If you have ever watched any of the police or private investigator shows you will be familiar with their investigative process.
Basically, a crime is committed, and the investigator tries to understand it by asking lots of questions. They look for clues and then try to understand “Whodunnit” by looking for means and motive.
In essence they are asking what, why and how. “What” is the crime itself. A robbery, murder, fraud, or whatever. Motive asks the question “Why” was this crime committed, and the means looks at “How” the crime was committed.
If we want to find the truth of just about anything, and that includes understanding the word of God, we can also use this “What,” “Why,” and “How” approach.
A trend in the Church
When we travel, my wife and I visit quite a few churches. Recently I have noticed a trend in some churches that relates to this investigative process.
As I listen to sermons, I frequently hear preachers telling people “What” is needed, but rarely do they explain “why” or “how” to do it.
The Bible does provide this information, but too often the focus is only on “what” Christians need to do.
Why do we need to know “Why” and “How?”
There are many things we should understand as Christians, but is it enough to only know “what” it is without understanding why and how?
When we look at “what” by itself, all we see is the goal or the end point. We might hear a preacher say we need to repent, be baptised, love one another, and so on. But if he doesn’t explain why and how to do these things, a person can go away confused.
Explaining all of these things provides context because “what” shows us the goal, “why” gives us the purpose, and “how” explains the process.
All three of these work together to complete our understanding.
Consider freedom from sin
The best way to explain the impact of “what,” “why,” and “how” is to look at an example.
Every Christian knows that Jesus Christ died to set us free from sin and to take our sins away.
“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John chapter 1, verse 29)
Having Jesus take our sins away is the “what.” Freedom from sin is “what” we have in Jesus Christ, amongst many other things.
But if this is true, and the scripture tells us that it is, why do so many Christians still say, “I’m a sinner?” If Jesus has taken away your sins, then how can you still be a sinner? Either He has taken them away and you are not a sinner, or, He has not taken them away and the scriptures are wrong.
Well, the scriptures are not wrong.
The problem is that those Christians who still believe they are sinners do not understand “why” Jesus set them free, and “how” they receive this freedom. So, let’s take a look at those two points.
Why you are set free from sin
God said three times in Romans chapter 1 that He gave up on man. He gave up on man because of sin. Scripture also says:
“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans chapter 3, verse 23)
Under the law of Moses, we could be forgiven our sins through blood sacrifices, but that was an inefficient process. It was a stop-gap measure and did not TAKE AWAY sins.
God seeks people who are not sinners and do not sin.
So, if God was going to restore man to perfection, He had to take away sin. He did this in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is “why” we are set free from sin: to reconcile us to God so that He can bring us to perfection in Christ.
How you are set free from sin
We are told that to be freed from sin a death must occur.
“…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews chapter 9, verse 22)
That is why Jesus died in our place. But how do we take on His death to be set free from sin? By faith through baptism.
“How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?” (Romans chapter 6, verses 2-3)
We are baptised into the death of Jesus and believe we have died with Him. This is “how” we die to sin through Christ.
How should you take this forward?
When you know “why” and “how” you will have a better understanding of the truth. You will gain context and a better picture of God’s plan for you. If all you are hearing is “what,” then ask the Lord to show you “how” and “why” this thing is important.
If the preacher doesn’t know “why” or “how,” ask him to find out. You may be doing him a favour. If he doesn’t know these things, then he should be seeking as well for the sake of his own salvation as well as his congregation.
Don’t be afraid to ask and be sure to pray to find out “how” and “why,” not just “what.”
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375