Who Understands Jesus?
The conclusion is this, studying the books of the Bible are not as important as many Christians imagine. It is far more important to trust and obey Jesus. It is better to do what we know we are commanded to do—even if we only know a few of those commandments—than to have read all the New Testament and yet not do what we know we ought to do. ( Now it is true that oral tradition was alive and well in the early Church and many Christians had met one or more of the Apostles (see here). But that too counted for little if they did not trust and obey Jesus.)
When a person trusts and obeys Jesus he becomes their teacher. When a person obeys him, his Spirit begins to teach them; and the lessons learned are far more important than any lesson that could possibly be learned simply from reading the New Testament.
In saying this I am not saying we should not spend time reading the Bible. We should. (I read the Bible almost every day and I encourage others to.) And when we read it we should read it slowly and carefully. But we should not put our faith in our ability to understand what we read. Our primary goal in reading the Bible should not be to understand. Our primary goal should be to discover what God would have us do. The more we obey, the more we will understand.
“...God works on higher, on divine, on perfect principles, too right for a selfish, unfair, or unloving man to understand.” - George MacDonald
The more like Christ we become, the more we will understand the mind of Christ. The less we are like him, the less we will understand him.
“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” (Ephesians 4:18-22).
Why were those unbelievers ignorant according to Paul? It was because of the way they were living. The way they were living was hardening their hearts and darkening their understanding.
Jesus wants us to come to understand and know him through obedience. If we are not obeying Christ we do not know him, and will not come to know him until we begin to obey. (If a person confesses that they have been ignoring God by ignoring his Messiah—and so have sinned against him—thanks Jesus for dying and rising from the dead for them, and swears to follow the rightful King; this is their very first act of obedience; their very first step of faith. They have begun to trust the King and so a relationship with him has begun. But if they have sworn falsely, if they do not trust and obey, they too will be darkened in their understanding.)
“Distrust is atheism, and the barrier to all growth." - George MacDonald
If you value your beliefs about why Jesus died and rose from the dead more than an obedient loving relationship with him, you will find the following very hard to read.