Reading With Understanding
When you read your bible, do you try to figure out some hidden mysterious meaning to every verse? For instance, the bible says in Isaiah 53:5” But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Do you believe as some do that this means that we are healed of our physical illnesses by his stripes? Does this verse mean that he was beaten with a whip so we could be cured of an ailment? Read the verse again. Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Transgressions and iniquities have nothing to do with physical illness but rather the illness of sin. Christ suffered crucifixion for our sins, not our physical sicknesses. To those who believe this verse is talking about physical illness, I say, read this verse again and again until the words transgression and iniquities sink in. This is just one example of how people misunderstand the bible. They read but do not understand what they read. The Lord said of the Jews of old, “They have eyes but do not see, they have ears but do not hear.” Matthew 13:15 “ For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” Here again is the word heal, but He is not talking about physical healing. The Lord is talking about being healed from sin. When you read the bible, sometimes you have to back up a verse or two to get the whole meaning. It is important to see who is talking and who is being talked to. A lot of the bible is history, while a lot is instruction that we need to guide us in our search for truth.
Not all instruction is for us today. Some was intended solely for the Apostles Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”. The Apostles were the only ones that could lay on hands and give power to believers. There is no record of anyone else transferring power. This verse does not apply to us today. We are not Apostles and signs will not follow us. Snake bites can kill and if we drink any deadly thing, we will die unless there is immediate medical aid at hand. The signs followed because the Apostles were the only ones who could do “the signs of an Apostle”. 2 Cor. 12:12 “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” Who did the signs, wonders and mighty deeds? It was the Apostles.
The Apostles did these things to confirm the word that they were speaking. When the people saw the signs, wonders and mighty deeds, they realized that these Apostles truly were of God they believed. Once they had faith, they obeyed the gospel and became children of God. The Apostles laid hands on some believers and imparted spiritual gifts to them but they in turn could not lay hands on and impart the gifts to others. There is no record of that ever happening. When the last Apostle died, spiritual gifts and signs and wonders ceased! Today, we have the written word and we must accept the words by faith. They accepted the words of the Apostles by faith by seeing the signs, wonders and mighty deeds. Today the bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that “we walk by faith and not by sight”. Read your Bible every day.
If you do not understand what you read, ask us for help. The Ethiopian eunuch did not understand what he was reading so Phillip explained it to him. (Acts 8:26 -40 “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.”) You can see from this example that there is nothing wrong in asking for help to understand the Word of God. It is very important to understand what you read so that you will be able to make decisions based on God’s Word, and not be misled by the doctrines of men. The eunuch understood with the aid of Phillip and he believed and acted on this belief and became a child of God that very day.
By Donald C. Boice
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