Understanding the Bible is not an option if you’re a Christian. It’s mandatory. You must understand God’s word if you don’t want to end up like the Sadducees.
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? Mark 12:24
The Sadducees were chief priests, high priests, and rich rulers. Importantly, they held similar beliefs to most American Evangelicals because they believed in Bible authority and inerrancy. And they rejected the supernatural possibly reasoning angels and demons are fragments of a primitive mind. Does that sound like any Bible scholar, theologian or prominent pastor you know?
It’s not surprising that Sadducees were hated by common people. They were elitist and had strong ties with Rome. But they were probably envied, after all, they were educated and enlightened concerning understanding the Bible. Yet, Jesus Christ said they didn’t know the Scriptures.
Let us address two important questions on understanding the Bible:
- Why do people who studied and hold the Bible in high regard fail to understand it, and why should you be concerned?
- Does the way you understand the Bible really affect how you worship God and if it does how?
5 Quick Lessons On Understanding the Bible I Learned from Sadducees
Lesson 1. Theological education
Understanding the Bible is not determined by your level of theological education. Sadducees were educated, very educated, yet in complete error regarding the Scriptures. How is that possible?
Theological education might teach you how to read the Bible but might fail to inform you why you read the Bible. Probably that’s why people who go to a school of divinity or theological college need a book like David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell’s How to Stay Christian in Seminary.
Lesson 2. Doctrine of the Bible
Having a good doctrine of the Bible doesn’t automatically mean you understand the Bible. Sadducees believed the Scriptures were the inspired word of God. They actually believed in the authority of the Bible.
You should have a correct view of the Bible if you want to better understand the Bible. But that is not enough. It’s like having everything you need to make a healthy meal. Whatever meal you cook using the ingredients is not necessarily healthy. It could actually be poisonous.
Lesson 3. Power of God
Human beings are rational – we only want to believe things we can explain. When you’re confronted by the deep spiritual beliefs of Africans, for example, what do you do? If you like most people, you quickly reject them as primitive and shallow. There are no supernatural healings, and no witchcraft, you believe.
But understanding the Bible cannot be separated from acknowledging the power of God. If you deny God’s nature and character, it will be hard for you to understand his word. The word of God reveals the power of God.
Lesson 4. Politics and Religion
Understanding the Bible can be compromised if you value your political position or leaning over the integrity of the gospel. Sadducees cared more about their political power as rulers of the common people than on hearing God’s voice. However, they used religion as a cover for their political ambitions.
We are not immune, you and I often think knowing what the Bible says is a means of gaining control and power. But it’s not. Paul admonished Timothy that such thinking shows a lack of understanding of the truth since it imagines godliness is a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:5).
Lesson 5. Wealth Preservation
How you understand the Bible is often affected by how you view money. As a result, a proper understanding of money, its purpose in God’s kingdom, and in your life will often evoke a proper understanding of the Bible. If you do not believe me just a do a small research on the prosperity theology and the ‘health and wealth’ gospel.
Sadducees were rich aristocrats who let their love of money cloud their perception of the Scriptures. They used Scripture as a money-making gimmick and in the end, they were in error. Paul had an advice regarding corrupt their understanding of the Bible.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10
How Understanding the Bible Affects How You Worship God
Sadducees had a worship problem. They worshiped money and power more than they did God. As a result, they created their own Jefferson Bible – cutting out the passages that offended them.
How does understanding the Bible affect true worship?
1. You meet the true Christ
Do you know the story of the two men who met Jesus Christ on the way to Emmaus? Jesus Christ had been crucified and this exposed their wrong belief in Christ. They thought he would bring political deliverance (Lesson 4). But instead, Christ showed them who he was. And when you know who he is, you are drawn to true worship.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:27, 45
2. Christ opens your mind
Of all the books on Bible interpretation I read, none taught that Christ opens your mind to understand the Scriptures. In Luke 24, Christ first opened privately the mind of Cleopas and his friend, then corporately the mind of his disciples. You can’t understand God’s word until he grants you the grace. And when he does, the beauty of his glory invites you to worship.
3. The word encourage community
When Christ opened Cleopas and his friend’s mind, the first thing they did was to return to their community of believers. A proper understanding of the Bible takes you back to your community. God’s word demands personal study and yet prompts corporate worship.
Understanding the Bible often follows four steps: grace, redemption, repentance and worship.
- Jesus Christ first gives you the grace to understand.
- And when you read your Bible focusing on the witness of Jesus Christ, the story of redemption unfolds.
- However, when you see your story in the story of redemption, you’re provoked to repentance.
- After you honestly repent of your sins, you worship God. And worship is often best shown through obedience.
How can you corporate worship in your Bible reading plan?