It is important for followers of Jesus to keep reading the Bible. You can never read enough.
I have found that as you read, you may not understand everything. But you will understand what you need to understand at your individual stage of development. This removes the pressure of having to be an expert to read the Bible.
If you do not read the Bible, and only read other’s opinions of it, then you risk being led astray. To reduce this risk, Moses commanded that the Law should be read in the presence of everyone in Israel, every seven years. Hear the commandment.
“So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for cancelling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.”
“Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:9-13)
They appeared to do this for one generation, and then stopped. Israel then served the false gods of the people whom they had displaced, and suffered the consequences.
Is there a place for intensive study beyond what we initially understand? Of course. However, when studying like that, we must be careful to check that our results, including any resultant religious traditions, are consistent with Jesus’ words. Why? Hear God Himself.
“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
This reassuring message from God, of Jesus’ words being the standard, was critical, because Jesus was saying things that scriptural experts were challenging. Hear Jesus on a challenge of what defiles a person.
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
“When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
“Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
“But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
“Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
“So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:7-20)
The Gospels are full of Jesus’ wonderful simple teachings. We are to convey the same simple and self-explanatory messages to others. Hear Jesus’s instruction to those who wished to follow Him.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Be encouraged to keep reading and sharing Jesus’ simple message.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com