© 2013 • Hillcrest Church of Christ
by Danny Boggs
The Bible directs us, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). Varying churches use the same Bible yet reach vastly different conclusions. Conflicting paths to salvation, divergent methods of worship, and dissimilar church setups are advocated. The Bible claims to be understandable. Can we understand the Bible alike?
Early in the church’s life, “the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). The Jewish priests formerly had failed to understand God’s word. They did not believe what the disciples of Jesus believed. The priests were wrong. They became obedient to the faith. What faith? Catholic? Protestant? No, the faith. Biblically, there is only one faith (Ephesians 4:5). Desiring to obey God, the priests did not argue with the Christians, “That’s your interpretation,” or “That’s your understanding, but not mine.”
When Paul became a Christian, it surprised people who had known about him: “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Galatians 1:23). He had been sincere in his practice of Judaism, his personal faith, and his rejection of the gospel. But he was sincerely wrong. He changed his mind, Christ changed his life, and he began preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.
In reality, two people cannot understand the Bible — or anything else — differently. At least one of them is wrong. They might both misunderstand and misunderstand differently, but they do not understand differently.
“Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). If we will all observe and obey that plain pattern, God will bless us and bring us together. We can — and must — understand the Bible alike.
Can We Understand the Bible Alike?