Grace Family Bible Church

Openness to Consider

By: Scott Morton

Most individuals who are in the Body of Christ would state they have an openness to consider things which are written in the Bible. Even if they don't end up agreeing with something, they will state they have the willingness to consider what someone is saying. They point to the following verse as proof of their willingness:

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

However, the method sometimes used to apply this verse to their lives is not following what God would have us to do. The method of studying being used by some is to keep going over and over the same material that the person already understands and never growing in the knowledge of what is contained in the Word of God. While the definition of study does take into account the issue of focusing attention on something, there is another piece that is left out, which is to learn something new. An individual should be learning about passages and topics they have not looked at before, as none of us know everything that is contained in the Bible.

The thought process regarding studying and openness gets worse when they encounter something which goes against everything they have always believed. They do not consider the teaching and immediately state it has to be wrong. This is said even when they do not have an answer for why it is wrong using verses. It is an instinctual response given because it is something they do not believe and have no real desire to actually study it out.

Sometimes the motivation to not look at something is they are going to lose out on popularity or speaking engagements at conferences. The popularity in the eyes of men will outweigh standing for the truth of the Word of God. This puts the issue of authority not with the Word of God, but with men. Individuals are held up as an authority figure, which means this person who is being held up is the one who is doing their studying for them, as they will not go against anything which this authority figure would teach or believe. This is a dangerous thing to do, as man can be wrong and God is never wrong.

If other individuals in history had done this, where would the Body of Christ be at with their understanding? Would we still be practicing water baptism? Would we still be functioning under the Pope? Would we even understand the teachings of the Apostle Paul as they apply to us today?

The author has heard many statements by individuals who state they have a willingness to consider things, but their statements reflect how this is not the case. One of these is 'It can't be that way, because if it was I would have no desire to go out and preach the gospel.' The motivation we are to have to preach the gospel should come from the fact we are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) and the will of God for today (1 Timothy 2:4). There is nothing which should be done or taught which could affect this in any way. There is no doctrine or passage which should be able to take a person away from this, especially as the Apostle Paul saw it was his purpose to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9).

Another one of these statements is 'I will go to the grave believing this'. This statement shows there is no willingness to change or consider anything which is being taught. What made this one even worse was the person wanted individuals to consider what they were saying, but was unwilling to even consider what the other person said. How can someone do the following under this type of thought process:

Acts 17:10-12

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. [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. [12] Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

These individuals were willing to receive things being taught with a readiness of mind. As long as there were verses from the Bible being used, they were willing to take a look at it. They took what was being taught and compared it with what the Bible said. If whatever was being taught lined up, they would be able to accept what was being taught. If it did not line up, they were able to reject what was being said outright and had verses to explain why this being done.

It is always important to understand that we need to follow the Apostle Paul's instructions related to the Word of God. All Scripture is able to be used for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We need to have at least a basic understanding of all areas of the Bible. We take passages and filter them through his other instruction, which was listed at the beginning of this article (2 Timothy 2:15). This passage shows how we need to be able to look at all passages in the Bible. We can take a look at them, but we need to know who it is they are applying to for doctrine. An example is Noah was instructed to build an ark. This was doctrine for him in what he needed to do, but is not a doctrine we should be attempting to follow today.

There is a level of spiritual maturity that is needed to be able to consider things. This is why the Apostle Paul does make this statement to the church at Corinth:

1 Corinthians 3:1-5

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [4] For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? [5] Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

In this area, there were divisions which had occurred there. These divisions are resulting from the fact that they are functioning on a carnal level and not as spiritual. Because of this, he can only feed them with milk at this time and not with the meat which they need. Just as a baby has to move from drinking only milk to eating solid food, the Apostle Paul is stating this about the local assembly in Corinth.

This means he has to reinforce with them the basics on doctrine they need in order to be able to strengthen themselves in the Word. Since he is doing this, the epistle which he is writing to them at this moment is milk to build them up. He has to deal with the issues which are causing problems for them, which he is identifying as being basic information (milk) which they should already have had an understanding of. Once they are able to grasp these things, then he would be able to move onto the meat which is needed to build them up (edification).

The focus needs to be on the Word of God, as this is what will have an influence on individuals. Before he had addressed the issue of milk and meat, the Apostle Paul had explained how an individual is to learn:

1 Corinthians 2:11-14

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The way an individual gets any insight into what the Word of God is saying is through the Spirit. This can only occur when someone has been studying, as the Spirit has to be able to compare spiritual things with spiritual things. An illustration of this is in the old cartoons, an individual would have an idea come to them and a light bulb would appear over their head. The Spirit is able to give us the understanding in the passages we have difficulty with (and all of us have these) because of the studying we have been doing. It is a 'spiritual light bulb' where the believer is able to get the needed insight into the Word of God. If this studying is not occurring, then there is nothing to be able to compare things to. This would mean that the following would not be able to occur:

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

There is to be a renewing of the mind, which occurs as the Word of God is taken in. If someone is not studying, the only thing which can occur is they are going to be conformed to this world. While many would just think the things of this world have nothing to do with the Bible, there are many false doctrines which the world system follows which can pull someone away from what God intends for us as members of the Body of Christ in this dispensation.

Satan and his ministers don't appear how the world tries to portray them. They appear as ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). This means they are teaching from the Word of God and appear to be godly men that individuals should be learning from. This creates problems for those who have not done their own studying, as they are able to be pulled by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) and have been caught in the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

The Apostle Paul warns about those who would desire the positions of authority in the local assembly, as they are not to be a novice (1 Timothy 3:6). A novice is someone who only has a basic understanding of things. This would go back to the thought process of someone only knowing the milk of the Word of God. Individuals are to have an understanding of all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and how it would apply to an individual in their dispensation (as was said earlier in the article). While this does not mean an individual has to have an understanding of how every verse works in the minute details, there should be a working knowledge of things which are not from our dispensation.

The willingness to change can also be impacted by the individual not wanting to admit they were wrong in the past. The issue of pride comes in, as they like to be able to say they have always been right. It is hard to admit to being wrong, but there is something important we have to realize. None of us are perfect. The only individual who was perfect was the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the only one who walked around on the planet who could have said He had a perfect understanding of the Bible. Since this is the case, there is always going to be learning going on and our mind will change on some things. We have to be able to accept this fact and be willing to make changes in our thinking.

I would encourage all members of the Body of Christ to truly display the willingness needed to look at all issues which can be found in the Word of God. Sometimes this can be difficult and sometimes it can make us uncomfortable, as we end up changing our pinions on some things. It truly is needed and it is what God does intend for the members of the Body of Christ today.