Should I Read the Bible For Myself?

Should a person really try to read and understand the Bible for themselves?  Or, should they just leave that to the “professionals”?  Would we be better off not wading into those waters and letting others tell us what to think or believe about God and Jesus and being a Christian?

Let’s begin to answer that question with this one: what was God’s intent in giving man the Bible?  Was it to be for everyone or just left in the hands of the enlightened few to then dispense its wisdom and insights to the masses?  I think we answered that question in asking it.

Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matt. 11:25-26).

The apostle Paul asks, “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).  In other words, it was not God’s purpose that men should have to look to the “intellectuals” in order to know His will.  Paul had just quoted the prophet Isaiah, “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’” (1 Corinthians 1:19 from Isaiah 28:9).

It’s not that God has anything against smart people, but he just doesn’t intend for His will to be out of reach for anyone.

Before we draw the wrong conclusion here, though, we need also to consider another fact: God does have a place in His plan and design for there to be ones who not only proclaim God’s message, but provide instruction and guidance in understanding it.  This is made clear in both the Old and New Testaments.

For instance, in the time of Nehemiah (in the Old Testament) it is said, “They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (Neh. 8:8).

Previously, Ezra had prepared himself for this very kind of work.  “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

The New Testament demonstrates this point repeatedly as well:

  • Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16).
  • The book of Ephesians identifies roles of leadership, defined by God, within His church.  Among these are prophets, evangelists, and teachers (Eph. 4:11).  Ones who taught others the gospel are acknowledged and to be imitated (Hebrews 13:7).
  • The preacher Philip asked the Ethiopian nobleman if he understood what he read from the book of Isaiah.  He responded, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30-31).
  • “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:13-14).

It should be clear to us that yes, it is God’s purpose is for people to read and understand the Bible for themselves. But what is more, they may need help and assistance in that process.

God intends for us to use the brains He gave us when we come to His word.  At the same time some one capable to provide guidance and instruction can be most helpful, even necessary at times.

Now that raises another question.  How can one know to whom they should turn when seeking help and guidance in understanding the Bible?  That’s an excellent question.  And, the Bible helps us out with the answer too.  Stay tuned for the next post.

God bless,

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