The Bible is open to Christians. While you might actually have an open Bible in your home, that’s not what I mean. I mean that the Bible can be understood or interpreted by believers. We are supposed to lean on the church’s traditions, the church’s historical teaching, but we are also to interpret the Bible ourselves. “All Christians have a right and duty not only to learn from the church’s heritage of faith but also to interpret Scripture for themselves” (J.I. Packer, p. 6).
If your faith is informed only by what you learn at church, you are missing out on one of the most significant blessings that we have as believers. You have the ability to understand God’s Word yourself. You have the ability to read Scripture and know what God would say to you. The church helps us properly understand Scripture, it keeps us from allowing personal sin to cloud our interpretation of the Bible. Reading it on our own is what will help us apply it and learn from it in the context of our individual lives.
There are a few important things to remember when reading the Bible. (1) It is inspired by God. That means it is consistent and alive. The best way to understand the parts of the Bible that are less clear is to interpret them in light of the more clear parts. (2) It is meant to be understood (mostly). There are a few prophetic writings that we will not understand until all is done, but the Bible is supposed to be something that people understand. Don’t overcomplicate it and don’t read into what isn’t there. He wanted readers to understand it. (3) The books are written in a specific context. You cannot understand the Bible outside of its context. If you try to read it with no awareness of how it all fits together and who the human authors were you will miss the mark way wide.
Finally, if you want to read and understand the Bible, pray. Engage with God, turn your mind and heart towards him. Prayer and scripture just go together. One without the other is incomplete. Not that there aren’t times to spend just in prayer or diving deeply into the text, but they are two sides of the same coin. They give us the chance to engage the mind of God.