Bits, Bites, and Pieces:
As a child I attended a Lutheran church where I grew up learning about God’s word in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation Classes, and by listening to sermons whenever I could make the walk to church on Sunday morning. Also, friends invited me to other Christian churches for their children’s events. I loved God and confessed Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
Though I learned about God from these classes, I do not remember learning about ‘being born again.’ I also don’t remember being taught the true meaning of baptism so that I understood it. I knew Baptism was important because Christ commanded it, but I did not know its purpose. In addition, when I heard the phrase “Lord and Savior” I understood the ‘Savior’ part (or so I thought) but never knew the term “Lord” meant Jesus was the ruler of my life, and He should be in control of it, not me.
The classes taught me about the miraculous words God did for the people in the Bible. Yet, I never really understood that God still does these miraculous works today, and He will do them for all of His children, including me. Nor did I understand that God displays His divine power through the lives of His people here on Earth to heal, encourage, strengthen, teach His word, and share the love God has poured into their hearts with others.
From these classes, I learned about God’s word, however, I learned only bits, bites, and pieces and many of them didn’t make sense. They seemed to create a puzzle for me to try to figure out. For example, picture yourself sitting at a table with a large jigsaw puzzle spread out before you. As you attempt to put the puzzle together, you struggle, looking closely at each piece to try to figure out how the picture comes together. You can’t seem to match the colors so you continue struggling, trying to poke the pieces in wherever you can make them fit. You work until you have constructed a large, central mass and parts of the frame. Oh, how you struggle to put that puzzle together! Only later do you learn from someone else that some of the pieces are missing, making completion of the puzzle impossible!
Like this puzzle, our Bible lessons can have missing pieces. They can lack pieces that connect the frame together or that connect the frame to the large, central mass. They can also have holes which seemingly never fit together. When our teachings are like this puzzle, we make it harder for students to understand the message in God’s word. Like the puzzle without all the pieces, it’s very difficult for students to construct the message of God’s word in their mind.
We can find an example of this challenge in Acts 8:26-31,34-39 (NKJV), which tells us about an Ethiopian eunuch who did not understand the Gospel. Because of his lack of understanding, the Holy Spirit sent His servant, Philip, to the man. “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.'”
So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?’
And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.”
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’
Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’
And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and He baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”
In this story, the Ethiopian Eunuch didn’t understand the Scripture he was reading and knew only bits, bites, and pieces of the message in God’s word. Thank God the Holy Spirit brings the missing pieces, and plugs the holes in our teachings!
As a young person, I had the line “God loves me” memorized. Intellectually I knew Jesus was the Savior of mankind, including me, but I didn’t know Jesus on a personal level. I knew God loved me, but pictured a God that was somewhere far away looking down on me. I believed in a big, impersonal God who was very busy instead of a loving, compassionate, personal Father who loves me like a child of His very own. I didn’t understand Jesus wanted a personal, one-on-one relationship with me. Later God filled in the missing pieces and showed me His salvation and plan for my life by bringing revelation from the Holy Spirit so I could understand His message.
I believe this problem of ‘bits, bites, and pieces’ is part of the reason we have so many different Christian denominations in the world today. Many people have learned only bits, bites, and pieces, and don’t have enough of them to put the puzzle together.
God’s Word tells us, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV) This means that we do not always understand; nor do we always have the right answers. There are also places in scripture where men cannot understand exactly what God is speaking about so they interpret the Bible according to their own perspective of what they think it is saying. They may be right, but they may also be wrong. We will not know the exact meaning of those passages of scripture until we can see Jesus and know completely,
We also see places in Revelation where God keeps the future as a secret from us. As John is writing Revelation, scripture says that a voice from heaven said, “Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.'” (Revelation 10:4 NKJV) So God chooses to keep parts of His future plan a secret. Scripture also tells us, “He has made everything beautiful in His time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Eccl. 3:11 NKJV) Consequently, men cannot fully understand the great mysteries of God, and they should understand that they can never be God or think like God. God is more powerful than we can even begin to comprehend!