LI. SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES
`O how love I Thy law: it is my
meditation all the day.' -- Ps. 119:97
`Ye search (or search ye) the Scriptures: and
these are they which bear witness of Me.' -- John 5:39
`The word did not profit them, because they
were not united by faith with them that heard.' -- Heb. 4:2
At the beginning of this book there is
more than one passage upon the use of God's word in the life of grace. Ere I
take leave of my readers, I would fain once again come back to this
all-important point. I cannot too earnestly and urgently address this call to
my beloved young brothers and sisters: Upon your use of the word of God your
spiritual life in great measure depends. Man lives by the word that proceedeth
from the mouth of God. Therefore seek with your whole heart to learn how to
use God's word aright. To this end, receive the following hints.
Read the word more with the heart than with
the understanding: with the understanding I would know and comprehend; with
the heart I desire, and love, and hold fast. Let the understanding be the
servant of the heart. Be much afraid of the understanding of the carnal
nature, that cannot receive spiritual things. (1 Cor. 1:12,27; 2:6,12; Col.
2:18) Deny your understanding, and wait in humility on the Spirit of God. On
every occasion, still keep silent amidst your reading of the word, and say to
yourselves: this word I now receive in my heart, to love and to let it live in
me. (Ps. 119:10,11,47; Rom. 10:8; Jas. 1:21)
Read the word always in fellowship with the
living God. The power of a word depends on my conviction regarding the man
from whom it comes. 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; and let the
heart be silent to listen to God, to God Himself. (Gen. 17:3; 1 Sam. 3:9,10;
Isa. 50:4; 52:6; Jer. 1:2) Then the word certainly becomes to you a great
Read the word, as a living word in which the
Spirit of God dwells, and that certainly works in those that believe. The
word is seed. Seed has life, and grows and yields fruit of itself. The word
has life, and of itself grows and yields fruit. (Mark 4:27,28; John 6:63; 1
Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23) If you do not wholly understand it, if you do not
feel its power, carry it in your heart; ponder it and meditate upon it: it will
of itself begin to yield a working and growth in you. (Ps. 119:15,40,48,69; 2
Tim. 3:16,17) 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 reckon upon Him to fulfil it: do this immediately from the heart. If the
word is a command of what you are to do, yield yourself immediately to do it.
(Matt. 5:19,20; 7:21,24; Luke 11:28; Jas. 1:21,25) O 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 the word says and would have it. Be not hearers, but doers
of the word.
Read the word with time. I see more and
more that one obtains nothing on earth without time. Give the word time. Give
the word time, at every occasion on which you sit down to read it, to come into
your heart. Give it time, in the persistence with which you cleave to it, from
day to day, and month after month. (Deut. 6:5; Ps. 1:2; 119:97; Jer. 15:16)
By perseverance you become exercised and more accustomed to the word: the word
begins to work. Pray, be not dispirited 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 upon a point: set them close to one another and compare
them. See wherein they agree and wherein they differ; where they say the same
thing or again something else. Let the word of God at one time be cleared up
and confirmed by what He said at another time on the same subject: this is the
safest and the best explanation. Even the sacred writers use this method of
instruction with the Scriptures: `and again.' (Isa. 34:16; John 19:37;
Acts. 17:11; Heb. 2:13) Do not complain that this method takes too much time
and pains: it is worthy of the pains: your pains will be rewarded. On earth
you have nothing without pains. (Prov. 2:4,5; 3:13,18; Matt. 13:44) Even the
bread of life we have to eat in the sweat of our face. He that would go to
heaven never goes without taking pains. Search the Scriptures: it will be
richly recompensed to you.
Young Christian, let one of my last and most
earnest words to you be this: on your dealing with the word of God depend your
growth, your power, your life. Love God's word then; esteem it sweeter than
honey: better than thousands of gold or silver. In the word, God 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 in to you, to renew your
heart and all your thoughts, according to the mind and will of God. O, then,
read not simply enough of the word to keep you from declension, but reckon it
one of your chief occupations on earth to yield yourself that God may fill you
with His word, that He may fulfil His word in you.
Lord God, what grace it is that Thou speakest to us in Thy word,
that we in Thy word have access to Thy heart, to Thy will, to Thy love. O
forgive us our sins against Thy precious word. And, Lord, let the new life
become so strong by the Spirit in us, that all its desire shall be to abide in
Thy word. Amen.
1. Ps. 119. In the middle of the Bible stands
this psalm, 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 one with another seek what
is said in different passages upon each of these. 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: --
1. The blessing that the word gives. Verses, 1,2,6,9,11,14,24,45,46,47, and so
2. The appellations that in this psalm are given to God's word.
3. How we have to handle the word. (Observe -- walk -- keep -- mark -- and so
4. Prayer for divine teaching. Verses 5,10,12,18,19,26.
5. Surrender to obedience to the word. Verses 93,105,106,112,128,133.
6. God's word the basis of our prayer. Verses 41,49,58,76,107,116,170.
7. Observance as the ground of confidence in prayer. Verses 77,159,176.
8. Observance as promised upon the hearing of prayer. Verses 8,17,33,32,44.
9. The power to observe the word. Verses 32,36,41,42,117,135,146.
10. The praise of God's word. Verses 54,72,97,129,130,144.
11. The confident confession of obedience. Verses 102,110,121,168.
12. Personal intercourse with God, seen in the 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 with great thoughtfulness the words of that
man of faith, George Mueller. 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 fifty-four years, I
can solemnly declare this. For three years after my conversion I used the word
little. Since that time I searched it with diligence, and the blessing was
wonderful. From that time, I have read the Bible through a hundred times in
order, and at every time with increasing joy. Whenever I start a 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 rounded 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 of prayer.'