, “What must we do to work the works of God?” And He said to them, “This is the work of God; to believe on the One He has sent.” In effect Jesus was saying to the religious leader, “It is hard work to believe on Me, but well worth the effort if you are willing to spend the time digging for those golden nuggets of truth that will enrich your knowledge and understanding of who I am, and why I came.” DThrash

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