Did You Ever Wonder?

Below are three phrases, more or less familiar. Before you go any further, read them out loud. Really, read them out loud or you will miss much of the effectiveness of the exercise:precon-ideas-4.JPG

Did you read them out loud? Good. Now, unless you are a very unusual person (or quite suspicious) you read them all wrong. Did you notice that two of them have two “the’s” and the other has two “a’s”?

“What is the point?” you ask. Well, this little exercise illustrates the peril of preconceived ideas. You read the phrases as you did because you thought you knew what they said before you read them.

Did you ever wonder how it is that two people can read the same passage of Scripture and come up with two different meanings? This may answer one of those nagging questions that people ask. There may be many reasons for this, but one of the most common factors is that one or both individuals had his or her mind made up about what the passage said before reading it.

One of the most sobering thoughts in this regard is brought to light in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Here we read that those who choose not to be truthseekers will receive a strong delusion to believe and will be lost. In reality, we all must guard against approaching the Scriptures with preconceived ideas, looking for proof-texts rather than the heart of God.

May God help us–all of us–to be truthseekers in our reading and study of the the Scriptures. May we read with fresh eyes and open hearts. May we draw our conclusions as as to a text's meaning only after we have asked, "Is this really what God is saying? Or, is is this simply what I have always thought it was saying?"


© Bill Williams

June 15, 2006


About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Bible Study, Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Discipleship Training, Following Jesus, Life, Religion, Spirituality & Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Did You Ever Wonder?

  1. Yes, Greg! Aren’t we all? Really enjoyed your recent post on home repairs. Unfortunately, we’ve all been there too!

  2. carina says:

    I agree with you; we should always approach God’s Word with a receptive and open heart and allow His Spirit to speak to us through it. For me, praying for that before I study the Bible allows me to get into that receptive mindset.
    -2 Timothy 2:15-

  3. Carina,

    I’m so glad that you stopped by the spiritualoasis! Your comment is right on target, too. I really need to write something about the power of prayer for enlightenment with respect to understanding the Scriptures. One of my guiding passages in this regard has always been Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesus:

    For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all his people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (1:15-19b)

  4. Galen says:

    Did you notice your last paragraph starts with:
    May God help us all of us to be truthseekers in our reading and study of the the Scriptures.
    Did you notice that the the Scriptures were not written in the the English language?
    Just checking your checking checking…

  5. Jennifer says:

    Excellent post, Bill.

    Lately, for about the past year or so, I have really been seeking God and His will for my life (which you know from a cursory reading of my blog). And, one thing I have prayed over and over again is that He hit me with the Truth, even if it is something I may not want to hear. And you know what? He has!

    I think Carina was right on about the need to pray before we begin to read. Many times we read a familiar scripture with a kind of ho-hum attitude, all the while missing the truth imbedded therein. A good example is the post you referred me to on Jeremiah 29:10. I have read that scripture for YEARS and have never really SEEN it. That is scary…especially to me as a literature teacher. I’ll say one thing….it does make me want to read, read, read the Word with fresh eyes. Praise God for that!


  6. Rachel says:

    My dad, a retired minister, brought me up on truly searching God’s word. He was opposed to commentary Bibles where a man’s opinion was infused on the very same pages where the Scriptures were written. He felt that each person should read and re-read and read some more allowing God to reveal His word. He taught me alot about searching the Scriptures at a time in my life when I was truly searching for the truth. I had outside influences bent on convincing me that Scripture contradicts itself, but after much prayer, long talks with dad, and deep study of the Word, I discovered that God’s Word never contradicts itself. Also, I learned that God’s Word must be believed in its entirety, not just in the portions that I feel apply to me. The truth can be hard to swallow, and it is tempting to “modify” the meaning of a passage to fit our situation, but we must always take it as it is and not infuse our meaning or distort it. God’s Word can be very sobering, encouraging, thought-provoking, convicting, and most of all, assuring. Isn’t God’s Word awesome?!

  7. cwinwc says:

    I heard Rubel Shelly once quote an elderly African American preacher concerning this subject. He said this old preacher said, “All God’s children gots baggage.”

  8. dojo says:

    What a great illustration of preconceived ideals! I may have to use this one.

  9. Anderson says:

    Thanks for this, it’s really made me think.


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