One of the reasons that people give for not investigating the Bible is that its message can’t be understood. Some religious leaders go so far as to argue that it can’t be correctly interpreted by the common man or “laity” without “church tradition.” Consequently, many are under the false impression that the Bible is just “too confusing” and never make a serious effort to know its teachings.
Yet, as the apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, Greece, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He has not communicated his will to mankind in an unintelligible fashion, but rather by means of the coherent, written testimony of eyewitnesses (1 John 1:1-4), some of whom were tortured and killed, fully believing that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and had risen from the dead three days later.
You Can Understand It by Reading
As one of these eyewitnesses, Paul said to the Christians in Ephesus, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace … as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:2-4, NIV). The letters of the apostles and other inspired writers of the first century were read publicly (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27). These letters now comprise the twenty-seven “books” of our New Testament. Not only does God desire that all understand the Bible (Colossians 1:9; 2:2), he also commands us to understand it (Ephesians 5:17).
You Can Know the Truth
Jesus said, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:17). A little later in the same gospel, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
You Don’t Have to Be a Theologian
Though some passages in the Bible can be challenging (2 Peter 3:16), it is generally understandable. It wasn’t written for the intellectually elite or the highly educated. Mark 12:37 indicates that the common people heard Jesus gladly. His apostles were not theologians, but rather were regarded as “uneducated and untrained men” by the religious leaders of their day (Acts 4:13, NASB).
Like a Jigsaw Puzzle
Trying to understand the Bible might be compared to assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You begin by trying to get an idea of the overall picture. The message of the Old Testament is “Someone is coming” and in the New Covenant the main theme is “Someone has come and will come again.” These ideas can be further condensed into one word to sum up the message of the whole Bible: JESUS! Once you understand the overall picture of this “puzzle,” it becomes easier to understand how the individual pieces fit to create the greatest work of art mankind has ever known.
A Reading Strategy
If you’re newcomer to the Bible, here are a couple of suggestions: (1) Begin reading in the New Testament. You can start with the gospel of Luke, followed by the book of Acts. (2) Jot down questions as they occur to you, without getting bogged down in the details. (3) Ask God to help you understand what you have read and share your questions with others who are more knowledgeable in the Scriptures. Of course, you may also send your questions to us and we will try to answer them, time permitting.
The Bible, like any subject can be difficult to those unfamiliar with it, but with patience and guidance (Acts 8:30-31), you will discover astonishing treasures!