To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

All Christians are geniuses! True or false? The reason we might suspect that Christians could all be geniuses is because they seem to ask so few questions about the word of God. Does this mean therefore that they understand everything? Do they have no need to any engage in discussion/questioning in order to seek out the meaning of the Word of God? Are they all in the genius category?

An answer starts to emerge if we turn to some words of the LORD Jesus and we realise that this lack of questioning does in fact raise some very serious issues. The passage that gives us much help in this context is Mark 4:10-12.

The LORD has been teaching in parables. The meaning was not immediately discerned and so a group; “the twelve and the others around him” asked him about the parables. In doing so they expressed an interest in the teaching. They do not immediately understand it, but they were curious to know the meaning. It is to such a group that the LORD reveals the meaning.

He specifically says in v11 that it is to those, who ask about the meaning, that he will make known the mystery of the kingdom of God. A mystery, in the New Testament understanding of the word, is the revealing of something that was previously hidden. In a sense, the seekers after truth would have the secrets of the truth revealed to them.

At this point it might be useful to clarify what a parable is. It has been quaintly said that it is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. And this really gives us the crux of the meaning. By implication therefore it is a method of teaching where the meaning is not immediately obvious, it has to be sought out. A certain determination is required to ascertain the meaning.

Our Saviour then goes on to say that to those who ask no questions, who ave no interest in enquiring after truth, “everything is said in parables” (v11b). He seems to be saying that all truth becomes like parables to them. He then quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10 to indicate that their lack of questioning reveals that they are still outside, with no perception, no understanding and no sins forgiven. These people just see the outside of the parable. They see it and say “we don’t have the foggiest idea what all that is about and we can’t be bothered to ask; it is just all irrelevant nonsense to us”

This of course contrasts with the first group who have a desire to know the meaning of the Word of God. We might say that as we interact with the Word of God those who want to know get to know more and those who do not want to know, get to know nothing. In a sense, everyone gets what they want.

Let us emphasise at this point that this does not give any excuse for slovenly preaching of God’s Word. Rather, we should have suitably gifted people doing the preaching and these should seek to make the meaning clear. We see this exemplified in the preachers referred to in Nehemiah 8:8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

However, we must be aware that there are many things in God’s word which are hard to understand. Even Peter found some things in Paul’s writings hard to understand (see 2 Peter 3:16) and so we should not be surprised if we have a similar problem!

It is at this point though that we hit the nub of the matter. When we come across things we do not understand how do we respond? When we hear things in the preaching that we do not grasp how do we react? Remember it is to those that want to know the meaning that the LORD reveals the meaning. So our response should be to go to the LORD and ask Him about the matter. He may help you directly. However, His normal way is to use others who have knowledge of God’s Word to help you. So let us ask one another about the things we don’t understand.

The implications of not being bothered to ask are actually very serious. We say this because from our Lord’s teaching we would conclude that our lack of desire to seek out the meaning of His Word we place ourselves in the camp of the outsiders and perhaps even prove that we at not Christians at all.

Let us, therefore, be helping one another to understand God’s Word. And let us seek to emulate the blessed man of Psalm 1 who has “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:2).

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter June 2004)

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