(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
It is easy for anybody to pick up the Bible, which contains the Word of God and to read its contents. In fact, many people will tell you that they read the Bible almost daily, the book of Psalms probably being the most go-to book of all the books.
However, reading the Bible and actually gaining from it are two different things. It is not enough to just read the Word of God and to find it cute or to read enough so as to participate in a discussion as you would a literature session or to simply garner points for a Sermon (which the men in a Church are responsible for delivering) or a teaching session with a group of children or women.
Given that the Bible contains God’s message to mankind and precious truths which are able to make the simple wise (Psalm 19:7), the aim should be to benefit from what we read, to understand and grasp what God is saying about life and to us and to truly keep growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reading is one thing but increasingly understanding and digesting God’s truth is another.
In order to rightly divide the Word of God so as to increasingly obtain spiritual insight, enlightenment and understanding, we first of all need the help of the Holy Spirit. We do not have what it takes on our own to understand the mysteries contained in God’s Word. We need the Holy Spirit to make the truths plain for us and to help us understand what God may be specifically saying to us in our situation.
This means therefore, that a person must first be regenerated. That is, he or she must first be indwelled by the Holy Spirit which only occurs after a person genuinely believes in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and confesses him as Lord with his or her mouth, thereby obtaining salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
Ephesians 1:13 states of believers (genuine Christians), “…after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…”
A person that has not been regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit remains spiritually dead and therefore, even if he or she reads the Bible religiously, the truths contained therein would mostly be lost on him or her because he or she sees life through a natural, earthly lens. There is no progressive growth or enlightenment to such a person, when it comes to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and understanding God’s Word. He or she will go as far as his or her intellect will carry him or her (which is not far) and then stop.
To be given progressive spiritual insight as one reads the Word of God, so as to increasingly understand, accept, embrace and digest truth, one does not need education or lots of intelligence. One needs to be made spiritually alive by believing on Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:9-14 makes it clear that:
- “…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. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But 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.”
To rightly divide God’s Word and to truly grow in knowledge based on the truths laid out in the scriptures therefore, it is necessary to first be sealed with the Holy Spirit.
If you are not sure if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and are therefore regenerated or know that you are not but want to be, I recommend that you stop here and read any of the ‘Abundant Life’ Series of Articles under my ‘Single Daughters of God’ Page, which run from nos. 76-100 and 226-250.
It is important to note though, that even where a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (saved), he or she can still callously read the Bible as just words and walk away without allowing what he or she has read to truly impact his or her life. He or she can read it but due to adopting the wrong attitude or approach, not hear God speaking to him or her or increase in his or her understanding of God’s truths.
Such persons may have claimed to have made a profession of Christianity for years and may truly be saved but remain spiritual babes.
In 2 Peter 3:18, Peter urged the believers to whom he wrote, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
In 1 Peter 2:2, he wrote to them, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
Yet, sadly, due to the wrong attitude and approach when it comes to reading the Word of God, some believers remain spiritual infants or toddlers. They never cultivate a desire or hunger for the pure and unadulterated Word of God and never grow into spiritual maturity when it comes to the scriptures. They are content to simply understand the basics and do not truly search the scriptures and meditate upon them to grasp the wonderful truths contained in them.
Of such people, the following statements made to different groups of believers who were not growing in spiritual maturity are applicable:
- “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1 Corinthians 3:2);
- “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)
To avoid the unprofitable habit of just reading the Bible like another book, so as to hear what God is saying and to benefit optimally from its truths, it is imperative that a Christian approach the scriptures with the right attitude. This is essential or else such a person would fall into the trap of reading the Bible as a routine and come away just having read portion of a book, without allowing it to have any real impact or change on his or her life.
God tends to open up our understanding to his truths as already contained in the scriptures, progressively. However, he only tends to increase our knowledge as we apply ourselves to meditating on his Word.
2 Timothy 2:15 exhorts us to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.“
As we spend more and more time meditating on his Word like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily did (Acts 17:11) and with the right approach and attitude, through the Holy Spirit, God opens up our understanding more and more, so that we can grasp more and more of his truths and hide them in our hearts.
This is the reason why in Psalm 19:7-10, it declares:
- “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”
The beauty of the scriptures is that we can never exhaust the lessons that God wants to teach. Even if we read the same scripture repeatedly, God usually has something more to teach us which we did not grasp in a previous reading.
WHAT THEN ARE THE NECESSARY ATTITUDES THAT A CHRISTIAN SHOULD HAVE WHEN APPROACHING THE WORD OF GOD?
I would like to mention five (5) here. When approaching the Word of God, as a Christian, you must:
1 – Come with a DESIRE FOR GOD’S WORD.
In 1 Peter 2:2, it states, “As newborn babes, DESIRE the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”.
The Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, we learn of him and what pleases him, from the words of truth contained therein, thereby becoming wise, as he is all-wise and the very source of all true wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 18:1 further states that,“Through DESIRE a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.”
Of God’s Word, his testimony, fear and judgments, Psalm 19:10 states “More to be DESIRED are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”
Knowing that in God’s Word is truth, life, peace, wisdom and success, the Christian should not regard it nonchalantly and read it as a chore or duty for which he or she has signed up but should sincerely have a hunger or desire for the Word that is insatiable. Such should be the desire and eagerness to dig in to what this book has to say and offer, that like Job, the Christian should get to the place where he or she can honestly declare, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”
The person that delights in God’s Word and therefore spends quality time meditating on it is blessed of the Lord and will bring forth fruit in his or her God-appointed season. Psalm 1:1-3 states:
- “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he MEDITATE day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.“
When a person has a desire for God’s Word and delights in his truth, he or she will not approach the Word of God lackadaisically, half-hazardly and absent-mindedly. He or she is instead excited as to what great treasure would be impressed upon his or her mind in that reading and is attentive to what he or she reads. Then, when he or she comes away having gleaned some more knowledge than before, his or her heart rejoices with exuberance. For, he or she loves truth.
2 – Come with a POSTURE OF HUMILITY.
You are the student and you’ve come to the Teacher. If you approach the scriptures with pride, this will block you from truly gaining insight into it and growing in the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For, God hates pride.
1 Peter 5:5 instructs us to “..be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
To obtain God’s salvation, the Bible tells us that a person must come like a child, meaning that he or she must come humbly so as to bow at the feet of the Lord in repentance.
In Matthew 18:1-4, it reads:
- “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
The same holds true when a Christian approaches the scriptures. He must come like a child, humbly.
It is a humble person that would let God know, as he or she is about to approach the scriptures, that he or she does not have it in himself or herself to rightly divide the Word, admitting to the Lord that he or she needs his help. A humble person would not assume that he or she already knows or that he or she is intelligent enough to figure out on his or her own, what the scriptures are saying. Instead, such a person would often pray to the Lord to help him or her to properly understand the Word and the precious truths contained in it, so that he or she can be edified. In short, he or she never takes it for granted that he or she does not need God’s help.
3 – WHOLLY DEPEND ON THE HOLY SPIRIT TO TEACH YOU, placing no reliance whatsoever on your intelligence or education.
This should flow from a heart of humility. For, it is pride that places reliance or is tempted to place reliance on our intellect and earthly education, erroneously believing that we need this to unfold the mysteries contained in God’s Word or that somehow, it gives us some kind of advantage or upper hand.
We must come to the scriptures in complete dependence on the Holy Spirit, knowing that unless he helps us, we will not rightly divide the Word or glean anything substantial, that can impact our lives and that of others.
When a person delights in the Word of God and relies humbly on the Holy Spirit to teach him or her, He does. He guides him or her skilfully through the scriptures, bringing to his or her attention the scriptures that are connected to each other, so that the person can gain a better understanding of God’s truths.
In John 16:13, Jesus stated of the role and necessity of the Holy Spirit in unfolding the truth of God’s Word, “…when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
Conversely, of earthly wisdom, intellect and education and how little God thinks of it when it comes to unfolding his Kingdom truths and agenda, 1 Corinthians 1:19-29 states:
- “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
- Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
4 – Come with the DESIRE, INTENTION AND RESOLVE TO APPLY whatever you learn to your own life, so that you can change, even if what you read rebukes you, convicts you or makes you look bad.
In other words, you should not approach the reading of the Word of God as just a routine or mechanical activity, which you have disciplined yourself throughout the years to just read when the hour comes around or so that you can partake in a group discussion or have teaching points to share with others.
You should approach the Word knowing that it is “…quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)
You should therefore, expect that the Holy Spirit will convict you as you read, of issues in your own life which you need to address and sins you need to repent of and things you need to change.
You should be approaching the Word with a genuine desire to obey God, to please him, over yourself and to do whatever he says to do. You should therefore have the intention, although at times this may prove difficult for your flesh and your stubborn will, to yield, submit and surrender to whatever the Word of God will say, not to anybody else but to you.
To get to the point where you just read the scriptures for reading sake or for participation in a discussion or to create notes for a teaching session of some sort but not so as to see how what you read applies to your life and what God is calling upon you to change is a tragedy.
Yet, there are people who have professed Christianity who do just that. They read the Bible and talk about what is in it as if they are divorced from it and are merely meant to give commentary. They see it as a book that reproves the ungodly and wayward, rebellious believers but never them.
They don’t approach the Word as the guide for how they are to live as professing believers or with the expectation that it will speak to them and demand that they change their behaviour but see it as a book in which is contained lovely stories of mighty men of old which God simply expects us to admire and hold in high regard and revere but not learn from and apply the principles derived to our own lives.
Such people do the Word of God an injustice and should not expect God to reveal the deep mysteries of his Word to them. For, through hardness of heart, they have reduced the Bible to a mere talking point and the reading of it to a mere routine, not as the means by which God desires to break up the fallow ground of their hearts (Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12).
Such persons will hear the Word day in and day out, on the radio, at Church and even through other technological mediums but never once or rarely ever consider, that what was taught about Christian life and conduct was applicable to them.
Due to this faulty approach to the scriptures, such persons can expect to remain spiritual babes in Christ because they refuse to see the Word as the tool by which God requires them (not somebody else) to be instructed and to change.
5 – Be ever mindful and cognizant of the fact that THE WORD IS JESUS IN WRITTEN OR DOCUMENTED FORM AND IS THEREFORE ALIVE.
That the Word of God is Jesus in written or documented form is an undeniable truth that is revealed in the scriptures.
For example, John 1:1,14 states:
- “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God and the WORD WAS GOD…And the WORD was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
1 John 1 also speaks of Jesus, who the disciples saw with their eyes, looked upon and handled, as “…the WORD of life.”
Further, in Revelation 19:13, it says of Jesus:
- “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called THE WORD OF GOD.“
When approaching the Bible therefore, it is important that we remember that this book is unlike any other book that has ever been written. People write autobiographies of themselves while alive and biographies of people who have died and remain dead but the Bible is the Word of God and the Word of God is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who “...liveth, and was dead; and, behold…” is “…alive for evermore.” (Revelation 1:18).
This is significant as Jesus is alive. The Word of God is therefore alive, although in written or documented form. Hence the reason why it does such a good job at piercing our souls as we read it and of bringing encouragement and comfort when we need it.
Unlike other earthly books that were inspired by men or even satan, the Word of God was inspired by God. It is God breathed and is alive, unchanging but not static. Because it is Jesus in written or documented form and he is alive, the Bible is a book that keeps on giving. It is like a well whose storehouse is limitless. So, even if you read a portion of scripture before, when you read that same portion again, the Word of God has a tendency of opening up your eyes to see some more truth. It is like having a conversation with someone, who tells you more and more, very unlike the experience you would have when reading an earthly book inspired by men, where the words have no power to converse with the reader.
This then means that we cannot read the Bible from cover to cover and put it down as a book that we have finished reading or read a Chapter or book in it and tell ourselves we need never return to it. This is what we do with earthly books where the words have merely been printed with ink but are dead. Such books have been exhausted and can be discarded.
When it comes to the Word of God though, we know that it was printed as a result of the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, who died but then rose up from the grave on the third day. We know that the Word of God is alive and in fact is Jesus in written or documented form. It therefore desires to keep speaking to us, to keep imparting truth from its pages to us, to keep convicting us and rebuking us and teaching us, and comforting and encouraging us, the ultimate aim being to help us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that we would have the mind of Christ and be conformed to his image. (Romans 8:29;1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 John 2:6; Philippians 2:5).
(Written generally on 03rd April, 2021)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be informative, interesting, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 16 – ‘What Is The Bible?’
- Note 117- ‘How Important Is Earthly Education And The Ability To Speak Well, To God’s Agenda?‘
- Note 166 – ‘Humility, Intellectualism And The Power Of God’
On 20th and 21st of August, 2021, I prayed along the following lines:
“Our Father who art in heaven, please help me to be SURROUNDED by your Word, SATURATED by your Word, SCHOOLED by your Word and SANCTIFIED by your Word. Help me to be STRENGTHENED by your Word, SHAPED by your Word, STEERED by your Word and SUSTAINED by your Word. Let me be SUCCOURED by your Word and all in all, help me to be SATISFIED with your Word. In Jesus’ name, I ask this, Amen.”
If you have a similar need in terms of the areas that I specifically asked God for, in relation to his Word, why not go to him in prayer as well?
(Addendum written on 20th August, 2021)