Making Sense of the Bible

The Bible can be rather intimidating!  Between its covers we actually find 66 books – and over a thousand chapters – all translated from ancient languages!  It is understandable that some decide to “leave it to the experts”!  But the Bible was actually written for ordinary people, long before the invention of Bible colleges!

Jesus clearly affirmed the importance of the scriptures:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:17-18 (NIV)

If the Scriptures are that important to Jesus, they should surely be important to us!  But while much of the Bible is easy to understand, some is not.  Here are a few practical tips to help us to read and understand this most amazing book:

1  Recognise what kind of writing you are reading

The Bible is really a collection of books.  Think of it as a library with different sections: like history, law, poetry, prophecy and letters.  Just as we wouldn’t treat a book of poems as a history book, we need to read the different books and chapters as the type of writing that they are.  Bible history “tells it like it was” (sometimes with brutal honesty).  Law tells us what pleases God – and what displeases him.  Poetry expresses worship, reflection and human emotions.  Prophecy records messages from God to various people (sometimes describing the most spectacular visions).  Letters include both teaching and personal moments.  When we know what type of writing we are reading, that will help us to understand it.

2  Make Matthew, Mark, Luke and John your focus

As followers of Jesus, we need to make sure that we know what Jesus said and did.  This was carefully recorded in these four books.  So it would make absolute sense that we should read – and re-read – and keep re-reading – these four books!  And as we read, we should ask the Lord to show us the things that we need to see – and apply to our lives.  This is discipleship – learning from the Master!

3  Focus on what is clear to you now

Some of the Bible can be hard to understand – but most of it is pretty clear.  Don’t give up when something isn’t clear!  Jesus’ disciples did not always understand what he said at that time – but later on it made sense to them.  Let’s ask the Lord to enable us to understand now what we need to understand right now!

4  Apply what you read to your life

Two of the best questions that we could ask as we read are:

“What do I think God is saying to me through what I’ve read?” and

“What must I do about that?”  

Remember that Jesus wants us to put his words into practice – read Luke 6:46-49!

5  Don’t look for your will in the Bible, look for God’s will  

It is tempting to look for Bible verses that say what we want to hear – and to focus on our favourite parts!  But we need to hear what God wants to say to us!  It may not be what we were hoping to hear, but it is what we need to hear!

The Bible is the most important and helpful book that we could ever read!  It is worth every bit of time and effort!  Let’s read – and let’s apply its timeless truths to our lives!

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