"O how I love Thy law! it is my meditation all the day" Psalm 119:97.
"Search the Scriptures: and they are they which testify of Me" John 5:39.
"The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard" Hebrews 4:2.
At the beginning of this book there is more than one passage on the use of God's Word in the life of grace. Before I take leave of my readers, I would like to come back to this all important point. I cannot too earnestly and urgently address this call to my young brothers and sisters--your spiritual life greatly depends on your use of God's Word.
Man lives by the Word that comes from the mouth of God. Therefore, seek with your whole heart to learn how to use God's Word correctly. With this in mind, reflect on the following hints:
Read the Word more with the heart than with the understanding. With the understanding I know and comprehend--with the heart I desire and love and hold firmly. Let the understanding be the servant of the heart. Be very afraid of your understanding or carnal nature, which cannot receive spiritual things.1 Deny your understanding, and wait in humility on the Spirit of God. On every occasion, keep silent during your reading of the Word. Say to yourselves, "This Word I now receive in my heart, to love and to let it live in me."2
Always read the Word in fellowship with the living God. The power of a word depends on my conviction regarding the man who wrote it. First, set yourself in loving fellowship with the living God under the impression of His nearness and love. Deal with the Word under the full conviction that He, the eternal God, is speaking with you. Let your heart be silent while you listen to God--to God Himself.3 Then the Word will certainly become a great blessing to you.
Read the Word as a living Word in which the Spirit of God dwells, and that certainly works in those who believe. The Word is seed. Seed has life, and grows and yields fruit of itself. Likewise, the Word has life, and of itself grows and yields fruit.4 If you do not wholly understand it--if you do not feel its power--carry it in your heart. Ponder it and meditate on it, and it will of itself begin to yield a working and growth in you.5 The Spirit of God is with and in the Word.
Read it with the resolve to be, not only a hearer, but a doer of the Word. Let the great question be--What would God now have of me with this Word? If the answer is--He would have me believe it and rely on Him to fulfil it--immediately do this from the heart. If the Word is a command of what you are to do, immediately yield yourself to do it.6 There is an unspeakable blessedness in the doing of God's Word, and in the surrender of myself to be and to act just as His Word dictates. Do not be only hearers, but doers of the Word.
Read the Word with time. More and more, I see that one obtains nothing on earth without time. Give the Word time. Give the Word time to come into your heart, on every occasion on which you sit down to read it. Give it time, in the persistence with which you are faithful to it, from day to day and month to month.7 With perseverance, you become exercised and more accustomed to the Word and the Word begins to work. Please, do not be discouraged when you do not understand the Word. Hold on, take courage, give the Word time. Later on the Word will explain itself. David had to meditate day and night to understand it.
Read the Word with a searching of the Scriptures. The best explanation of the Bible is the Bible itself. Take three or four texts on one point, and set them close to one another and compare them. See where they agree and where they differ. See where they say the same thing or again something else. Let the Word of God in one place be cleared up and confirmed by what He said in another place on the same subject. This is the safest and the best explanation. Even the holy writers used this method of instruction with the Scriptures, "and again " (John 19:37).8 Do not complain that this method takes too much time and energy. It is worth the trouble. Your pains will be rewarded. On earth you have nothing without effort.9 He who wants to go to heaven never goes without taking pains. Search the Scriptures, you will be richly rewarded.
Young Christian, let one of my last and most earnest words to you be this--your growth, your power, and your life depend on your faithfulness to the Word of God. Love God's Word. Esteem it sweeter than honey, better than thousands in silver or gold. In the Word, the Father can and will reveal His heart to you. In the Word, Jesus will communicate Himself and all His grace. In the Word, the Holy Spirit will come into you, to renew your heart and all your thoughts, according to the mind and will of God. Do not simply read enough of the Word to keep you from falling away. Make it one of your chief occupations on earth, to yield yourself so that God may fill you with His Word, and may fulfil His Word in you.
Lord God, what grace it is that You speak to us in Your Word, that we in Your Word have access to Your heart, to Your will, and to Your love. Forgive us for our sins against Your precious Word. And, Lord, let the new life become so strong by the Spirit in us, that all its desire will be to abide in Your Word. Amen.
1) I Cor. 1:21,27; 2:6,12,14; Col. 2:18,23
2) Ps. 119:10,47; Rom. 10:18; Jas. 1:21
3) Gen. 17:3; 1 Sam. 3:9,10; Isa. 50:4; 52:6; Jer. 1:2
4) Mark 4:26,27,28; John 6:63; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23
5) Ps. 119:15,40,48,69; 2 Tim. 3:16,17
6) Matt. 5:19,20; 7:21,24; Luke 11:28; Jas. 1:21,25
7) Deut. 6:5-9; Ps. 1:2; 119:97; Jer. 15:16
8) Isa. 34:16: John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Heb. 2:13
9) Prov. 2:4,5; 3:13,18; Matt. 13:44
1. In the middle of the Bible stands Psalm 119, in which the praise and the love of God's Word are so strikingly expressed. It is not enough for us to read through the divisions of this psalm successively. We must take its principal points and seek what is said in different passages upon each of these points. Let us, for example, take the following points, observing the indications of the answers, and seek in this way to come under the full impression of what is taught us of the glory of God's Word:
a. The blessing that the Word gives--verses 1,2,6,9,11,24,45,46,47,etc.
b. How we have to handle the Word (observe, walk, keep, mark, etc.).
c. The names that are given to God's Word in this psalm.
d. Prayer for divine teaching--verses 5,10,12,18,19,26.
e. Surrender to obedience to the Word--verses 93,105,106,112,128,133.
f. God's Word, the basis of prayer-verses 41,49,58,76,107,116,170.
g. Observance as the ground of confidence in prayer-verses 77,159,176.
h. Observance as promised upon the hearing of prayer--verses 8,17,33,34,44.
i. The power to observe the Word-verses 32,36,41,42,117,135,146.
j. The praise of God's Word-verses 54,72,97,129,130,144.
k. The confident confession of obedience--verses 102,110,121,168.
1. Personal fellowship with God, seen in the psalmist's use of Thou and I, Thine and Mine.
I have merely mentioned a few points and a few verses. Seek out more and mark them until your mind is filled with the thoughts about the Word which the Spirit of God desires to give you. Read the words of that great man of faith, George Muller, with great thoughtfulness. He says, "The power of our spiritual life will be according to the measure of the room that the Word of God takes up in our life and in our thoughts. After an experience of 54 years, I can solemnly declare this. For three years after my conversion I used the Word little. Since that time, I have searched it with diligence, and the blessing was wonderful. From that time, I have read the Bible through a hundred times and at every time with increasing joy. Whenever I start fresh with it, it appears to me as a new book. I cannot express how great the blessing is of faithful, daily, regular searching of the Bible. The day is lost for me on which I have used no solid time for enjoying the Word of God.
"Friends sometimes say: `I have so much to do that I can find no time for regular Bible study.' I believe that there are few that have to work harder than I have. Yet it remains a rule with me never to begin my work until I have had real, sweet fellowship with God. After that I give myself heartily to the business of the day, that is, to God's work, with only intervals of some minutes for prayer."
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