The Word of God is the food of the soul. There can be no normal growth or progress apart from it (1 Peter 2:2; Heb. 5:11-12). It must be allowed to enter into the fiber of the Christian’s life, as food enters the structure of the body. It is the channel by which God communicates strength, comfort, and sustenance. Trials and temptations are sure to cross the path. Are we able to meet each onslaught with an “It is written” as the Lord did? If you will look up the passages in Deuteronomy which He quoted then, you will find that they are quite close together. Were they, as someone has suggested, part of the Lord’s morning reading that day? At any rate, the Word of God had a very large place in His life.
It is the believer’s equipment that we might be “throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). If you seek a life of useful service for God, a practical knowledge of His Word is indispensable. Therefore give it a strategic place in your life. Make it your practice to:
(1) “Search” (Jn. 5:39). The truths are not spread on the surface for the careless reader to find. Here is a mine that will reward careful exploration.
(2) “Meditate” (Ps. 104:34). Think prayerfully on its precepts. Personally apply what you read. Endeavor to discover the leading ideas, as well as the general overview. Notice striking words and phrases. Make sure you understand them.
(3) “Compare” (1 Cor. 2:13). By taking one passage and laying it carefully beside others similar, you will see truth in its proper relationship.
Several things are indispensable for progress in the Word of God:
(1) The new birth: The Bible is a sealed book to all by nature (Isa. 29:10-14). No amount of natural ability enables one to understand it (1 Cor. 2:14).
(2) A true estimate of its character: Never allow for a moment any doubt regarding the fact that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). In it, God speaks to you — directly, and personally. Earnestly ponder this fact, and let it appear from your life that you really believe it.
(3) An appetite for the Word: “Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby,” writes Peter (1 Peter 2:2). The word he uses is a very strong one, and is translated elsewhere “to earnestly desire,” “to long after greatly.” God’s Word is “more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold” (Ps. 19:10).
(4) Reverence and submission: Shun all habits of joking about it. Read to obey. The real value of the Book can only be known by a practical acquaintance with it. “Only to think well, and not to do well, amounts to no more than to dream well.” Obedience has been called an “organ of knowledge.” The more readily the Word is submitted to, the greater will be the progress in the knowledge of it. Not scholarship, but surrender, is the primary qualification it demands of its readers.
(5) Prayerfulness: We are dependent entirely on the Holy Spirit to teach and direct us. The realization of this should cause us to adopt a prayerful attitude in approaching the Bible. It is good to dwell prayerfully on what we read, endeavoring to find an application to our own needs. And having seen this application, we needto look to God for grace to live what has been discovered.
(6) Faithful perseverance: Haphazard, aimless work will not produce results in Bible study any more than they do in other area. Don’t be discouraged because, perhaps, you find yourself to be a poor scholar. “Much food is in the tillage of the poor” (Prov. 13:23), and prayerful perseverance will be rewarded. Do not allow difficulties to slacken your interest. You will meet them in such a Book! Indeed, it would be strange if, in a book which is “God-breathed,” there were no difficulties. Be patient, humble, and teachable, and you will surely, even if slowly, attain to higher degrees of useful knowledge. Concentrate on the passage before you. “The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers upon a single object, can accomplish something; the strongest, by dispersing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything” (cp. 1 Tim. 4:15).