Our Need for Understanding
When reading our Bibles, it is easy for us to look upon the disciples as dimwitted men who never understood anything that Jesus told them about His coming and His impending suffering, death, burial, and resurrection (cf. Mark 9:32). And this happened on multiple occasions.
Furthermore, after His resurrection our Lord met with the disciples and “interpreted to them” all the Old Testament concerning Himself (Luke 24:27). Imagine being apart of that Bible study!
Any part of misunderstanding the Bible never lies on God’s lack of clarity, but upon our lack of understanding. Thus, we must think over what we are reading and the Lord will give us understanding (2 Timothy 2:7).
So, here are three questions to ask when seeking to understanding your Bible:
1.) What About the Context?
Like real estate, the most important aspect is location, location, location. This is important, we must consider the context of who is writing and to whom.
What do the verses above say? What about after? Does your conclusion contradict the last passage? If so, we missed the meaning.
When Jesus tells Peter to walk on water but he fails — this doesn’t mean that we can walk on water if we had more faith (cf. Matthew 14:22-33). What did Matthew intend for us to understand and believe?
So in our reading, we must know what this originally was meant to convey. A good preacher’s tip for a sermon carries over into reading: the point of the passage is the point of the sermon (and your Bible reading).
If Paul didn’t mean it, then it doesn’t apply to us either. The original meaning is God’s intended meaning. This is why a book like Leviticus greatly speaks still. And, if we allow God to speak where and how He has spoken, then His unchanging Word will always apply to a changing world.
2.) Is Christ Concealed or Revealed?
Another key question is: where are you in your reading? Are you in the Old or New Testament?
As quoted above, in Luke 24 Jesus tell us all of the Old Testament is about Him. So, when reading, has Christ been revealed to the world? If not, then how is what you are reading pointing forward to Christ and His work? How is this king foolishly leading in a way that Christ will perfectly fulfill?
Is this verse promising something that will finally be realized in Christ, while having partial (or immediate) fulfillment now? Is what is being said or happening a shadowy picture of Christ or His coming? How is Solomon in this passage less than but a picture of the Wisdom of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-24, ESV).
Or, are these ways that we can look back on the work of Christ and see it applied? Is what Paul saying the fleshing out of Jesus’ resurrection, or of His sending of the Spirit?
How does the revelation of Christ make this matter? Or, how are these points connected in and through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection to ascension of Christ?
3). How is Jesus the Hero of this Text?
While the Bible is certainly for us, it is not chiefly about us. All of the history of the universe has been planned for one reason: to gather a people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation for the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 5:9, 13:8).
Therefore, how is Jesus the hero of this text? Is He the one who graciously absorbs the just punishment that those sins deserved? How does the perfect obedience of Christ encourage my surety and obedience in this moment?
In what ways is the necessity of our faith in the resurrected Christ seen? How does this show my need for Christ?
The pearl of great price, for instance, is not God’s hunt for the beautiful gems of a sinful and depraved humanity. The pearl of great price that is worth obtaining by forfeiting and forsaking all things in order to have, is Christ.
He is precious, He is infinitely valuable — not us (though we are made in His image, yes).
God’s Word is sufficient for God’s people for God’s glory.