You don’t need a decoder-ring to “get” the Bible


One of the things I love about the Christian faith is that it’s deeply satisfying for all people, regardless of their intellectual capacities or academic interests. It is not an esoteric religion—one “concealed in vague symbols that require some sort of special ‘insight’ to grasp,” as R.C. Sproul put it well in Knowing Scripture. But this seems to be easy to forget at times, isn’t it?

I was reminded of this as I read a book recently that was all about recovering the supernatural worldview of the biblical authors, something he believes we lack in 21st western evangelicalism in particular. Overall the book is pretty good and has a few helpful aspects, but as I read it, I kept asking myself, “How much of this would the average Christian be able to grasp from a plain reading of Scripture?”

That’s one of the questions I find myself asking as I read a lot of books, actually.

Now obviously I’m all for doing the appropriate study of historical backgrounds and languages. These add a great deal to the depth of our understanding of the Scriptures and allow us to get closer to the meaning of the text in its original context. I am incredibly thankful for all who’ve invested their time and energy into learning the biblical languages, who’ve written commentaries, who’ve researched carefully the historical background.

But at the same time, we need to remember that you don’t need a decoder ring to “get” the Bible.

We shouldn’t act as though the Bible has hidden knowledge that only an elite few can access. That is the way of the mystical guru, who offers esoteric nonsense—absurdities in place of true wisdom. But the message of the Bible—at least in its basic message—is plain to all. Most anyone could come to the text of the Bible and understand the means by which God offers salvation (whether they agree with it or not is another question entirely). They can know the commands of God (whether they obey, again, is another question entirely). They can know there will be judgement, there will be a day when suffering and sadness end, when death is no more and all will be made new. Some elements are confusing, and some, frankly, make little sense to those living in the West today. Even so, there is no need for discouragement: what we can know, we can know.

So friend, as you open your Bible today, have confidence. God is not hiding anything from you. He wants you to know what he has to say. And you can know—no decoder rings or special skills required.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.