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How to Understand the Bible

7 Scriptural Threads for More Complete Bible Understanding

Many people are unaware of several basic threads running through Scripture that, when recognized, open our understanding. Following are seven threads vital to piecing together a more complete understanding of the Bible.

  1. The true gospel:

    Many people reduce the gospel to a message about Jesus Christ. Yet it is mainly about the coming Kingdom of God and how one can be a part of it through Him. This is a powerful message of God’s plan for all humankind, first encompassing individuals who surrender to God and become part of His Church, to be followed by far more in the world tomorrow.

    The true gospel proclaims vital truths. It prophetically reveals events and will continue to do so up until and after Christ returns. 

  2. The purpose of salvation is a new creation:

    Salvation is the goal, the culmination of God’s plan set in motion with the creation of the first man and woman. The creation was not finished with the events of Genesis 1; those were just the first physical phase of God’s creation process. God’s creation will continue far into the future.

    Man was created a physical being. While he has a spiritual component that gives him intellect, the human spirit, there is no consciousness apart from the body (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). Man is mortal, not immortal. He has the opportunity to receive God’s Spirit so he can develop spiritual character and eventually be transformed into a perfect spiritual creation. 

  3. The Bible’s interpretation of symbols:

    Many of the prophetic truths of the Bible have been expressed by God through the use of symbols. The book of Daniel, for instance, is replete with various symbols—images and animals, some real, some fantastic, some explained, some left unexplained. Some symbols were used, not to make the meaning clearer, but to hide the message until God reveals their meaning at or near the time of the end (Daniel 12:8-9).

    For centuries men have tried to interpret these symbols according to their own ideas, resulting mostly in chaos and confusion. An important key to understanding biblical prophecy is that these symbols must be plainly interpreted in the Bible itself, in the immediate context or elsewhere. Strictly human interpretations are of no value. We must seek out and rely on God’s interpretation, not our own. 

  4. God’s dual method: Throughout Scripture we can see the principle of duality repeatedly revealed. The physical creation in Genesis 1 leads to the spiritual creation described in Revelation 21 and 22. The first Adam, of physical matter, of the earth, prefigured the second Adam, Jesus Christ, of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
    Duality also appears in Bible prophecy. Sometimes there may be a preliminary fulfillment, a forerunner of a later or final fulfillment, usually at the end time.
  5. God’s annual festivals: God gave seven annual feasts or festivals as guideposts to remember and reveal key aspects of His plan of salvation. These are listed together in Leviticus 23. Each one pictures a step in this process for individuals and, ultimately, for all humanity.
    • Passover pictures the death of Jesus Christ for our sins and the opportunity God gives us, on repentance, to have our sins forgiven.
    • The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts seven days, shows that repentant people are to live spiritually pure lives after having sin’s penalty removed by the sacrifice of Jesus. Christians are to reject sin (symbolized by putting out physical leaven) and live a new life patterned after Christ’s and characterized by sincerity and truth.
    • The Feast of Pentecost represents the receiving of God’s Spirit, through which God’s people become one Church, the unified Body of Christ. Also known as the Feast of Firstfruits, it depicts the first harvest of those who will receive salvation according to God’s plan.
    • The Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. At the same time Christians will be given eternal life in the first resurrection.
    • The Day of Atonement represents God’s binding of Satan for 1,000 years after Christ’s return and the reconciliation of mankind with God that will then be possible.
    • The Feast of Tabernacles, lasting seven days, pictures the first 1,000 years of Christ’s reign on earth. With Satan’s destructive, deceitful influence removed, humanity can at last learn God’s ways and truth and be restored to a right relationship with God. During this time, many more will receive God’s gift of salvation.
    • Finally, the Eighth Day, immediately following the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, depicts a time after the Millennium when the dead who were not brought back to life in the first resurrection and never had a chance to receive God’s Spirit will be resurrected to live again. They will be given an opportunity, over time, to know God, understand His truths, repent and receive His Spirit. It is their opportunity to choose to become part of the Kingdom of God, to receive salvation.
  6. The identity of Israel:

    Most people do not know that the ancient nation of Israel was divided after the death of King Solomon. The kingdom of Israel, comprising 10 of the original 12 tribes of Israel, later was taken into captivity by the Assyrian Empire and disappeared from the pages of history, becoming known as “the lost 10 tribes.”

    The two tribes forming the kingdom of Judah were also taken into captivity but largely managed to retain their identity. Today their descendants, the Jews, are spread throughout the world and the modern state of Israel.

    But what happened to the missing 10 tribes? They still exist, although unaware of their biblical identity. Many prophecies will take on greater meaning and significance when we understand this vital key.

  7. God’s seventh-day Sabbath:

    The fourth of the Ten Commandments requires that we keep holy the seventh day of the week—sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. It is sometimes called the test commandment, since God referred to it as such when He presented it to ancient Israel in Exodus 16 (see verse 4). Indeed, it remains a test of our commitment to obeying God. This is the commandment that those who are only “professing” Christians will almost always refuse to obey.

    Obeying this command often brings tests of faith, requiring sincere reliance on God. But it also supplies great blessings to those who keep it. It is a vital key to understanding God’s Word, because “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10).

    The Bible calls the Sabbath an identifying sign of God and His people (Exodus 31:16-17). It has enabled many Jews, descendants of the kingdom of Judah, to retain their identity. The “lost 10 tribes,” on the other hand, neglected and rejected God’s Sabbath, which proved to be a major factor in the loss of their true identity. 

    Awareness of these threads running through the Bible will open the way to a better overall understanding of God’s Word. Because traditional churches have lost sight of so many of these, it’s no wonder they have fragmented into so many denominations, each holding a different view of what the Bible says and all the while failing to understand much of its true message.

    From the booklet – How to Understand the Bible

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