Learn to Know
Reading: Matthew 11:20-30
1. The Word of God
Have you ever wondered why the Bible is the world's most misunderstood
book? Why its teachings are ignored or branded as being obsolete?
The answer is, because comparatively few people believe the Bible is the
Word of God. To be sure, many agree that the Bible contains
classic passages and that it is the world's best seller: but the
Word of the Almighty God! no they cannot accept that. And yet the
fact is, if you want to be a really educated man or woman, and I mean
really educated, then the first thing you must learn is this: the
Bible is the Word of God. It wasn't the product of human
intelligence. The Bible was inspired by God's Holy Spirit: every book,
every chapter, every sentence and every word was God-breathed. That
is the first fact you will do well to accept if you really want to know.
|2 Peter 1:
||20: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.|
21: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2. Why was the Bible Given?
The Most High has a specific purpose in giving His Word. It is not a
book one would read for entertainment: it must be read to discover that
|2 Timothy 3:
||16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
In other words, the Bible was given to define moral behaviour acceptable to
God, to point out sin, to correct error, to teach us what we should do
in order to be righteous, like God is righteous. That is why the
Bible was given to me.
- Doctrine: A principle, or set of principles and beliefs held
by a religious, political or other group.
- Reproof: An expression of condemnation for a fault or offence.
- Correction: An alteration being made to something that was
- Instruction in Righteousness: The process of teaching what is
3. Do I need the Bible?
Do I need correction? Most people think they're well nigh perfect. Others may need correction: but not me! Speaking
through the prophet Jeremiah the Almighty says this about the self-deceiving
human heart - your heart - my heart!
Oh yes, I need the Bible. You need the Bible. We all need the Bible: because
we have all sinned and we cannot live by bread alone. Every religious and political party needs the Bible for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in
righteousness. The reason why this world is in such a mess, is because
mankind in general has rejected the Bible. In rejecting the Bible man has
rejected its, Author, the Saviour and the holy laws
which define sin and teach us how we ought to conduct human society.
||"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
who can know it?"
||"We have sinned ... neither have we hearkened unto thy servants
the prophets ... to us belongeth confusion of face ... because we have
sinned against thee ... we have rebelled against Him ... Neither have we
obeyed the voice of the Lord our God ... Yea all Israel have sinned."
||"... Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man
of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for
my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts."
||"But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live
by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
4. How should I Study the Bible?
Read it prayerfully with the sole intention of meeting these objectives:
King David was called 'a man after God's own heart.' Why? What special
quality did this shepherd have that earned him this description? I believe
the answer is found in this verse.
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy
- To learn right from wrong
- To recognise sin within your own heart.
- To understand what the Almighty is doing.
- And to become righteous - like God is righteous.
David treasured the Almighty's law more than any other possession. He loved and thought about it day and night. Read Psalm 119 for proof
of this amazing fact. David constantly prayed to understand Yahweh's
law: to plumb the depths of each command. Remember what Peter
wrote in 2 Peter 1:20-21, that both the prophecy and the understanding of
prophecy come from God. In other words we can no more understand a divine
prophecy than we can deliver one. Both the prophecy and the understanding
must come from above. So pray for understanding like king David did. It will
be given you in response to your true reaction to Yahweh's law. You will
either see or you will not see. You will either understand, or the message
will pass you by even were it thundered in your ears a thousand times. The study of
Yahweh's Word, and in particular the study of His law, will make you
humble, wise, happy and content. You too could become a man or woman
after Yahweh's own heart. He will react to your innermost yearnings just as
He did to king David's. He will open your eyes to see wondrous things out of
His law. But more importantly, He will grant you the fruits of true
understanding: obedience, peace, happiness and joy in your own soul.
This means that we must not read the Bible with the intention of proving
others wrong: or even with the apparently noble aim of teaching others.
Because, as far as you - and I - are concerned, your Bible was not
written for other people. It was written for you. My Bible was
written for me. His Bible was written for him. Her Bible was
written for her. Do you get the point? If you read the Bible with
the wrong motive, it will not benefit you one iota. Most, if not all,
your studies will be a waste of time. You will certainly fill your mind
with facts; which you could use to bash others over the head and show them how
much Scripture you know: but as far as your eternal salvation is concerned, that will
profit you nothing! You'll be wasting your time.
Instead, you should read the Bible as though God were speaking
directly to you. To be sure there are parts which you may think do not
apply to you. After all you and I are perfect aren't we? The fact
is that divine diagnosis is critical. Do not skip over it. Pray for spiritual
eyesight to understand what God is saying to you through those very verses.
Read the whole Bible: alternating between the Old and New Testament
books. Read at least a chapter a day and chew over the contents - all the
while asking yourself What has my Heavenly Father to say to me today? What
doctrine? What correction? What instruction in righteousness?
Add to your studies a holy respect for the Almighty God! Fear Him! for He is a High and Holy Person; and though He is your Heavenly Father, treat Him with the utmost respect.
||10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: |
and the knowledge
of the holy is understanding.
5. The Bible Interprets Itself
Remember that the Bible interprets itself. Obscure, symbolic passages
in one of its books are explained elsewhere in simple terms. As with all
good instructional literature, the Bible is packed with illustrations
and examples. In the first five books of the Bible we find all the
laws Yahweh gave mankind through His servant Moses. Then there follows
book after book of examples of how the Almighty reacts to His
people's behaviour regarding those laws. How does He react to:
- Family responsibilities
- Murder, Theft, Deception and Greed etc.
It's all there: the commands in the first books, the prophetic warnings
and living examples of how the Most High reacts in the other books. You
will not find many ethical decisions you have to face in life which are not
dealt with in the Bible: because the Most High has not only told us how
He wants us to live, but He has also included examples in His word of what
will happen if we do not. It is folly of the worst kind to imagine that one can ignore the directions and commands of the Almighty God and get away with it.
6. Assemble all the Texts
Believers spend hours arguing about doctrine. Many make the mistake of
trying to find texts which support what they think is the truth. They
conceive an idea and then spend hours trying to find texts to support it.
Instead, we should study all the texts we can find on a given
subject before deciding what to believe. Invest in a Bible
Concordance: it will enable you to study many texts on a given subject.
If time allows, look up as many texts as you can. Then, after prayerfully
studying them, see what the Bible is saying on that subject. Don't teach
the Bible: learn from it. It is Yahweh's Word: and it has a great deal to
teach you. The Bible is life's USER GUIDE: read it every day. In
critical matters, that is, in those areas where a mistaken opinion could
result in sin, be extra careful. Don't delude yourself into excusing your
own sins: because on the Day of Judgement - and possibly even
earlier - you'll regret it.
7. Truth at Two Levels
Most Bible truths are portrayed on two levels.
The text which first triggered my awareness of how the Almighty conveys
information on these two levels is:
- The Physical
- This is the first level we humans can see and easily understand. It involves literal, physical things like nations, land masses, trees, animals, fish, individuals and their possessions.
- The Spiritual
- This higher level contains the real lessons the Almighty is eager to teach us. It involves concepts, principles, motives, thoughts and all the
other activities which go to make up human character. To explain lessons on
this level the Master often used parables which are stories based on
first level physical examples. By using a level one object lesson, a visual aid, the Saviour high-level truths which are normally not grasped by the human mind.
This means that most, if not all, the experiences recorded in the Old
Testament (and possibly even the New) have a wider, higher, spiritual
application. They occurred in those ancient days on level one; but were
recorded 'for our admonition' for our learning! because they are
'real-life prophecies' of earth-encompassing realities scheduled to take
place on a massive scale in our day - upon whom the ends of the world
|1 Corinthians 10:11
||"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they
are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come."
This means that when you read an Old Testament story, besides learning
the obvious moral lessons it contains, look beyond the literal story and
focus on the prophetic truth behind the story. If you do this - and if
Yahweh opens your eyes - you will see the real lesson the story contains:
the lesson the Most High wants you to see. Here are a few examples of
high-level truths hidden in well known Bible stories:
- The story of the Image of Gold in Daniel chapter 3. Here we saw how
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the golden
image, even though they were threatened with death in a fiery furnace.
Now compare this story with the end-time prophecy of Revelation 13:15-16
where all who refuse to worship the image of the beast should be killed.
The first experience is more than a story. It is a prophetic drama for our time: because soon we'll be faced with the same
alternatives: worship the image of gold and you can buy and sell. Or
refuse to worship and face economic sanctions and apparent death.
- The call-out of Yahweh's people from Babylon in Jeremiah chapters
50 & 51. Again, compare these passages with the call-out of Babylon in
the book of the Revelation.
||"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the
great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and
the hold of every foul spirit ... Come out of her my people, that ye be
not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues ... Alas,
alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city: for one hour is thy
judgement come ..."
8. Bible Translations & other Aids
Currently there are over 100 English translations of the entire Bible and over 300 of the New Testament! There was a time I used to quote from many of these translations, incorrectly supposing that they were all the Word of God. But I was wrong. Not all are the Word of God. Some may be easier to understand than others, but not all are the word of God. See Stewarton Bible School's article Bible Versions: Which is the real Word of God? for more information on which English translation of the Bible you should study.
Bible Dictionaries & Concordances
In my opinion, these are a better investment than Bible Commentaries - mentioned below.
I use two concordances: Strong's and Young's. I also use the Westminster Dictionary of the Bible.
These are expensive and often reflect one
particular denomination's or author's views. They do not compare with
direct Bible study.
8. Make Notes
In the arena of learning nothing exercises the mind more than writing
down what you have learned. It is for this reason that SBS advises all
who study its Course to write down the
questions and scriptural answers. Try to get into the habit of writing
down what you have learned. If necessary make notes in the margins of your
Bible. Underline passages that impress you as being important. Set up your
own reference system which will point you to a preceding or succeeding text which deals with the same subject. Do not be scared of ruining the pages:
because when you write something down on paper, you are in fact writing
it on your mind. Keep a Note book and write down the things you have
learned. If you have a computer, so much the better; because you will then
be able to update your work regularly.
9. Practice Truth
In the book of Daniel there is a vital clue to understanding end-time prophecy.
What is this text saying? It is saying that understanding will not be
given to the wicked, 'none of the wicked shall understand:' But
understanding is given to the righteous, to those who have been
purified, made white and tried. In other words, true understanding is not a
matter of human intellect, education, will power or finance. True wisdom and understanding are gifts from God to those who do His will.
||9: And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and
sealed till the time of the end. |
10: Many shall be purified, and made white,
and tried: but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall
understand; but the wise shall understand.
The sincere desire to know and obey Yahweh's law is the very
first step towards true wisdom and understanding. Conversely, the path
of wickedness leads inevitably to ignorance, confusion and folly.
This means that if you really want to know, you must Trust and
Obey the Almighty: and as you do this your path will become brighter
and brighter as time proceeds. You will learn more and more, not only about
human nature and its follies, but of Yahweh's plans, His methods and His
aims and, perhaps, even His motives. For you, life will not become a confused
mess, as it is with so many people, but a glorious journey with
Yahweh as your pilot.
||18: But the path of the just is a shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day.
10. Secret Things
Yahweh has many things He wants to reveal to the human race. But, alas! most
are hidden from our understanding. Not because the Almighty wants us to
remain in the dark, but because advanced knowledge is a powerful thing.
Without holiness, inner strength and experience, knowledge can produces
terror, pride or doubt. For example, if at the start of
our adult lives the Most High told us everything that lay ahead, we might
give up our faith through sheer terror. Or we might become puffed up with
pride at our advanced knowledge. Or, with our limited experience, we may
even doubt His love, His wisdom and His power. That is why He only reveals
His secrets to His servants the prophets: and even they often failed
to understand His purposes. Through the prophets we who are really
interested, have the opportunity to Learn to Know.
If you really want to learn what God is planning to do, you'll need to
study what the Most High has already revealed to His servants the prophets:
that is - the Bible Prophets. All that we need to know is already recorded
in their writings.
||7: Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret
unto His servants the prophets.
There are, however, certain things which the Almighty does not want us
to know. They are secret.
||29: The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things
which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that
we may do all the words of this law.
Answers to these and many more questions are sought every day by millions of people
all over the earth. When asked, we attempt to answer these
questions, but comparatively few accept our explanations. And all the
while the Almighty remains silent.
- What is the Almighty and His Son doing right now?
- Why do they not reveal themselves?
- Why do they not put an end to human suffering?
- Why do they not exert their authority and wipe out war?
- Why do they take so long to carry out their plans? Why the delay?
- Why hasn't Yahweh given His people more power to do the myriad things
that need to be done here and now?
- Why does God allow His own followers to suffer pain, sickness,
persecution and sometimes even martyrdom?
Why? Why? Why?
The divine reasons are currently secret. There certainly are answers
to these questions, convincing answers: but right now we don't have them all. But one day we shall know. The Apostle Paul wrote:
|1 Corinthians 13:
||12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: |
I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.
That brings us to the end of this sermon Learn to Know. In your
search for knowledge I have spoken of the few guidelines which through the
years have helped me learn the little I know. I trust that they will help you
also. Let me end by summarising the points I have brought to your attention:
- The Bible is the Word of Yahweh, the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac
and Israel. Every word is God-breathed and must be understood with
the help of the same Holy Spirit who inspired it in the first place.
- The Bible was given for doctrine, reproof, correction and
instruction in righteousness, that we might grow to become like our
Father in Heaven.
- We all need the Bible because we are all ignorant sinners and
can not live by bread alone. The Bible is life's User Guide. It is our
- The Bible should be studied with much prayer: not with the
intention of proving others wrong, but to improve your own performance.
- The Bible interprets itself: difficult issues in one passage are
plainly explained in others. The Bible never contradicts itself. It is
after all - God's Word!
- To understand a particular teaching you must assemble all the
texts on that subject before making a judgement. In this way you will not
be side-tracked into error.
- Bible truths often come on two levels: the tangible low level
which we can see and hear: and the abstract high level which deals with
moral concepts and eternal realities. As a believer living in the end-time
you should seek to learn the high level truths Yahweh has hidden in every
story in His Word.
- For serious Bible study the King James Version is recommended. It is the real Word of God for the English-speaking world. Bible Concordances and Dictionaries are more useful than Bible Commentaries, which usually reflect the beliefs of individuals or denominations.
- Practice Truth. True understanding is only given to the righteous. The wicked, by comparison, shall never understand.
- At the moment we do not have all the answers. Many things are
still secret. But one day we shall know as we are known.
This brings me to my final point. The accumulation of knowledge is, in
itself, not enough. You must Learn to Know Jehovah and His Son Yeshua the
Messiah. You must also learn to obey God in thought, word and deed. The
Bible is simply a spiritual road map directing you to those two
objectives: to know and to obey the Almighty and His Son. Put differently we may say:
Trust and Obey: or
'Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.'
I'll end this sermon with the words of the Saviour, the Son of the
||28: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest.|
29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek
and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30: For my yoke
is easy, and my burden is light.
Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
July 1998 ... Reformatted: March 2000