As a layman, I have thoroughly studied the Bible for 50 years or so, since I received Jesus as my Rescuer around 1972, and I have yet to find any supposed contradictions, nor have I found any actual support for the various disputes surrounding the Bible story. Quite the contrary.
In my elementary associated studies of the Arts and Sciences, the Greek and Hebrew languages, History, Geology, and Archaeology, and in using Concordances, English Dictionaries, etc, my examinations have uncovered only people’s misunderstandings and confusion caused by cursory readings and conclusions arising from wrenching passages out of their contexts. In splicing them all together into a confusing mishmash created from constructing assemblages of personal philosophies rather than from purely academic study, it just makes it worse.
Allowing the Bible to speak directly to one’s brain instead of approaching it with preconceived notions helps to prevent such unnecessary confusion. Understanding the difficult process of translating from original manuscripts or for that matter, translating from any current language into another common vernacular might also shed some light and limit a person’s confusion, bringing some leniency, patience, insights, and understanding.
I realize people don’t think they are confused. We all have a tendency to think of ourselves as authorities. The truth of the matter is that the more you know, the more you realize how much more you need to know!
Let the Bible speak for itself.
I know when I was much younger that I had much confusion and many questions, and those not just about the Bible. Now, my assurances of the veracity of the Bible comes from Applied Science and real life experience just as much as from the perspective of my literary studies. My assurances are confirmed in real life.
So, I have been thoroughly persuaded that the Bible is a trusted source for understanding God, Jesus, and the new life He freely offers through the plan of rescue unveiled in the Gospel.
One might react, “Rescue? What rescue? Who needs to be rescued?!?”
Patience… For now, here is a simple pointer in reading the Bible: Understand who the Bible is written to. Then you know if it is written directly and applicably for you. The Old Testament is mainly about the Jewish Nation but has benefit for every reader within its historical setting. Matthew, Mark, Luke/Acts, and John are for the whole world to read and are necessary to read to be rescued. The letters from the apostles, like Romans, 1&2 Peter, and James, are written to people who are already rescued, but perhaps, just like the Old Testament, they might have universal benefits in that there may also be advantages for every reader in their essence of their moral transcendency. The problem is the depth and richness and life changing power just isn’t there in cursory readings, and perhaps surprisingly, neither is it found there in extensive study.
Without being born again, understanding can only be superficial, not extending into the profound. It’s like the fig tree without fruit. It only looks nice but feeds noone.
Up to now, this essay has only been about transitory concepts and not transformative ones. The purpose of the Bible is to provide us with the words and stories that will be transformative in our lives. So, some people “will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them right with God. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:5. Seek the transformative. Don’t just talk the talk or read the read…walk the walk.
Like every other pursuit one undertakes in life, we first have to choose what to undertake — unless, of course, we have no motivation to do anything but sit. Whatever that life choice is, it all begins at a specific beginning.
Pursuant to Bible study, Jesus stated, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3.
As like in anything else, to run in any kind of race or participate in any type of endeavor, a person has to start at the starting line or begin at the beginning point or enter at the entrance level.
Being born again is the beginning of a relationship with God and the starting line for understanding the Bible. Being born again is the entrance level door for applying its precepts to one’s lifework. Being born again allows us to see Jesus for who He is. Being born again allows us to see God’s purposes by the example Jesus Himself revealed for our benefit. There is no other way, no shortcut, no way to cheat, no other reality, no other lifestyle that will win the race and obtain the prize.
One may then ask. “What benefit? What prize?”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times more in this age — and in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:29–30.
The next logical question is “What is the “many times more” ?
When one is born again, they are born into the family of God, receiving companionship with an innumerable number of brothers and sisters in this our current world, becoming integrated into God’s loving family… and in the age to come eternal life.” (And by the way, many times more insights and understandings into the writings of the Bible.)
Here is God’s benefit and prize offered to everyone based on Isaiah 1:18. Even if your life has become like ragged, filthy clothes, smelly, bloodstained and torn, God will take that clothing all away and dress you “to the nines.” Like in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 11:15–32, when the son returned after feeding with pigs, his father said, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet…”
Of course if your life is as comfortable as an old shoe, you probably don’t see the need, or if you are as content as a tree in a rain forest… as happy as a clam at high tide… as happy as the day is long… or if you are as happy as a pig in the mud… whatever… you probably aren’t interested in this opportunity whatsoever, no interest in returning like the Prodigal to the Father… Just don’t let the supposed contradictions and disputes get in your way, preventing your returning by deflecting your best interests and misdirecting your best thinking with many falsehoods.
From Matthew 8: 25–34 where Jesus exhorts, “…Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Then, “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In other words there is more to life than meets the eye. Seeking God and His righteousness is the most important endeavor… and you can start right away. Refuse to be held back and be left out