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Featured What is the best resource for learning to understand the bible?

Discussion in 'For New Christians' started by Bcs90, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. Bcs90

    Bcs90 New Member

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    I am trying to find my faith and lacking understanding although I pray for understanding and wisdom very often.. but I don't feel "transformed" I'm like "Lord COME ON!! Destroy my will and let your will reign in soverignity over my life and let me be flooded with the holy spirit!" I'm still waiting though, don't feel like I'm "reborn". Although I will say my life is better than when I was atheist and although I'm quite discouraged I don't plan on giving up..

    I need to learn how I can study the bible on my own time though.. yes some of you will say go join some kind of study group..etc. and I very well may do that in the future but with my schedule right now, I'm working non-stop long shifts overnights and have to try to sleep during the day and I need a way to study and understand the bible on my own terms and time right now.. I am listening to christian podcasts/sermons with my headphones at work which is helpful, I do listen/read the actual bible though too but for me the podcasts are far less intimidating to me since I can understand most of what they are talking about since they explain things.. But I'm also limited to learning only what they are choosing to address instead of being able to open the bible myself to whatever page and be able to find understanding and wisdom in that because I guess I was not blessed with being able to understand God's word.

    On the podcast I've been listening to, they talk about bibles with footnotes to help better understand and pointers that show the connections in the bible? Where can I find something like this that I can download and read/listen on my phone? Thank you!
     
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  2. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    Try some real books for a change. I would suggest Derek Prince’s Foundation Series and his Self Study Bible Course.
     
  3. Nicholina

    Nicholina New Member

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    Hi Bcs90! I am new (ish) to reading the Bible too.. I use an app called "Read Scripture". It walks you through the entire Bible with videos along the way to orient you to what is happening. (The videos are really pretty too!). I believe the videos are made by The Bible Project. I also have a study bible, with footnotes like you mentioned, to read at home.

    You don't have to be "blessed" to understand the Bible! It accessible to everyone. Just keep reading and listening. The fact that you are driven to read it and attempt to understand it is God working and He is already transformed you.
     
  4. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If we walk in love (the Spirit), that experience helps explain a lot of the meaning in what different writers say. Apart from that you can't identify with much of what is said.
     
  5. Bcs90

    Bcs90 New Member

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    Well, I think I understand the "values" of what it means to be a Christian but that's as far as it goes. I know HOW I should act morally, I just don't understand scripture and how it all connects together.. I understand that having the spirit gives you discernment and wisdom to understand the bible. That's why I've been praying non-stop for the spirit so that I can receive that discernment and wisdom but nothing as far as that goes is changing? It's almost as if my prayer for understanding and wisdom is being ignored. Walk with the spirit? I would if I knew how!! The only thing I can do is pray that I can walk with the spirit, but then it's like that prayer gets ignored too. So now I'm at a roadblock.
     
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  6. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This helped me understand the issues as a young Christian;

    You have only 3 choices in salvation. God alone saves people and gets the glory (Calvinism/Augustinianism).

    You save yourself with God's help and split the glory (Arminianism/Semipelagianism).

    Or you save yourself without God's help and get all the glory (Pelagianism/Socinianism).

    Calvinism VS Arminianism Comparison Chart by L. Boettner
     
  7. Bcs90

    Bcs90 New Member

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    Yup, I have been listening to the "The Bible Project" on spotify for the last week. Really enjoying their pods so far. I don't want to be afraid of reading the actual bible though but I am because when I do, it's like none of it registers or sinks in. It's like I'll FOCUS on it as hard as I can but afterwards it's like I took nothing from it! No understanding, no spiritual enlightenment.. nothing.. besides confusion and discouragement.
     
  8. Nicholina

    Nicholina New Member

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    Try the Read Scripture app! It uses the Bible Project videos to get you through the Bible.
     
  9. Bcs90

    Bcs90 New Member

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    I think I fall under Arminianism.. Which does not make me happy. All the glory should go to God right? How can one take God's glory? Wouldn't God frown upon that? Would you say it's safe to say if that is me that I am not one of the elect and if I am somehow saved it's probably out of pity?
     
  10. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    “On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Acts 12:21–23 (NASB95)
     
  11. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Your question sounds simple, but doesn’t have a simple answer, because it depends upon what you’re looking for. At some point you should read books like “Introduction to the New Testament” and the same for the OT. These are textbooks for a one-semester college course in the Bible. The goal is to give you historical and religious background, which you need in order to make sense of what the authors meant, and also to talk about things like what situation each book was written to address, which is also important. (This assumes you can handle college-level material. If not, there are high-school equivalents.)

    But I’m not sure this is your highest priority. I don’t think you need a college course in the Bible, butt rather a basic orientation to Christianity. If you pick up the Bible and read one book, it’s just part of an ongoing story. It’s useful to know where the whole thing is going, or you’ll miss the forest for the trees.

    But all of this will depend upon your theological orientation. I’m from the mainline Protestant tradition. We accept modern science and history, and see the Bible as a human witness to what God did (and does). You’re going to get a somewhat different picture from authors in our tradition than from someone who rejects evolution, and tries to interpret all the biblical authors as if they agreed.

    For someone in our church, as a general orientation I’d probably point to Donald McKim, “Presbyterian Beliefs.” This actually isn’t specific to the Presbyterian church. There’s nothing here any other mainline Christian would disagree with, but I don’t know of equivalents from the other churches.

    Another alternative would be Alister McGrath’s “Theology: The Basics.” This is a somewhat abbreviated version of his textbook “Christian Theology: An Introduction,” which is intended as a college textbook. “The Basics” is intended for something like an adult Sunday School.

    McGrath tries to give a reasonably neutral presentation of major themes in Christianity, with a Biblical background. Many responses you’ll see are, quite naturally, from more specific theological perspectives.

    If you do want something closer to the OT and NT Introduction, I can suggest some, but realize that I’m not going to recommend anything that treats the Bible as inerrant, because I think that approach completely misunderstands what the Bible is.

    Bibles with footnotes are helpful, but I think they're most useful if you already have a general orientation. The standard for college courses in the New Oxford Annotated edition of the NRSV. But this is from the mainline perspective.
     
  12. tall73

    tall73 Sophia7's husband Supporter

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    Edit, duplicate to below.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  13. Bcs90

    Bcs90 New Member

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    Well, pretty sure no one thinks I'm God and if they did I would set them straight at least lol. Still worried about the whole taking the glory and getting eaten by worms thing though. Oh boy, I'm going to try to go to bed. Thanks for the replies/advice people.
     
  14. tall73

    tall73 Sophia7's husband Supporter

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    Jesus died for your sins. You did not. The rest you can figure out as you read the Scriptures more. You are not Herod Agrippa because you are not sure yet how to understand every Bible text on salvation.

    I would suggest the NIV Study Bible. The way to understand the Bible at first is to read the Bible whenever you can. It is hard to make connections if you have no familiarity. The NIV study Bible explains the text without getting too technical for beginners. It will give historical information, introductions, etc.

    As for a reading plan, I would start by reading all the way through Genesis and Exodus and then read the entire New Testament.

    Then you can go back and pick up additional OT books.
     
  15. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Now a more personal response.

    I’m a bit concerned about your post. Not everyone gets to be St. Paul, with Christ calling him personally, and turning around his life. I suggest that you read one of the Gospels, maybe Luke. Jesus calls for people to follow him, but he talks mostly about loving God and neighbor, and not about impressive religious experiences.

    Following him is about the kinds of relationships you have with people, and the kinds of decisions you make in your life.

    Generally, the Christian life is lived in community, and it is supported by worship. Jesus called a group of disciples, and mentored them as a team. Paul worked with churches, not normally with individuals.

    One of the most important things for Christians is to appreciate what God has done for us. The natural response to this is worship. In particular, in communion you should be brought back to Jesus’ death for you.

    People react very differently to different types of worship, so I can’t make a specific recommendation. But don’t overlook more traditional churches. A lot of people find that traditional communion liturgy is more helpful than rock concerts. Excitement isn't everything.
     
  16. Bcs90

    Bcs90 New Member

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    Yes I wish I could talk and see Jesus personally. The fact that some people are able to and I am not makes me feel like I'm not as worthy, like if my dad were to favor my sister over me and not talk to me and would only talk to her for example.. That didn't happen he didn't have favorites, it's just kinda an example. It's hard to shake that perspective, because I see it as truth. That God has favorites and will give them endless supply of love, peace, grace, and even Gold and material things and beautiful women (Solomon). Then he also has children who want his attention/love more than anything else in the world and he might just snap his fingers and be like "Go to bed with the worms child!"
    I know this is a very dark outlook and greatly endangers my salvation but I see it as truth, so how can I learn to see it as anything else?
     
  17. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The struggle is real. ;)

    I know what you're going through. Two things I can share. 1) Try not to put too much stock in how you feel. Feelings come and go. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That means God loves you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If you are able, focus on that one truth. Remind yourself that Christ gave his very life so that you will have life. Focus on the truth, and in time the feelings will come...and then they will go again. Haha. Seriously, if you expect a constant state of whatever-feeling, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The key is faith-trusting in the One who loves you. Once you come to the place where you no longer doubt that you are loved and that God will carry you....you're well on your way.

    2) Learning takes time. I would suggest reading the scriptures every day. Pick a book. My suggestion: 1 John. There is a lot you may not understand, but I promise there is also a lot there you will understand. Read a little bit, then stop and think about what you just read. Read the same thing every day for a week, if need be. But, make sure you "chew" on it, taste it. Before long you will begin to devour it with a voracious appetite. Focus on what you understand, trust God for the rest, and be patient. God is on no rush. Be open to God's timing.

    May the strength and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
     
  18. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Fire for the Earth! (Luke 12:49) Supporter

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    You might want to consider that the fullness of Christianity transcends any single person's conceptual frame about it, especially since God hasn't given to us a message that is intended to explain ALL of reality in any kind of comprehensive way.

    Being a Christian can't be reduced to simply "discerning" whether it should be, say, Calvin or Arminius that you should 'follow' in trying to understand our faith and growing as a Christian. On my part, I just keep myself open to much of what has been produced by Christians for nearly 2,000 years, taking the good and the bad to mull over, focusing primarily on the New Testament writings of the earliest disciples and the Apostles and, in a spirit of Unity with all fellow Trinitarian Christian believers, doing my best to 'be' a Christian.

    And, maybe do yourself a service in realizing that Christ has told us to expect 'hard times,' which implies that we live our lives before Him with expected emotional Ups and Downs. We won't just arrive at a permanent plateau of JOY that carries us like a wave to our last day. Of course, we'd all really like it if it could be that way, but both existentially and theologically, it isn't that way. So, do yourself a service and keep yourself open to friendship with all fellow Christians, even those you may partially disagree with, and ride the waves of God's Spirit as best you can.

    Peace! :cool:
     
  19. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I very much like Biblehub. It has most versions of the Bible, commentaries, Greek and Hebrew meanings and literal translations. There is a version for smartphones. I teach the Bible. It can take a while to get into it. Lord Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has a number of roles. One of them is to lead us into all the truth. Ask God to give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Be patient with yourself. Take notes of anything that really stands out to you. I would start with John's Gospel.

    God wants to free your will, not destroy it. That is a prayer He will answer with a resounding "NO!"

    Finally, please don't rely on your emotions. Depend on God's facts. Faith will rise up as God's word becomes real to you.
     
  20. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    You probably don't really want to be Solomon. Most Americans live a lot better than even a great king in 900 BC. Not to mention better than most people on earth today.

    It's true that there are people like Paul who are God’s agents in ways the rest of us aren’t. But Paul was also persecuted in ways we aren’t, and tradition says the same was true of many of Jesus’ disciples.

    At any rate, the point of someone like Paul is to get churches started and to support them. But the real goal isn’t Paul. I mean if everyone dropped what they’re doing to be apostles, the world would fall apart. The end goal of calling Paul is to develop people like you and me, who follow Jesus is more ordinary ways.

    Take a look at John 20:24-29. Yes, it’s cool for Thomas to get to see the resurrected Jesus, but there can’t be a lot of people like him. The Kingdom depends upon those like us who haven’t seen Jesus but have faith in him.

    Also look at 1 Cor 12 (which continues on through 13 and 14). One of the problems with Paul’s letters is that we don’t know precisely what situation he was dealing with, so we have to guess from his responses. But it looks like so many people were showing what today we’d call charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy) that it was causing problems. Paul had to point out that in the end what mattered wasn’t those gifts, but faith, hope, and love.

    If you’re talking about the problem of some people living terribly, I’m with you there. But God seems to have turned over most responsibility to us. One of the points of Gen 2 is that God made humans responsible for running the world. (Gen 2:15) Jesus came to show us God, but in the end he left responsibility for representing him with us. I don’t believe that God puts children in abject poverty. There are enough resources on earth that that kind of thing isn’t necessary. We’ve allowed things to develop this way. And we’re supposed to fix it.
     
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