Key To The Understanding Of The Scriptures
by H.P. MANSFIELD
Why Read The Bible?
The Aim Of The Book
Section 1 -- THE BIBLE: What It Is And What It Teaches
Section 2 -- REDEMPTION IN CHRIST JESUS
Section 3 -- BIBLE HISTORY
Section 4 -- MISUNDERSTOOD DOCTRINES
Section 5 -- NOTES ON PROPHECY
A Summary Of The "One Faith"
The key to the understanding of the Bible is of a unique character. It is easily obtained, yet few possess, it; it reveals the way of life eternal,
Yet few desire it; it is within the grasp of all to find, yet few seek it.
The key to the understanding of the Bible, can become the proud Possession of men and women of character. It requires of them a determination to investigate the Gospel message, and embrace it. It calls upon them to reject preconceived ideas about salvation, and with independence of mind, ponder the principles of Divine revelation.
The Key Lost By Religious Leaders.
"Woe unto you lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourself, and them that were entering in ye hindered" (Luke 11:52).
In these words, Christ condemned the cold, formalised religion of his day, as being both repulsive and destructive. The leaders had rejected the crystal-clear teaching of Truth, and had dispensed with the key to knowledge. Worse, by their false teachings, they "prevented" others, from using it, who might otherwise have benefitted by the knowledge of Truth. Christ urged his hearers to avoid such an influence (Matt. 23:30).
The Key Possessed By Christ.
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death" (Rev. 1:18).
The Lord has the keys, or power, over life and death. Through him, alone, is the means of salvation. He proclaimed the Gospel without fear or favor, and reminded his disciples that he also possessed the "key of David" (Rev. 3:7) - the symbol of power, authority and kingship. Paul maintained that the "Gospel was the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16), and without this, humanity gropes in the darkness of ignorance, and in the shadow of death.
The Key Given to the Apostles.
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 16:19).
The Apostles had the ability to understand and proclaim the Gospel of the coming Kingdom. This constituted the basis of the community of believers, who are "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20).
The Key Available To All.
". . . His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).
The knowledge of the Gospel is the key to life eternal. Peter declared that it is through this means that we can attain unto "divine nature" (see verse 4), and an inheritance in the Glory of the Age to Come.
The key to the understanding of the Scriptures is the key to happiness and contentment in this life, as well as to glory and immortality in the future.
Why Read The Bible?
The Bible is a storehouse of divine truth which will repay reading whether it be approached merely because of its literary value, its ethical teaching, or its practical bearing on everyday life (e.g. the Proverbs).
But for those who are prepared to study the contents of this wonderful volume with the object of learning what God desires of them, it offers present and future blessings beyond the ability of man to assess (Rev. 1:3), for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; (1 Cor. 2:9).
This, however, requires study, that faith might be established and increased. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). With study there will be developed a love for the Book, and for its Author whose love will be revealed therein,and by this influence the Reader will be led to radiate that same love to others. Therefore, this divine Book is the greatest power for good in the hands of man -- if it be read with understanding.
Our objective is to place the key to its understanding in the hands of the Reader that he might better comprehend its message, and so be drawn by the power of God's love.
The present edition has been completely revised and rewritten.
This series of studies is designed to present in connected form the fundamental teaching of the Bible. The reader is invited to examine it critically, with the Bible at his right hand, without which nothing can or ought to be determined in relation to God's truth. Though much that we have set forth may appear strange or new when compared with the teaching of most churches, we submit that it can all be substantiated by a "thus saith the Lord."
Is a correct understanding of God's revelation essential to salvation? Does it really matter what we believe, so long as our motives are sincere? The answer to these questions is in the affirmative, as attested by the Lord Jesus himself. He declared:
"True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him ... they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and In truth" (John 4:23-24).
The Lord thus discriminated between mere -worshippers" and "true" worshippers, and emphasised, by repetition, that the latter worship the Father in truth.
Surrounded by a multiplicity of sects and churches all claiming to set forth truth, it becomes incumbent upon the individual who would correctly worship the Father, to seek out the Truth for himself.
We believe that this series of lessons will help him in his search.
But why is such help needed? If a correct understanding of the Bible is essential to true worship, why did God set forth His revelation in a book so difficult to comprehend?
The answer is an important one. God's purpose is not merely to save people, but to make them worth saving. This can only be brought about by changing their outlook and characters to conform to His, and this can only be done by superimposing His mind on theirs.
To that end, it is essential for Him to make flesh think along the channel of His own mind so far as principles and precepts are concerned. If a person is induced to think as God would have him do, then such thoughts will color his outlook and ultimately his conduct. How often has the power of words swayed men and women! The case of Hitler, who changed the character of Germany by his use of words and oratory, is a typical example.
God desires to change the characters of individuals. He has thus provided a book sufficiently profound as to cause its readers to "think" in order to understand its message. As thoughts beget ideas, actions, habit, character, so this habit of thinking on Gods word can change men, fulfilling the prayer of Christ: "Sanctity them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
Let the reader bear that fact in mind, as he ponders the pages of the Bible, and do not let him despair of understanding the basic simple message it contains. By perseverance and prayer (James 1:5), he will attain unto such an understanding as can change his life and win for him immortality in the Kingdom that God will ultimately set up on earth (Daniel 2:44; 7:27). May God's blessing be with this book, to the end that its readers will be drawn to the Bible, and come to better understand its life-giving message.
H. P. MANSFIELD, November, 1968.
The Aim Of This Book
In the following pages, we have set out systematic studies in the basic teachings of the Scriptures. Each section is followed by a series of questions, by which the reader can test his knowledge of the Bible, and thus maintain his progress in the understanding of the Truth.
But we have not attempted to answer every problem that might arise in Bible exposition. To do so, would involve far larger space than is at present available. However, we trust that the matter presented will be of interest to the reader, and should there arise any question or problem concerning the Bible, we invite the reader to write to us for further elucidation. All correspondence will be most welcome, and every question submitted will be promptly answered.