Posted by - Julian Mann, November 2012

I have been picking up feedback from growing Christians in the church family about the Bible being sometimes difficult to understand. I would like to address that issue in order to encourage us to persevere with our personal Bible reading.

Certainly, some parts of the Bible are hard to understand - I would admit to finding my recent spiritually rewarding journey through the Old Testament book of Zechariah somewhat puzzling in places. But any of us can read through the Bible and get the overall message.

The Bible is clear in its essential message of eternal salvation from God's judgement on sin through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and how God expects us to live spiritually and morally in a fallen world as we await our final redemption. You don't need an advanced theology degree to be able to do that.

But it does take commitment to build up one's Bible knowledge over time.

The analogy I would use is this: when I moved to Oughtibridge in 2000, I did not know the area. I needed a street map to get to appointments. I found, however, that I got to know the area over time by walking to appointments rather than by driving. For example, if I drove to a visit in Beeley Rd and drove back again the same way I came, I would not know that Beeley Rd is linked to Bertram Rd by Hope Rd. I gradually built up my knowledge of the physical geography of the parish by plodding round it! Magazine deliveries certainly helped.

In the same way, as we read the Bible over time, we get to see the connections between the various books and how the parts link in with the whole.

Though it does take time to build up one's knowledge of the Bible, we should not fall for the two-tier approach to God's Word, the line that the challenging parts are for more experienced Christians whereas newer Christians should only get the more comforting bits. Some of the 1st century Christians the Apostle Paul wrote to, eg the Corinthians, the Thessalonians, the Galatians, belonged to very new churches and his letters contained both affirming encouragement and challenging instruction. We actually need both throughout our Christian lives. I remember hearing as a new Christian a very challenging talk on Jesus' Parable of the Sower, which has stayed with me ever since.

Certainly, when I arrived in Oughtibridge, it would have done me no good if I had avoided climbing up the hills into the nooks and crannies of the parish.

So, as we take time to walk through the Bible, however we do that in terms of our routine, we gradually build up our knowledge, as with getting to know a new area by walking around it.

Julian Mann
November AD 2012
BibleGateway Reform Diocese