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Many consider God’s Word, the Bible, to be one of the great religious books. They readily point to it as a work of profound importance, containing the thoughts of deeply spiritual men of former generations. They go so far as to assert that our very culture rests upon the philosophy, morality, and world-view of the Bible.
Regardless of intent, all of these supposed honors fall far short of the truth, and in fact are an insult to the Bible’s true source and true purpose.
A multitude of scholars, not a few of which are devout believers, assert that the Bible is a book of history. And indeed it is. It simply answers a number of the most significant questions posed by people of all times and all cultures. It addresses the origin of the earth (Genesis 1:1), the origin of man (Genesis 1:26, 27), and the origin of man’s predicament (Romans 5:12).
Because of these answers, sincere Christians have devoted their lives and best efforts to promoting the historical validity of the Bible. Many have endured public ridicule and professional censure for doing so. One cannot help but admire these men and women for their courage and tenacity.
And yet, by their books, teachings, and personal examples they have caused others to conclude that the Bible was given solely as a true historical record, and that the Christian’s job is to make the world accept it. And such a conclusion is far from the truth.
On the other hand, a large group of equally dedicated scholars focus their efforts on future events, applying a variety of techniques to explain the Bible’s prophecies. Unfortunately, no two of them seem to agree on the details. But they do agree on both the necessity and the possibility of “solving the puzzle.”
The works of these scholars have led thousands of sincere Christians to pend hour after confounding hour in Ezekiel, Revelation, and the latter chapters of Daniel. Praise God that they are opening the Book. But the resulting confusion begs the question, “Is this really all there is to the glorious purpose of God’s Word?
In truth, all too often, today’s Biblical scholars are closely akin to the scholars of Israel — dedicated, even brilliant, and often deeply sincere, but sincerely wrong.
The Scribes of Jesus’ day (often called lawyers, because of their mastery of the Old Testament law) are a case in point. They studied the Scriptures to the exclusion of all else. They taught the Scriptures diligently and clearly. They were even frequently men of great piety. And yet Jesus Christ consistently portrayed their entire profession as an obstacle to truth.
Why? Perhaps this is best explained by Jesus’ own words to these men.
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
Without a key, the door remains shut, the entrance to a true understanding of the Scriptures is barred. Those, like the Scribes, who studied, taught, and preserved the Scriptures, could and should have recognized that key. They could and should have been the ones to usher all of God’s people into that understanding. Instead, they not only failed to use the key themselves, but also denied it to others.
What is the key of knowledge? Consider the following.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
What is the key of knowledge? Christ himself.
Without Christ, the Scriptures seem to be a compilation of philosophical maxims, antiquated laws, sporadic historical records, and predictions of the future. When we realize, however, that Christ is both the reason for and the pinnacle of God’s communication to mankind, all of this seemingly random knowledge suddenly coheres. Why are some events — past and future — recorded and others ignored? Christ. Why is the source of man’s current status so emphatically repeated? Christ. Why are the minute details of a Semitic tribal law given such attention? Christ.
To the man of the world, those of us who engage in studying God’s Word seem to be engaged in a frivolous and antiquated hobby. Were it not for the key, he would be correct.
With the key, however, all of this changes. God’s Word reveals itself to be living and powerful indeed, each word full of brilliant truth, pointing men to glory.
Let us continue to study God’s Word with diligence, putting forth our best effort and making the best use of our time. Let us also continue to teach it boldly and to pass it on accurately to future generations.
Yet, in the midst of all this knowledge, let us never forget the simplicity and the grandeur of its central message — in truth, its only message:
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.