It is not uncommon to begin talking to people about Biblical matters and to quickly hear phrases such as: “I think one opinion is as good as another,” or, “these things are so complex, I don’t think anyone can truly understand them.” Within the course of religious discussion, it has become commonplace to try to end the discussion almost before it begins, by either acknowledging every opinion/belief as equal or advocating the impossibility of true understanding. Therefore, the question needs to be asked: “Why is the Bible so hard to understand?” If all of these people believe the Bible is from God, and they believe that it tells what God wants us to do, why do they also believe that it is so difficult to truly understand? Consider a couple of answers to that question.
Because we have been told that it is.
For generations religious “scholars” and theologians have been telling people how difficult the Bible is to comprehend. Preachers in religious groups have admonished listeners to come to them to find out what God’s Word means, because it is too difficult for the average person to understand. Add to that the many books, movies, and other works that have been published speaking of secret codes, signs, symbols, and other such things within the Bible, and many are convinced that having a confident understanding of God’s Book is impossible.
While it is true that there are some things contained within the Scriptures that are difficult to understand, there is nothing contained therein that is impossible to grasp. Unfortunately, many people seek to grasp the most difficult sections first, without taking time to understand the basic principles necessary to understand those areas. How many times has someone opened a Bible and tried to start with the book of Revelation (because it is so recklessly utilized in the religious world)? There is a reason that the book of Revelation was the last of the books of the New Testament written, and is listed last in our Scripture order. It is a book of teaching through pictures and visual scenes that should not be undertaken without a responsible, basic understanding of the workings of Scripture and the communications of God to man. If a man has not yet grasped the basics of God’s Word he is ill-equipped to comprehend the depths of it.
Many have taken Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 3:15-16 and tried to make a universal application, not just to the apostle Paul’s works, but to all of Scripture. It is undeniable that some of the things Paul wrote are deep and difficult, but that is not the case for the majority of Scripture. The overwhelming majority of the New Testament (and the Old, when it comes to that) are straight-forward and understandable, to the point that young children can readily grasp the basic principles and tenets of the Bible.
Because we approach the Bible with our own beliefs already settled.
In a classic case of “putting the cart before the horse,” most people (including some members of the body of Christ) approach the Bible believing they already know what God was trying to say. They know what mom and dad, cousin Suzy, and preacher Jones have said about it; therefore, they are convinced that they already are fully informed as to God’s intentions.
However, this makes understanding God’s Word quite difficult when we then read something we were not expecting, or something that completely contradicts what we thought we knew. When such occurs we have 2 options: we either have to 1) ignore or explain away the inconsistency that has arrived, or, 2) change our beliefs and thinking to fit what God said. While neither option is easy (and one is logically impossible), most people will choose option 1 over option 2. This increases our difficulty in understanding God’s Word exponentially because men keep having to find creative ways to try to make God say something other than what he explicitly said. When this is done, understanding the Bible becomes impossible, because we are not being intellectually fair and honest with God’s Word.
The truth is that the Bible is not as hard to understand as most people make it out to be. God wanted man to know and be able to follow the things he gave, and he delivered them by a means man could readily understand. The greatest barrier to a man being able to understand the Scriptures is himself. If people are willing to step back from what they already think they know, stop listening to all of the religious money-grabbers and peddlers, and look at the Bible sincerely and honestly, with open hearts and minds, it is not difficult. As a matter of fact, you will step away from it wondering why it took you so long to see what was right there in front of your face. It does not mean you will never need guidance or have questions along the way, but it will mean you will be able to see past the liars and thieves that purport to be lovers of God and speakers of truth, to see them for what they really are.
Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). He also said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). If we let God do the talking, we can know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.