As I was meditating today I remembered three comments that were made by three different individuals at different times. I thought it strange that I should recall them almost at the same time. As I pondered over them, though, I realized that they revealed the most common problems among Christians today.
The first comment was made by a woman about thirty years ago. She said, “I don’t read the Old Testament. It is only history and I don’t like history!” That is a common opinion among many Christians. They see it only as the history of Israel and, besides that, much of it is not easy reading. So they tend to stay away from it and read the New Testament instead. And, believe it or not, there are many church goers that do not read the Bible at all – don’t even take a Bible to church. The fact is many Christians are not readers, and many of the ones who are do not know how to read the Scriptures to receive the life that is available in them.
I was visiting a country church once and there were two elderly women in the pew in front of me. Just as the service was about ready to begin, one of them leaned over to the other and said, “Sister, did you bring your Bible?” And the other lady, pointing toward the preacher, responded, “No! I pay him to read the Bible for me!”
Christians that only see the Old Testament as history usually only see the New Testament as history also. I feel that it is good for a Christian to understand the history of Israel and the Early Church, but it is not the history that will minister life to you. Do you remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees? You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5:39-40. Keep in mind that the only Scriptures they had was the Old Testament, and they had studied them meticulously. They knew the history, the rituals, the commandments, the promises, the prophecies, etc. And while they were familiar with all the prophecies concerning the Messiah, they didn’t recognize Him when He was standing there in front of them. They thought they had eternal life because they studied the Scriptures. They knew the history, but they didn’t find Christ in them. Jesus said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me” (John 5:46). Did you hear that? Moses was writing about Jesus Christ. Listen, if the Old Testament is only history to you, you are missing Christ just as the Pharisees were.
By the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established (II Corinthians 13:1). So let’s see what Paul has to say about it.
I Corinthians 10:1-11 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be
unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
2 All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3 And all ate the same spiritual food,
4 And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;
9 Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
10 Nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Wow! Are the Old Testament Scriptures important? Yes, they are written and preserved for us. We are the ones upon whom the ends of the ages have come. They are not just history. Hidden within them is the life of Christ! Can you find it? It is not a matter of intelligence. It is a matter of heart! Too many people haven’t learned how to read with their heart. If the Old Testament Scriptures are dry to you, you are not reading with your heart. Let’s look at one more. This one comes from Peter.
I Peter 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Receiving the end of your faith means receiving the fulfillment of your faith.
I Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.
Peter is talking about the Old Testament prophets. They were prophesying of the grace that should come unto us. “But I thought the Old Testament was for the Jews and that grace didn’t come until Jesus Christ came.” Christ was in the Old Testament, too. Remember what Paul said? When they drank water from the Rock, they were drinking Christ. If you drink from those Old Testament Scriptures you will be drinking Christ, too. Now, let’s get back to Peter. Those prophets of the so-called Old Covenant were prophesying of the grace that is available for you. Get in there and drink!
I Peter 1:11-12 Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things which angels desire to look into.
The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets and they were prophesying to us the things of the Gospel, the same Gospel that the Holy Spirit is now ministering through the Lord’s sent ones. Do you understand what Peter is saying? Oh, how can we neglect the Old Testament Scriptures knowing that God has preserved them for us! Therefore…
I Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the lions of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Now don’t put this revelation of Jesus Christ in the future. Gird up the loins of your heart and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures.
The second comment came about seven or eight years ago when I was ministering in a church in Texas. I was trying to explain how the Scriptures hold truths that are not always easily seen, that we must have a capacity to perceive that which can only come from God. A lady in the congregation retorted, rather angrily, “The Word is not hard to understand; it is simple. God said do not kill! How hard is that to understand?”
Well, as a matter of fact, Jesus thought it was difficult for people to understand and gave an explanation of that saying in the Sermon of the Mount. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22.
It is important for us to understand that the Scriptures are mystical. They are not understood with the mind, but with the heart. Many times Jesus would teach and then say, “Let him that has ears hear” (Luke 8:8). A right understanding of the Scriptures requires a capacity of perception that is created by God. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them. Proverbs 20:12. The blind knew they were blind and the Lord could heal them. The deaf knew they were deaf and the Lord could heal them. He makes both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak (Mark 7:37). The Pharisees were blind and deaf but they did not know it. Consequently, Jesus could not heal them. Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains. John 9:41. Do you understand? The Lord creates insight into the Scriptures in those who do have it. If you think they are simple and easy, it may be that you are blind.
After Jesus gave the parable of the Sower He said to His disciples: To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Luke 8:10. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a mystery, the Kingdom of God is a mystery, the Scriptures are a mystery, and understanding is only given to disciples. In a home meeting once one of the men said, “A walk with God is easy. Anyone can do it.” I was a visitor and didn’t know the man so I said nothing, but it was obvious he had not tried it yet. It is through much tribulation that we enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
Again, Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you are Spirit and life (John 6:63). Words of Spirit and life are not discerned or understood with human intelligence. A wise man named Solomon once said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7). To lean upon your own understanding is evil. The Apostle Paul goes a little further and says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Corinthians 3:6). Meditate on that! If all you are doing is reading information, you are partaking of death. That is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The third comment was spoken by a man that I felt was quite sincere. He said, “I believe I would do the will of God if I knew what it was.” Have you ever felt that way? I’m going to leave this comment with you for your own meditation.
Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose