Abraham Lincoln said: “I believe the Bible is the best book God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.”
The Bible is undoubtedly the all time best-seller and most widely read book. Unfortunately, it is however “the most misunderstood book.”
Ironically, even though the Bible gives the keys to understanding it, yet many readers of the Bible find it difficult to understand it.
We shall explore in this blog some of the important keys that will help open up this Book of books to your understanding.
First, Pray for Spiritual Understanding before reading the Bible:
The first right step or key to understanding the Bible is to humbly ask for God’s help before you start reading it. The Holy Spirit is the real author of the Bible and He is therefore the only one who can give you a clear understanding of the truths of the Bible.
The Bible is not a mere book that takes only a measure of intellectual effort to understand. Even though you possess the world’s brightest mind, if God does not open your mind, the Bible will remain closed to you. (Psa. 25:8-9, Isa. 66:1-2, Luke 10:21-22, Acts 16:14, 1 Cor. 2:13-14).
After His resurrection, it took the Lord Jesus opening the understanding of His disciples before they could understand the Scriptures.
The Scripture states: “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45 NKJV).
Second, Keep an Open Mind:
In order to understand the truths of the Bible you must approach it with a submissive and teachable attitude. You must view the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God, and accept and esteem it as a supreme authority.
You must also be willing to receive, embrace and follow all the teachings of the Bible even if it means letting go of a long held belief or tradition. Without an open mind to receive doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction of the Bible, you will not understand the truths of the Bible. (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Acts 17:10-12, Psa. 25:14, Jer. 29:13).
The Lord Jesus said, “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:17 NKJV).
Third, Plan time for a Regular Study of the Bible:
Though it is very essential to approach the Bible with a proper mindset or attitude, yet you can never begin to understand the Bible without actually reading what it says or having it read to you. It is therefore very crucial to schedule study time when you can read and study the Bible without any distraction or disturbance, and be disciplined to maintain the time.
Moreover, you must always have your note book and pen beside you while reading and studying the Bible to jot down lessons you have learned. You can also use a marker to keep track of key verses. Take time also to review and mediate upon what you have been learning. (Eph. 5:15-17, 1 Tim. 4:13-16).
Fourth, Read the Whole Bible and Study Topics:
You need a broad overview of the Bible in order to understand the Bible in its particular verses. It is therefore not enough to read excerpts here and there; you need to read through the whole Bible – topic by topic as well as book by book.
Going through the whole Bible from cover to cover will give you a broad familiarity and perspective. At various times, you could concentrate on one subject, doctrine or book. This will also allow you to see all that God has to say about a particular topic or doctrine. (2 Tim. 2:15).
Fifth, Compare Different Translations:
The Bible was written in ancient languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic) and settings which are so different from our modern languages and settings. However, your understanding of the Bible can be enhanced by taking advantage of the work of scholars who have studied culture, language, history and archaeology as they relate to biblical events and characters.
The most helpful tool for Bible study is several Bible versions or translations among which you can compare wording. More than 60 English versions of the Bible are available today.
But, you must bear it in mind that scholars sometimes differ on how certain verses should be translated today. While a literal rendering is often preferred, but a thought-for-thought translation or paraphrase is sometimes better at capturing the intent of ancient figures of speech.
Sixth, Use Bible Study Aids Properly:
Many Bible study aids are quite helpful. They can provide valuable historical background or point you to other scriptures that add clarity to what you are reading. Bible aids or helps include concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, maps and commentaries.
However, always keep in mind when using these resources that they are not the Bible and can be wrong. Moreover, always remember that nothing interprets the Bible as the Bible itself. So, let the Bible interprets itself; always consider the context and look at all the scriptures on a subject. Be careful not to read meaning into the Bible text, you are suppose to derive the meaning out of it.
Seventh, Seek Guidance from Reputable Church Leaders:
It is always best to seek help from qualified people in any field of study. God has ordained and placed His servants in the Church to guide people into a fuller understanding of His Word. If you have questions, feel free to contact a Spirit-filled God’s servants in the church for clarification and deeper understanding. (Jer. 3:15, Neh. 8:8, Acts 8:30-31; 18:26).
The great English playwright Sir Walter Scott wrote: “The most learned, acute, and diligent student cannot, in the longest life, obtain an entire knowledge of this one Volume. The most deeply he works the mine, the richer and more abundant he finds the ore; new light continually beams from this source of heavenly knowledge to direct the conduct, and illustrate the work of God and the ways of men; and he will at last leave the world confessing that the more he studied the Scriptures the fuller conviction he had of his own ignorance, and of their inestimable value.”
Sir Francis Bacon, known as the father of the scientific method, wrote: “There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of Scriptures, which reveal the will of God, then the volume of the Creatures [Creation], which express His power.”
Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. president, said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”
Beloved, obedience is very vital for continued and progressive spiritual understanding of God’s Word. If you really want to understand God’s Word better and deeper, you need to heed, obey, practice and follow what you already understand.
The Scripture states: “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way.” (Psa. 25:9).
“The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” (Psa. 25:14 NKJV).