How to Understand the Bible

Scripture: Matthew 22:29, 2 Peter 3:15-16, Psalm 91:11-12
Unless we know the Bible for ourselves, we will be led into false doctrine and teaching. We are living in difficult times and unless you know the Bible you will be deceived. The Bible can be twisted and we must know the right meaning of Scripture. We must have the Spirit to understand and a desire to obey to fully know.
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Many years ago there walked across the campus of Yale University a young man distressed about his religious faith. He was saying to himself, "Really, judged scientifically, there is nothing to it. The Bible is a myth."

He was on his way to the chemical laboratory. There he took his text book and performed the experiments exactly according to formula and directions, and he secured the predicted reactions. That night in his room he said to himself, "I'll do the same thing with religion."

He took the textbook. It condemned sin. He put all sins of every kind out of his life. It commended prayer. He prayed. It commended public worship. He went to church. It commended service. He offered his services as a teacher of boys.

Then the reaction came. He found a faith, and Horace Bushnell went out from Yale not to become a lawyer as he had planned, but one of the best and most revered preachers of his generation.

Does it make any difference whether or not we obtain the right meaning of Scripture? Remember, that unless we know the truth of the Bible we will be overtaken with error, false doctrine and the delusions of the last days. We are living in perilous times, and unless you know the Bible for yourself, you will be deceived. "Jesus answered and said unto them, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." Matthew 22:29. Furthermore, in 2 Peter 3:15, 16 we are told that some wrest the scripture to their damnation and destruction. "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of those things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Let me give you a Bible illustration of how the scripture may be wrested to one's own destruction. There was Jesus in the wilderness of temptation. The Devil came and asked him to make the stones bread. But Jesus met this temptation with the Word of God. Then when the Devil took him up on the pinnacle of the temple he began to quote scripture when he told him to cast himself down for he said it is written "He shall give his angels charge over thee, . . . they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." But if Jesus had followed his interpretation of Psalm 91: 11, 12 He would have been destroyed. There you have an illustration of how Scripture may be wrested to one's destruction.

The right meaning of Scripture means salvation. The wrong meaning of Scripture will result in destruction. The Bible says that some people are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:7. I have found that you can learn something no matter where you read in the Bible. But we need to open the Bible to learn the truth. Modern education is ever learning but few are coming to know the truths of the Bible. In order to understand the Bible you must know the right method of study or you can live a hundred years and never know the truth. Do not attempt to read your own ideas into the Bible. Guard against interpreting Scripture according to your own ideas. The Bible says, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation." 2 Peter 1:20. There are many who try to prove things from the Bible when the Bible really teaches the opposite. There are those who have the idea that the Bible is just like an old fiddle: you can play any kind of tune you want on it.

Let me point out for you three primary requisites for a right understanding of the Bible, and three basic rules for a correct interpretation of Bible truth. The first requisite is mentioned here in Luke 24:45. It says, "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures." So you see, Christ must open the understanding. The Bible is different than other books. It takes spiritual conception, perception and spiritual discernment to understand the Bible. That is why Paul declares, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14. We need to pray like David: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Never should the Bible be opened without prayer. Before we open the Bible we should pray: "Lord, open my mind to understand what I am about to read, and then open my heart to obey what I shall find in thy Book." This will put you where God will be your teacher.

The second requisite is given in Proverbs 1:23. "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." So according to this scripture, knowing the meaning of God's Word and the receiving of the Spirit go together. The Bible cannot be understood without the Holy Spirit for it was given by the Spirit. "For the prophecy came not in old times by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:21. You must know Chinese to understand

Chinese. Likewise, you must have the Spirit to understand the language of the Spirit. God gives a wonderful promise here in John 16:13 when he says, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."

The third requisite for an understanding of the Bible, is to read the Bible for the purpose of learning the will of God that we may do it. We are not to read to sustain our own ideas. That is wrong. Let the Bible show the will of God for you. It is not necessary to have a college education to understand the Bible. Remember that the Spirit is promised to all and when the Spirit of God comes into your life he will guide you according to the Bible in all things.

The key to unlock truth's mightiest secret is to follow three simple rules. The first rule is found in 1 Corinthians 2:13, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual." May I illustrate what Paul was talking about. Here in Luke 21:5-7 we read, "And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, as for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?" Here was a question about the destruction of Jerusalem and sign of the Second Coming of Jesus. The text does not tell who asked the question. Let's allow the Bible to tell us exactly who asked this question. Matthew 24: 3, 4 speaking of the same event says, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you." Who asked this question? Matthew says it was the disciples. But the disciples were many , there were 12 of them. Which of the 12 disciples asked this question or are we to assume it was all of them? Now notice Mark 13:3, 4, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" According to the Bible explanation it was Peter, James, John and Andrew who asked this particular question.

Luke says "they" asked him. Matthew says "the disciples" asked him. Mark tells us which of the disciples asked him. This is comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Next let us read Psalm 50:3, "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him." Then we notice that in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that the Bible explains what not keeping silence means and involves. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." So He does not keep silence because he comes with a shout. Let's read Isaiah 66:15, "For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." What does this mean or who are the Chariots of God? Psalm 68:17 explains, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place." Christ goes a step further and tells how many angels will come with him. "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory." Matthew 25:31. So the Bible reveals that the Lord will come with chariots, and these chariots are angels, and all the angels come with Him.

The first rule is to compare scripture with scripture. It does not mean to merely read the marginal references. These are not inspired. As to just how you can gain a true knowledge of the true doctrines of the Bible, listen, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept: line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." Isaiah 28:9, 10. To know what the Bible says about baptism read Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, and Galations. You will then have the Bible teaching on this topic. Do the same for any other topic or doctrine. The second rule for an understanding of the Bible is to take everything on a given subject and put it together. This was Christ's method according to what we read here in Luke 24:27, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." You can be sure there is no better method than the one Jesus used. In Romans 3:10-18 the apostle Paul proves everyone is under sin. Practically all he says is quoting from the Old Testament. In fact, in 9 verses Paul quotes from 8 chapters, and 10 verses, and 3 books.

Now I come to the third rule for the better understanding of the Bible and it is to be willing to obey the truth of the Bible as fast as it is made plain to you. The Bible says, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." John 7:17. Progress in the discovery of truth ceases if we are unwilling to follow the truth as it comes. As you read and study the Bible be sure that you have an open mind and be willing to change and shape your life by whatever the Bible may teach. Remember too that God doesn't give all the truth at one time. John 16:12 says, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." So "Walk in the light as ye have the Light." You wouldn't expect a flashlight to shine a mile ahead but just a step at a time. To be a Christian simply means to obey the truth as fast as it is made plain from the Bible.

The big question is, are we willing to follow the truth wherever it may lead us? Will you determine under God to follow the truth as fast as it is made plain from the Bible? May God give you the grace to keep your determination to always do His will.

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