“And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15–16

A common refrain from many is that the Bible is hard to understand. Even some Christians would agree. But why should we be surprised? The unsaved man receives no aid from the Holy Spirit through His illumining ministry, so quite naturally he operates from a deficit. Also, many Christians have been short-changed by those whom they have tasked with their discipleship and have never really learned the first things of the faith.

Some unsaved people have succeeded in understanding the basics of Christianity from their own study of the Scriptures. They may approach the Bible as a historical document telling human-interest stories. The Bible is full of instruction on human nature, for sure. Others may approach the Bible from a classic literature standpoint. Some unsaved people just see the Bible as a collection of works behind which God was at work to reveal Himself to man. Through hard work and common sense the unsaved mind can discern quite a bit about God and His provision for mankind. Though unsaved, they certainly can benefit from the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, or the marvelous parables of our Lord. Such scholars are fortunate indeed. As an illustration of unsaved men benefiting from studying the Scriptures, you do not have to look farther than several of our founding fathers.

The reason it is hard for an unsaved man to understand the Bible is explained in 2 Corinthians 2:14ff: “But the natural man does not receive [does not welcome] the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [understood, examined, scrutinized]….” Romans 3:11 explains this: “There is none who understands [grasps, to send together]; there is none who seeks after God [to search out, investigate, crave, demand].” It is one thing to seek out wisdom about God, it is a wholly different thing to search out and lay ahold of God when a man is totally unaided by the Spirit. Salvation must be of God, not of man’s effort and ingenuity (Ephesians 2:8ff).

Only believers have received what they need in order to grasp and “send together” spiritual matters. 1 Corinthians 2:13 reveals, “These things we also speak, not words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing [cross reference, comparison] spiritual things with spiritual [spiritual things for spiritual people]. While Christians are able to discern things for themselves without the aid of other believers, we all stand on the shoulders of giants in the faith and find great aid from godly people who have shared their Bible learning with us. Good commentaries, diligent Sunday School teachers and expository pastors all have their place in helping other believers build a solid framework of doctrinal understanding.

When a new believer is discipled, he has many moments of wonder and joy as he is introduced to the Bible, comparing spiritual things for spiritual people. Will all Bible knowledge be gained in a man’s lifetime? Absolutely not, for several reasons. One, God is the Author. He is infinite and reveals Himself in the pages of the Scriptures. Purely by definition, the infinite cannot be contained in the human brain and so, the Infinite cannot be fully comprehended by man limited in time, space, resource, and wisdom. Romans 11:33 exclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Isaiah 55:8f quotes God as saying, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” For this reason God had to superintend (inspire) the various authors He used to pen the books of the Bible, progressively revealing Himself and His plan throughout the ages.

The second reason we will never know everything there is to know in the Bible is the fact that God wrote such a wonderful book that it is for all mankind. All types of people, aided by the Holy Spirit, discover their need for a Savior and that Jesus is the only Savior that God has sent. The Gospel is not just for the wise, the aged, the experienced, the high I.Q., or the privileged man. The Gospel is for children, for neophytes, and for simpletons as well. Yet the training God gives in the Bible is necessary for even an apostle like Peter! Peter did not know everything either.

This is the meaning of Peter’s words found in 2 Peter 3:15f. Peter illustrates that each apostle had a different mission and each author of a book in the Bible was inspired only to write his portion. Peter, too, had to learn from Paul’s words! Sure, there will always be something more to learn, therefore you cannot possibly expect to understand all the Bible! But that is no excuse for intellectual or spiritual laziness (Acts 17:11). Trust and obey.