Why knowing the Bible matters

In one of Jesus’ powerful teachings known as “The Parable of the Sower,” He made two compelling statements:

Whoever hears the message about the Kingdom, but doesn’t understand it, is like the seed sown along the path — the Evil One comes and seizes what was sown in his heart… However, what was sown on rich soil is the one who hears the message and understands it; such a person will surely bear fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:19-23 CJB)

According to Jesus’ teaching, there are four types of listeners, and only the “good listener” is the rich soil in whom God’s Word takes root and bears much fruit for His Kingdom.

The Bible is God’s revelation and invites us to taste an ever-increasing knowledge of Him to live the most fulfilled life possible.

Being avid students of the Bible helps us:

  1. Understand the Gospel of Jesus,
  2. Distinguish Truth from Error,
  3. Discern Unbiblical Mindsets, and
  4. Become Effective Disciples of Jesus.

Let’s look at each one of these benefits closely.

1. Understand the Gospel of Jesus

Jesus only taught one gospel and it is The Gospel of the Kingdom. The entire Bible revolves around it. It is unique. It is exclusive. And stands alone far above all religions ever known to mankind. It is a Kingdom. It has a King. It has Laws. A language. A peculiar lifestyle. It demands complete loyalty. Total surrender of our own will to the King. It exists among us, inside us, and is within our reach. This is the Gospel that Jesus preached. Confessing Jesus gets us to the threshold of His Kingdom. Delving deeper into The Bible allows us to know God more intimately.

Throughout human history, different focuses have been taught with an emphasis on good habits such as charity, prosperity, generosity, and positivity. The Gospel of the Kingdom includes such attributes but it is far beyond “good” because it is not of this world nor is it man-made. It is divine.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is about establishing the will of King God on earth.

This is the Gospel that Jesus preached and commissioned His disciples to continue spreading. It demands repentance, obedience, and complete surrender even to the point of death. Jesus’ kingdom message is summarized in one word―repentance:

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17 NLT)

To repent means to turn away from sin. In Hebrew, repentance is Teshuva. To make teshuva means to return to God wholeheartedly.

What does being a citizen of God’s Kingdom look like? It is putting God first where He is number one above all else including your spouse, your kids, parents, pets, friends, job, career, hobbies, and yourself. When He is first, everything else in our lives comes into alignment.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. (Matthew 6:33 NASB)

What traits and values do citizens of God’s Kingdom exhibit in their daily lives? Traits that resemble our heavenly Father: justice, righteousness, mercy, love, holiness (set apart).

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before You. (Psalm 89:14 NASB)

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)

2. Distinguish Truth from Error

Stark contrasts between the Biblical text and man-made doctrines are easy to spot. That which looks like the truth, sounds like the truth, and apparently acts like the truth is dangerous territory to engage in.

Jesus only preached one sermon known as the “Sermon on the Mount” found in the book of Matthew chapters 5 through 7. Here the Lord Jesus amplified the meaning of the laws given to the Jewish people commonly referred to as the “Law of Moses” or “Torah” which includes the first five books of the Bible. In Hebrew, Torah means divine instruction. In a series of “you heard it said… but I say…” statements Jesus expanded the understanding of the Kingdom code to live by. And He did NOT make it easy!

Jesus got to the heart of humans, as from it flows all issues of life. For example, to avoid adultery, Jesus said to not even look at a woman with lust because doing so is already sinning in your heart. To avoid committing murder, He said to not get angry at our brother because anger leads to murder. And don’t even think of calling him a fool because that puts you in danger of burning in hell!

But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ [Arameic, “empty head”] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22 NJKV)

In His only sermon, Jesus spoke about real issues of life on earth and how to deal with them. He addressed suffering, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, injustice, hatred, vengeance, charity, prayer, forgiveness, fasting, worry, anxiety, judging, valuing, persistence, trust, treatment of others, doing the right thing, avoiding false teachers, listening and obeying. (See Matthew Chapter 5 through 7).

Certainly, we cannot live righteously on our own. And that’s the point Jesus made. We can never meet God’s high standards for holy living. We need a Savior, an intermediary that can help us stand right with God. That is Jesus. Thank God for the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin! And thank God that we have Holy Spirit to counsel, guide, and strengthen us to do the will of our heavenly Father.

Jesus provided the standard to live by as members of the Kingdom of Heaven.

How can we differentiate between the true and false Gospel? The fruit. Jesus said:

You will recognize them by their fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20 CJB)

3. Discern Unbiblical Mindsets

One of the greatest attacks against our faith today is mindsets that oppose the knowledge of God established in His Word. Embracing such mentalities desensitizes us to God’s moral laws. If we give in it’s because we do not know God’s Word.

We may think this is a new challenge but the apostle Paul dealt with it during his time and his counsel is written for our benefit. Paul addressed this war of unbiblical mindsets in his letter to the Corinthians:

For although we do live in the world, we do not wage war in a worldly way; because the weapons we use to wage war are not worldly. On the contrary, they have God’s power for demolishing strongholds. We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 CJB)

Analyzing the text closely, the apostle Paul clarifies that:

  1. We are in a spiritual war.
  2. We don’t fight in a “worldly way” but instead we use weapons that have God’s power.
  3. Our weapons are so powerful that they crush “strongholds”.
  4. Those strongholds are “arguments and arrogance”, that is every mindset that opposes the divine counsel established in God’s Word.
  5. We overcome those strongholds (mindsets, arguments) by confronting them in light of the truth of God’s Word.

Any thought or mindset about anything in life that presents a perspective contrary to the Word of God is a stronghold, an argument founded in pride and arrogance against what God has established. It is Satan’s old trick of deception with a few modern tweaks customized for today’s modern era. It is professional. Polished. Knowledgeable. Sounds good. Smells good. And at times can be convincing. A nine-nine percent truth mixed with a one percent lie is still a lie.

Satan’s method has not changed. It worked wonders for him in the Garden of Eden and it still works wonders for him today. His arguments oppose the counsel of God and subtly twist God’s Word into deception.

  • The opposition: “That’s not what God said!”
  • The deception: “He knows that the day you eat of the tree that He said not to eat, you will be like Him knowing good and evil!” (See Genesis 3:1-7).

Deception camouflaged with truth is still deception.

For every law, commandment, and instruction written in the Bible for our benefit and protection, Satan has an argument against it. He makes the argument so convincing that we’ve all fallen into his trap that the grass is greener on the other side. Once we’re on the other side, we realize that there’s no grass at all! We find ourselves feeling full of shame. Naked. Stupid. Accused. Stripped of our voice.

Today’s mindsets (strongholds, arguments) that oppose God’s Word are affecting individuals, families, congregations, entire cities, and nations.

The Problem: Biblical illiteracy

We don’t know God’s Word. Therefore, we fall easy prey to the lies of the enemy by embracing arguments that oppose God’s counsel. The tool Satan is using to keep us away from effectively studying God’s Word is busyness. We are too busy with information saturation, bombarded with all kinds of teachings, books, and blogs that crave our attention, and our calendars are maintained full of activities that keep us entertained away from the daily study of God’s Word.

The Result: spiritual apathy

Being empty of God’s Word in our hearts, we easily drink the Kool-Aid of modern-day arguments that desensitize us from the principles established in the Word of God. These arguments cover all issues pertaining to everything in life, from family to marriage to the sanctity of human life and overall moral behavior. Biblical precepts are seen as old, archaic, and done away with. Yet it is these age-old foundations that hold the secret to truth and abundant living. Even though we live in the most brilliant age of information, we find ourselves spiritually inept.

The Solution: return to God

Make Teshuva. Turn away from sin. Return to God wholeheartedly. Stop being in love with the world and fall in love with God’s Word again. We cannot say we love God if we’re not in love with His Word. The Bible is our instruction guide, our safeguard, and our counselor that sets the standard for living the most fulfilling life possible. Being separated from His Word cuts us off from the knowledge of God. And being cut off from the knowledge of God leaves us vulnerable to embrace all kinds of human-made philosophies that rise up against the counsel of God.

4. Become Effective Disciples of Jesus

The Gospel of the Kingdom is one of discipleship. We can be fond of Jesus and be a convert, or we can love Him and be His disciple.

Being a disciple of the King means obeying what He says. As in a teacher-student, father-son, master-slave relationship. Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy. It requires being different. Set apart. Unpopular. Any teaching that makes the Gospel of the Kingdom seem like an easy-peasy ride is not the Gospel Jesus preached.

Jesus warned those wanting to be His disciples:

If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution-stake, and keep following me. (Matthew 16:24 CJB)

Jesus also advised:

If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else [meaning He comes first]—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27 NLT)

God requires total devotion. If we are not completely loyal to the point of being willing to die for Jesus, then we cannot be His disciples. But to those who wish to be His disciples, Jesus promised rest for the weary soul:

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NKJV)

Being a disciple of Jesus is to deny ourselves, be willing to die for Him, take His yoke, and follow Him daily, and in doing so we will find eternal life.

Yeshua said to her (Martha), “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26 CJB)

To be disciples of Jesus and live as citizens of God’s Kingdom we must become avid students of the Bible. And to interpret the Bible correctly, we must understand it in its Hebraic cultural context.