by Jim Mickells | via Meditate On These Things
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
Our Lord, in the verse above, is addressing the Jews who sought to kill Him. They had accused Him of breaking the Sabbath and claiming that God was His Father, thus making Himself equal to Jehovah (John 5:15-18). In His defense, He pointed out to those who were making the charges, they searched the word of God, thinking they had eternal life, all the while rejecting Him of whom those Scriptures spoke. The Bible is very clear on this subject, unless one believes that Jesus is the Son of God, he will die in his sins (John 8:24). There is no access to the Father, no fellowship nor relationship, unless one comes to Him through Jesus our Lord (John 14:6).
Their condemnation is not in the fact they searched the Scriptures; this certainly was good and commendable for one to do. They searched and still did not believe Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Christ. The word “search” is defined as, “to search, examine into” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 249). The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says, “In John the study of Scripture is the point in 5:39 (with a view to finding God’s revelation)” (p. 255). It almost seems impossible to us, that one could investigate the Scriptures, be in the audience when our Lord spoke, and be an eye witness to what He did, yet still not accept Him as the Son of God. There are several lessons to be gleaned from this verse.
Just because a person might study the word of God does not ensure he has the proper understanding of what the Bible teaches on a given subject. I believe there are several reasons for this. Let me suggest just a few.
- If one is simply studying to prove his point, this may be the only position he will see. For example, the fellow who wishes to show justification is by faith only, will invariably look at the verses which tell of salvation by faith. He often will ignore or try to explain away all the other passages which mention repentance, confession, baptism, obedience, etc.. It should be our desire, when studying God’s word, to know His will and not the traditions nor the will of man.
- There must also be a willingness on the part of those searching the Scriptures, to know all that the Bible teaches on a given subject. This goes hand in hand with the first point. Very few times, in the entirety of the word of God, will you find all the Lord has said on a subject in one verse. Paul declared, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). We need to know everything our Lord has taught us so we might make the proper application of His word.
- Caution must be taken that we don’t misapply the Scriptures as well. The Bible is a good commentary for itself. When our understanding of a verse is diametrically opposite to another passage, then our interpretation must be wrong. When studying God’s word, we must keep the verse within the context, trying to understanding what the writer had in mind to those to whom he was writing when making the statement.
- There is also a need to distinguish between the Old and New Testaments. We are no longer under the law of Moses nor the Patriarchal law (Colossians 2:14). One cannot go back to the Old Testament to prove some religious practice today. Many try to justify the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship services by turning to Psalm 150. The New Testament instructs us to simply sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), not play. We are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 8:7-13), not the law of Moses (Galatians 5:4).
May we never be guilty of searching the Scriptures and still not knowing the Lord who died for us. We need to investigate God’s word daily, desiring to know, understand, properly apply and live by it the rest of our lives, so He will know us when life is over.