I remember picking up a copy of an older Bible that I acquired somewhere along the way. I decided I was going to read it! The challenge is that I decided to start with the section known as Revelation! You would not be surprised that I did not get much out of my efforts. The result was a I laid aside and went on living for myself. My conclusion was that the Bible probably contained some good stuff but I would never know it.
I wonder how many people are like I was. We know that the Bible is special but we do not get anything from it. This week we continue our series on “Knowing the Unknown.” The focus of our series is to unpack what the Bible teaches about the future timeline of humanity. We just want to know the answer but we never understand how the person presenting their beliefs came to their conclusion. The result is that we then lack confidence in what we personally believe. It is one thing to say, “I watched a YouTube video that said this contrasts with the Bible says this. One of my new memory verses reminds us the importance of investing in learning God’s message to humanity. “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:31–32
There is much fear in our world today, which means that there is a shortage of confidence. But if, as we looked at last Sunday “We Can Trust the Bible,” our understanding will also give us the confidence to rise above our fears and trust the Lord. Let’s look at two barriers to a person understanding the Bible. The first is the barrier of unbelief, when a person does not yet know Jesus Christ as their Savior. The Bible reminds us that when a person accepts Jesus they receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke of this with the woman at the well. One of the Spirit’s responsibilities is to help Jesus’ followers understand God’s Word. ““I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:12–13)
A second, is letting the Bible speak for itself by not reading our ideas into what has been communicated. This Sunday I hope to shed light on 6 barriers that we have to overcome to correctly understand the Bible. It is easy to make the Bible say what you want it so say. It takes effort to understand what is really says and what God is communicating for our benefit. The six areas involve it was written in different languages, it was written at different times, it was written in a different culture, it was written in a different place, it was written using writing styles different from our own, and the last is that it communicates God’s message.
Yes, the Bible can be difficult to understand. Yet, my investment into it has yielded not only life change but also a different life perspective that allows me to address my fear with confidence in what our Creator has promised.
If you are struggling with all that is happening around us, maybe you need to spend some time in God’s Word. I would not suggest the book of Revelation, but I would suggest you to start reading the Gospel of John. It is a book worth reading for those that do not yet know Jesus, those that are seeking answers and also for those that know Him!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson