Why Do Some People Have Such a Hard Time
Reading and Understanding the Bible?
One who does the Lord’s work must speak accurately. He should not be careless in his words. Only thus can he become a mouthpiece of the Lord and avoid many difficulties. We are deeply distressed by the fact that many times God’s workman lacks restraint in speech, with the result that brothers and sisters relish his storytelling and his judgmental words but despise his preaching of God’s word. Do not think that it does not matter if we speak wittily with our brothers and sisters today. Indeed, our speech may be very amusing. But wait until we stand up to preach the word of God, and then shall we see how they take it to be as amusing as was our storytelling. People will fail to respect what we say anymore.
One brother may speak and people listen, while another may speak and nobody listens. Why this difference? Do they not speak the same words? The word is of God all right, but one of them has spoken differently from the other in ordinary days on other matters. Let us recognize the fact that if two of us speak differently concerning other matters, and even though we both may speak forth the same word of God, the power of God’s word will be different one from the other. For a person who speaks carelessly and without restraint in his daily speech will witness the same effect upon his hearers when he later preaches God’s word. It will be as loose and powerless as before.
Let us not easily forget what we have learned from Scripture that a fountain does not send forth from the same opening both sweet water and bitter. It cannot yield up sweet fluid on one occasion and bitter fluid on another. Bitter water is always bitter. Though its bitterness may be somewhat diluted, it still remains bitter nonetheless. Note, too, that in mixing together clean and dirty water, the latter does not turn clean; instead, the former becomes dirty. Many brethren find that their power has been sapped not because they have done wrong in preaching God’s word but because they have spoken wrongly in daily matters; so that no one will listen to them when they stand up to preach. Please be well advised that words uttered on the platform follow the words spoken off the platform. If you speak unwisely away from the podium, your speaking from the podium will be totally diluted, and the sweet water will have been turned bitter by you. We need not daily prepare the words which are to be delivered from the platform, but we ought to pay attention daily to the words used off the platform. How can we expect to manifest power in God’s service if in our daily life we are undisciplined by speaking with carelessness, inaccuracy, distortion and jest, and even with outright lies? But having bridled our tongue in ordinary times from the outset, we may preach the word of the Lord.
Then, too, there is a close relationship between our speaking exactly and our studying of the Bible. For the Bible is the most exact of books. There is but one set of words in the entire universe which is absolutely true, and that is what is found in the word of God. If we lack the habit of speaking accurately, we are not able to study the Bible nor to preach it. Judging by the way some brothers talk, we are forced to conclude that they have no possibility of studying God’s word. Just as it demands a certain character in a person in order for him to preach God’s word, so it requires a specific character in him who would study God’s word. A careless person can never handle the Bible rightly. For the latter is most precise, and a careless person would only allow the word of God to leak away and thus misunderstand it.
Let us illustrate what exactness and precision here mean. Matthew 22 relates how the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. They sought out the Lord Jesus and posed an apparently hard question to Him:
Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first married and deceased, and having no seed left his wife unto his brother; and in like manner the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And after them all, the woman died. In the resurrection therefore whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. (vv.25-28)
What they were suggesting was that resurrection was something unbelievable. It was best not to have resurrection, or else it would create great trouble and confusion. They came to reason with the Lord that if resurrection were true, the problem it created would be beyond solution.
But note how the Lord Jesus answered them:
Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God .For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (vv.29-32)
The Sadducees were those who had studiously pored over the Scriptures, yet the Lord said they did not understand them. And why? Because they were people who spoke carelessly; they never dreamed that God spoke so exactly.
Now in order to prove to His questioners the truth of resurrection, our Lord did not quote any other Scripture but the one in Exodus 3: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Yet how in the world, the Sadducees must have thought, does this verse prove resurrection? "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living," said the Lord. Abraham had died, Isaac had died, and Jacob too had died. All three were dead and buried. Would we not therefore have to assume that God is the God of the dead since Jehovah God had himself declared that He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? Yet our Lord added that God is not the God of the dead but of the living! How can this apparent paradox be resolved? Well, since God is not the God of the dead, Abraham, though he is indeed a dead person today, shall one day become living. So shall Isaac and Jacob. But how can the dead become living? The answer: it must be through resurrection. Abraham will be resurrected, Isaac will be resurrected, and Jacob too will be resurrected simply because the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is not the God of the dead, but of the living. We see, then, how the Lord Jesus used these words to answer the question of the Sadducees. Note how very exact and precise was our Lord’s speech. He showed them how they had erred due to their ignorance—yea, even their inaccurate handling—of the Scriptures as well as their ignorance of the power of God.
If we talk loosely, we will not be able to perceive the exactness of God’s word. A careless disposition causes one to think inaccurately. He cannot be exact; therefore, he will allow to leak away the exact word of God. The Scriptures speak most truthfully. Every minute detail is exact. "One jot or one tittle," noted the Lord, "shall in no wise pass away from the law till all things be accomplished" (Matt. 5.18). The jots and tittles of each word which God uses are accentuated. They cannot be changed. And since God himself speaks with such exactitude, a servant of God must also speak in that manner.
Let us not fail to note that God’s speaking is always solid. Every word of His is substantial and immovable. If you study the Bible and come to know it, you will confess that His word cannot have even one letter added to or taken away from it. We need to underline this point: that whoever speaks carelessly cannot be the Lord’s servant. For he is not able to handle God’s word rightly nor will he have any power or impact with brothers and sisters when he preaches. How distressful it is to listen to a given brother preaching whom you know very well. As you listen to him, you well know that he is an undisciplined person who speaks carelessly. With the result that when he stands up to preach he treats God’s word lightly and loosely. Yet this should not surprise you, for how can he be careful on the platform when he has been so careless away from the platform? Let us realize that a careless undisciplined person can neither study the Bible well nor speak well for the Lord.
Let us ask God to show mercy towards us, causing us to speak accurately. We need to pray one prayer constantly, which is, to ask the Lord to give us the tongue of the instructed that we may not be a loose person who allows to be leaked away the testimony of God. A person who is unrestrained in speech can neither find out the facts of God’s word well nor understand them. Let us therefore learn to speak carefully that we may also discover the exactness of each word in the Scriptures. (The Character of God's Workman, pp. 112-117).