"I Just Can't Understand The Bible"
The above statement is made so frequently by people in general, and even by some members of the Lord's church. Is there any justification for such a statement? We believe not - at least not on any permanent basis.
This is not to say that there are not difficult things about the Bible. One would naturally expect to encounter some complex things in a book which concerns itself with such profound subjects as the Creation, the fall of man, the atonement of Christ, and the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose. But we emphatically deny that the Bible is primarily a book shrouded in mystery. Remember that the Bible claims to be God's word, designed as a guide or standard of authority for mankind. How unreasonable it is to think that God would give us a book which cannot be understood! Actually, when one claims that he cannot understand the Bible, I have found that what is usually meant is there are only certain parts of the Bible which they cannot understand. For it is a demonstrable fact that a small child can understand most of the historical parts of the Bible, and a substantial part of the "doctrinal" aspects as well. We would like to make a few suggestions which, if followed consistently, will help us to understand the Bible.
Study It - It has been my experience that many of those who claim they can't understand the Bible have made little or no good-faith effort. They may pick it up occasionally, read a passage at random, find a word or phrase that they don't immediately grasp, then lay it aside and go about proclaiming how difficult the Bible is to understand. Any non-fiction book on virtually any subject requires some effort to understand. Unfortunately, the reading "diet" of some must consist of half-digested baby food before they will attempt to partake of it! Study the Bible! Look up the meaning of the words you don't understand. You will find that these efforts will pay off with increased knowledge and interest in the Divine book.
Study It Systematically - We would suggest that you start by reading the historical books of Genesis and Exodus and then take up the New Testament. Set a realistic goal you wish to accomplish each week; viz., one chapter, five chapters, etc. But not such a large goal that you set yourself up to failure. Stick to your goal with as little variation as possible. Keep a notebook in which you jot down passages that you wish to go back and study at greater length. Note down questions which come to mind as you study, and seek the answers later.
Meditate Upon It - The Hebrew word for "meditate," I am told, means "to murmur with oneself." In other words, we need to talk to ourselves about the significance of what we read. Try to visualize the application of a particular passage in your life. The Bible is designed to improve us. Therefore, make every effort to apply what we read to our real life situations. Meditation upon the word not only increases our understanding, but it helps us to remember what it teaches.
Seek Help - As we study the Bible, we should not hesitate to ask for help on some difficult passage. Others who have studied longer than we have may be able to clarify some point. This is not to say, of course, that we should accept everything somebody says, for they might be wrong! (See Acts 17:11.) But because they have been over the same road many times before, they may be able to make a suggestion which will get us out of a temporary rut. There are also available good commentaries and other reference works which, if used cautiously, can help one in understanding. Too few Christians seem interested in buying good religious reference works. The private Bible student can also find much help by attending Bible classes regularly. If he will study his lesson in advance, participate in the class discussion, much knowledge can be gained.
The sum of what we are trying to say is merely this: If folks truly wish to understand the Bible, they must make a sincere and diligent effort in that direction. There is absolutely no justification for one to continue to say, "I just can't understand the Bible."