So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2: 2-5) KJV
We perceive ourselves as being fully alive, but the Bible teaches that we are spiritually dead. The reason the world cannot make heads or tails of the Bible is that the Bible is written for those who are alive in their spirit. So how does one go from spiritually dead to spiritually alive? Spiritual life can only be accomplished, by hearing and responding to the gospel. If you cannot understand the word of God, and you would like to, then you should find a place that teaches the Bible, or simply read the Bible starting with one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John). Many recommend starting with John.
The Bible must be understood spiritually, so for those who are dead spiritually this step is going to seem absurd. However, once a person has been reborn spiritually they are able to see that the Bible’s teachings make perfect sense. Sometimes people claim to understand the scriptures, yet they teach things that are contrary to scriptures, or they make irrational assertions about the meaning of particular scriptures. When scripture is being taught properly it will be clear that people are asked to have a great deal of faith in God, but people should not find themselves having to have a great deal of faith in the person who is teaching form the Bible in order to agree with their teaching.
There are those who, because of a lack of study, still think that the Bible is a fictional work. I was once asked if I really believed Jesus was a real person. To deny that Jesus was a real person I would have to discount most of history, because there are more historical records of Jesus that any figure before Him, and more records of Jesus life than many well-known historical figures that came much later on in history. If you attempt to read the Bible as anything but historically accurate you will inevitably misinterpret the teaching of the Bible.
By completely I mean as a whole. Everyone who wants to understand the Bible must be willing to study the Bible as a whole. It is impossible to understand the New Testament, as it is intended, if you do not have an understanding of the Old Testament. It is possible to be saved, and living a Christian life apart from this knowledge, but this article is about understanding the Bible, and you must understand the Bible as a whole. How can you fully explain mans need for salvation if you do not know why we have been separated from God? How can you understand the need for Jesus to die on the cross if you do not understand God’s requirement for the atonement of sin? Understanding the context of a verse goes beyond the context of the chapter in which it is written. You must understand the context of the book in which it was written i.e. the book of John, and then you must understand the context of the particular book within the entire Bible itself. Bible study is a lifelong pursuit, but be patient because there is no more rewarding pursuit on earth.