Too Much Certainty

The great impediment to growth.

John 5:38–47

“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

“I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Remember, this all started because the Jews wanted to kill Jesus for healing someone on the Sabbath (and telling the healed man to take up his mat and walk). Jesus replied to their questions about it in a way that claimed divinity. They’re not buying that for a second. That’s why Jesus says to them, “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.

Notice that this has nothing to do with the evidence. Their minds are closed to the idea of a divine messiah. Jesus could perform every miracle in the book, and it wouldn’t matter. They’d already figured out what the messiah will look like and incarnation isn’t it. They’ve overthought this and have way too much confidence in their analysis.

Their egos have landed them on the wrong side of history.

This is one of the great dangers in studying God and the Bible. The minute we start thinking we’ve mastered the subject, we’re in trouble. The Bible is a finite book, about an infinite subject, written for finite minds.

The goal of studying the Bible is to learn that which will make us better servants. We delude ourselves if we think we’re going to really understand God. Our Bible study must be couched in a humble understanding of who we are.

Humility isn’t just the key to studying God; it’s the key to studying anything. The minute we start thinking we know it all, we stop learning.

And people who think they know enough to teach others are in danger of getting too far out over their skis.

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. — James 3:1–2a

Always keep your pastors in prayer. And please pray for me and all the authors at Ailbe.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.