Archaic language… Varying translations, each with their own sort of issues… Apparent contradictions… Can we really understand what Scripture means to teach us? Many would say that no, we can’t really understand the Bible, so just leave it to the experts. Unfortunately, this claim isn’t examined as well as it should be before it’s accepted, resulting in church buildings full of people who don’t know what the Bible actually says. I mean, I can’t understand it anyway, so why bother? The preacher will steer me right anyway, won’t he?
But what if we really can understand it? What if we’re being lazy because we already do understand it, and it’s not easy to live it? In Jesus’ day, from time to time there were moments of his teaching where things got hard and people walked away. I wonder if our current Biblical ignorance is like that… Are we walking away from Scripture because it’s demanding?
I don’t ask this question flippantly. I think the Bible can be transformational if we allow it to soak into our lives and affect how we live and think and choose. But that’s the real issue, isn’t it… Will we let the Bible change us? There are definitely some areas of the Bible that require more work to understand than others, but what are we doing with the parts that we already do understand? Here are some quick thoughts to help you understand the Bible and also help the students in your life understand it as well.
- Read it. This should maybe be obvious, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know it’s not. A lot of people don’t understand the Bible simply because they don’t ever spend any time with it.
- Chew on it. After you read a passage, don’t just check it off on some list and move on. Think about it for a while. Come back and re-read it in another setting. Contemplate it. Yes, it’s hard to do this while running through life at the speed of sound, but make the effort.
- Ask questions. Think of someone you know and respect whose life seems to show that they’ve got a pretty good handle on Scripture and are living lives that reflect Christ and ask them to help you understand. Engage your church via small groups and class discussions. The Bible is meant to be lived out in community.
- Use a variety of study resources. Commentaries, Bible Dictionaries & Encyclopedias, etc. all can add to our understanding of the context of the original writings.
- Filter all of it through the lens of Jesus. Christ is THE central figure of the Bible. Ask yourself how a passage you’re reading points toward him or flows out of his life and ministry.
- Do what it says. The Bible isn’t a theoretical book of thought exercises. It’s meant to be lived out. Sometimes, greater understanding is the byproduct of willingly doing what we do understand.
- Teach what you know. When you’ve spent some time with the Bible and have come to understand, share what you know with others. Whether this is a formal class setting, a small group, or just in discussion, this can be a valuable part of your growing understanding of what it says.
Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links: