Reading and Understanding the Bible
July 1, 2019
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45)
The Importance of Reading and Understanding the Bible
I’m certain you’ll agree with me that there is no other book anywhere near as important as the Bible. For thousands of years this book instructed, comforted, and helped mankind. People in countries were Christians are persecuted risk their lives to get a copy of this Book, or even just a fragment of it; and most Christian households in America have at least one copy and read it more than any other book.
No other book contains so much of our world’s history – about 4,000 years total. No other book addresses all of life’s issues, both practical and spiritual. In it, we learn how to work, how to take care of our physical bodies, how to love our neighbors and members of our own household, and much more. Spiritually, we learn about introduction of sin through the first created man, about how God took care of His people even after they sinned against Him, and most important, about our Lord and Savior, sent to restore humanity to God through His death and resurrection. We even learn about future events, such as what happens to us after we die, and the return of Christ for His Church.
If all this is contained in this one, important book, why then do we sometimes neglect to read, and when we do read, why is it sometimes so hard to understand?
Can Every Person Read the Bible and Understand It?
This question deserves a whole-hearted “yes”! Our Anabaptist ancestors left the Catholic church because that church had sadly decided that only certain people (priests) could own and read the Bible, and that the “common man” had better not read it, instead letting the priests tell them what the Bible said and meant. Our Anabaptist forefathers realized that reading and studying the Bible themselves was of such importance that they were willing to risk their lives to do so, and met in homes to read the Bible and pray together.
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him (1 John 2:27).
When we are born again and when we receive the Holy Spirit, we absolutely can understand the Bible. Is the verse quoted above saying we don’t need any teachers and preachers? No, not necessarily. But it is saying that where things were previously hard to understand, the Holy Spirit is able and willing to open our spiritual eyes and heart in order to reveal all scriptural truth to us personally.
How to Get the Most Out of Bible Study
Before I read the Bible, it is very helpful if I pray and ask the Lord to show me the truth of the words I’m about to read. It’s amazing how little I understand when I try to read with my own understanding or even when I try to fit what I read into what other people say it means; and how things open up and fit together when I rely on the Holy Spirit to show me the truth of the words I’m reading. Often the words contained in scripture are so simple in their meaning when I finally understand them, that when I finally do understand them, I can’t believe I was missing the truth all along. Truly we are blinded, unless the Lord opens our eyes. Often I realize that I was looking past the words themselves and trying to fit the words into my understanding, rather than allowing the words to simply say what they say.
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known (Matthew 10:26).
- Do you lack a basic desire to read the Bible? Pray and ask the Lord to give you a desire to read the Bible.
- Do you feel like you don’t understand the Bible? Pray and ask the Lord help you and ask Him to reveal truth to you through the Holy Spirit.
- Are you confused by how all the different things in the Bible fit together? Don’t worry about it. Simply read all of scripture and determine that if scripture says something, then it must be true. As you read more and more scripture, things will start to fall into place in amazing ways; and you will discover that there are no errors in the Bible, but instead everything is indeed true and good and given to us for a specific reason.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
When to Read the Bible
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee (Psalm 63:1).
Are you distracted by many earthly things while attempting to spend time with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading? Get up early before the hustle and bustle of the day, and determine that nothing that comes to your mind while reading or praying is as important right then and there as the things that the Lord wants to show you. You may be bombarded with thoughts about work and about other people. Either jot those things down on paper to get them out of the way, or then simply ignore all other thoughts, as important as they may seem. These distractions are often from the enemy, or perhaps just of ourselves, sent for the purpose of keeping us away from God.
If your schedule doesn’t allow you to get up early, or if you simply aren’t a morning person, set aside time in the evening, or even during the day. The most important thing is to set aside specific time just for this purpose; and that you enter into that time with a God-given desire to read and understand, believing that the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to reveal His words to your heart and mind.
There are many other things that could be said regarding reading and understanding the Bible, but space won’t allow. I do trust that in one way or the other your desire to read the Bible has been sharpened and that as you earnestly pray and seek the Lord, I am certain He through the Holy Spirit will answer that prayer. I’ve discovered that reading the Bible is truly exciting and enjoyable, and the more I read, the more I see just how vast and wonderful our God really is. The depth of this book is unending, and never dull. May the Lord bless you as you read!
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