Knowing What the Bible Teaches

Posted in: DR Blog
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Date: June 14, 2017
By John Adams, Assistant Director

Sometimes knowing what the Bible teaches prevents us from growing spiritually.

Unless we decide in advance to do what the Bible says, our unapplied knowledge will be spiritually disastrous. If those statements disturb you, let me assure you that is exactly what Jesus taught.

What’s the difference between knowing what the Bible teaches and doing it?

We may like to believe that knowing a truth and living by it are always connected, but Scripture and experience show us they are not. Take a simple inventory for example. Are there things you know you should do, but are not doing? For example, you may know you need to: make a will, eat healthier, live within a budget, get a routine physical, apologize to someone, or spend more time with your children while they are in your home. So far, knowing what you need has not prodded you to action.

Knowing what the Bible teaches, and doing itExperience and Scripture show us knowing what the Bible teaches does not automatically lead to doing. Remember the religious leaders of Jesus’ day? Jesus denounced them, not for their knowledge, but for their failure to do what they knew:

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith.Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), Mt 23:23.

Somehow their exhaustive knowledge of Moses’ teaching kept them from understanding the point of the teaching. God’s desire for justice, mercy and faith is liberally woven through the entire Hebrew Scriptures, yet these Scripture-scholars were ignored what they knew by failing to do the truth. They went to ridiculous lengths to keep the minor points of the Law so they would feel less guilty when they ignored the main points.

Just knowing what the Bible teaches is not enough.

Jesus declares that knowing what He says is not enough. Unless we actually do what He says, we don’t believe Him. His famous parable of two builders drives home this truth. In Matthew 7, Jesus describes those who know without applying when He says,

Anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.Holy Bible (NLT), Mt 7:26
When the storm comes, the wind and water batter that house down. How is the wise person different from the fool? One who,
listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on [bedrock].Holy Bible (NLT), Mt 7:24 (emphasis added)
While the wise do not escape the storm, they endure it and survive.

Knowing what the Bible teaches is just the first step.

Jesus doesn’t offer false hope for the person who merely knows what Jesus said. Only when we believe Him enough to do what He says can He call us “wise”. We must first know what Scripture says, but we must resist the temptation to settle for knowing what the Bible teaches. When we learn what the Bible teaches, we must choose to believe it enough to put the truth into practice.

Jesus’s commission to His first disciples and to us, emphasizes applying the truth:

Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.Holy Bible (NLT), Mt 28:20
Disciples learn to do the truth, not merely know it. Following Christ requires us to trust Him enough to obey His instructions.

Now is the time to begin knowing (and doing) what the Bible teaches

If you have put your faith in Christ, are you believing Him enough to do what He says, or have you settled for merely knowing? If you read Scripture, do you put it into practice? If you memorize, do you apply what you know?

If you have not yet put your trust in Jesus, this can be great news. Exhaustive knowledge of the Bible is not a goal anyone can reach quickly, but applying what you know can begin today. If you will trust Jesus enough to do what He says, He will gladly help you understand more.

After all, eternal life comes not through what you know, but Who you know.

This is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.Holy Bible (NLT), Jn 17:3

If you believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, God come to earth as man, you act on that belief by putting your full trust in Him. Admit what God already knows, that you have done what you know to be wrong. Trust that when Jesus died and rose again, He was taking your place and He now stands ready to forgive you. Accept His invitation into a relationship, His offer of forgiveness for all your guilt and receive the eternal life only He can give.

Contact us if you would like someone to pray with you and help you get connected to a local church that teaches not only what the Bible says, but helps people learn to obey it! And if you would like to know more about what the Bible teaches, consider our Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI), a tuition-free program of rigorous coursework combined with practical Christian Ministry that provides you with hands-on experience in every facet of church ministry from children’s ministries to pulpit preaching.

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