How To Really Understand the Bible
Good News Magazine
August 1975
Volume: Vol XXIV, No. 8
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How To Really Understand the Bible

   HAVE you ever tried to read the Bible, only to throw up your hands and exclaim; "I can't understand it"?
   You're not alone if you have.
   Here is an eye-opening example of the appalling lack of biblical understanding and outright ignorance of the "Book of all books" among professing Christians today, as related by a startled newspaper reporter:
   "Some months ago, a Protestant pastor administered a Bible quiz to members of his congregation. The questions were very simple. Anyone with a general knowledge of the Bible should have been able to answer all of them easily.
   "The results staggered the pastor.
   "Only five percent of his flock made a commendable grade on the test. Fifteen percent failed to give a single correct answer. Sixty percent were unable to name the four Gospels. Seventy-five percent could not identify Calvary (Golgotha) as the place where Jesus was crucified.
   "Some congregations might do better than that," continued our reporter, "but not many. The vast majority of Americans today are Bible illiterates. They simply have never read the book which they profess to regard as the 'Word of God.'"

Biblical Ignorance — Hallmark of Our Times

   This same newspaper reporter offered an explanation as to why most professing Christians do not read or study the Bible.
   "A great many people have turned away from the Bible because, when they do try to read it, they find they cannot understand it.... To the modern reader, it has a remote and antiquarian flavor. It is likely to leave him with the impression the Bible is an ancient history book that has no real relevance to his life here and now" (by Louis Cassels, UPI Special Correspondent on religious affairs).
   Paradoxically, this biblical ignorance is considered "respectable" today. "It is one of the curious phenomena of modern times," reports J. B. Phillips in The Young Church in Action, "that it is considered perfectly respectable to be abysmally ignorant of the Christian faith. Men and women who would be deeply ashamed of having their ignorance exposed in matters of poetry, music, or painting, for example, are not in the least perturbed to be found ignorant of the New Testament" (page 6).
   And so the Bible has become little more than an obsolete "sacred book" to which most of its devotees pay lip service, but which they practically never read, study, or understand!
   What are the underlying reasons for such widespread biblical ignorance and lack of understanding today? Why aren't people ashamed of not knowing what's contained in their Bibles?

How Theologians View the Bible

   You might expect atheists and agnostics to deny the divine origin of the Bible. But would you expect that many of today's leading ministers and theologians are foremost among the critics of the Bible? Incredible, but true.
   One such minister of a very large church denomination said: "No mainstream Christian church accepts the Bible as the literal interpretation of the Word of God. Some of it is folklore, some legend, some tribal history."
   How does he know? Answer: He doesn't. He has merely accepted as true the theories and hypotheses taught today in the seminaries and graduate schools of theology!
   This man was looked up to as a minister of God. Yet he attempted to discredit the very Book he was supposed to uphold and teach. Branding the Bible as the contradictory product of the vain efforts of men, he called it a book of fables and myths, instead of the inspired truth of God Almighty!
   In the introduction to a well-known modern version of the Bible, the translator summarizes his ideas in the claim that many books of the Bible are "notes by disciples, worked up into literary papers which have been repeatedly edited, sometimes by pious collectors."
   This translator and Bible scholar thought that the earlier portions of the Bible stemmed from "the natural desire to gather up the primitive traditions of the people." He took for granted, and without proof, the assumption that God had nothing to do with its inspiration.
   Still another theologian summed up the modern trend this way: "We must take the Bible seriously; but not literally."
   With statements such as these ringing in their ears, is there any wonder why hundreds of ministers publicly confess — and thousands privately admit — that they themselves can't understand or believe the Bible?
   Certainly statements such as these by well-known ministers, theologians and Bible scholars have directly discouraged many from trying to read the Bible. What else could you expect the average person to think about the Bible when men looked up to as biblical "specialists" and "experts" declare it to be a pious fraud?
   The trouble with most people is that they have taken for granted what other people say about the Bible.
   Most people — including church laymen and the clergy — have not taken the time to really look into the Bible with an open mind and study it for themselves! They simply have never proved what they have come to believe about the "Book of all books" and the world's best seller.
   And so most people continue to carelessly assume the Bible teaches hundreds of conflicting ideas — that it is irrational and irrelevant in our Space Age — and that the Bible is responsible for the hundreds of differing sects and denominations we find in the world today.

What Is the Bible?

   There is a statement in the Bible which says: "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching ..." (II Tim. 3:16, RSV).
   The Bible is God's revelation to man of basic knowledge — laws and principles which man is unable to discover for himself — knowledge which is otherwise utterly Inaccessible to the mind of man.
   For example: God did not directly reveal the law of gravity in the Bible. He equipped man with the powers and abilities to discover gravity for himself.
   But man has never been able to discover what he is, and why he was put here on earth — whether there is a real purpose for human life, or what that purpose is. Apart from the Bible, man has not been able to discover the true way to peace, happiness, abundant well-being and real success. The colleges and universities of this world do teach students how to earn a living — but they fail to teach them how to live.
   Simply stated, the Bible is God's "instruction manual" to show His supreme creation how to live! Only in the Bible can one find this basic necessary knowledge because God inspired the Bible to be the very basis of true education.
   The Bible, then, is the foundation of knowledge! It gives the true approach to the acquisition of knowledge in the fields of history, education, psychology, sociology and the health sciences. It reveals basic principles concerning business, commerce, science, the arts, law, government, philosophy and religion.
   The Bible also explains the meaning of the chaotic times in which we live. And it shows us how peace, prosperity, success and happiness are coming to all the world in our lifetime.
   Yes, people could understand the Bible — if they were willing to study it and accept it for what it says. They would find the Bible makes real sense.

You Can Understand It!

   For over two decades, scores of thousands have become "biblical literates" through the help of the Ambassador College Correspondence Course. This unique international course has led approximately 500,000 students in nearly every country on earth to a greater knowledge and understanding of the least-read and most-misunderstood book in the world. (Lessons are also available in the French, German, Dutch, Danish, Italian, Spanish and Afrikaans languages.)
   This course employs a totally different method of Bible study. It makes it easy to understand the Bible, and shows how it is -relevant in the Space Age. It is dynamic, down-to-earth — a course of understanding. It pulls no punches. It shows you what the Bible really says.
   The Ambassador College Correspondence Course has been designed to guide you through a systematic study of your own Bible — the Bible is the only textbook. It is definitely not a study of men's ideas about the Bible, but a study of the Bible itself.
   Twelve different major subjects of vital interest to every man, woman and child are thoroughly gone into and made clear with each lesson. You are directed step by step to the plain answers in your own Bible!
   This course helps you find the answers to the really big questions of life most people have always wondered about. It is designed to show the meaning behind today's world chaos, and it helps you to see the very purpose for your existence.
   Students from all walks of life are enrolled — including even ministers of religion — and all are enthusiastically discovering new truth in their Bibles with the guidance of each lesson. They are all learning that there is hope for the future — that there are solutions to the absolutely terrifying and seemingly insoluble problems of today. They are learning the keys to understanding Bible prophecy, and the principles which lead to success, financial security and a happy, abundant life.
   This course is designed for people of all ages — for you! And it makes studying the Bible enjoyable, rewarding — the experience of a lifetime.
   Remember, there is no tuition cost or obligation whatsoever. Your lessons have already been paid for by others who are voluntarily helping to send this course free of charge to all who request it. And there are no tests to send in. You evaluate your own progress conveniently and privately at home.
   Will you let the Ambassador College Correspondence Course make the Bible 100 percent relevant to your life today? Do it right now — lest you forget! You'll be glad you did.

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Good News MagazineAugust 1975Vol XXIV, No. 8