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Understanding the Bible

       Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why can’t I understand the Bible?”   Or, perhaps you do understand the Bible, but you wonder why others cannot.   Things which seem so plain to you---yet, others just don’t begin to grasp!   Why can’t your family and friends understand the many spiritual truths that are so clear to you?! 

      For that matter, why is it that you understand things which are greatly misunderstood by even religious scholars?   Have you ever wondered why it is that they just “don’t get it”?

 

God’s Purpose

      In answering the above questions, let’s first understand that God purposely had the Bible written in a rather unusual manner.  It was written in such a manner that people could study it intricately---even in its original languages---poring over its pages for their entire lifetimes….and, yet, never come to a good understanding of God’s truths!

      Many individuals have memorized great sections of the Bible, yet they haven’t come to understand what those passages really mean.

      One reason for this is that God had the Bible written so that not all the truth on any one subject is found in any one place in the Bible.  We find “here a little” and “there a little.”   It’s somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle.   “Whom will he teach knowledge?   And whom will he make to understand the message?... For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little” (Isa.28:9-10).

      There are even cases where those who recorded God’s message did not understand what they wrote!   At one point, the prophet Daniel was recording God’s word, and he said this:  “Although I heard, I did not understand.  Then I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the end of these things?  And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end’” (Dan.12:8-9).

 

Why Christ Spoke in Parables

      Why did Jesus Christ sometimes speak in parables?   Most people believe that He did so in order to make the meaning clearer.  Yet, the opposite is actually true!

      “But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve [disciples] asked Him about the parable [“Why do You speak to them in parables?”  (Matt. 13:10)].   And He said to them, ‘To you [i.e., “to you disciples”---“to you whom God is calling”] it has been given to know [or understand] the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, [Why?] so that “Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand...”’”  (Mark 4:10-12).

      So, here Christ plainly said that He spoke in parables to hide the meaning---to hide the meaning from the masses---to hide the meaning from those not being called by God.

      In the 11th chapter of Matthew, we find the parallel account of what we just read.  Notice what Matthew adds:  Still speaking to His disciples, Christ said, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men [such as Daniel] desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it”  (verses 16-17). 

      God Himself decides who He will call during this age.  Christ said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him”  (John 6:44, 65).   God decides who He will enable to understand during this age.  Christ said this:  “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Matt.11:25). 

 

Two Approaches

      God had the Bible written in such a way that only a certain type of person could come to a truly good understanding of it---a truly good understanding of God’s plan and purpose for mankind.

      What type of person will understand?   A person who has the following two approaches to God’s word:

      (1)  Seek God with ALL your heart!     “…you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if [notice: ‘IF’] you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul”  (Deut.4:29).   Notice also from the book of Jeremiah:  “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer.29:13).

      We cannot just simply ask God for understanding and expect to receive it.   Rather, we must show God that we “hunger and thirst” for it---that we want it above all else!   It must be to us like a “pearl of great price”  (Matt.13:45-46).

      Those who are seeking God “with all their hearts” will be “searching the Scriptures daily”---just as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).   Such a person will not just “take  for granted” that what a preacher says is actually what the Bible teaches.  Paul urges us to “Prove all things” (I Thess.5:21, KJV).

      If a person is seeking God with all his heart, when he comes upon a scripture he doesn’t understand, he won’t just throw up his hands and say, “Oh well, nobody can really understand the Bible.”   When he comes upon an apparent contradiction in the Bible, he won’t say, “Well, you can prove anything from the Bible.”

      No, that person will seek God diligently---and with all his heart.  God, along with God’s true ministers, will help the individual to “put the jigsaw puzzle together” --- so that it all makes sense (Acts 8:30-31).   The person will learn, with the help of God’s true ministry, to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim.2:15).

      (2)  Strive to LIVE BY God’s word---to be corrected by the words of the holy Bible.  This is the second approach to God’s word which a person must have before God will guide the individual into a good understanding of His word and His purpose.

      Actually, the main purpose of Bible study should be to learn God’s will---so that we can live according to that will!   “Not My will, but Yours, be done,” said Christ (Luke 22:42).   Christ also said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4).   Yes, we are to study the Bible to be corrected by it.   “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”  (II Tim.3:16).   So, when we have this approach, God will grant us understanding.      “…A good understanding have all those who do His commandments…”!   (Ps.111:10).

      God tells us plainly what type of person He has regard forThese are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word”  (Isa.66:2, NIV 2011).    Do you and I tremble at God’s word?   Do we have that approach when we read God’s word?   Do we fear to go contrary to what the Bible tells us to do and not to do?

      If we approach God’s word with trembling---if we study the Bible with an attitude of being instructed in how to live---with an attitude of being corrected---with an attitude of being willing to do God’s commandments---then, and only then, will God grant us a good understanding of His word!

      If God is calling a person, and the person responds to that calling, that individual will not only accept Christ as his savior, but he will also thoroughly repent---unconditionally surrender his life in obedience to God.   At that point, the person is baptized, and he then receives God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).   Then, the individual has the guidance, not only of God’s written word, but also the guidance of the Holy Spirit.    “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”  (John 14:26, NIV).   Christ said that the Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). 

      Finally, consider this passage “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  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.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned  (I Cor.2: 9-14).

      In conclusion, it should now be plain that in order for you to have a good understanding of God’s word, you must have two approaches:  seek God with all your heart, and strive to live by God’s word!