Understanding The Bible

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Understanding the Bible - Just Read It!
Understanding the Bible can be difficult, but God wants us to comprehend and apply His Word to our lives. He gave us the Bible so we can grow in our relationship with Him. If you have questions about the Bible, visit GotQuestions.org to receive a personal answer.

Understanding the Bible - A Personal Story
I just finished reading the New Testament for the second time. Here's my understanding of the Bible and what I think it's taught me…

The Bible is the Word of God. It is the Old Testament and the New Testament -- the old covenant and the new covenant. The old covenant is the creation; it is God's chosen people and their history; it is the laws; it is the sacrifice to God of the blood of animals; it is the stubbornness of His people and their continued defiance; it is God's wrath. The new covenant is God's love and forgiveness; it is Jesus Christ's blood instead of animal blood to forgive us of our sins; it is accepting Jesus Christ as our savior, to be born again, and have eternal life through him; it is replacing our conscience with the Holy Spirit; it is judgment day.

I read the Bible as a layman. I think it's important to stress the word layman, because Bible scholars have been analyzing every word, phrase, and sentence for centuries to interpret its complexities. What's the result? We have all sorts of people, church denominations, and cults that have interpreted the Bible in ways that have supported their personal or group agendas. However, as a layman, I read the Bible in general terms to try and understand its overall meaning.

The Bible is the Bible, so what is it saying to the layman without all these interpretations? I found it to be the Word of God that carries very simple messages for all to understand. God is the beginning; He created all things; He is the present; He is the future. God created man to live on earth. It's not an easy life on earth. We live with sin, poverty, plague, pain, war and death. Our life is a constant trial. Yet, God gave us hope. He gave us His only son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to wash away our sins, and, if we believe in Him and accept Him, we will share in His eternal life. With this new found belief, we are born again and receive the Holy Spirit to guide us. Our lives should then be full of love. Love for God and love for one another -- living our lives treating others as we would have them treat us. We understand that God has forgiven us for our sins and that we must forgive others for their sins.

All of this sounds simple enough, so why does the Bible have two testaments? Why is the Bible so long, so complicated, so interesting, so confusing, so professorial, and so historical? For me, it's obvious -- to establish its validity and veracity; to test its accuracy; to keep our interest; to keep us coming back again and again to understand and re-establish our faith; to give a guide for the way to live our lives.

Understanding the Bible - A Complex Book with a Simple Message
OK, that's the simple message of the Bible. However, I found there's more to understanding the Bible than these simple themes. The New Testament continually talks about straying from the path -- not conducting our lives as Jesus and the prophets taught. Even during the time when people who personally experienced Jesus Christ and His resurrection were still living, many who became Christians were swayed away from good Christian principles and continually needed reminding of the proper way to live their lives. Bad people within the churches were already interpreting the Good News for their own agenda and influencing others. As it says in the Bible, "The world around us is under the power and control of the evil one. So, we must stop loving this evil world, for the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions." It appears that the Holy Spirit life we receive from accepting the Good News is in for a big battle!

So what happens if we don't stay on the right path? Yes, when we're born again our sins are washed away, but what about after that? Although we're saved by grace, it appears to me that we will be judged by our deeds. There is accountability. There is a judgment day. And we had better fear the Lord. So we need constant reminding. We can join a church, listen to the pastor, and fellowship with other believers. But what if we get lead astray by misguided people within that church, or the institution of the church changes its agenda to fit the changing times? One thing that will not change is the Bible. It's compelling enough and complicated enough with enough history, and information, and guidance, and direction to always keep us interested and following in the right footsteps. The Bible is there to help us believe. And, maybe more important, it's there to help us to continue believing.

Understanding the Bible - Read it and Test it for Yourself!
What's your understanding of the Bible? We all seem to learn the Christian message from some other source than the Bible. We are then told to read the Bible or go to church where the Bible is read to us. Why should we believe the message? Because our parents told us to believe, or a priest at our church told us to believe, or we heard it from a missionary, or from television, or the Internet? For me, it was scientific discoveries and the authenticity of the Bible itself that gave me faith and belief. And I believe that future advancements in science will give us further evidence of God and belief in the Bible. But it is the Bible that gives us the Good News and the salvation for our souls. It is the Bible that gives us the guidelines for the way to conduct our lives here on earth in preparation for our day of judgment.

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