How many times have we heard it said that the Bible is difficult to understand? If we are honest, we have thought that ourselves too.
You are not alone in feeling this way.
The truth is, the Bible is difficult to understand only because we are not studying it the right way.
Understanding the Bible the Right Way
The Bible is a supernatural book authored by a supernatural God. It contains everything a Man needs to begin their journey to know God and salvation. The Bible is a true story and historical account of God’s dealings with Man and His plan to redeem them. The Bible also contains God’s heart, mind, and plan for humanity.
The Bible is history, and like a story, it is progressive in nature. This is why understanding the Bible is a gradual process.
He tells us everything over and over— one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!” – Isaiah 28:10 (NLT2)
So in other words, we cannot pick and choose where we want to start studying the Bible. To get a proper foundation and understanding, we need to start from the beginning, systematically and chronologically following as themes, stories and characters unfold.
Understanding the Bible Chronologically
Here is why we need to study the entire Bible in a systematic chronological manner:
1. To have a solid foundation for our faith
In school, before learning algebra, linear equations, and other complex problem sums, we learn the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Likewise, it is impossible to understand the deeper things of God without first establishing a solid fundamental foundation.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. – Hebrews 6:1-2 (NIV)
2. To help us to follow God’s intended timeline
The Bible is also a history book. When learning history, we must follow closely the timeline of events. Without doing so, we end up in confusion of what happened. Reading the Bible without proper order will lead to gaps in understanding context and rob us of the richness of meaning behind events.
For example, before we can talk about Jesus coming to earth, we need know the story of Adam and Eve and how Man fell into sin. We cannot be saved if we do not understand our need for a Savior! Before we can appreciate what Jesus did on the cross, we must understand the Old Testament sacrificial system and the necessity of blood for the atonement of sin.
Someone once said,
The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed while the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed
3. To know Jesus better by knowing His back story
Many have jumped straight to the New Testament in their understanding of who Jesus is. While this is good, it is not enough to give us a full picture. To know who Jesus is, we must go back to the very beginning to understand His essence and character. Without understanding what God did in the Old Testament and His birth on earth would take away from the revelation of Jesus Christ as God manifested in flesh.
4. To avoid major gaps in our understanding of God’s plan for mankind
In the Bible, we see God’s plan for humanity unfold from the beginning till the end. This plan helps us connect all the stories together in a narrative. Understanding a particular Bible principle is good but knowing how all the accounts in the Word tie together as one cohesive record is better.
For example, why does Noah’s Ark have only one door? Why was the Passover Lamb an unblemished male lamb? Why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac even though God hates the practice of child sacrifice? All these stories tie in to a larger picture which only a chronological study of the Bible can help us see.
5. Jesus Himself used this same method in teaching His disciples
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. – Luke 24:25-27
In revealing His identity, Jesus went back to early Scriptures to bring his disciples understanding.
We see the apostles using the same method of presenting Scriptures in the book of Acts.
An example would be Peter quoting King David’s words in the Psalms before explaining who Jesus is to the Jews. This convicted them to ask about their salvation.
If Jesus and the apostles did it, surely we can learn to do the same as the Church.
Have you ever embarked on a systematic chronological study of the Bible?
As a student or teacher, a systematic chronological study of the Bible will always bring you deeper insights to the Bible. You will discover new things and see things you never did before.
Don’t know where to start? We have a few of our personal favourite resources to recommend!
This series is a systematic study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Through the Apostolic Care and Training System (ACTS), users can also get access to training videos to learn how to be a better teacher and resources to teach this curriculum.
This is a self-study series suitable for small groups or as personal devotion.
It lays down important principles in short lessons that are easy to understand. It is available in paperback and e-books. The e-book app also has quiz questions at the end of every lesson to help with the student’s learning. Available for iOS and Android (link to download app).
In partnership with Living Logos, here is a special 20% discount off any product in their e-store! Use promo code: ACTS20.
Try out these resources and let us know what you think!