5 Things Christians Need To Know About Understanding The Bible

Most Christians will agree that the understanding the Bible is important. But similarities end there. How we read, interpret, and apply the Bible varies greatly. Those differences aren’t all bad, however some Christians have made the Bible into something it was never intended to be. You don’t have to look far to find someone misusing, misunderstanding, or even abusing the Bible. 

So how do we understand the Bible better? Here’s 5 things we need to know about the Bible that will help deepen our understanding of the Bible… 

We All Read The Bible With Our Own Bias

Every person has a unique story and view on life. What we were taught, how we were raised, and what we’ve gone through all lead us to whatever view we now have. When we read the Bible we read it through that lens. We are drawn to verses that back up our points of view and conveniently skim over the ones we are uncomfortable with.

We all do this in many aspects of our life. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it is something we need to recognize. We read the Bible with a certain amount of bias and we need to recognize what that bias is.

As we mature and gain a deeper understanding of the Bible we need to shake off our biases and pursue the original meaning of each text. Many Christians have an understanding of the Bible that has been largely shaped by their bias. We should rather allow the Bible to shape us and not the other way around. That starts with understanding our own bias.

The Bible Was Not Dictated By God

God did not write the Bible. Humans wrote the Bible. That’s not to say that God wasn’t involved. The Bible is inspired by God. He inspired the writers, he worked through them to write what we have today. But they did not record word for word what God told them to. In many cases the writers probably didn’t realize that their work would be put into this collection and held so sacredly.

Let me be clear, the Bible is God’s Word. But it was written by people compelled by God. They wrote about what they saw, what they heard, and sometimes their own struggles. Sometimes they wrote because they had a personal agenda; other times they were writing to a specific person or people. We need to recognize this as we read the Bible. We are reading words written by man and inspired by God. The writers were not puppets, they were writing under their own free will.

Until we understand this concept our understanding of Scripture will be limited. We must first look at who wrote each book, who it was written to, and why it was written. We have to understand the person behind the pen before we can understand the truth of the passage.

The Bible Is Not An Answer Book

The Bible is actually not even a single book Rather it is a collection of 66 books, several different genres, and dozens of writers. Each book needs to be understood for what it is and who it was written to.

I’ve heard far too many Christians say, “The Bible has the answer, what’s the question?” What a terrible way to view the Bible. Does the Bible give answers? Of course it does. But the Bible also asks a lot of questions. And it leaves many more questions unanswered.

We should not pick up the Bible and expect to read a bunch of answers. It’s not a text book. You don’t have to read very far to realize this. The Bible isn’t interested in giving many answers. It would much rather ask questions than give answers.

The Bible doesn’t give us the answers, rather it holds up a mirror. It asks us questions of ourselves. We should expect to read the Bible and be transformed. Not by the knowledge we find, but by the God we meet within the pages.

It’s Not As Clear As We Make It Out To Be

So many Christians have their “proof texts” locked and loaded for when those hot button issues come up. But if we’re honest the Bible doesn’t give us as clear of answers as we’d like. I know what you’re thinking, but I’ve got this solid text that gives a clear answer to this issue. While that might be true, there’s a good chance that there is another verse that says something different.

There are certain issues that are very clear in the Bible. Although not as many as you’d think. When an issue is not clear, let’s not pretend that it is. The Bible is pretty comfortable living in gray, and we should be too. We don’t have to have an answer for everything.

Much damage has been done by well meaning Christians who took a stand on an unclear issue. I know, you have a proof text for that. But there’s probably also a proof text for that same issue from a different perspective. Remember the Bible is not an answer book.

When we read the Bible in it’s totality we will see themes that continue and connect throughout the whole book. But we will also see our faith share of ambiguity. We will see different perspectives on the same issue. That doesn’t diminish the Bible; it shows the complexity that exists within the pages.

Jesus Is The Center Of Our Faith, Not The Bible

This is where I will lose some of you. I’ve written on this a couple times, and I always get the most push back on this point. Even so much as being called a heretic. But I’m sticking to this because I think it’s true. AND important.

The Christian faith centers around an event, not a book. Our faith is built upon an event, the resurrection. The Bible is not the center of Christianity, but rather it is written about the center of Christianity: Jesus.

That’s not to say the Bible is not important. It’s very important, it points us to Jesus. Without the witnesses that wrote the stories down we wouldn’t have the level of evidence and reason for our faith today. Without the Bible we wouldn’t know what to do and how to live our faith out. While it’s not the center, it is important. Very important.

We need to recognize that the Christian faith centers around Jesus and the work he did. The Bible tells us about what he did, and it tells us how we should live in light of what he did. But the Bible is not the center of Christianity.

What would you add to the list? What do you disagree with?

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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