UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
“For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 BBE)
While it is absolutely true that the Bible is the best-seller and most widely read book of all time, yet the Bible is said to be the “most misunderstood book” of all time. Why?
Simply because the Bible is not a mere book that takes only a measure of intellectual effort to understand!
Even though you possess the brightest mind in the world, yet if the Holy Spirit does not open or enlighten your mind, the Bible will remain closed to you and you won’t understand, receive and believe its truths.
Paul clearly states this truth.
1 Corinthians 2:11 – NKJV
11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
It is not that the Bible is a difficult book to understand, but the problem is that many readers of the Bible approach the Bible with wrong mindsets and attitudes.
The Bible actually interprets itself and provides important keys to understanding it. Sadly, many readers of the Bible ignore what the Bible says about itself and the keys it gives for its understanding.
In this piece we shall consider some of the right mindsets or attitudes that are a must for understanding the Bible.
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.
Psalms 25:8-9 – NKJV
8 Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
9 The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.
The Bible is a divine book and therefore requires much more than intellectual effort or ability to understand it. If you are not humble enough to ask the Holy Spirit to teach and grant you spiritual understanding, you will never be able to comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).
All Scripture is God-breathed or inspired by God’s Spirit. Therefore, it takes the help of God’s Spirit to know, understand, receive, believe and obey or act upon the truths of God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 2: 14 – BBE
14 For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit.
Second, Approach the Bible with an Open, Humble and Willing Mind to Obey its Injunctions:
You will never understand the Bible unless you approach it with a submissive and teachable mind or attitude.
The Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the final or supreme authority on every issue or subject.
Therefore, you must approach it with reverence and resolution to obey all its injunctions and follow all its instructions.
The primary reason why many readers of the Bible don’t understand its truths is because they don’t esteem, regard or revere the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God and thus the final authority on every issue or subject.
If you don’t approach God’s Word with an open, humble and willing mind to receive, submit to, live by, obey or apply its teachings and instructions; you will not understand God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The Lord Jesus revealed this truth while rebuking the Jews.
John 8:43 – NET
43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching.
Without the willingness, resolution or determination to receive, believe, embrace, accept and follow, obey or apply all the teachings of the Bible even if it means letting go of a long-held belief, custom or tradition, you may never understand the truths of God’s Word.
The Lord Jesus clearly states this truth.
John 7:17 – BBE
17 If any man is ready to do God’s pleasure he will have knowledge of the teaching and of where it comes from – from God or from myself.
If you are not willing to obey what the Bible teaches, you are not yet ready to understand what the Bible teaches.
Third, Plan time for a Regular Reading and Studying of the Bible:
You will never begin to understand the Bible until you actually begin to read, study, and mediate on what the Bible teaches or says!
It is therefore very crucial to schedule time daily when you can slowly, carefully or diligently read, search and study, and meditate in the Bible without any distraction or disturbance (Psa. 119:72, 127, Acts 17:11).
Don’t just say you will read the Bible when you are free or when it is convenient for you; fix a definite time daily for reading, studying and meditating in the Bible, and be disciplined to maintain the time.
Always have your note book and pen beside you while reading and studying the Bible to jot down the lessons you have learned, the truths you have discovered, the promises to claim, and whatever God has said to you. You can also use a marker to keep track of key verses.
Take time also to regularly review, mediate, internalize and pray on the spiritual truths you have discovered while studying God’s Word (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 should concentrate on one subject or doctrine of the Bible. This will allow you to see all that God has to say about a particular topic or doctrine (2 Tim. 2:15).
Fifth, Compare Different Translations of the Bible:
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. More than 60 English versions of the Bible are available today. However, 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, yet 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 itself.
Moreover, always remember that nothing interprets the Bible as the Bible itself. So, let the Bible interpret or explain itself to you.
Be careful not to read meaning into the Bible text (eisegesis), but to derive meaning out of the Bible text (exegesis). Always consider the scripture in its proper context and look at all the scriptures on a subject for a clearer and deeper understanding (Isa. 28:10, Acts 17:11).
Lastly, Ask Questions and seek Help from your Pastor or mature believers:
It is always best to seek help from qualified people in any field of study. God has ordained and placed His shepherds in the Church to feed His sheep with spiritual knowledge and guide them into a fuller or deeper understanding of His Word.
Jeremiah 3:15 – NJKV
15 I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Therefore, if you have questions while reading or studying the Bible, feel free to ask a Spirit-filled servant of God or a spiritually mature believer for clarification and deeper understanding (Neh. 8:8, Acts 8:30-31; 18:26).
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, then you need to heed, obey, follow, or practice what you have read, learned and understood.
Luke 8:18 – NLT
18 So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.
Above all, while reading and studying the Bible, you must bear it in mind that the cardinal theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the primary key to understanding the Bible!
All the Scriptures testify of Jesus, bear witness to Jesus, and point to Jesus.
Jesus rebuked the unbelieving Jews, saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39 NLT).
“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.” (John 5:46 NKJV).
Likewise, on the road to Emmaus, the risen Lord Jesus rebuked two of His unbelieving disciples, saying, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27 NKJV).
When Philip found Nathanael, he brought him to Jesus, testifying, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45 NKJV).
Jesus Christ is God’s Word that became flesh and dwelt among us to reveal or declare the Father to us (John 1:1, 14, 18). Jesus Christ is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3).
Therefore, whatever Jesus teaches or says is the truth and the final authority!
Hebrews 1:1-3 – BBE
1 In times past the word of God came to our fathers through the prophets, in different parts and in different ways;
2 But now, at the end of these days, it has come to us through his Son, to whom he has given all things for a heritage, and through whom he made the order of the generations;
3 Who, being the outshining of his glory, the true image of his substance, supporting all things by the word of his power, having given himself as an offering making clean from sins, took his seat at the right hand of God in heaven.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, from today henceforth, I choose not to be a mere, casual or occasional reader and hearer of Your Word, but rather an ardent, diligent and consistent reader and doer of Your Word. So, Help me Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.