So, why study the Bible? For those of you who went to Sunday or Sabbath school, you know by now it was a requirement of your parents to be a person who God would receive and favor. Yes, going to church or attending regular Bible classes wasn’t simply a chore, it was your parents saying I love you! You see, your parents knew full well that they couldn’t raise you by themselves. Whether they themselves were indoctrinated and went to church out of obligation, they too were also on a journey as you are now, simply because it was the right thing to do. I mean, there could be worse things to do, right? So, let’s explore why bible study, and understanding the Bible is essential for you and me, now more than ever. On understanding the need for biblical interpretation, “Making sense of Scripture is an arduous and often puzzling task. We may readily explain what the Bible says, but have more difficulty in agreeing about what it means by what it says. And, often even more troublesome, modern Christians differ wildly on how the Bible’s words should influence their lives today, if at all.”
First and foremost, it is imperative to understand that the Bible is God’s word. Yet, it has come to us by human means. Those of us who are called by God, and have a personal relationship with the Creator know that they are loved. Hence, if someone loves you, they won’t just leave you hanging. To go back and get a deeper explanation as to why we need the Bible, we can also talk about why man placed themselves in the position to need a written guide on how to be reconciled back to God and how to stay out of trouble, spiritually speaking that is, until we are reunited with our Maker for all time.
In Genesis, Chapter 3, we get the full picture of how man disobeyed God by thinking too much of themselves (pretty much like we still do today) and went to another source for strength and guidance (the enemy Satan)[Isaiah 14:12, Luke 10::18, Rev. 9:1]. Hence, mankind fell from grace and from since then need guidance on how to think, speak and act responsibly. The key is to become an obedient person, however, for most people, that hard to do. This is why God inspired men to write down his laws and decrees to help our ancestors navigate through life safely and effectively, and at one time even took wrote his law on a tablet, called the “Ten Commandments.” Ultimately, God, our Heavenly Father, wants to write the law on our hearts, by witnessing his people actively obey his laws in loving adoration for what has been done on our behalf then and now.
But because the Bible is is not clear to mere men most times, it is important to study it prayerfully, and with humility seeking God’s grace and wisdom to hear what is being said to us.
It is exponentially important to understand that the Scriptures represent a message God wants us to hear. Therefore, mankind must acknowledge the crucial role of the Holy Spirit in order to truly understand the word of God.
Moreover, it is essential that those who endeavor to understand the Bible must exhibit personal freedom or to be more specific, have a sound mind, be intentional about learning, be teachable, and most of all understand the purpose of Bible study.
So, what does interpreting the Bible mean? Biblical interpretation comes from a Greek word of thought called, “hermeneutics,” which means “to explain.” interpretation is simply understanding what the Bible is explaining to the reader. The Bible is written in a narrative style, a book of stories, a biography, an autobiography, a book of poetry, and historical work of art and much more! In essence, we are really understanding principles used to explain the word of God as a means to comprehend the exact message. Now, the Bible has many messengers, so it’s also important to understand what was going on at that time the messenger was writing down his/her observations, and the divine utterances received. Hence, the who, what, where, and when comes into play here.
Can a person who isn’t a believer or one who doesn’t believe in God understand the Bible? Yes. But those who aren’t believers of the God of Israel (his people called by His name), will have problems. You see, those who merely read the Bible to critique it (because they don’t understand it), or simply aren’t free to receive the divine message will have limitations to what they comprehend. Simply put, they just won’t believe what they read.
Often times, most Atheists, or pessimists, simply won’t allow the divine power of the Bible to pierce their hardened hearts. Why? It’s simply not for them. “In 1 Corinthians 2:14, the apostle Paul says that “the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” Paul does not mean that a person without the Spirit will have no intellectual comprehension of what the Bible is saying. Rather, he means that an unbeliever will understand its basic message, but reject it.”
[If you truly desire to study the Bible, and gain a deeper relationship with God, learn how to be a true believer, and disciple, so that you may be a light in this dark world, and overcome your current struggles with sin, and disobedience; consider becoming a supporter of “The Bible Symposium.” You may learn more here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/thebiblesymposium/episodes/2019-10-30T14_00_30-07_00
So, when is the best time to study the Bible? I know, right. You just read all of the above, and by now realize that the Bible isn’t for everyone. So, are you interested in reading it at all? If, so when will you? Why not now? The thing is, you have to make the time. I don’t know what your purpose is for reading the Bible. Perhaps you want to know more about God, the Creator of this universe, and you and me. Or, perhaps you want to know more about yourself, as in your true identity. You see, the Bible is the only book you’ll ever read that will let you know who you really are. Of course, you have objective data such as DNA, and within the last 20 years have been reeled in by DNA diagnostic firms that can tell you where your ancestors might have come from and so on, but what about their identity and their spiritual purpose in the scheme of things. What was their character like? Here’s a cheat sheet on what some of your ancestors may have adapted their behavior from, see Genesis chapter 49. I encourage you to read this entire chapter, with an open heart and mind.
Overall, while the Bible was written thousands of years ago, the message is still relevant, Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “ For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This means that we are to take the word of God as the truth, and the only means of our survival here on earth to overcome the atrocities we now face. However, the only way to apply what we read is to understand it, and more so, understand it for ourselves.
Now we are getting into some serious business. “The How,” part of studying the Bible. This is tedious because we are not the same people. We think differently and have different cultural, and emotional experiences and awareness. Further, most of us have busy lives (of course!), so how do we make time to read the Bible, much less understand it for ourselves? In other words, how do we apply the Bible, to our current life process now? Well, the answer is, where there is a will there is a way. We do what we do because we want to do it. The reality is, we must first come to God, humbly and with a pure heart, nothing contrived or with any selfish motives. You see, people truly learn when they are locked in, or committed for the right reasons. In other words, they benefit from what they learn and there is evidence of transformation and a new life process altogether. The Scripture that bests answers the question of how to study the Bible, especially for a new age person of interest is found here in Romans 2:12, and it states, “ Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Lastly, before we forget, you will need to purchase a Bible if you don’t already own one. You may have received one from a parent or grandparent as a special token or there may be one lying around the house. There is simply no excuse for getting your hands on a Bible, there are even ones in hotel rooms across the nation. A special thank you to the Gideon International Society, is in order for sharing copies of the Bible with millions of people worldwide. But if for some reason you are at square one and don’t know how to purchase the correct Bible for your understanding, know that there are many to choose from based on your level of understanding. For example, “The local Christian bookstore should have what you want ( or a local bookseller like Barnes and Nobles, or Books A Million). As you enter the store and turn the corner into the Bible section, you immediately notice a plethora of choices. You see The Open Bible, The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible, The NIV Study Bible, The NRSV Access Bible, The Life Application Study Bible, The ESV Reformation Study Bible, The NKJV Women’s Study Bible, The KJV Promise Keepers Men’s Study Bible, The HCSB Study Bible, The Spirit-Filled Life Bible, and about fifty other possibilities. You didn’t know buying a new Bible could be so complicated. What should you do? The first thing to know about selecting a Bible is that there is a big difference between the Bible version or translation and the format used by publishers to market the Bible. Packaging features such as study notes, introductory articles, and devotional insights are often helpful, but they are not part of the translation of the original text. When choosing a Bible, you will want to look past the marketing format to make sure you know which translation the Bible uses.”
I trust and pray that your new journey as one who studies the Bible regularly will yield unimaginable rewards here on earth. Now, it’s your turn to share what you have learned with someone else. Each one teaches one. It’s also easier to study the Bible with a partner such as a friend, sibling or spouse. You can also glean from listening to podcasts such as “The Bible Symposium,” whose mission is to help people interpret the Bible effectively for the purpose of righteous living; discussing the matters about God’s true church and supporting individuals as they make better life choices. Be of good courage!Coming up Next
In the next post, we’ll discuss “ How to Study The Bible Effectively,” for oneself. There is so much to share, but “the race is not for the swift, but for those who endure to the end (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
Until next time, this is Bishop Melville reminding you in love,
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31–32