Understanding the Bible, Part One

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
— Romans 15:4 (NLT)

To date, my most consistently asked question has been: where in the world do I start reading in this Bible? People want to read, but don't know where to start. So before I answer the question of where to start in the Bible, I think it's important to start with how to understand the Bible first. Well, how to understand it a little better. I earnestly believe that people genuinely have the heart to want to study and get into the Word but when they crack open this 1,000+ page textbook, they get lost in what the text is saying.

At least, that has always been my experience.

When I was younger, I never intended to be the person that opened my Bible just on Sunday, but that was the only time I understood the Bible. Thankfully, the speaker was anointed to explain the text to people like me who simply didn't understand. When I tried to read the bible on my own, in a version I didn't understand, without a plan and try to understand, it never worked.

Let me explain why:

I tried to read the bible on my own

Today, what I know to be true about the Bible is that it was never designed to be read alone. As the Bible was written and even thousands of years later when the books were formed into the modern version as we know it today, mass printing was not available. Meaning, people didn't have multiple versions of the same text, in different layouts with study guides and pretty colors. No, they had one version of the Word and more than likely the high priest had the Word, therefore they HAD to meet to read.

Let's take for example the New Testament.

A majority of the New Testament are letters from Paul to various churches, people and communities. So during those times, communities would have to gather and read together because I highly doubt that Paul sat and re-wrote his letter multiple times so that people could have it at home. I don't know Paul that well, but it just seems like he wouldn't waste his time doing that. That's why small groups and even weekly services are so important, so that you can get together and glean off of each other. Do I believe it's important to make time and study on your own? Absolutely. But if you're just starting out and you're lost in the sauce, get into a Bible-based community. 

In A Version I Didn't Understand

Look, I'm not going to sugar coat it, there are some versions of the Bible that are harder to read than others. Don't even play yourself and bother with those versions. Someone is probably going to condemn me to hell for this next statement, but if you're starting out, don't buy the King James Version. Like don't even do it. Unless you were raised on the King's English, get you a version that YOU will understand.

What's the best version?

Whichever one you'll actually read. 

Personally, I like the NIV (New International Version), the NLT (New Living Translation) or the ESV (English Standard Version), which is a majority of the translations that you will see on this site. Yet recommending my favorites doesn't help, if you don't find them enjoyable. In order for you to actually want to read this text over and over again, it'll benefit you to find a version that you'll enjoy reading. A version that you'll actually pick up. It's my belief that in order to truly understand the Bible, you have to be intentional, which brings me to my next point: I tried to read the Bible without a plan. 

Without a Plan

I was that person that said: I'm just going to flip the Bible open and whatever God would have for me will be on that page. (I'm about to get condemned for this statement too, but...) that's not the way to go if you're reading for understanding and life application. Yes, if God needs to speak, He will do so by any means necessary... BUT don't leave the condition of your journey with God, up to chance by randomly opening your Bible.

This walk with God, takes work.

Everyday. 

It takes being deliberate and intentional, if you want to see growth. So I suggest finding a Bible plan that relates to how you want to grow in your walk with God and follow along with that. There are millions of plans for every topic imaginable such as Prayer, Anger, Love, Friendships... YOU NAMEEEEE IT, there's a plan for it. Find one and get to it. 

I Would Try to Understand

And herein lies the biggest reason as to why we don't understand the Bible, which you can find over at Part Two of Understanding the Bible.