588. Understanding the Bible

“I have a dear friend,” Stan began, “who is a Christian, but she is real reluctant to read or to study the Bible.”

“Any particular reason?” I asked.

“She says it’s too hard for her to understand,” Stan replied, “so she doesn’t even try.”

“Do you think that’s unusual?” I responded.

“No,” Stan replied.  “I think it’s probably fairly common.  All I have to do is look at myself at one point in my Christian life.  I didn’t spend much time with the Bible.”

“Why was that?” I asked.

“Two quick reasons,” Stan replied.  “First, I did find the Bible, or at least parts of it, to be difficult for me to understand.  But the second reason was a huge roadblock.”

“What was that?”

“I didn’t even have the desire to try to understand,” Stan replied.  “I didn’t pursue the ‘study’ part of ‘Bible study’.  I mainly read the Bible because I thought that was something I was supposed to do.  I didn’t approach it as the life-giving Word of God.”

Shifting his focus a bit, Stan then said, “I ran across something earlier this morning in the apostle Peter’s second letter that confirms the idea of finding some of the Bible hard to understand.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Peter wrote about some of the apostle Paul’s letters being hard to understand,” Stan said.  “Additionally, I have seen the same thing in other places in the Bible.”

“Such as?” I asked with an open question.

“There’s the story of the apostle Philip asking an Egyptian if he understood what he was reading in the Book of Isaiah.  The Egyptian said, ‘How can I?’”

“And then,” Stan continued, “there’s the account of the two men on the road to Emmaus talking about how they did not understand about Jesus and why He died.”

“Bottom line,” Stan said, “is that I think there’s nothing wrong with admitting I don’t understand something I read in the Bible.  What’s wrong is when I stop trying to understand.”

Continuing, he added, “There are all sorts of resources I can go to to help overcome any lack of understanding.  Pastors, books, fellow Christians.  But I think the most important one is God Himself in the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  After all, there’s a good reason He’s called the ‘Helper’!”

“When I get to the point of thinking something I am reading in God’s word is too difficult for me to understand and I stop trying,” Stan concluded, “I can guarantee you Satan is smiling and probably laughing out loud!”

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. . . just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand . . . .  2 Peter 3:15, 16.

And beginning with Moses and with all of the prophets, He (Jesus) explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.  Luke 24:27.

And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said to him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”  And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  Acts of the Apostles 8:30, 31.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  John 14:26.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your written word.  Thank you for making it available so I can grow in my knowledge of you.  I admit that sometimes I find what is written difficult to understand.  And I confess that there have been times when I stopped trying to understand.  Please forgive that foolishness.  And please, Father, help me in pursuing the knowledge of you and your Son as deeply as is possible on this side of eternity.  Please help me in not falling into Satan’s trap of not even seeking to know and to understand.  Please lead me and help me follow so I give any lack of understanding to the Helper, the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers to you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you think it is important to know God’s word?  Why or why not?  Have you ever found something in the Bible difficult to understand?  If so, what did you do about that?  Give up or dig deeper?  Do you agree that if reading the Bible is important, studying it is even more important?  Are you involved in a formal Bible study class?  If not, why?  If you are not, and you want to be, do you know how to find one?

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