Read the Bible for yourself! Not so easy as it sounds

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Aaron Burden: Unsplash

After years of listening to gospel and grace preachers the worst advice I’ve heard them give Christians is this – “go read the Bible for yourself”. Grace preachers keep telling their audiences to read the Bible for themselves and not allow “theologians” to misconstrue the Bible. I think this is highly simplistic and misleading.
To a degree I kinda get where they are coming from when they advice us to read the Bible for ourselves. It’s because most Christians are ignorant of what is in the Bible. Most Christians simply don’t know what is in the Bible. And even if they do, they don’t have the right skills in terms of properly interpreting the Bible. They do not know how to study the Bible.

Jesus certainly never advocated for this kind of approach. Paul certainly did not tell his audiences to follow this method.
I don’t think studying the Bible is that simple. I don’t believe that if you just read the Bible for yourself you will be convinced of its truths. I think reading and studying the Bible is a very difficult and complex work that must be handled with the greatest of care. Why? The Bible is a complex book. The Bible needs a whole life time of studying to be able to unravel it.
I think reading and studying the Bible is a very difficult and complex work that must be handled with the greatest of care. Why? The Bible is a complex book. The Bible needs a whole life time of studying to be able to unravel it.
The Bible is not like other books which by one sitting you could easily get the gist of what the author is up to. The Bible needs a whole life time of studying to be able to unravel its truths. It is a complex book for sure.
I believe what we should be telling people is this – look for a teacher or preacher that will reveal Jesus in the Bible. Why? The Bible is all about Jesus.
Look for a teacher or preacher that will reveal Jesus in the Bible

Jesus the quintessential preacher

Jesus himself was that preacher. In Luke 24 he met and walked with two of his followers who were coming from Jerusalem on their way to Emmaus.. This was after he had risen from the dead. In the course of their journey, he took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 NLT) Listen to the after-effects of that type of teaching.

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 NLT)
Have a look at this
  1. They needed a preacher or teacher to explain the scriptures.
  2. Jesus explained that the scriptures were about Him.
Let’s explore other teachers and preachers that followed this trend

Peter

Peter’s first preaching in Acts 2:14-41 is a masterclass on preaching. Peter just like Jesus expounded from the “bible” and revealed Jesus from the Old Testament.

Stephen

Stephen is arrested and arranged before the high council by jews who accused him falsely for speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. (Acts 6:12-13) His defense? A robust exposition of the Old Testament  and the culmination of who the Old Testament really pointed to. That was another master class in preaching and teaching.

Paul

Paul had a custom of going into jewish synagogues and use the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” (Acts 17:2-3 NLT)

The Bereans

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. (Acts 17:11 NLT)
Even so with the bereans. They heard from a preacher who revealed to them Jesus in the scriptures. Their search or study of the scriptures was in view of what Paul had preached to them. Paul didn’t just tell them to go home and read the Bible for themselves and discover if what is in the scriptures is true. No. He preached Jesus from the scriptures and then they went to study or connect the dots.
Surface reading of the Bible can lead to confusion. The Bible is riddled with too many contradictions for the simple-minded. I listen to Christians claim that we can understand the Bible from plain reading of its contents and I usually shake my head. It is not that simple.
Surface reading of the Bible can lead to confusion. The Bible is riddled with too many contradictions for the simple-minded. I listen to Christians claim that we can understand the Bible from plain reading of its contents and I usually shake my head. It is not that simple.
Being a student of the Bible most of my life, I am still confronted with contradictions that I can’t untangle. When I encounter difficult texts, I usually consult trusted gospel and grace preachers and commentators that help me understand that particular text. I also rely on the Holy Spirit to witness to my spirit whether that particular preacher or commentator is right about that particular text.
If you have a gospel and grace preacher or teacher who reveals Jesus from the scriptures to you every single time, you are an exception to the rule. You should thank God and thank your preacher or teacher. You should treasure and honor them. 98% of Christians don’t have that privilege. The body of Christ is riddled with messengers who simply don’t know what they teach or preach and the consequences are dire.
We desperately need Christ centered, gospel driven and spirit led preachers and teachers to show us what the Bible really means – Jesus is who the Bible really is all about.
We desperately need Christ centered, gospel driven and spirit led preachers and teachers to show us what the Bible really means – Jesus is who the Bible really is all about.
That’s what grace looks like
Schulter