Speaking Clearly

"If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?

You must follow Me." John 21:22

"Reading from the same page" is an expression often used to point out the need for two (or more) persons to make sure that in the conversation they are talking about the same thing. No agreement can be reached when one is talking about apples and the other about oranges.

This is also true in religious discussions. The Bible records gross misunderstandings made by people who were not, so to speak, "reading from the same page." For example, Jesus was speaking about His forthcoming death and bodily resurrection when He said, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (John 2:19). Some of His hearers, however, understood that as a reference to the temple building in Jerusalem. Again, when after His resurrection Jesus had a private talk with Peter, the subject of John's future came up. Our Lord had said that John would stay alive until His coming again "if I want him to remain" (John 21:23). The "if" is important. But Peter was not "reading from the same page." He thought that Jesus had said that John would never die, and this rumor prevailed for a while.

We do well to bear in mind that we can avoid unpleasant misunderstandings by always being clear in our words, especially when we talk about religion or matters of the Christian faith. The prophets of old, the psalmists, and then Jesus and the apostles set us examples in clarity of expression. They tell us the truths of salvation in clear language. Here is an example, both as to the statement of true doctrine and as to the exclusion of error: "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

When we all study the Holy Scriptures carefully, hearing, reading, marking, learning, and digesting them inwardly, we will understand ourselves much better when we speak to one another. We will be "reading from the same page."

PRAYER: O Holy Spirit, give me a clear understanding of God's Word so that my faith may be strengthened and I can confess it more clearly before others. Amen.