Do you understand the Bible? Is it an eye-opening, inspiring treasure that you use daily? Or is it a wealth that remains locked away?
To most people, the Bible is indeed a mystery! That is why even the churches don’t understand it, and why so many incompatible, disagreeing churches exist in the first place.
This is a book like no other on Earth. The words on its pages can change the world, can change nations, can change your life. If you possessed the keys, you would unlock an immense wealth of knowledge and information rich in relevance and beauty that would revolutionize how you understand your world and yourself. It would change not only your health, wealth, wisdom, friendships, family and circumstances, but also who you are.
But reading this book is like looking at the numbers, letters and other characters of a computer code worth billions of dollars. Even if someone gave you possession of the code and you could read and recognize every single piece of it, without the decryption keys, you would not understand what it means or how to use it! The Bible is similar. There it sits, a treasure literally worth more than the sum of all cryptocurrencies—close at hand, yet out of reach. It is encrypted until you use the keys.
Here are the keys.
Key 1: Attitude
“[T]o this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).
This key starts to unlock everything. It is simple, but indispensable. If part of it is wrong, neither it nor the other keys will unlock anything. You could devote your life to reading that computer code over and over, even learn computer programming, but without this key, the treasure will remain inaccessible. In the same way, you can have a brilliant mind and rich experiences; you can study for tens of thousands of hours over decades; you can learn ancient languages, history, poetry, geography and much more; and you can use the works of others who have also studied the Bible in this way; yet you will not understand the Bible as well as you would with a contrite (broken, yielded, humble) spirit.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Your understanding of the Bible depends not on your intellect, reasoning or experience, but on your willingness to be corrected, chastised and instructed by your Creator. You must exchange your own self-confidence and self-will for reliance on God, His revelation and His Spirit.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The Bible will reprove you, correct you, even pierce you. When next you read the Bible, you will likely read something that shows you where you are wrong. Your human nature will hate that and resist it. You will then have a choice: Will you be contrite? If so, the first lock will open.
Key 2: Belief
“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
To understand the Bible, you must also believe. In this age, there is much to be skeptical of. There is an especially, even illogically doubtful attitude in the world toward the Bible. Your human nature will prod you to question, criticize and reject what you read in the Bible. You can only unlock what the Bible means if you struggle against that and believe that what you read is true.
This means you cannot read your own interpretation or even a church’s interpretation into the Bible. The world is full of Christians who use Jesus’s name but disbelieve what He actually teaches in His Word. Read the Bible with an open, submissive attitude. Understand the Bible’s “additive property”: It is 100 percent true and does not contradict itself. So when you find two scriptures that seem to contradict, believe that both are true and search out how and why.
Belief is not natural; it can be hard. But it is key. If you struggle with doubt, there is hope. One man who struggled with belief “cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (verse 24). Read on in Mark 9 to see how God responded.
Key 3: Deeds
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
You can humble yourself, you can believe, but the treasure of understanding the Bible will remain locked if you do not act on what you study. Psalm 111:10 specifically says that understanding is related to action. Likewise, in John 7:16-17, Jesus states that if you will do the Father’s will, you will know God’s doctrine. This is one of the hardest keys to get right, but you have help!
Truly repenting toward God means changing your attitude, your belief and your actions. The goodness of God will lead you there (Romans 2:4). Philippians 2:13 states that God will give you the will and the power “to do of his good pleasure.” To use this key, as with the other keys, you need not only your human effort but God’s power! And if you have a contrite attitude, you believe, and you are trying to actively obey what you read in the Bible, God will help you with His Spirit (Acts 5:32).
“[B]lessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28).