UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
The key to understanding the Bible largely depends on why we are reading it, and there are many reasons for reading the Bible.
First, the Bible is a literary masterpiece which can be studied and appreciated strictly as a great work of literature. Because of its literary perfection, it is used as an English language textbook to teach English as a foreign language. It can be studied academically. It can be read for various personal reasons — to look up Scripture passages, to find fault with it, to disprove it, to ridicule it, or to find support for what you already believe. We know that many evil leaders from Hitler to Khrushchev used the Bible to support their own ideologies and agendas. The Bible even forewarns us of this, saying that Paul's “letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). Or, you can read it trying to understand who wrote it and what the message is.
The Bible is a very special book and unique in its claim to be the Word of God. There are many scriptures that tell us that the Bible is “not something that man made up” (Galatians 1:11 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13); but is, in fact, written by many chosen authors who were given divine inspiration by the Holy Spirit. They “have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12) and “men spoke from God as they were guided by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20, 21). Also read 2 Timothy 3:16. Besides the many claims of inspiration within the scriptures themselves, there are many evidential proofs that the Bible is indeed the Word of God.
If we read the Bible with an open mind and a heart seeking to know who the author is, what its purpose is, and how that relates to us and our lives, then we can come to understand it. It is God's communication to us. Our Creator is revealing his nature, his purposes, and his will to us. If our minds and hearts are open to him, God reveals in his Word truths and mysteries about our existence and reasons for being. God's Word gives us a deep understanding of our spiritual nature and describes an eternal existence to come after this physical life is over. If we read the Bible with a sincere desire to know God (and ourselves) and his will for us, and to act on that knowledge, God promises us that we can and will understand (Proverbs 2:1 – 6).
You will … find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
— Cynthia Clayton