December 8, 2015
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 8 December 2015
Is the Word of God only to be understood by the academic, the professor, and the theology geek? Can only certain pious individuals understand the Bible? Is the Word of God to be interpreted by the professional “clergy” and not comprehensible to the so-called “laity”? When the Lord Jesus concluded his discourse concerning the bread of life, the crowds concluded, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” Consequently, “many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:60, 66). Could the Bible be too difficult to read and understand?
Moses concluded an extensive and solemn message with four negatives. The commandment is (1) “not too difficult,” (2) “nor is it out of reach,” (3) “it is not in heaven,” (4) “nor is it beyond the sea” (Deut 30:11-14). Note the implications! God’s Word is “not too difficult,” nor is it inaccessible, impossible, or impractical to comprehend. Scripture is not merely intended for the religious leadership, nor do only those who like to read many books understand it. “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it” (Deut 30:14). God Word’s is truly comprehensible because He has made it “very near,” “not in heaven,” “nor is it beyond the sea.” Scripture is near enough to impact the senses (“in your mouth”) and mind (“in your heart”).
The language of nearness is even found prior to the lengthy and somber communication within Deuteronomy 28—30. Deuteronomy 4:5-8 reads,
“See, I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? “Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
God’s nearness demonstrates his grace and majesty because the infinite god has made Himself knowable to finite people. The omniscient God – who is all knowing and only wise – has revealed Himself as the faithful Shepherd to those who are his sheep.
Choosing life was trusting that God had come “near” in his promise. The Lord’s people may live as they trusted in their God. God has brought his Word to them, and their responsibility was to obey. Consequently, verses 11-14 of Deuteronomy 30 were adapted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:5-8 (and applied to Christ and the good news of God’s grace through faith in the Lord Jesus).
Romans 10:8 declares that the gospel is near – accessible, easily obtained, and intelligible – and can be expressed in familiar conversation (“with your mouth”), in addition to being readily understood in the mind (“in your heart”). Romans expresses the clarity of God’s Word in relation to the intelligibility of Christ and salvation; therefore, Deuteronomy 30 is referenced for the purpose of summarizing the gospel of salvation by grace through faith. Similar to how speaking the law with “your mouth” and knowing it with your mind (“heart”) was not reserved for the spiritual elite, neither is salvation only for those with extraordinary abilities. One does not need to ascend into heaven nor descend into the abyss to know God because Jesus Christ has made Him known (cf. John 1:14-18). Salvation is near to whoever will call upon the name of the Lord. Romans 10 communicates the truth that salvation is not identified by arduous efforts to obey the law, which would be humanly impossible, nor does it command one to accomplish what has already been completed by the Lord.
How should we relate what has been communicated thus far in this devotional? Perhaps you read less or more than others. What is inescapable is the truth that God has revealed Himself – perfectly and ultimately – in the pages of the Holy Bible. Whether you have little desire for reading, and may even have modest practice studying the Bible, you may be entirely confident that as you open the Word of God and read its contents, God “is very near you” and the Lord Jesus has make Him known. Certainly, there may be truths that you find difficult to understand (perhaps even with some of the Capitol Commission Bible Studies, yet hopefully not).
Everything contained within Scripture is not comparably and readily understood by itself, and some revealed truths are more difficult to understand than others. Peter confessed that within the Bible are “some things hard to understand,” yet those truths are not impossible to comprehend. Believers in the Lord Jesus must recognize that some truths can only be understood by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, and thus we ought pray that He would cause the eyes of our heart to be enlightened (1 Cor 2:14-16; Eph 1:18-21).
By God's Grace and for His Glory,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia