Topic: Understanding Type: Article Author: A. Allison Lewis 


Someone once said, "I don't worry about what I don't understand in the Bible. I worry about what I do understand." I think that pretty well fits the most of us. It is not that we have trouble understanding what it means but we do not like what it says. We do not want to accept what it says. We do not want Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. We do not want to become, as Paul says so frequently, slaves of Christ. We want to run our own lives, our own way. You say, "I don't understand it." It is really not a problem of the understanding but rather a problem of the heart, you REFUSE to ACCEPT IT.

What is the answer then? Accepting God of course! The problem is rejecting Him and His Word, so the answer has to be accepting Him, to follow Him and accept His Word for what it says. That is the answer if you want to understand God's Word. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 we read: for the preaching of the cross is to those who perish, foolishness but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. To those who have refused God, to those who are perishing, the preaching of the cross is foolishness. Unto those of us who have put our trust in Him it is the power of God unto salvation.

The Bible itself, discusses this question of "understanding" in 1 Corinthians chapter two. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God [vs. 11]. We know that a brute beast does not understand man's thinking. Only a man can understand another man's thinking. God goes further and asks who can understand the thoughts of God? except the one who has the Spirit of God? Paul continues, Now we [Christians] have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God [God's Holy Spirit], that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [vss. 12, 13]. This describes God's people. Then Paul speaks of the natural man–the unsaved, the non-Christian–and he wrote of him: But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually understood. But he who is spiritual understands all things [things or thoughts of the Spirit of God, see vs. 11], yet he himself is understood by no [natural] man [vss. 14, 15].

Are you a spiritual man or a natural man? Have you been born again? If you will not accept the Bible this shows that you are a natural man. You are lost and on your way to Hell. You need to be born again. You need to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. God, who cannot lie, stated: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life [JOH 3:16].


Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb ... And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus ... Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen [LUK 24:1-6].

Years ago I was travelling on the eastern seaboard of the United States and was changing trains in Boston. Since I had a few hours layover I visited the campus of the famous Harvard University, which is right in the down-town area of Cambridge. It was interesting to see block after block of beautiful old brick buildings with great iron fences and gates. Above those gates, for all to read were brief texts from the Bible. These verses were placed there because the founders of Harvard were men who believed the Bible. They understood what it says and believed what it says. They founded that school to teach the Bible. Today there is probably not a man on their faculty of religion who really believes the Bible. I do not say they do not understand what it says. They know full well what it teaches, but they reject the God of the Bible and deny its plain teachings.

As recent as the last century the vast majority of preachers and Bible teachers believed the Bible. This is no longer true. The vast majority of religious leaders no longer believe the Bible. Oh, we still hear a good amount of the old terminology, but these terms have been given new meanings–meanings contrary to the plain meaning of the Bible. Remember, it is not that they cannot understand the Bible, but they refuse to accept it. Alan Richardson, a prominent Modernist Lutheran theologian has written concerning the resurrection of Jesus: "Was the resurrection physical or spiritual? Did the Garden Tomb continue to hold the body of Jesus or was it really found empty? Believers in the resurrection today are divided on this question, and it is foolish for them to waste their time in attacking each other when they both firmly believe in the fact of the resurrection. The mode of the resurrection is not so important a question as that of the fact of the resurrection" [Creeds in the Making, page 22]. DOUBLE TALK! Richardson believed that Jesus' body returned to dust there in the tomb and there was only, as he put it, a "spiritual" resurrection. Those who really BELIEVE the Bible are not "divided". Believers ARE "divided" from unbelievers–infidels, those who refuse to believe what the Bible clearly teaches. The Bible could not be clearer on this point. Jesus Christ rose bodily from that tomb. And as they thus spoke, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, Peace to you. But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, Why are you troubled? And why do (such) thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said to them, Have you here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish and a honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them [LUK 24:36-43]. This, Dr. Richardson denies and still says he believes in "the fact of the resurrection". This is blatant infidelity. Many preachers in our day, on Easter Sunday, will talk about the "resurrection" using this same double-talk language as is employed by Richardson. They believe in some kind of "spiritual" resurrection! These men are ravening wolves in sheep's clothing. From such SEPARATE yourselves.


Many people say the Bible is hard to understand. Is understanding really the problem? First of all, the unsaved cannot be expected to make much sense of it because it is totally contrary to their thoughts and desires. Paul clearly states this in 1 Corinthians 2:14, But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: FOR THEY ARE FOOLISHNESS TO HIM. Second, how about the saved? Is the Bible, to them, hard to understand? Peter, in speaking of Paul's epistles wrote, in which are SOME things hard to be understood [2PE 3:15]. Yes, there are SOME things in the Bible that even the saints find difficult. However, the vast majority of it IS very understandable. The things necessary to salvation and the Christian life are very plain–so plain that even a little child can understand them.

As a child of God we have the promise that though the natural man WILL not understand the things of God, we have the mind of Christ [1CO 2:16]. The Holy Spirit, Who indwells the believer comes to their aid [1JO 2:27].

We can illustrate the understanding of the Bible from the Gospel of John. A careless reading of it can lead one to miss its meaning, whereas, a careful reading usually finds the correct meaning easily enough. Always read a verse or passage in its context. Also read to understand the writer rather than trying to make the writer mean what you want him to mean. Preconceived notions or bias can make us miss the authors meaning. The Gospel of John is filled with beautiful imagery. John paints very vivid pictures. He speaks of Christ as the Light of the world, the Door and the Good Shepherd. When John uses these expressions we never–and correctly so–think that Christ was a lamp on a light pole or the Sun in the sky, or a wooden door on hinges with a handle to open and shut it, and everyone knows that the Lord Jesus probably never once cared for a flock of sheep during his life here on the Earth! Yet many take a similar figure of speech and build gross false doctrine on it. John, in chapter 6 speaks of Jesus as the Bread of Life. Jesus in this chapter speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, [see verses 52-58]. Yet at the Last Supper what they had was unleavened bread and wine–merely symbols of our Lords body and blood. If we read carefully and keep the passage in its context we will discover that Jesus Himself gave the interpretation for these particular figures of speech. In verse 35 Jesus says, I am the Bread of Life: he who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes on Me shall never thirst. About the eating and drinking He says, he who COMES to Me, and he who BELIEVES on Me. Jesus is not talking at all about literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood in the communion bread and fruit of the vine but rather of RECEIVING Him as one's personal Savior. It is merely a symbol and remembrance of Christ's saving sacrifice. He is, in John 6, illustrating the statement made in John 1:12 where we read: But as many as received Him [he who comes to Me of 6:35] to those gave He power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name [he who believes in Me of 6:35]. There is no mystery in the teaching of Jesus here.

The two hardest things in the Bible for the unconverted–the natural man–to receive are the teachings that he is responsible for his sin and is going to face sure judgment for it and second that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in His sacrificial death paid the price in FULL for the sinners pardon if he WILL only repent and receive Him as his Savior. Those who trust their own works or try some other means are hopelessly LOST.

As you read God's Word ask Him to help you understand it. When the Bible interprets itself, take its interpretation rather that of some man, "church" or cult. The problem with understanding the Bible is not really with the understanding as such, but rather that of believing and accepting what it teaches. Jesus said, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, [notice He did not say the priests or synagogue teachers or some cult leader, but rather the BIBLE] neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead [LUK 16:31].

Will you right now trust Him as your Savior? Sinners Jesus will receive. When you receive Him you will accept His Word and it will no longer be a mystery or foolishness to you. You will then understand the things of God.

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This Page Last Updated: 12/04/98 A. Allison Lewis aalewis@christianbeliefs.org