“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
God’s word is the blueprint for living for the spiritual person. In fact, it is God’s word which creates spiritually minded people, for it is there that we learn the mind of God. The Bible contains all that is necessary for man to live in a godly fashion (2 Pet. 1:3), and if we are willing to properly use His word, God will save us for our faith in Him (Rom. 10:17), understanding that such faith will be a living and active faith (see Jas. 2).
But can we truly understand God’s word? Many believe we cannot, and still others believe we cannot understand it alike, but must interpret it to fit our own situations, surroundings and preconceived ideas. God’s word claims otherwise, for it makes a claim to offer salvation for those who believe it (Jn. 8:31-32). Further, others in the Bible are condemned for their failure to heed God’s word (Matt. 22:29; Mk. 7:1-13). It takes no “zapping” from God to understand the scriptures, but instead, God fully expects us to study and understand His word.
>What can we do to better understand the scriptures? First, set aside all preconceived notions about what you think the text says, and determine that, no matter what the text says, you will abide by it and live your life accordingly. Too many are blinded by what they want God’s word to say or by an inability to admit that there is something wrong or missing in their own lives. When we come to God’s word, we must come willing to accept it as truth, understanding there are proofs for the truth and accuracy of the Bible (which is another topic).
Having determined to live by what the Bible tells you, you are ready to study. Begin by reading the text, preferably in paragraphs. When you have finished a paragraph, write down the main idea. At first, there may be many paragraphs where you will need to keep on reading before you understand the point, but in general, the picture will become clearer if you stay focused on understanding small chunks of scripture. At the end of a chapter, look back at your paragraph notes and see if you can determine the main idea of the chapter. Soon, you will be able to put together themes of entire books of the Bible, but realize that you will probably never understand every passage perfectly. Some passages, are more difficult than others (Peter even says so of some of Paul’s writings, 2 Pet. 3:15-16). When you have trouble with a passage, mark it and come back to it periodically. It may be that other passages will help you understand a particular problem passage (First time readers of Isaiah 53, for instance, may not fully understand it until they reach Acts 8).
Only after you have finished reading and taking notes should you consult a commentary, and even then, you must realize that such are merely the works of men, and many are filled with error. Using a Bible with marginal cross-references will also help to see how a passage may relate to other parts of the Bible. Remember, you cannot make one scripture teach something contrary to other scriptures, although it is important to note that New Testament books such as Hebrews point to the dissolution of the Old Law because of the superior system instituted by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Careful, diligent Bible study will have a tremendous impact on your spiritual life, causing you to grow as you come to a better understanding of His will for you. Spiritual Bible study is that which helps to create in you a new heart (Ps. 51:10), better preparing you to serve your God and live a spiritual life.