Many Other Things

Bible Reading

In the gospel of John, we read of many things that Jesus said and did. We also learn much about His character, origin, and mission. At the end of the book, we also have the acknowledgment that the gospel does not contain a complete record of Jesus’ life here on the earth.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

After learning all the things that John’s gospel tells us about Jesus, this verse telling us that there is much more that was not written down is also instructive for us. There are a few lessons here which we can learn.

The Bible is Concise

The fact that there were “many other things” that Jesus did which were not included – not to mention the rest of the people and topics discussed in the Bible – shows us just how concise the Bible is. The brevity of God’s word is by design. As John said, it would not be possible to include everything.

The wise man wrote, “Beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). In contrast, we are told to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). While much study causes weariness, God’s commandments are “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). John could say this because the instruction that God gave us is concise.

Imagine what it would be like otherwise. What if the Bible included everything in detail? What if God implied nothing but explicitly stated everything? The Bible would be anything but concise and that would have a devastating impact on us. We would be like the false teachers Timothy was warned about who were “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). We would be like the pagan philosophers who would “spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). We would be like Festus’ perception of Paul when he said, “Your great learning is driving you mad” (Acts 26:24).

All we would ever be able to do would be to learn. Is learning important? Of course it is. “The wise man will hear and increase in learning” (Proverbs 1:5). But we must do more than just learn. We must act upon what we learn. James wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

The Bible is Understandable

The fact that the Bible is understandable is implied in the point about its brevity. Why does the Bible contain what it does? It is so that it will produce belief. Earlier, John wrote, “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). For something to be believed, it must first be understood.

God revealed His word in such a way that we could understand it. In writing about the revelation he had received from God, Paul said, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). Later, the apostle commanded us understand God’s will: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). This command is doable. Remember what John wrote: “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Some passages may be more difficult than others (2 Peter 3:16), but we can still understand God’s will.

This is an important point. It shows us that Bible study is not reserved for the elites. Paul made this point to the Corinthians: “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh…but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27). The gospel is for all (Mark 16:15; Romans 1:16). Mark recorded that “the common people heard [Jesus] gladly” (Mark 12:37). One does not need a degree from a theological seminary to understand the Bible, only an honest heart with a desire to know the truth.

The Bible has Everything We Need

We again ask the question: Why does the Bible contain what it does? It is to produce belief. The implication is that the teachings contained in the Bible are sufficient by themselves – without any supplement – to produce this belief. In fact, Paul said, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Peter wrote, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). God has given us everything we need through the knowledge of Christ. If we needed anything else, He would have included it in His word.

What if the Bible does not answer some question we may have? If the answer to our question really is absent from the pages of God’s word (and it is not that we have simply overlooked it), then we know that the answer is not important for our goal (“life in His name” – John 20:31) or our purpose (“fear God and keep His commandments” – Ecclesiastes 12:13). God has not told us everything but He has told us what we need to know. The Israelites were taught this principle: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Conclusion

The Bible is concise, understandable, and complete. Because of this, we are able to study and learn God’s will so that we can do what He would have us to do. As we study the things that God has chosen to reveal to us, let us determine to approach His word with an open and honest heart, seeking to conform our lives to His will, and with the intent to practice those things we are instructed.


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