Keys to Understanding: Having an Open Mind
I’ve been going through some of the key elements that people need to know in order to understand the Bible correctly. Knowing how the Bible is written and why it is written like it is helps us to better understand what is written. Seeing things clearly and thus better understanding God’s goals and purposes. So continuing in this line of thought I want to address a key personal characteristic that will help you to increase your understanding.
Reading and studying the Bible has to be done with an open mind. What I mean by that is people who are already set in what they believe, will have an extremely difficult time learning about and accepting the truth. People who are indoctrinated with traditions of their church, the theological thoughts and concepts of error will probably never really understand the Bible. I’ve heard those types of people as being called “Concrete” Christians, thoroughly mixed up and firmly set. Think about it, why did Jesus go around and constantly say “let him who has ears, hear”. Apparently, what people received from him was not up to what he dealt out or said. Jesus put the responsibility of hearing on the hearer and not the speaker. You can say the most profound and important thing in the world and if no one cares to hear it, then it really does no good to say it. Some heard what Jesus said and some didn’t. Judas was with Jesus the same as Peter, James and John. Judas obviously didn’t hear anything Jesus said.
Acts 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted and I should heal them.
This is probably one of the key scriptures to Bible interpretation that many wouldn’t associate with it. But I feel the application is right on. So what is the subject of this verse in Acts 28:27? It would appear it is the heart of the people and their ability or inability to understand with it. Isn’t that what we are talking about? Why don’t people read the same Bible and come to the same conclusions? Why do some see things one way and others don’t see them at all? It is a perplexing puzzle? But the Bible tells us that people close their eyes to the truth and they therefore refuse to see it or allow it to effect their lives. It is not God’s fault is it? Unfortunately, a lot of people want a God on their terms and conditions. They want a God that they want. The want to see a God that fits their concept of God. That is the definition of religion whether you realize it or not. Religion is man’s attempt to please a God they don’t know. Christianity should be radically different than a religion. Christianity is based upon a relationship with the Creator. Here is another scripture from the book of Acts that speaks to the subject of being open minded:
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so.
This verse speaks so very much that it should not be bypassed. It directly compares two different groups or types of people. One was said to be more noble than the other. Nobility is a term often times inferred upon royalty, kings and queens. The word “noble” literally means “of a higher rank”. Did you realize that your rank in Christ can grow or diminish? It is all up to you however. What made these more noble than the others. It tells us they had a ready and willing mind. I’ve often heard a mind described like a parachute, it only works when it is open and engaged. This is so true that God put direct conformation in his word. But also notice that these more noble ones just didn’t swallow anything anyone was teaching them. No, you see an incredibly important lesson given here for the entire church of God. This is an example to learn from and to follow. It tells us that they searched the scriptures daily to see for themselves if what was being taught was really what the Bible says. So whoever is teaching, including me you should do the same. Never accept the words of any man or woman unless it totally agrees with the word of God.
So what is the net, net, or bottom line of this blog? What is the primary take away? I’ve heard it called low hanging fruit. What you should take away may be an attitude adjustment. If your attitude is that you already know everything you need to know about the Bible you need to change. If you hear something new that you’ve never heard before, you should be open to at least research it in the Bible and study it out for yourself before you reject it. That is one of the most obvious problems that I have observed with many pastors and Bible teachers today. God raises up someone with a new focus on a part of his word and because it doesn’t fit what they learned in seminary, they automatically throw it under the bus, not knowing they just threw God under the bus with it. How can God get over something new if no one is open to hear it. How can God teach you something radically different when you think it is from the devil?
The eyes and ears are windows to your mind and to your spirit. In order to get things into your heart, you are going to have to leave your windows open and get them past your mind. The mind is the battle ground for Satan. If you let something in your eyes and your ears, Satan will come immediately to steal it by attacking your mind. If he can get you to reject it before you understand it with your heart, you are defeated and he has won. This is a spiritual battle and it takes place inside of you. If you learn about it and understand how he works you can use it to defeat him.