Nothing is more obvious than that men who profess belief in the Bible do not understand it alike. Some believe this is inevitable or even good. If so, why does the Bible command that we “all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you” (1 Cor. 1: 10)? We are to “walk by the same rule” (Phi. 3:16), so it must be possible for us to understand what the Bible teaches.
The greater question may be, “Why do men not understand the Bible alike?” The Bible provides several answers.
• Ignorance—Because of ignorance of their “Bible” the Jews crucified Jesus, and Saul persecuted Him (Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:13). Earnest Bible study is necessary to overcome ignorance. One can hardly understand what he does not know.
• Deception—Many are victims of false teachers (Mat. 7:15). Jesus warned: “Take heed that no man lead you astray” (Mat. 24: 44). Blind teachers and their students will be lost (15:14).
• Human traditions—Religious traditions were more import-ant than the Bible to the Jews of Jesus’ time (Mat. 15:6). Human traditions are many and varied, whether unauthorized by Scripture or mere optional preferences that are bound as law, they prevent men from understanding and following the Bible. Such things as infant “baptism,” instrumental music in worship, “Easter,” et al., are unauthorized human traditions, rather than Biblical practices. The times of worship assemblies, the order of worship in our assemblies, etc., are not specified, thus “traditional,” and to bind them is to confuse God’s Law with the preferences of men.
• Prejudice—Jeremiah wrote of those in Jerusalem “that have eyes, and see not; that have ears, and hear not” (5:21). The Jews of Jesus’ time had their minds “made up” that the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom like David’s, so they rejected His teaching concerning His spiritual kingdom, the church (Mat. 16:18–19). Vast millions make the same mistake today in their biased and mistaken millennial “hopes.”
• Convenience—Jeroboam enticed his nation to stay at home and worship his idols, saying, “It is too much to go up to Jerusalem” (1 Kin. 12:28). Roman Catholicism popularized effusion (pouring of water) in place of immersion for baptism beginning in the twelfth century because it was more “convenient” than immersion. Most Protestant churches find it “inconvenient” to serve the Lord’s Supper each Sunday. The Truth is often set aside for sake of convenience.
• Sincerity alone—We must be sincere in our devotion to God, but sincerity alone was insufficient for Cornelius; he still had to hear and obey the Gospel to be saved (Acts 10:33; 11:14). Yet many have been led to believe that if one is sincere in his convictions, it makes no difference what they believe or practice in religion. If sincerity is all that matters, why do we even need the Bible?
All of the foregoing factors are obstructions to understanding the Bible. Those who pervert the Scriptures do so to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).