Bible Topics In The Christian Library

How To Study The Bible #2
A Desire To Learn

By Jody L. Apple

What's the secret to understanding the Bible? What's the key to knowing its true meaning? I'll give you a clue - it's not the latest book, or some new theological or interpretive scheme. What's the secret? The answer is - there is no secret!

The Importance of Desire

Why don't you know the latest philosophy of science insights into induction, theories of proof and heuristics? You don't care, right? Exactly! Because there is no interest, there is no desire. And without desire, you really don't learn anything very well.

Have you ever heard someone tell you to do something at work, but because you had no interest in what was being said, or perhaps because you had an interest in something else, you didn't pick up on all of the instructions being given to you?

Have you ever explained to your son or daughter how to complete some task only to realize after you finished talking that they had not understood at all what you were saying? Perhaps it's because they were not interested in what you had to say. Perhaps it's because they wanted to do something else. Without desire, understanding can be difficult.

Desire To Know God's Word

Understanding the Bible is no different. One of the factors involved in learning what the Bible teaches is really quite basic. It's the same principle that we found was necessary to learn anything. In order to understand the Bible you have to want to know. You must desire to learn the truth of God's word. The role desire plays is crucial. While it does not guarantee that you will know everything that you might want to know, or that any specific claim is true simply because you want it to be true, desire is still imperative if you really seek to understand the word of God.

In John 7:17 Jesus said: "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." Jesus taught that if anyone wants to do God's will he can know whether or not His teaching was authoritative. Note that desire precedes knowing. This is the key to knowing the truth of God's will. We must want to know it.

The same principle is alluded to in Matthew 5:6: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." What is the level of your desire for righteousness? Do you hunger and thirst for it? Are you just as concerned for knowing and doing God's word as you are for seeking to fill your stomach? Without this kind of desire to do God's will, we severely cripple our efforts to know God's will.

Ezra, the priest and scribe who figured so prominently in the restoration of Israel, had this desire. Ezra 7:10 describes this attitude: "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel." Is your heart prepared to seek God's law? Do you have the desire to want to know it more than anything else? That's what it will take to learn God's word.

James 1:5 tells us that God gives wisdom: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." True as this is, James does not present all that is necessary in the pursuit of wisdom. God does not give wisdom only because we ask for it. We must be willing to work for it.

The writer of Proverbs teaches this in chapter 2, verses 1-9:

"My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path."

Notice the number of words used in this passage that indicate desire. We must "receive" God's words. We must "treasure" his commands. We must "incline" our ears to wisdom. We must "apply" our hearts. We must "cry out for discernment." We must "lift up" our voices for understanding. We must "seek her as silver." We must "search for her as for hidden treasures." Only then will we know and understand God's will.

Perhaps no greater example of this desire can be found than that of Paul. Note his thoughts in Philippians 3:8-11:

"But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Paul was willing to give up everything to have "the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." Paul wanted to "know Him and the power of His resurrection." Do you have that kind of desire to know God's will? Without it, you will never know all God wants you to know. With it, you can know the all truth that God wants you to know to be saved (cf. Proverbs 23:23; John 8:32; 1 Peter 1:22).

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