Introduction: How do we make the Bible easier to understand? A good
starting place is to use a Bible that you can understand! I’ve long
thought that the saints who argue for the most difficult to read
Bible, and try to force it on others, are doing the Devil’s work. He
does not want us to understand God’s Word. What else can we do to
better understand difficult passages of the Bible? Let’s plunge into
our study this week and learn more!

  1. Honest Effort

    1. Read Proverbs 2:6-7 and 1 Timothy 4:16. What does our
      personal behavior have to do with understanding the Bible?
      (It demonstrates a desire to do God’s will. Why would God
      want to give us deeper insight if we do not take advantage
      of what we currently understand?)

      1. Notice the first part of 1 Timothy 4:16 that calls
        for a “close watch” “on the teaching.” What does that
        mean? (Pay attention to what others are teaching. My
        mind has been changed on Bible topics based on the
        teachings of others. I think the primary message
        here, however, is to watch for false teaching. )

      2. Notice the last part of 1 Timothy 4:16. Who else is
        at risk if we do not make an honest effort to obey
        God and teach the right thing? (Those who hear our
        teaching. For most of us, that is our children.)

    2. Read James 4:6-7. When you are reading a Bible text that
      you don’t like, what should you do? (We need the right
      attitude about the Bible. We need to be humble, meaning
      open to what the Bible teaches.)

    3. Read James 4:11, and focus on the last part. Against what
      are we warned? (God did not intend for us to judge the
      law, but rather to follow the law.)

      1. How does this work as a practical matter? Are we not
        called upon to make judgments regarding difficult

      2. Read James 4:9 as an example. When I read it today I
        immediately rejected it because my mind went to
        Galatians 5:22. A fruit of the Holy Spirit is “joy.”
        Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the result of
        the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is mourning and
        gloom. How can I avoid being a judge of what James
        has written? (There is a right judgment and a wrong
        judgment. If we simply say we are not going to follow
        the Bible because we know better, that is a wrong
        judgment. If we compare Bible passages and examine
        context to determine the overall teaching of the
        Bible, that is the better way.)

  2. Eager Understanding

    1. Read Acts 17:10-11. What message did Paul and Silas bring?
      (Jesus is the Messiah.)

      1. What made those who lived in Berea “more noble” than
        those in Thessalonica? (When they heard something
        new, they diligently checked to see if it was
        consistent with the Scriptures.)

      2. How should we approach difficult passages of the
        Bible? (We should be open to new understanding.)

    2. I’ve mentioned this before. In the early days of my church
      leaders were tossing out old understandings and adopting
      new understandings of the Bible. Today, I hear “stand by
      the pillars,” and stay with the “firm foundation.” Does
      the proper approach to truth turn on the time in history?
      Is the earlier “new truth” always correct? Or, is the
      proper approach always to carefully study the Bible and be
      open to new truth?

      1. Re-read James 4:6. What is the caution when
        considering new truth? (We need to approach this task
        with humility, not pride.)

      2. One lightweight argument that I hear is that I should
        reject a specific view of the Bible because it is
        “Catholic” or “Pentecostal.” A Catholic teaching
        might be very old and a Pentecostal teaching may be
        inspired by the Holy Spirit. To reject either out of
        hand shows a lack of humility. Instead, like the
        Bereans, we need to eagerly examine the Scriptures to
        see what is true.)

    3. Read Acts 8:26-28. What do we learn about this court
      official in these few verses? (The Ethiopian is important,
      powerful, and apparently a convert to Judaism. He also
      studies his Bible.)

      1. Do you like to read while riding in a car? Can you
        imagine reading while riding in a chariot?

        1. What does that tell us about the Ethiopian? (He
          is eager to learn more about God.)

    4. Read Acts 8:29-31. Would you invite a perfect stranger
      into your chariot? Would you be open to the Holy Spirit
      telling you to run over to a chariot and start a
      conversation? (In both situations we see men who are open
      to doing God’s will.)

    5. Read Acts 8:32-34. Is this a difficult passage? (It is for
      the Ethiopian.)

    6. Read Acts 8:35. What are the keys to understanding
      difficult passages in the Bible? (We have a man who is
      anxious to learn more about God. He is willing to take a
      chance on a stranger teaching him. The Holy Spirit has
      arranged the moment – both the text being read and Philip
      being present.)

      1. What does this teach us about learning from others?
        (While the passage was difficult for the Ethiopian,
        it was easy for Philip. Group Bible study brings in
        the understanding of others, who may be experts on a

    7. Read Acts 8:36-38. Is the Ethiopian impulsive? (I doubt
      that the man who was in charge of the Ethiopian treasury
      was impulsive.)

      1. Why not wait until he returned home to be baptized?
        He had wealth and power, and he could have been
        baptized at home in a beautiful venue with his
        friends helping him to celebrate. (I think this gives
        us an insight into the Ethiopian’s life. If something
        needs to be done, he wants to do it right now.)

      2. Notice the way the Ethiopian asks about being
        baptized. He is a man of power and authority, does he
        demand to be baptized? Why not? (He is a man of
        authority, but he defers to his new teacher on this
        spiritual matter.)

    8. Read Matthew 19:23-24. Our Ethiopian is rich and powerful.
      What makes him different?

  3. The Main Thing

    1. Read 2 Timothy 2:14. What is a “quarrel about words?”

      1. Why does it ruin those who hear it?

    2. Read 1 Timothy 6:3-4. What light does this shed on the
      “quarrels about words?” (The warning is to those who want
      to create needless debate over small issues.)

      1. How does this text help us to understand how
        listeners are harmed by these kinds of debates? (When
        you take sides in small controversies, it produces a
        mind-set for “envy, dissension, slander,[and] evil

      2. How do controversies over words differ from a
        discussion of ideas? (It is the difference between
        what is important and what is not. We want to keep
        the main thing the main thing.)

    3. Read 1 Timothy 6:5. How can we distinguish between a
      discussion of difficult texts and a desire for “constant
      friction?” (The friction person is not a student of the
      Bible. He is “depraved in mind and deprived of the

    4. Friend, do you have a zeal to know God? Do you have a
      hunger to better understand His will? Better understanding
      of God’s will is not just a matter of words, God wants us
      to act on our knowledge. Why not ask the Holy Spirit for
      help in living according to His will and more fully
      understanding God’s will?

  4. Next week: Living by the Word of God.