Getting Understanding by Michael Owens
It’s very important for believers to understand the Bible when they read it. Regardless of your age, the Word of God is your source of wisdom and instruction.
When you purchase a household appliance, it usually comes with instructions. When read and applied, these instructions help you to get the maximum usage out of the appliance. If the instructions are misunderstood and the product is used improperly, you could damage it and shorten its lifespan.
I once heard Dr. Creflo A. Dollar say, “When you don't know the purpose for a thing, you will abuse it.” This also holds true concerning the Word of God. At Inline Student Ministries, we have a saying that the word Bible is an acronym for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” If you misread the Bible—the instructions that God has established for your life—you may find yourself thinking, saying and doing things that go against the Word of God.
We are instructed in Joshua 1:8 (NIV) to “…not let this Book of the Law [the Bible] depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” The word careful in this passage means, “to be cautious, accurate and thorough.” In other words, you want to be accurate and thorough when you study the Word.
In Psalm 119:105 (NIV) King David proclaimed, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” He goes on to say in verse 130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” The word light means “knowledge or enlightenment.” As you study the Word, you will receive enlightenment concerning the Word, direction for your life and the answers to any questions you may have.
You may wonder, “Where do I begin? How can I get the understanding I need from the Word?” Start by finding a quiet place in your home so you won’t get distracted. If you’re at school, use your lunch break or free period to get away to read the Word and spend some time in prayer. If you’re permitted to go outside, find a tree to sit under. If you are unable to do this, or if the weather does not permit, go to your homeroom while everyone is at lunch. If you make this a daily routine, you’ll eventually form a habit and train yourself to spend time with God every day.
I have found that when I spend time praying in tongues before studying my Bible, God shows me things and speaks to me through His Word. First Corinthians 14:4 (KJV, Twentieth Century New Testament) states that when we speak in an unknown tongue, we edify ourselves and strengthen our faith. Verse 2 says, “For he that speaks in tongues, speaks not to men, but directly to God, no man understands him, yet in the spirit he is speaking of hidden truths.” As you speak in tongues, the Holy Spirit will reveal hidden truths to you concerning the Word of God. After prayer, you are ready to begin digging into the Word.
Allow the Scripture to bring understanding to itself. The Bible is a progressive revelation. That means it is continually being revealed. Remember, the Bible contains both historical passages (true events that occurred in history) and teaching passages (passages that give instruction for Christian living).
To gain a better understanding of what you are reading, pay attention to the political, economic and religious background of the text. This will help you to see the big picture and to understand the context in which something was said. Also, be on the lookout for parables, or easy-to-understand stories, with heavenly meanings. Parables have two basic purposes: 1) to reveal truth to believers; and 2) to conceal truth from those whose hearts are hardened.
Here’s an interesting fact that you may not have known. The Bible was not originally written in chapter and verse format. The chapter and verse divisions were put in later for reference and study purposes.
We are instructed to “Study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God…worker[s] that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In your study time, always have a notebook and pen ready. Learn to concentrate on the subject you are studying. Concentration means “to focus your full attention or the full power of your mind on what you’re attempting to learn.”
Part of studying the Word is meditating on what you’ve read. Restating or rethinking scripture is a form of mental meditation. It is practiced repetition until a concept is grasped. Do not try to study many things at the same time. Study for 30 to 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. This lets your mind rest for a few minutes. You may want to invest in a concordance or a dictionary of Bible words.
When listening to a minister in church or to teaching tapes, always have a notebook and pen ready. Accept the responsibility of being a good listener. Take good notes. This will also help you to develop better listening skills.
As you begin to study the Word and receive revelation knowledge from God, He will lead and guide you into all truth. Ultimately, you will gain the understanding and instruction that you need to follow His will for your life.
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Here are confessions from Ephesians 1:17-23 to speak aloud every day.
Father, I pray that You, the God of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will grant me a spirit of wisdom and revelation—of insight into mysteries and secrets. By having the eyes of my heart flooded with light, I will know and understand the hope to which You have called me. I will also know how rich Your glorious inheritance is in the saints—the people You have set apart as Your own. I pray that I may know and understand the immeasurable, unlimited and unsurpassing greatness of Your power in and for me as demonstrated in the working of Your mighty strength, which You exerted in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated him at Your right hand in heavenly places, far above every authority, power, dominion and name that exists or has ever existed. You have put all things under His feet and have appointed Him to be the universal and supreme Head of the Church, which is His body. In that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete and Who fills everything with Himself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.