It is quite possible to study all the basic Bible doctrines and yet still fail to appreciate the personal reality of their message. This fact can be very distressing for those who use a manual like this for the instruction of others who then seem to fail to grasp the principles covered.
There was much genuine response to the preaching of the Gospel in the first century. People "gladly received" the Gospel and were therefore baptized (Acts 2:41). Without a heartfelt response to the message - an "affectionate belief", as Robert Roberts often described it - there is no point in baptism. Those who receive it solely because of pressure from their partner or parents are unlikely to stay the course. Seeing we are interested in bringing people to salvation rather than in the number of baptisms, it is worth taking time in our preaching of the Gospel to ensure that our converts come to baptism with the right attitude.
Those at Berea "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily" to check out what Paul was preaching (Acts 17:11). This manual - indeed any human literature - is only an attempt to accurately reflect Bible teaching. For there to be a true response to the Gospel, there must be a mind sensitive to the Word, truly desiring to search Scripture on a personal level. This is something which the preacher of the Gospel cannot necessarily bring about; we can only draw attention to the relevant Bible passages. The believers at Rome "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered" unto them, before they were baptized (Rom. 6:17).
Those who stubbornly persist in the ways of the flesh will never be able to properly grasp the true message of the Gospel; they will end up having "a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:1-7). We will never understand what we do not want to. If we have no real love of righteousness, no true desire to bring our lives under God's control, we will never be able to "come to the knowledge of the truth", despite all our Bible reading; our study will just be an academic exercise.
There are several examples of people reading Scripture, but in a way not reading it. This is a disease which we are all prone to. The Jews at the time of Christ appeared to have a great zeal for God's word; they trusted in the Old Testament writings as being inspired (John 5:45; Acts 6:11); they knew that through studying these Scriptures they could have hope of eternal life (John 5:39), and every week they publicly read them (Acts 15:21). In addition, some of them closely studied these passages during the week. However, they totally failed to grasp the real significance of these Scriptures, in that they pointed forward to Christ. Jesus told them plainly: "Search the Scriptures...for had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (You) hear not Moses and the prophets" (John 5:39,46,47; Luke 16:29-31).
We can imagine the Jews' indignation: 'But we do read the Bible! We do believe it!' But, because of their closed-minded attitude, effectively they did not - they read, but they did not understand; they looked, but they did not see. There are truly none so blind as those who do not want to see. At all stages in our spiritual development we must be on our guard against this.