During the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, Martin Boos spearheaded a doctrinal movement away from the legalistic practices of the Catholic church and close to the pure form of Lutheranism. Of Bavarian roots, he made his way to Austria where he attracted a small following of priests. But there he met bitter resistance from the establishment, forcing him to return to Bavaria. After several years of persecution, he was finally recognized by the Prussian government, given a professorship at Dusseldorf, and later became pastor at Savn. He died in 1825.
Boos’ harsh commentary on the mistreatment of the Bible still applies. Referring to Boos’ statement, Charles Spurgeon said, “It is to be feared that we too often do the like. This is a miserable way of treating the pages of inspiration. May the Lord prevent us from repeating that sin…” Today, over-simplified, misappropriated, and even false teaching is commonplace in the auditoriums and Sunday School rooms of the modern church. To use another pointed metaphor, we are happy to glean from the topsoil, never bothering to dig into the stony layer and uncover the precious stones below the surface.
We ought to approach the Bible like we approach a college textbook in preparation for an exam, or like an engineer studies the regulatory requirement in preparation of laying out the design. It takes time, analysis, decomposition, and reflection. And it requires help from the Lord, for the understanding of scripture is something we must seek. As Solomon explained to his son, gleaning from the Word of God requires more than just breezing through the pages. It requires mining, as for silver. It requires searching, as for hidden treasures:
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God. –Proverbs 2:2-5
Let us not dismiss the fact that believers are first and foremost disciples. A disciple is a student, studying the Word of God, learning from the Master. Let each of us follow Paul’s admonition to “…study to show yourselves approved unto God a workman needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15).