the forgotten resource for understanding the Bible
I have recently shared on my social media eight resources to help you understand the Bible (which I will share below). However, after I shared them, I realized there was a necessary resource that is often forgotten when seeking to understand the Bible.
I’m not going to bury the lead, so here it is.
The forgotten resource for understanding the Bible is OBEDIENCE.
Obeying and living out what the Bible says is transformative to understanding the Bible. It is the Bible in action. Indeed, you will still not understand every single thing in the Bible by obeying it, but by living up to what we have already attained (Philippians 3:16), we tap into another part of our mind and hearts that help us make sense of what we read.
Follow me here–I had to take Algebra and Geometry when I was in high school. As a liberal arts girl, math doesn’t come easy for me. I would sit in class and watch my algebra teacher show us how to do equations on the overhead projector (yes, I’m that old). I listened, and I could copy her actions on my notebook paper. But, understanding didn’t begin to come until I was handed my own equations to solve. And I didn’t always gain understanding right away. Sometimes understanding came through repetition. She had given me the steps, but they didn’t start making sense until I had to work them out (Philippians 2:12) myself.
You can read the Bible, sit under Bible teachers, and write down what they say, but until you start living out what you learn, it won’t click in the same way. The Bible was given to us not just to obtain knowledge but to apply it to our lives. That includes obeying its instructions and using what we know about the character of God in our lives.
As you seek to understand the Bible further, don’t put off obeying it until you fully understand it. Obey it and discover how it spurs you to greater understanding.
Here are eight more resources to help you understand the Bible:
The Holy Spirit–When you enter a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes residence inside you (1 Cor.6:19). That fact alone means that you have access to the most powerful and effective tool there is. Historical Bible scholars didn’t have the internet or commentaries. They had the Holy Spirit, and as they fervently sought His guidance, He led them to truth. (John 16:13)
A Study Bible–I was an adult before I had a study bible, so it isn’t entirely necessary. Still, it can help guide you to understand passages and offer contexts you would otherwise have to do considerable research to figure out. My current favorite is the Tony Evans Study Bible.
A Journal & A Pen–When you open God’s Word seeking to understand Him, be expectant He will reveal Himself to you, and then WRITE DOWN what you learn. Having a journal and pen communicates an expectation for the living Word to do its work in you. You don’t want to forget what the Spirit reveals to you. Write it down.
Bible Commentaries–Approach with caution. A Bible commentary does not replace the Bible and is not a final authority. But it can help you by exploring what Bible scholars have uncovered in their study. All commentaries are not created equal. Seek the wisdom of godly counsel in choosing a commentary. A free one I trust is https://biblehub.com.
Trusted Bible Teachers–Much like commentaries, all Bible teachers are not created equal in their explanation of the Bible. I’d start with someone who has the humility to acknowledge they don’t know everything and red flag someone who is convinced they already have all the answers. Equally important is a Bible teacher who consistently prioritizes the gospel and approaches secondary issues as secondary to the gospel.
Bible Studies–Join a Bible study with a group of believers who have a desire to learn, grow and yearn for greater intimacy with Jesus. The study of the Bible should always lead to spiritual transformation. Studying the Bible as a hobby or checking off a Christian box won’t nurture a deeper understanding of Scripture.
Scripture Memory Tools–Understanding the Bible is strengthened by memorizing what it says. When you read a passage that doesn’t make sense, it is helpful to pull a verse or passage you already know and understand from your memory. There are several methods for memorization, such as flashcards, temporary tattoos, songs, and more.
The Discipline of Remembrance–Having a journal and writing down what the Spirit has revealed to you through His word allows you to revisit and remember. Seeking to understand difficult passages should be done in light of (and remembrance of) what has been revealed in clarity about God’s character.