Do you ever read the Bible and just feel overwhelmed with words? Have you ever blinked a few times at a passage, utterly lost as to why God included it?
Sometimes, getting a solid grasp of the Bible is hard. The Bible can be confusing, long, and honestly, sometimes it can seem downright weird. But as we discussed in the video, “The Power of the Bible,” the Bible was written to teach us and change us, and we don’t get to opt out of reading it just because it’s hard. The Bible is God’s message to us, and there is transforming power in the words.
That’s the first point about understanding the Bible. It is God’s book, God’s word, and it is God who is trying to teach you through it. If you come before Him and ask for His guidance and for understanding, He can help. He already knows what it says, what you’ll read, and how it will apply to your life, yet often, we don’t turn to Him for help. Instead, we look first to blog posts like this one to try to figure it out on our own. Ask Him. He wants to teach you.
But, there are some tools that can really help with understanding. Here, for example, is one step-by-step process for reading a passage that might help you get deeper.
Start by just reading the passage. Find out everything that happens, who it is happening to, and what the passage actually says. Look for details you might have missed in past readings, and just really get to know the passage. Sometimes it might also be really helpful to do a bit of research here. When was this written? Who was it written to? What did it mean culturally to the people who wrote it? These facts can change your perspective on the words.
2. Look for big truths
What do all of those facts that you observed mean? Do they tell you anything about God or about people in general? Move on at this point from only thinking about the specific people mentioned in the passage, and start thinking in generalities.
3. What do those “big truths” mean for your life?
Now is the opportunity for you to apply what you have learned so far to yourself. How do the general truths that you picked out of the story help you understand God, or what do they mean in your own life? Here is where we can really examine our own hearts and ask God where we need to make changes.
So what would an example of this look like? Well, let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
First, let’s observe some things about this verse. We can see that Scripture was inspired by God, but we can also do some research and find out that there were about 40 men who did the actual act of penning the Bible. Looking again at the verse, we learn that God used those men to write the words that He wanted written. It was all through His inspiration and the words are the very ones He wanted written. We can also look at the end of the verse and see that the Bible is useful to us in some very practical ways.
Next come the big truths. This verse tells us that God sometimes works through people to accomplish His will instead of dealing with us directly. We also see that God still wrote the Bible, even as men wrote it, so the words are actually from Him, and lastly, we see that He uses His words. The Bible isn’t just for learning facts, it is supposed to influence and change its readers’ lives.
For us, diving into step three, that means that the Bible is supposed to radically change our everyday lives. As we discussed in the video, the Bible is powerful. The Holy Spirit uses it to convict us of sin with such pinpoint accuracy that the Bible says it seems “shaper than any two-edged sword” in Hebrews 4:12. It is far more powerful than any other text you will ever read.
This method certainly isn’t the only way to study the Bible. It is one of many. The point of looking at lists like this is to come to an understanding that reading the Bible takes work. Sometimes the point doesn’t jump out at us right away. God does say, though, that the Bible “shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Be patient, be diligent, and always be depending on God for wisdom and understanding.