By Brother R. Michel Lankford
Question: To understand the truths of scripture, who would you ask and why?
The Quick Summary Answer
First: Go to God in prayer directly with your questions before all else.
Second: Keep notes on what you think God is telling you in answer to the questions you brought to Him.
Third: Take your notes and do your own Bible study FIRST
Fourth: Practice Doing what God is showing you through the word
Fifth: Compare your notes and conclusions with other Bible resources and commentaries.
Sixth: Then, if you still need further counsel and advice on how to understand and obey a passage, then you seek out other older brothers and sisters and gather other human opinions after all that.
Verily, verily, I tell you the truth, this is the order of progression that I try to use, and that I earnestly recommend for up and coming disciples to use when they are looking for answers on how to understand and how to obey a particular passage of Scripture. There are a great number of reasons for this, but I’m only going to focus on the few largest reasons:
As It Is Written: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5–8 NKJV)
People often forget that having a one-on-one; human being to Creator relationship with God has ALWAYS been God’s plan for us. God NEVER intended that there would be, 5… 10… 20… Or even 100 different people influencing our relationship with God and chiming in with their own opinions, desires and preferences. It is always been God’s desire to have a one on one relationship with us.
How do I know that this is true? Quite simply, the Bible tells me so.
Example: We know, that Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day in the garden of Eden. They recognized God’s voice directly, (Genesis 3:8-9).
Example: We know that one of the very first Instructions that God gave to Israel was that they should HEAR Him, (Deuteronomy 6:4). Hear oh Israel, YAHWEH is God, YAHWEH is One. The word HEAR in this case is Shema. The word literally means to listen diligently; with intent purpose and readiness to act in accordance with what you hear.
Now, you will say to me, ‘Well, that’s very nice, brother Lankford, but those are Old Testament ideas. I’m a “New Testament Christian.”
That’s cute, but no cigar. God is not a man that he should lie. God does not change. All of His key concepts are the SAME throughout ALL of Scripture.
Example: Jesus the Messiah said it this way:
As It Is Written: ““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:1–5 NKJV)
As It Is Written: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27–28 NKJV).
As It Is Written: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13–15 NKJV)
Ask Messiah to open your understanding, (See Luke 22:32–49)
As It Is Written: ““Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24–27 NKJV)
So, right here in the New Testament we have a beautiful illustration of Shema; where listen diligently; with intent purpose and readiness to act in accordance with what we hear. The Shema principal is exactly what the Messiah and Son of God is reiterating in Matthew 7:24-27. We just read it. It’s the SAME being illustrated there.
As It Is Written: “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. (Acts 16:14 NKJV)
As It Is Written: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20 NKJV)
As It Is Written: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32 NKJV)
Make sure that you actively PRACTICE DOING and OBEYING the Scriptures that you already do understand. This is beyond critical. It’s affectionately called the John 14:21 Principle.
As It Is Written: ““He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NASB95)
This Scripture is counter-intuitive to regular human nature, but it is absolutely true. It is natural for us to believe that if we had a greater Revelation and understanding of God we would obey Him better, but from God’s Kingdom Perspective, if we choose to and we obey Him better FIRST, then God will open our understanding and give us better Revelation and understanding of the Scriptures. It is a Kingdom principle that we must obey first and then we will understand more AFTER we OBEY.
If you look at it carefully, it is actually God’s mercy that He does this in that particular order. You see, in God’s Kingdom, the more you know and understand, the more accountable we also are, (Luke 12:35-48).
So, if we are not fully determined to practice being obedient and if God were to give us Revelation and understanding BEFORE we are determined to obey Him, He would be required to judge us MORE harshly, because we would be disobedient to Him with greater knowledge and understanding. So, our punishment for disobeying would be much harder because we would know better. That’s WHY he requires us to be obedient BEFORE He will give us greater Revelation and understanding from Scripture. So, if we want better Revelation and understanding of Scripture, we need to make certain that we are actively practicing the stuff we already know first.
Study the Scripture For Yourself. Don’t Rely So Much on the Opinions of Other People
God’s Word, as He originally transmitted it, is 100% perfect because YHWH Almighty God is 100% perfect, (Deuteronomy 32:3–4;.Psalm 18:30–36; Psalm 19:7–14; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; Deuteronomy 8:2–3). Of course, some people refuse to believe God, because they do not want to believe that all of their words and deeds will come under His Righteous Judgement, (Psalm 9:7–8, Matthew 12:36–37; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The reality does not change, regardless of people’s comforts or preferences about the situation, (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14).
I believe that The Whole Testament (Genesis 1-Revelation 22), is all Scripture and completely sufficient for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the people of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Moreover, we must not forget that Messiah used rightly applied Scripture to defeat and protect Himself from the temptations of the devil, (Matthew 4; Luke 4). So, since God’s Word and Scripture is sufficient for God to create the universe, (Genesis 1; Hebrews 11:1–4), and powerful enough for Messiah to defeat the temptations of the devil, then Scripture, is certainly sufficient to transform our lives and circumstances, as we cooperate with Him.
All of that being the case, there is a factor that passionate believers do often forget:
While we are guaranteed that God’s Word and everything He says is Perfect, people often forget that there are some things that we are NOT guaranteed:
We are NOT guaranteed that every translation of God’s Word will be perfect inerrant and infallible. We must come as close as we can, and deal with the best that we have in our language.
We are NOT guaranteed that every person will Read God’s Word correctly.
We are NOT guaranteed that every single understanding or that every conclusion that people will choose to draw out or extract from God’s Word will be perfect; inerrant, and infallible.
We are NOT guaranteed that every single application and use of God’s Word will be perfect, inerrant, and infallible.
The Bible only remains Scripture when it is read, divided, interpreted and applied correctly. That is because whenever it is misread, improperly divided, misinterpreted, abused, or misapplied, it ceases to be Scripture at that point. In such a case it becomes merely a poor commentary on Scripture, because when it is misread or abused, then it is no longer true to what (יהוה YAHWEH), Almighty God actually said, therefore it is no longer Scripture at that point.
That is WHY we should seek God directly rather then the opinions of others to help us understand the Scriptures.
We have the clearly established biblical principle that God intends for us to have a one-on-one relationship with Him, where we can Hear and obey His guidance.
Messiah clearly tells us that His Sheep Hear His Voice, and they will not follow a stranger.
Messiah promises that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.
We have the promise of Messiah in John 14:21 that if we practice being faithful to His Words and to His Commandments, God will grant us greater Revelation as we are obedient.
We have clear examples in Scripture where God opened up people’s understandings, so that they could understand the Scriptures (for example Lydia, and the men on the road to Emmaus). God is no respecter of persons, so if He did for them he can also do the same for us, if we ask Him.
This is why I earnestly implore you that if you are looking to understand the truths of Scripture, you should go to God directly as much as possible. That is how you will build your intimacy and friendship with God. The more you go to Him one-on-one, the stronger your relationship with God will become. We need to struggle through in prayer to ask for understanding. We need to do our own diligence Bible study, and trust that the Holy Spirit will do what Messiah says the Holy Spirit would do. He will guide us into all truth. We need to practice doing the Scriptures that we already understand, and believe that God will disclose more truth to us, as we practice being obedient to what we already know. If we truly are His Sheep, we have the guarantee that we will Hear His Voice. It may take some practice. We may have to fine tune our discernment, but we are biblically guaranteed that we will hear His Voice. We will receive His guidance. God may send us good sermons, or good commentaries, or older brothers and sisters to help us discern what we are hearing, but truly, our main source for understanding the Truth from God’s Word, was always intended to be God himself, leading us by the Holy Spirit into all truth.
Thank You for you Kind attention
Brother R. Michel Lankford