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"Understanding the Bible" (Part 1 of 3; posted March 4, 2002)
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God ... rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
Know the grand theme of the Bible
The Lord Jesus Christ is the grand theme of the Bible from cover to cover. He Himself said so just after His resurrection. Speaking to two of His disciples, He went back to the very beginning of the Bible and "expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). Speaking later in the same chapter, He said:These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me (Luke 24:44-45).
How did those disciples respond to the words of their Lord? Their eyes were opened. Their hearts burned within them. Their strength was renewed. Their faith was enlarged. We will experience the same thing as we study the Bible to learn more of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Depend upon the Holy Spirit
Read very carefully the following quotation from 1 Corinthians 2:9-12:
But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
Notice three things which this passage says about the Holy Spirit:
- He reveals to us things which we cannot perceive by our natural senses.
- Only the Spirit knows the things of God. The "natural man," that is, the person who has not trusted Christ as personal Savior, does not understand the things of God (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).
- We who have trusted Christ as our personal Savior have received the Spirit that we might know the things that are freely given us by God. These things are revealed in the Bible.
Realize that God's truth is many-sided
For example, humans are both mortal and immortal. Christ is pictured as a lion as well as a lamb. Although God is in control of man, man is not a mere robot. We should expect such seeming paradoxes when dealing with things that are infinite, and be prepared to accept all aspects of infinite truth even when they appear to be contradictory and irreconcilable to our finite minds. Give to each passage of the Bible its full and proper force, even if it goes contrary to your own pet ideas. God will deepen your understanding of His Word in His good time.
Use and appreciate the commentaries and expositions of men of humble faith and consecrated scholarship. The Lord has given the writings of gifted teachers for the blessing and upbuilding of His people.
On the other hand, it is important to recognize that there is an infinite gap between the best of man's writings and the Word of God itself. No mere man has a complete knowledge of the truth, so sometimes equally devout believers will disagree. Consider the differences, and seek the enlightenment and testimony of the Holy Spirit in understanding the scriptures.
Excerpted from the booklet "Growing in God's Word"
Published by Grace and Truth, Inc. - www.gtpress.org