Understanding the Bible – May 2022

The Bible is the most widely circulated book in the world. Yet despite sitting on more bookshelves than any other book, its contents remain a mystery to many. This need not be the case for you. Whilst it is not an easy task, it is possible for virtually anyone to grasp the basic themes of the Bible. It requires time and dedication, but the great treasures to be discovered there can thrill and amaze the reader. Detailed study reveals the Bible to be an intricately woven tapestry of interlinking ideas in repeating patterns that reinforce the reliability of the whole.

Understanding the Bible

Just as a single atom provides a pattern for a vast solar system, so the Bible reveals patterns that are embedded in the finest detail and in its.

READ THE BIBLE YOURSELF

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Perhaps the most important step to take in approaching the Bible is to recognise that the more you put in to reading and studying it, the more you will get out of it. Investing your time in this way brings the reward of knowing that the task is done properly, thoroughly and to your personal satisfaction. There is no substitute for finding the message of the Bible for yourself.

“These [the Berean Jews] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11

This is a task that requires hard work and individual care and commitment.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”                                                                            2 Timothy 2:15

Jesus tells us this literally means ‘ploughing a straight furrow through the word of truth’

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”                                                                     Luke 9:62

DON’T RELY ON ANYONE ELSE

Writers of commentaries or paraphrase versions of the Bible tend to impose their own views, or those of the organisations they represent, upon the Bible. Using such sources alone is very unlikely to accurately reflect the contents of the Bible.

Today there are many versions of the Bible. The serious Bible student must use one that remains faithful to the original language. The publishers of these “Stepping Stones to Truth” use and recommend the well established King James, or Authorised Version of the Bible. When using any additional material apply the test that the Bible itself advises …

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

START WITH AN OPEN MIND

A good deal of ‘misinformation’ is spread about the Bible, generally by those who are not familiar with its contents. As you begin the task of reading and understanding the Bible try to put aside whatever you may have previously heard about the Bible and come to it with an open mind ready to accept what it really says.

Jesus encouraged this approach when he said:

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”                                                                                Matthew 18:3

Like a child, read with eager curiosity, and a mind ready to absorb all that it encounters. Come to it with an enquiring mind for Jesus promises,

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7

The relationship that we can build up with God through the Bible is summed up by Solomon in the book of Proverbs,

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 25:2

This verse shows that God has deliberately made the Bible a challenge to prove our commitment to understanding His ways. It also hints that the reward for successfully searching for Him and finding his purpose is a position of rulership.

DON’T TRY TO MAKE THE BIBLE PROVE ANYTHING

To take an idea of your own and then try to find verses that prove it, generally leads to confusion. Maybe a verse can be found that can be interpreted in a way that seems to support your idea. The problem is that this interpretation, more often than not, contradicts other scriptures and obscures the Truth. It is almost as though the Bible has been written in such a way as to catch out people who attempt to impose man-made ideas upon it. The Apostle Paul commented on this:

“… because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11

Over the centuries, by misquotation and abuse, the Bible has been used to justify all manner of atrocities and corrupt behaviour. You must simply and honestly search for the Truth the Bible contains. If you respect the Word of God and accept its Divine origins, the contradictions and confusion disappear.

READ THE WHOLE BIBLE

Like any major task, it is essential to use a well structured plan, which breaks it down into manageable pieces. [See the Bible Reading Plan offered at the end of this presentation]. Perhaps because the Bible is so large, many people cut corners and concentrate on certain parts, ignoring large sections of it.

For example, the Old Testament is often seen as irrelevant to an understanding of Christianity. This means the reader is accepting some parts of the Bible and rejecting others. The Old Testament is as vital a part of the message of God as is the New Testament, which quotes extensively from the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul says.

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

Understanding the law, the name the Jews give to the first five books of the Old Testament, greatly enhances our understanding of Christ and his teachings.

Jesus rebuked the men and women of his time for not paying enough attention to the Old Testament. He said:

Search the scriptures [the Old Testament when the New Testament was written]; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39

If we search the scriptures as Jesus counselled, we will find how wonderful the word of God is.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”                                                            Psalm 19:7-9

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WHAT NEXT?

Time is precious – we need to use it well. Check our Article Index for other articles on many subjects relevant to our day and age.

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We have many titles in the ‘Stepping Stones’ series available free of charge. We will search our data base of over a hundred articles and send you a link to one or, if you prefer, a printed copy to read.

You can then keep the link on your phone, or one of our mini booklets in your pocket to occupy those spare waiting moments, in a queue, over a coffee, after a meal, or on a journey.

ALSO AVAILABLE

A Bible Reading Plan and Guide consisting of fourteen booklets each containing guidance notes for four weeks of the twelve-month plan.

God offers men and women a part in His marvellous purpose with the earth that He reveals in His word, the Bible. Since benefiting from the great blessings God offers is dependent upon fulfilling certain conditions He lays down, it is essential that all who would have a part in His glorious purpose read and understand the Bible for themselves. This plan is therefore designed to introduce the reader directly to God’s message and the accompanying guidance notes highlight the straightforward teaching of the Bible, deal with difficulties which people have expressed in the past and draw attention to many examples of divine authorship which reinforce the absolute assurance that this is the Word of the Living God.

A copy of the first issue, together with a bookmark of the year’s reading plan. Questions about what you read in the Bible can be asked in the Contact Us” box top right of this page.