Can an Unbeliever Understand the Bible?

Relationship with God Matters

If God used holy men of God to write his Book, he wants holy men of God to interpret his Book. If we are not in proper relation with God, it is not realistic to think we will be able to interpret the Bible rightly. To best be able to understand the Bible, we must pray, confess our sins and compare scriptures.


Every Christian needs to pray as he comes to study the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation to man. As we come to hear what God has to say, we need to talk to God. David prayed, “”Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law”” (Ps. 119:18). This ought to be our prayer as we come to interpret the Bible.


Sin in the life of a Christian will hinder the Holy Spirit from illuminating the Scriptures. It is important that we are not harboring unconfessed sin in our lives if we expect God to teach us through the Bible. Because no one is perfect, we need constantly to apply the principle of 1 John 1:9 to maintain our fellowship with God. “”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”” Naturally, the Christian must strive to live a pure life, but when we fail, God is willing to forgive if we will confess.

No one can have a cleansed life until he first receives Christ as personal Savior. Jesus told his disciples “”that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”” (Matt. 5:20). The righteousness Jesus requires of his disciples is not a superior list of standards or perfect life-styles. Rather, everyone should receive the righteousness of God by faith (Rom. 3:24, 25).

At salvation, we are first cleansed, but as we live in this world, we are contaminated by the affairs of life. When we sin, we need to be cleansed so we can restore our broken fellowship with God. Jesus said, “”He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all”” (John 13:10).

Comparing Scripture

The Bible is the best interpreter of itself. As we study the Bible, we should learn to compare the Scriptures we are studying with other relevant passages of Scripture to interpret the Bible.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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