Sunday, September 29, 2013

Understanding the Bible More Deeply

What are your expectations for this article? What do you think you will discover that I have written? It probably is not what you expect. If you expect something, then you have some idea what I have written before you have read it.

Likewise, if you have read the Bible a hundred times, or even just once, you will have some idea of what to expect if you read it again. Nevertheless, you will undoubtedly find something you didn’t notice the first time you read it.

But understanding the Bible more deeply doesn’t involve simply finding information you didn’t remember from reading it before as you read through it again. While that is part of it, there are some additional principles that are helpful for enhancing how you gain a deeper understanding.

First, reading the Bible over and over again is additive. It’s like pouring coffee back in the coffee maker and brewing it over and over again. It will get stronger each time you brew it.

Second, as you read, you will want to investigate information in passages that you didn’t investigate before that helps you understand the passage better.

Third, as you learn about what the Bible says, you must read it as though what it says is true. That means it will influence your philosophy and desires. This colors what you read and frames it the way the Author of the Bible intended instead of what you intended the times you read it previously.

Fourthly, as your mind and heart change, your ability to think in the terms of the Bible will change. I’ve discussed this before as categories. The greater your intelligence, the greater your ability to apprehend these different categories.

Finally, your understanding will increase as you put into action what you learn from the Bible.

I will write in more detail on these in future articles, but I wanted to introduce this series to you beforehand. While I will be writing in more general terms, I do want to make known that what has instigated this is a desire to counter a tendency for people to engage the Bible on a more superficial level. Particular strains of this are as follows:

  • Many people fear all theological debate as somehow unnecessary. Some theological debate is indeed unnecessary. However, there is plenty of deadly theological error that goes unchallenged because people won’t internalize convictions that counter rank heresy. If God truly saves people, some theological battles are important lest people unwittingly engender a lack of faith.
  • There are people who believe that some things cannot be understood because they cannot understand them. There may be some things that we cannot understand, but I assure you that we can understand far more than many of us think. Where even great theologians have chalked some things up to “mystery”, many of these mysteries are understandable because God has revealed them to us and has given us the Holy Spirit to help us understand what the Bible says.
  • People are sinful and simply don’t wish to learn what they are doing wrong so they can repent of it. On one level, they know what the truth is, but they cloak their eyes as though they don’t see it and either convince themselves that it isn’t true or isn’t understandable.
  • People have a cultural sensibility or hold some popular philosophy that is challenged by the scriptures. They determine to understand what the Bible says only up to the point where it disagrees with their deeply-held unbiblical beliefs.

These patterns of misunderstanding the Bible are deadly to the Church because many of these kinds of people are otherwise faithful church members. Many people pray for a revival. The only way it will come about is if these patterns of unbelief are challenged and changed by a movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of Christians. That’s why I’m presenting this series.

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