Charles Spurgeon had a pastoral training program, and one time he asked a student if he expected people to get saved every time he preached.
“No, I suppose not.” the student answered.
“Then they never will.” Was Spurgeon’s reply.
If you expect the Holy Spirit to make something alive to you when you read the Bible, you will not be disappointed.
If you do not, if you expect your Bible reading to be a duty and a waste of time… you’ll not be disappointed either.
THere’s some caveats, of course.
- Saved. Gotta be saved. The only thing the Holy Spirit will teach you if you’re lost is… you need to be saved. An that you’re condemned without Christ.
- You gotta be clean. You know, that holy lifestyle thing I talk about. repentence and prayer, and trying to live a godly life. The last time I wrote on that, it turned into an object of harassment from a woman who took GREAT offense at my asking people to be godly. If you’re caught up in sin and backsliding, I guarantee the only thing you’ll hear while reading your Bible is…silence.
- You should pray before reading your Bible. It doesn’t need to be 30 minutes of intense, sweat like drops of blood praying! But in the Tehillas Hashem prayerbook I used to carry with me, the moment that marked from the preparation to the actual prayers was one line… “O Lord, open thou my lips; And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” (Psalm 51:15, KJV) In THIS case, the study of the Bible, try this… “Open thou mine eyes, That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18, KJV)
Okay, let’s summarize… expectancy, clean state, prayer. Ready? Here you go. It’s short and easy.
Start reading. Don’t read it like a Lubavitcher Chassid (as fast as possible), but thoughtfully. I’m STILL trying to break that habit. Anyway!
If you read the Bible thoughtfully, expecting God to teach you something, then as you read, something will jump out at you. This is where you highlight it, copy it to a passage list, note stack, or whichever format your computer software does. Some people prefer the hardcover Bible reading. I do that for nightly devotions, but I prefer to have my computer. I don’t get distracted by things. When its time to study the Bible, I study the Bible.
Sometimes you have an immediate understanding of the text you’re reading. That has to be written down somewhere, or you’ll forget it, guaranteed. I’ve lost insights because I thought, “I’ll remember that”… and I didn’t. Write it down. That’s why I did the commentaries and note taking article last week.
Sometimes you’ll be puzzled by a word. Okay, that’s a PROMPTING. Look that word up! That’s why I recommend Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries! That word may shed light on a verse.
The whole thing is the reliance upon understanding from God. If you’re so sure you know everything, the Holy Spirit will teach nothing.
Now, there’s a caveat here. I’ve met enough people who do this to fill the QEII a couple of times. I’ve met a woman who told me, all smiles, that God told her that the “Star of Remphan” was the Star of David, and Jews were idolators because they use it. No matter how much logic I tried to use, or how much I asked her to cite any Bible verse that supported that conclusion, I couldn’t shake her.
If something pops out at you and you feel as if your conclusion may well violate the rest of the Bible, or it’s something that you cannot verify from the Bible (“Jesus Christ had red hair and freckles!”)… it’s not from God. God gives you things from the word that He has already written before. He helps you to see connections in various spots in His Bible. IF YOU CANNOT VERIFY IT FROM THE BIBLE, THEN IT’S NOT FROM GOD! If you at all doubt it, go with that feeling. God teaches you things FROM the word, and not IN ADDITION TO.
In the Logos 30 Day Challenge, the host makes a condition when dealing with Strongs, and I’m going to agree with this (to a certain extent) – check your conclusions against a commentator.
What’s the problem with that? Anyone spot it?
I’ve got a commentary, a famous one, where the author makes a case for women preachers, something the Bible clearly says three times is not permissable. I’ve got another commentary, a famous one, that says the demon locusts of Revelation are actually Arab horsemen, who plagued a city in Europe for seven months, so of course it’s them!
Commentaries (I’m going to write an entire article on them soon) have the same problems your Bible reading has… written by fallible men. Reading the Matthew Henry, as good as it is, will convince you that the Bible is completely of God, as it lets you read something by a man in comparison, and you think, “Bible, from God, yup, no doubts…”
If you get something you think might be from God, it can be confirmed by the Bible but it seems to contradict everything you’ve been taught… go to your Pastor. Check wayoflife.org and see if it’s something David Cloud has spoken against. Seriously, reading through Cloud’s materials has almost been like a second go through of Seminary for me. These are what I’d do.