Understandest Thou What Thou Readest?
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
This was the question Philip asked of the Ethiopian prince as he sat reading from Isaiah’s prophecy (Acts 8:30), and it is a question which we should continually keep asking ourselves as we read the Holy Scriptures.
There are always those among God’s people who do not much care whether or not they understand what they read, if only it warms their hearts! To them the Bible is little more than a fetish. Taking only those Scriptures which appeal to them, and leaving the rest, they actually feel themselves quite spiritual and often talk about believing the Bible whether they understand it or not!
But such “spirituality” is far from genuine, and such “faith” is blind and superstitious at best.
While it is true that the Bible teaches many truths which we believe, although they are beyond our comprehension (such as its opening verse!), yet how can we believe what the Bible says unless we understand what it says? God would have us understand what we read and believe it intelligently. Indeed, true faith will want to know and understand more and more of God’s Word. One who does not care whether or not he understands what God has said is not interested in knowing what God has said at all. His faith is based on his own will rather than on God’s Word, for regardless of the meaning of Scripture, he will take any passage that suits his fancy and use it as he wishes.
How great an emphasis God Himself puts upon the importance of understanding His Word! On one occasion, when our Lord saw the multitudes, He “was moved with compassion toward them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34).
And now that the secret of God’s great plan has been made known, how much more reason there is to study the Scriptures with a view to understanding them! How Paul, by the Spirit, emphasizes this as he writes of his prayers for the saints:
“THAT the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, MAY GIVE UNTO YOU THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM:
“THE EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING BEING ENLIGHTENED; THAT YE MAY KNOW WHAT IS THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING…” (Eph.1:17,18).