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Is the Bible Hard to Understand?

by Dan Gulley

Is the Bible hard to understand? The Bible readily admits it contains "some things hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:16), but the same verse goes on to say "untaught and unstable people twist (these things) to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." Jesus said that God's Word is truth, and He also said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 17:17; 8:32). The apostle Paul told his young preacher friend Timothy, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Irregardless of our impression of the Bible, God expects us to know the truth and not only know it but rightly divide it. In order to do so we have to study. Failure to study and understand will someday leave us ashamed and unapproved by God.

First Corinthians 1:7-16 is a passage some people misuse to insist the Bible is difficult to understand. There the apostle Paul refers to the wisdom of God contained in the gospel as a "mystery" and as "hidden" (vs. 7). He also says in verse 9, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." Some people point to these words as proof we can know little if anything about God. But don't stop reading too soon. Paul goes on to insist that "God has revealed them to us through His Spirit" (vs. 10), and that the inspired men who gave us the gospel did so "not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches" (vs. 13). The reason why is clearly stated in verse 12b: "that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." To say the Bible is a mystery is a far thing from saying it is mysterious. To say it is not understood is very, very different from saying it cannot be understood. Paul wrote striking words about God's mystery in Ephesians 3:3-5, "by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets." The mystery of God contained in the gospel was and is known to many. But God's word and will is not unknowable! Through diligent reading and careful and constant study we will "understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17b).

The day before final exams a young man said to his professor, "I'll do anything to pass this course." The professor responded, "Anything? Then try studying." Think the Bible is hard to understand? Try studying!

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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