Thursday, March 15, 2012
What do we believe? Why do we believe it? Do we know the answer to either of these Q’s?
There are many ways to approach finding out what we really believe. The major one is, of course, reading and rereading the scriptures. The more familiar we become with the total package, the more comfortable we will become with the Truth it reveals to us and the easier it is to be patient with those who would like to argue with us and change our minds. It gives us assurance enough not to have to feel offended and argue back.
There are also Bible studies we can do. Like sermons, they vary from studying a particular book of the Bible to studying a particular doctrine or a particular application of doctrine in our lives. There are light, milk-like studies and there are deep, meaty studies. There are also in depth studies of just one idea or thought, like the study we did last year of Psalm 23 that sought to give us a deeper view of the Shepherd at work.
But there is also a way to study that I call “word play.” The scholars have a very different name for it, but I was influenced by a testimony which ended with, “I am so glad that there are several different translations these days so our lives can be richer by seeing the same thought expressed in different ways.” At first I was put off. “Why do we need so many translations? One had always been enough for me. I just don’t get it.”
Well, first off, I had not settled for just one as I had been using the New American Standard Version in my last “life” before I ran off. And, second, I had only two newer translations to read at the time because my old Bibles were still packed away and the ones I had were given to me as “Welcome back” gifts.
Now, I have become very comfortable doing “word play” between these several translations and most recently I have become excited to actually study some of those words more deeply.
As one of our studies looks at the book of James, I realized that the phrase “double minded” as used there can almost be called the theme of James in my view. So I “googled” it. What fun that was. Sure enough, the term is used in harmony but the possibilities are amazing. The possibility that stood out to me and will be the background for me in the rest of the study was “not able to commit.” Now that gets down to the nitty-gritty for me. One minute I give Him what is on my mind and a few minutes later, I take it right back again. One minute I am surrendering myself or something I long for and the next I am plotting how to get it, or get it done.
Then in my study of Matthew, I have been reminded how adamant Jesus was as he compared “on this hand” to “on the other hand” as He expounds on the new rules of life that He is bringing in the New Covenant. In the KJV He is said to say, “Verily, verily I say.” In the NIV He “I tell you the truth.” In the NLT, the phrase is, “I tell you this.” But the one that caught my heart is in the NKJV: Assuredly, I say to you…. OR, as I think of it, “I ASSURE you that these things are true and trustworthy.” I don’t know about you, but I find that extremely comforting and reassuring. Like a rescuer or parent comforting a child with the phrase, “Everything will be alright.” Only, with Christ’s assurance, the statement is not arguable. Everything really will be alright.
So, now I understand why having many translations if profitable for us: We can play “word play” with them and discover riches as “lay” people that have long been reserved for the scholarly to interpret for us. Add to that a study Bible online study tools (for those who do not have all those clever study tools on a shelf at home) and “google” and we can fly!
But, just as a reminder, Google will give you good and bad information, so you must discern how trustworthy it is by filtering things through what you already know you believe and who you believe. And Wikipedia, which is a source that Google will give you nearly every time, is open to interpretive change at all times, and personal opinions run rampant in the explanations, So be careful to know not to believe everything you read online. One source I came up with looking into “double minded” was a paper written by someone who has a huge basic different in their overall beliefs, but who’s paper was otherwise excellent on the subject of double mindedness. This is another place where we need to be comfortable in knowing what we believe overall.
May we all get excited for learning more and more and growing stronger and stronger in our faith. Here’s to finding gold in the “black sand” of God’s Word!