After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. (NIV)
When Jesus abandoned His glory in Heaven, He came in the flesh. He came human. By His power, He left His knowledge behind. He was giving us an example to live by. Jesus chose to come in the form of a baby who couldn’t walk or talk. He became a child struggling to form words. But as He physically, mentally, and emotionally matured, He was led by the Spirit to learn the Scriptures. He sat with teachers asking questions and pondering their answers. The people were amazed at how well He understood the concepts they were teaching. Certainly, the Lord was intelligent in His human form, but He also studied. He went to class. He learned.
When the Spirit led Christ out into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4), He did not defeat His enemy with great force. He didn’t call down angels to defend Him. He didn’t ask Michael to come down and fight this demon. Nope, instead He responded to every temptation with Scripture. The Holy Spirit filled Him with courage for the battle, strength to fight, peace in the conflict. But the weapon He used was the Sword of the Spirit, the Bible. If you had to fight the devil today, would your knowledge of the Scripture reveal a giant, sharp, two-edged sword or a pocket-knife? Would you wield your sword with great expertise and prowess to gain the victory or would you struggle to get that little blade to come out of the pocket-knife?
Obviously, the weapon the Lord has told us that we need is the Word of God. But if I were in a sword fight right now, I would not know how to handle it. I would not understand the techniques and footwork to win the battle. I might have a really nice sword, but unable to use it effectively. This is what it is like to read your Bible, but never sit under the teaching of someone who is more expert than you.
Recently, I went to the fridge (not sure why all my stories are about food), and I pulled out an American Classic-An Oscar Meyer hot dog. Usually, I just heat them up in the microwave, throw ‘em on a bun, douse them with mustard and chomp-chomp. But this time, for some reason, I started to read the ingredients. Mechanically separated turkey. Mechanically separated chicken. Cultured dextrose. Sodium phosphate. Cultured celery juice. Cherry powder. MMMmmmm….good! Ha! I don’t think so. Reading the ingredients did not whet my appetite and I have always loved hot dogs, but I couldn’t help but wonder what mechanically separate turkey and chicken was. Well, I found out. After the meat has gone through the machines that strip the meat off the bones, there is some remnants of meat remaining on the bone. These are put through a sive. The bone along with the little bit of edible meat left on the bone are run through a sive to create a substance that can be squeezed like toothpaste out of a tube into a mold. Even though bone is not edible, the USDA allows for companies to put as much of this substance in each hot dog as they want. I pulled the hot dog out of the microwave and flung it straight into the trash can.
You see normally I only consume hot dogs, but this time I studied them. Consumption doesn’t give us the full picture. So many Christians have read the Bible, consuming it. And this is a good thing, but the Bible must be studied for its contents to really understand it.
Ok, I want to be clear that I was not trying to compare The Bible with a hot dog. The point is that we must study. The Bible says this:
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth
Rightly dividing the word of truth is the knowledge to dig down deep into the Word of God to understand each ingredient of the Lord and how all these work to form the Bread of Life that we might know Him better. Studying requires teachers, but it also requires re-check of what the teacher has said to ensure that what was taught is also what was said.
You see, when we get into the habit of just consuming, the next thing you know, we don’t even want to cook or prepare the meal. We don’t want to read the Bible ourselves. We want someone else to read it for us and then tell us what it says. It’s Fast Food theology. The problem is that when we don’t also study on our own or at least re-check what we’ve been taught, we don’t really know what we are consuming. Have you ever complained about your food at a restaurant and then wonder if they are going to spit in your food now before they bring it back to you? I have. And I know I ain’t the only one 😊. Well, if we only consume and never study our spiritual meals, how do we know the devil hasn’t spit on our food.
Westboro Baptist Church, Jim Jones, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses are all ministries that use or used the Bible but in a way that does not honor the Lord at all. In fact, it is deceptive leading people away from the Lord. Each time they sit down for a good spiritual meal, they don’t realize the devil spit on their food before it was brought out.
Let’s follow the example of Jesus from the youngest age. Let’s not simply be consumers of the Word, but let us study and show ourselves approved able to handle the word of truth correctly and recognize those who do not.