The Simplicity of the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 18, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

To be dead honest, I think to have to write a post about “how to read the Bible” shows just how far we have fallen both academically and intellectually. I will save the details for next week because I need to use this post to explain why such a post needs to be written. The way people try to read the Bible to get it to say something other than what it says really demonstrates both the pride of humanity and the determination to look religious while disbelieving the very text these people proclaim to believe. Intellectualism has truly become the prime idol of our nation today. It is in the universities and the churches. The liberals in secular schools of thought profess all this science and knowledge that is direct rebellion against God. And in the intellectual reformed circles, there is a level of pride that has not been seen in years. I am wired intellectually, yet what I am seeing around us today in the name of education is truly insulting to an actual education.

Mixed with all the hubris and pride of education, theories, ideas, etc. is a New Age mystic approach where everything is about feelings, emotions, and personal opinions. The deception we have going on today is actually a mix of these. But keep in mind, it’s not new. It’s the same recycled theories of Epicureans, Stoics, and other philosophies of ancient Greece/Rome. Different flavors and different colorings, but same core meal.

Along with this is an ever-present teaching that, “You cannot understand anything unless you have been properly educated.” In today’s world, you cannot understand “Evolution” unless you have been thoroughly trained in Evolution by universities and embrace it. Go online and present an argument against Evolution and someone, PhD or not, will give you the standard reply of, “You don’t understand Evolution.” I hear that so often I seriously have to wonder how many of them understand Evolution. I suspect the answer is few because they can only parrot what they were taught.

This is a problem with the Bible today, too. Some believe that no one can be a pastor unless he’s been to seminary and learned all the theories and man’s ideas about the Bible. No one can actually understand the Bible unless you speak fluent ancient Greek and Hebrew. No one can actually understand the Bible because it wasn’t written to a 21st century audience, but to a dumb, uneducated Ancient Near East audience, so in order to understand the Bible, you have to understand all the pagan cultures around Israel. While knowing your Greek and Hebrew and knowing the context in which the books were original written is very useful, can you not hear the pride in such arguments? I can.

In his book The Lost World of Genesis One, John Walton tries to paint a picture that Genesis 1 is a “temple inauguration text,” not a description of the creation of the natural world. When asked why no one else had seen that before, he defends his position by saying that the rest of church history didn’t have access to all the Ancient Near East documents we have today. There is such pride in thinking, “No one else understood this, but because of my education, I do.” I am immediately turned off by such thinking, and I hope you are too.

So let me make this simple: you don’t need ANY of that to be able to read the Bible, to understand the Bible, or to believe the Bible. God wrote the Bible to be timeless and simple enough that the uneducated layman can understand its primary messages. Yes, there are passages that are hard to understand. They do exist. But most of it is not difficult. Jesus does not require an “educated” faith; He calls for a child-like faith. The simplest and best approach to any passage we do not understand should be: “Father, this is your word. I don’t get it, but because it is your word, I receive and believe it. Help me in my unbelief.” Instead, what many do is come up with their intellectual theories and systems to try to explain both God and the passage to audiences to make them look smart. We have to get rid of such ideas.

The Bible is a very complex book because no scholar is ever going to exhaust the depths of it. But it is also a very simple book. A child can read it and get the main message. “But a child doesn’t have all the knowledge that we have,” says the skeptic. Yes, but a child also doesn’t have his brain washed with man’s ideologies either and is able to believe it with simple child-like faith. While I am an intellectual type, and while many people praise my ability to write and my ability to explain things, really what I have is that child-like faith. The Bible says it; I believe it. There’s nothing more to it. All I seek to do is showcase what is there for all to see. I don’t need anyone looking at me as some guru. I’m not a guru or an expert; I’m simply a proclaimer. I have no special knowledge that is not accessible to anyone else who simply believes God at His word.

But that said, the Bible is also a living document in the sense that its Author is still alive and still around. The Bible’s openness is towards believers with that childlike faith. To the intellectually proud and to the unbeliever, God is going to shut off understanding of His word and to them the Bible is just dead text. The real power and the life of Scripture comes from those who believe it and submit to it. Leonard Ravenhill said this:

One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed...
The fact beats ceaselessly into my brain these days that there is a world of difference between knowing the Word of God and knowing the God of the Word. Is it not true that with the coming round of Bible conferences we hear only old things repeated, and most likely come away without any increase of faith? Perhaps God never had such a set of unbelieving believers as this present crop of Christians. How humiliating!
~Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, page 71

While God can use the intellectual, He does not require them. Only one of the Apostles was an intellectual – Paul, and he was the last one chosen. Paul also knew where academia belonged – to be subservient to simply preaching the Word, if not discarded. Paul never came with eloquence of speech but through the foolish method of preaching. Today, we have apologists who are very eloquent, and some have declared that their mission is to “remove any intellectual barriers between an unbeliever and the Gospel.” There is a valuable place for that, but what it has become is a pure intellectual game that ultimately has no power. I love apologetics and I love being able to defend and proclaim the faith in a rational way, but something is drastically missing and a lot of it is a total lack of belief in the power of God to actually do the work through His word and instead relying on man’s wisdom and man’s intellect. Do we really believe the Bible or not? And how can we believe it if we have forgotten how to read? Next week, I’ll go into how to read the Bible. It will be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand.

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