November 19, 1991
“The Bible? It’s just a book... it doesn’t do anything for me... I’ve read it and it doesn’t make sense. Even the parts I do understand don’t seem relevant for my life.”
Ever feel like that? Then try this: make a list of all the things you qualify for, such as Workman’s compensation, Family Allowance, Social Assistance, Retirement Pension, singing in operas, performing brain surgery, writing a book in Gaelic, becoming president of Peru, paying child’s fare for a bus ride, owning property, feeling warm sunshine on your face, drinking clear water, making a baby smile, signing your name, hearing a sparrow chirp, feeling the cool fall air, the Bible...
No kidding, a person has to be qualified for understanding the Bible; and not everyone is eligible, but anyone can be!
Before assuming you go off and join a church or go to a seminary, that’s not it. The qualifications are related to a covenant or contract or an agreement – made in two parts called the Old Testament and the New. It is between God and all those who put their trust in Him.
That partly explains why some people see nothing for themselves in the Bible. Without faith in God, the Bible is not particularly addressed to them. They are not participants in the covenant. They just don’t qualify.
Furthermore, note what the Apostle Paul says: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be mature, thoroughly equipped to do good works.” Notice again, the Bible is not given to just anyone or is it profitable to just anyone.
But does a person have to trust Jesus Christ and become a man (or woman) of God before getting something out of Scripture? Of course not. If that was the case, no one would ever have biblical faith. “Faith comes by hearing... the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). People without faith and without a covenant relationship can receive faith only through hearing His Word. (The word “hearing” means listening with the intention of acting upon what is heard.)
So to really qualify for getting something out of the Bible, one must trust in God, become a man (or woman) of God, and read it with a view to obeying it. Then God will give understanding. Mind you, this is a progressive thing. It begins small and grows as one obeys. After all, God is not obligated to reveal more truth to those who reject what they already know.
Lest that seems unusual, we could think of it this way: because of our general rebellious attitude towards God and our persistence in running our own life apart from His direction, there is little reason why He should allow anyone to understand this timeless book. Our sin not only blinds our minds to spiritual realities written therein, but it also disqualifies us from the privilege of communing with the One who authored it.
But God shows mercy. Anyone who comes honestly to His Word, however unenlightened, will find Him faithful to help them be qualified to understand it. In other words, the person without a relationship with Him can ask for it; the person looking for faith or truth can admit their lack and ask for it; and those whose lives are full of disobedience can also ask – and be forgiven.
Qualifying for financial assistance, positions of prominence, special privileges – all those things may be important, but when anyone is qualified by the grace of God to interact with Him through reading and understanding His special covenant, they ought to feel deeply honored and deeply humbled. Such a qualification is indeed a blessing and a privilege.