“The Bible is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim.” Augustine, the early Christian theologian said this about 300 years after Jesus walked the earth. The concepts of the Bible and the plan of salvation are simple enough for a young child to grasp yet we can dedicate our entire lives to studying the Scriptures and never cease learning. God encourages us to seek Him in our lives and the Bible is certainly one of the avenues where we can do just that. Seek God, mine the Bible for nuggets of knowledge and deeper understanding of the One who inspired the authors. The Bible is deep enough for an elephant to swim because God is infinite. We will have an eternity with Him and never stop learning!
Now that I have encouraged you to swim with the elephants in your Bible study, let me also remind you that while you are swimming in the deep waters, to never lose sight of the shallow waters where children can play. The simple truths can be some of the most precious and comforting concepts to embrace. Let’s take a look at that famous passage from the book of John, chapter 3 verse 16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
John 3:16 delivers a very simple and clear truth that can be shared with every human being who walks the planet: God loves you and wants you to be with Him forever. A truth that brings comfort to the person who believes they have been so bad that God no longer loves them. A truth that brings comfort to every believer praying for the salvation of co-workers, friends and family. A truth that a child can grasp enough to decide they want to follow Jesus and belong to Him. Is there any more knowledge to gain in the study of salvation (soteriology if you want to impress your friends)? Why certainly there is. Study atonement, propitiation, Old Covenant and New Covenant theology (more words to impress your friends). Delve into how Jesus’ sacrifice satisfies God’s holiness, justice and love. Your extra-biblical materials may even lead you to the four-thousand year old debate between followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius, and whether or not salvation is predetermined before birth. Tackle the question, how can God be all-knowing and we still have the ability to choose? In other words, if God knows Joe is going to mow his yard next Tuesday at 2:00pm, does Joe really have a choice in the matter?
Now as you are swimming around in those deep waters and pondering the age old deep questions, pondering the (at times unsettling) questions about election and predestination; don’t forget from time to time to look back at the shallow waters to that comforting truth – the words Jesus spoke and John recorded: For God so loved the world (mankind) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. As the great preacher Adrian Rodgers would say: Who are the elect? “whoever believes.”
God loves you and wants you to be with Him forever.