For a number of years, I have participated in the NCAAA Men’s Basketball bracket challenge. At first, it was just with my sons. This year, a couple of members from church decided to get a challenge together and invited me to join. You may find this hard to comprehend, but I have NEVER correctly predicted the outcome of all the games. This year is not any different. My prophetic perfection ceased with the very first game when I incorrectly predicted that 7th ranked Louisville would defeat #11 Minnesota. I can’t understand why I got that one wrong; after all, the “experts” expected Louisville to win. Therein lies part of the problem. My prediction was based on two “qualities”: first, the knowledge of the “experts,” and secondly, my lack of knowledge. I do not follow college basketball very closely. This season I saw a couple of Villanova games, a game or two with Duke, and bits and pieces of a couple of games with Penn State. That is hardly sufficient to make any knowledgeable predictions. Unfortunately, it did not stop me from making predictions. Fortunately, there is no consequence to me in this bracket challenge of making incorrect predictions other than possibly, when it is all said and done, of having some of my friends gloat about making fewer errors than I did. I think I can live with that!
There is, though, a significant problem when people with little knowledge of the Word of God dictate to others how life is to be lived while seeking to discredit the teaching of the Scriptures. Such was the case with the Sadducees in Jesus’ day. The Sadducees were a group within Judaism that denied the resurrection of the dead. In seeking to discredit the biblical doctrine, they asked Jesus about a hypothetical situation where a woman had married 7 times. Their question was whose wife she would be in the resurrection. The response of Jesus put them in their place, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24).
There are many modern-day Sadducees who seek to discredit the teaching of the Bible and promote their own interpretation and application of it. For example, I often hear people say that the Bible teaches that we are not to judge others on the basis of Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” If that is what Jesus taught, then He contradicted Himself when He said in John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” There He commands us to judge others. Likewise, the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” Because those who promote the non-judgmental philosophy of life have isolated Matthew 7:1 from its context, they have therefore misinterpreted its teaching. The prohibition of judgment only comes when one is guilty of the same offense they are critical in others, hypocrisy.
When a person only has a cursory knowledge of Scripture, they are very prone to drawing conclusions worse than my Louisville-Minnesota prediction. The apostle Paul encouraged his protégé, Timothy, to thoroughly study the Word of God, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) The Greek word that is translated “study” is a word that implies much effort. I might paraphrase and amplify the command this way, “Put your heart and soul into understanding the Word of God correctly and in the end, you will not be embarrassed for you will do right and that is something you certainly can live with!”