“I Can’t Understand the Bible!”
Too many claim “the Bible is too hard to understand” as their main reason for not reading the Bible. Actually, the King James Bible, according to Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Indicator that measures reading difficulty, is rated at a 5.8 grade level average1. Many of the newer ‘bibles” are even much more difficult to read. The New International Version has been ranked at a grade level of 8.4, and the New King James, which is really not a revised King James at all, is ranked at 6.9. The USA Today Newspaper is ranked at grade nine, and People Magazine is ranked at eighth grade. Grade level wise, the King James Bible should not be difficult to understand for most. However, there other factors that do make it appear as if it were “too difficult”.
- The Bible’s truths have to be shown to a person by God!
Psalms 25:14 tells of one reason many have a hard time grasping the truths from the preserved Word of God as found in the King James Bible: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.” Many do not understand God’s Word because it is secret and can only be shown to a person by God. Also: Proverbs 3:32.
Over the years, I have met many learned men. They have Th. D.’s, D. D.’s, and even Dr.’s after their names. By the world’s standards, they should know what the scriptures say and mean; as it was their field of study. After listening to them, I soon realized that I have many young children in my junior church that know more of what the Bible means then they. They have many facts stored away in their brain; but they do not really have a clue as to what it all means, because they have never been “shown” by God. They just tried to figure it out with their own intelligence, interpretations, and opinions, like so many others have tried. That is why there are so many churches today that appear to be “of God”, but teach what they feel is right, or what they feel the scriptures say. Understanding the meaning of the Bible takes more than just having a superior intellect. It, again, takes God to show anyone what it means. It is God that has to open the spiritual eyes of the beholder; so that they can see the wondrous truths of God (Psalms 119:18).
- Only a child of God can understand His Father’s Words!
The only ones that truly can understand His Word are His own: “He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” John 8:47. This is why it is absurd when an unsaved person tries to explain to a Christian what God’s Word means. Many try to, even from the pulpit! They hear with their physical ears, but not with their “spiritual” ears.
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” John 10:26
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor. 2:14
“Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.” John 8:43 Also: Mat. 7:6.
- More would understand what the Bible means if they would obey what God has already shown them
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17
- It is the Word of God and not a fourth grade novel. It is not Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer. It is the Word of God; so it will not be easy to understand. Do not expect to read it once and understand it all.
- Do not try to read some of it and expect to understand all of it! All words and verses in the Bible are important. Having knowledge of all scriptures, not just a few verses, will help one understand more. A good example is found in the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Reading just the book of Matthew will not give you a complete understanding of Jesus’ life, although some of His life will be understood. Reading all four books with each giving a different perspective will make Jesus’ life much more understandable. Reading the prophecies about Jesus the Messiah in the Old Testament will even make it clearer Who He really is, and why He is so important. All scriptures fitted together make the “puzzle” more complete.
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” Isaiah 28:10
“ But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” Isaiah 28:13
- Some have no interest in wanting to understand God’s Word. I have heard many explain what the scriptures meant, and then it was found out that they had never read it for themselves. They were just reciting what someone had told them they thought the scriptures meant and taught. There was a preset mind of what they thought God would say or think. One cannot understand the mind or thinking of God without reading His Word! These people do not understand the Bible because they do not seek or want to understand it as it was intended.
- There are truth’s in the Bible that you may not need right now. That is why many that read the Bible regularly say, “I’ve read that verse 50 times, and never got out of it what I just got;” or “I never saw that before”, when they have read the same passage many times. What may have happened in those instances is they did not need the truth before that time; and when God wanted them to know, He gave them the understanding of the scripture.
- At certain times, God may purposely hide the scripture’s meaning. He considered hiding His will from Abraham one time: “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;” Gen. 18:17
There was a time, before we had the whole counsel of God in the 66 books we have today, that His truth was only known to the prophets to whom it was revealed. (“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7) He revealed His Word only to certain people. Today, not all have understanding in all things. Many times, only those have understanding of certain truths from the Word of God if they have need of it. A suffering Christian has more understanding of comforting verses than one who has not yet experienced such severe heartaches. A dying Christian certainly has more understanding of the scriptures regarding grace in difficult times, than one whose health is not in question.
All born-again (John 3:3) children of God can understand the Word of God, or God would not have gone through such great efforts to preserve it for us today, just as it was penned to the men of God of the past It is not necessary to lay out all the different versions and translations to understand the Bible.
There is one God and one Word. Do not rely on some translator to make it clearer. With over 250 modern translations available, it is believed that fewer people read God’s Word today and even fewer understand it. What many English-speaking people do not fully understand is that it does not take a translator, or even knowing Greek and Hebrew to understand God’s Word. It only takes the translating Spirit of God to help one understand His Word. All can understand the Bible.
1 G. A. Riplinger, New Age Bible Versions, AV Publications Corp., 1995, Pg. 196
This lesson ws featured in The Bible View #241.