Why You Can’t Understand The Bible & 3 Simple Fixes

It goes something like this. You grab your Bible and boldly dig in with all the enthusiasm you can muster. You have a new “reading plan” in front of you and a highlighter nearby. So far so good.

Why

Why Can’t I Understand the Bible?

Then it happens. You struggle to understand it or fail to remember it ten minutes later. Sound about right? You’re not alone.

In this extremely digitized, mach speed world we live in it’s difficult, if not almost impossible, to focus on anything for very long.

I want to give you a few simple strategies for getting the most out of your time in God’s Word.

When I first became a Christian, there was one verse in the Bible that I couldn’t escape. It became the first verse I ever memorized. I think even then The Lord was preparing me for a life in the ministry. The verse was 2 Timothy 2:15

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

That verse, nearly twenty-five years later, still reminds me of the importance of careful and diligent study of God’s Word. Let’s see how you can get more from your time in the Word.

HOW TO GET MORE OUT OF GOD’S WORD

To get the most out of God’s Word, there are some fundamental principles to keep in place. If you’re like many, you know the benefit of reading and studying the Bible. So what’s the problem? How many times have you sat down completely determined to take it all in and struggled to get anything out of it? Could you be going about it all wrong? Here are 3 tips to help.

 1. STOP READING!

Yep, you read that right – STOP READING! Well, not right this second. I want you to read this article, but stop reading your Bible. Wait, what?! I know, you’re getting a little nervous about where I am going but hear me out. Stop reading and start listening. Before you dive right in stop and pray about what you’re about to do. It’s God’s Word. Ask Him for understanding and help from the Holy Spirit.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a familiar passage only to find brand new understanding. One preacher told his wife one morning after reading, “Honey, I believe God slipped in this house last night and put a brand new verse in here!” I have found that by praying and seeking Him before reading, my spiritual ears are more in tune to hear what He is saying in His Word.

 

2. START FEEDING!

Treat God’s Word like the greatest meal you’ve ever eaten. Savor every word. Notice every nuance. Think upon every character. Take time to enjoy God’s carefully prepared meal. It’s the greatest sustenance you’ll ever take in!

Matthew 4:4 (KJV 1900)

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

 

3. START QUESTIONING!

There are 2 primary questions you must ask when studying God’s Word.

  • WHAT IS IT SAYING?

This is a matter of interpretation. What is it saying within its context? Never remove the Word from its setting to prove a point or position! Allow the Word to tell you what it means. Interpret the Word BY the Word. Before you consult commentaries, dictionaries, or scholars, give the Word its rightful authority.

  •  WHAT IS IT SAYING TO ME?

This is where application comes in. How does this affect me? Does this passage require a response on my part? Am I being challenged, convicted, or commanded something? Every word in the Bible has been divinely placed there on purpose. If you do not plan to obey it, it will continue to have little or no meaning to you.

 

I do understand that this article only scratches the surface. There are many, many, methods for proper study. My only intention is to add a bit of help to those who desire more from God’s Word. Put these simple principles into practice and let me know what a difference it makes.

Leave me your results in the comments section.

One more favor:  I would love for you to forward this article to everyone you know. I’ve made it super-easy in the share bars on the top & bottom of this article. Encourage someone to plug into the community and let’s grow together!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or just plain ridiculous!

  • Linda Lockart

    If the ancient church had had it all right there would be a lot more christian today and a lot less confusion,pastor Jeff is a great Pastor and a great Man of God ,It would do the ancient church a lot of good to get outside their little box.just my humbly opinion,
    with prayer,the Bible and the Holy sprite,you can’t go wrong,and a good Pastor sure does help but he can’t do it all for you.Lots of love in Christ. .

    • Jeff McKee

      Thank you so much! And how right you are!

  • Preacher

    I would like to highlight two words, interpretation and translation. There are many translations of the Holy Bible but there can be only one interpretation. That must be given by and only by the Holy Spirit. I see no error in aquatinting ones self with the formed comments given, after praying for guidance, by earlier scholars. One must be careful not to announce a preconceived conclusion. PRAY twice SPEAK once.

  • Jeff McKee

    I humbly disagree only partly with your response. Jude 3 deals with “the faith” once delivered to the saints correlating with Gal. 2:20-21 (the faith OF Jesus) Also, I would NEVER advocate private interpretation. I do believe that before we attempt to consult extra-biblical material or persons that we should allow God’s Word to hold the authority of its own interpretation. I know there are many that will take scripture, and without guidance, run the wrong direction with it. That is where the church & discipleship process steps in. The early Apostles many times had to correct certain errors in the early church (ie Paul writing to Corinth, etc) This is also where we must first and foremost trust the Spirit of Truth to “guide us into all truth” -John 16:13.
    Thank you for your input. It’s nice to have a healthy conversation concerning our faith. May our Lord Bless you richly!

  • T.H. Merritt

    A great topic! You make some very valid observations. However, I would respectfully urge one word of caution: 2 Peter 1:20.

    Since we know God is NOT the author of confusion, trying to interpret, as you suggest, is futile. I believe that is why we have so much confusion in the religious world today. If an individual can privately interpret a scripture, how can a scripture mean one thing to you and something totally different to me?

    That’s where I think we are compelled to rely on the wisdom and guidance of the early church fathers ( I’m not talking about the pope) who have already given us the interpretation of the scriptures “which was ONCE FOR ALL delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3.

    Since the “CHURCH is the pillar and ground of truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15), perhaps we should heed the warnings, advice and wisdom of those men of the Ecumenical Councils, whom scripture tell us were in agreement in ALL things AND guided by the Holy Spirit, who gave us the very Bible we have today.

    I agree with you 100%! We should STOP READING THE BIBLE (at least for a time) and start LISTENING to what the Holy Spirit has ALREADY told these faithful men instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

    If one is truly searching for truth and not simply for evidence to support pre-held convictions, then you should never be afraid to look A N Y W H E R E….starting with the ancient church.

    • jkmckee

      I humbly disagree only partly with your response. Jude 3 deals with “the faith” once delivered to the saints correlating with Gal. 2:20-21 (the faith OF Jesus) Also, I would NEVER advocate private interpretation. I do believe that before we attempt to consult extra-biblical material or persons that we should allow God’s Word to hold the authority of its own interpretation. I know there are many that will take scripture, and without guidance, run the wrong direction with it. That is where the church & discipleship process steps in. The early Apostles many times had to correct certain errors in the early church (ie Paul writing to Corinth, etc) This is also where we must first and foremost trust the Spirit of Truth to “guide us into all truth” -John 16:13.
      Thank you for your input. It’s nice to have a healthy conversation concerning our faith. May our Lord Bless you richly!