i can't understand the Bible

What if I can’t understand the Bible?

There are moments when you hear or read things that don’t make one ounce of sense. Your eyebrows raise, your face squints, and with a puzzled look you ponder, “Do what??”

Here are a few puzzling statements made publicly by politicians from both sides of the aisle.

  • “I’ve now been in 57 states, I think one left to go.”
  • “They misunderestimated me.”
  • “I actually did vote for the 87 billion, before I voted against it.”
  • “I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy, but that could change.

I don’t want to be too hard on politicians. I’ve had my own fair share of mistalk. (Or is it mispeech? Mistaklings?) You get the point.

Confusion knows no bounds, and like most areas of our lives Scripture offers its fair share of bewilderment.

But here’s the thing…

God’s Word is accurate in all it says, truthful in all it teaches, and authoritative in all it commands. This means when we come to a passage that seems puzzling to us, we should dig deep to discover the meaning. Oh, the treasures you’ll find when you search the Scriptures!

God's Word is accurate in all it says, truthful in all it teaches, and authoritative in all it commands. Share on X

We have to remember, the Bible is not on trial. We are. Here’s what Paul wrote to young Timothy about the power of God’s Word.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16-17

To summarize Paul, you are not fully equipped for God’s mission if you are not fully engaged in God’s word.

You are not fully equipped for God's mission if you are not fully engaged in God's word. Share on X

The Bible is God’s revealed word (think Revelation.) We don’t read the Bible to reveal it’s fallacies. The Bible is revealing the truth to us! The Bible reveals…

  • the God who’s perfect in all of his ways.
  • a people who fall extremely short of perfection.
  • a love, redemption plan whereby God sends His only Son.
  • an opportunity for us to receive His free gift of eternal life through faith.

I could go on and on so just remember this: Real life change happens when we live by God’s Word.

Real life change happens when we live by God's Word. Share on X

To be changed by God’s Word, we have to be reading through God’s Word.

What happens if I get to a passage I can’t understand? Here are five tips to keep in mind as you read God’s Word.

1. Pray.

First (aka: before anything else), ask God to guide you by His Spirit. I’ve experienced this many times as I’ve wrestled with a passage. God will give you what He wants you to know.

As Paul prayed for the Colossians, “we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9

2. Read in Context.

If you picked up any novel from the library, opened to chapter 7, then started reading in paragraph 5, sentence 3…you’d probably be confused. I would!

When you read passages in context, the true meaning starts to come to light.

3. Seek Guidance.

The Holy Spirit is the best guide (see tip #1), but don’t be afraid to seek out wise counsel from other people God has placed in your life. Go to sources you can trust with good track records.

There are fantastic online resources, books, and commentaries to read. Your pastor should also be a trusted resource. If you can’t trust your pastor, you should probably find a different church!

4. Do what works!

It’s ok to be practical. Just because your favorite author wakes up at 4am and reads the Bible for 2 hours, doesn’t mean you have to follow suite. Maybe your mind is sharper in the evening hours before bed. Maybe you should read during your lunch break or after school? Pick a time that works for you.

Have an intentional plan and work your way through the Scriptures. It’s too important to hot-potato your way through.

5. Read with others.

Join a small group or start a group. Whatever it takes! You’ll grow more when you are in a biblical community. There’s accountability and encouragement that only happens when your in the Bible with others.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. So join in on the conversation. What tips do you have to better understand the Bible?