Some people say that theis the biggest gift given by God, so we should cherish and read it carefully; some people say that reading the Bible gives them confidence and patience; some people say that reading the Bible makes them understand that they should trust in and depend on God; some people say that if you want to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven, you must read the Bible every day … Regardless of whether these opinions are right or wrong, from these we are certain that reading the Bible, which is an obligatory course every day, is very important for every Christian. Since reading the Bible is so important, then have we ever thought about how we should read it or what elements we should grasp to make our reading of the Bible most beneficial to our lives? Maybe in many people’s opinions, as long as they continue to read it at a set time every day, their lives will gain some edification and benefits naturally; others choose to read Revelation, thinking that only by focusing on studying the mysteries of God’s work can they get edification and benefits in their lives. In a word, everyone has his own means of practice. Then, what are the most crucial things that we should grasp to make our reading be after the Lord’s heart?
The Following Four Elements Will Help You Achieve Great Results in Reading the Bible
1. Reading More of God’s Words When Reading the Bible
The entire Bible is constituted of two parts—the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each part has God’s words and man’s words. We should know that in the entire Bible, only the words of Jehovah God, the words of God conveyed by the prophets, the words of the, the words of the Holy Spirit, and the words God revealed to John in Revelation come directly from God and are God’s words. Apart from these, the biographies of man and letters of apostles are all words of man. They only represent their personal experiences and insights, not God’s words, and moreover cannot be said to be the word of God. How do we distinguish between God’s words and man’s words? In the Bible, God’s words are all clearly stated. For example, in the Old Testament the Jehovah God’s words are marked “the LORD God said,” “thus said the LORD” or “the LORD spoke to”; while the words of God conveyed by the prophets are marked “thus said the LORD” or “thus said the LORD of hosts”; and the words of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament are marked “Jesus said.” If we grasp this point, we can accurately differentiate between man’s words and God’s words.
The Lord Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). It can be seen that only God’s word is the truth and can be the life of us humans. When we read the Bible, we need to focus on reading more of God’s word, ponderingmore in His word to receive enlightenment. Only in this way can we obtain great edification and benefits in life. Besides, we can see that in the Revelation there are many prophecies saying, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Moreover, God asked us that we should be able to hear His voice like the wise virgins. These show that when the Lord Jesus comes in the last days, He will speak and utter His words. If we want to obtain the life and the Lord’s approval, we have to pay attention to hearing the new words of the returned Lord. Only then can we meet the Lord and go with Him to the wedding feast.
2. Paying Attention to Praying to God and Seeking His Will When Reading the Bible
God’s word is the truth and is very profound; this is not something that we can obtain after reading it just once and understanding some literal meanings. So when reading the Bible, we need to pray, ponder and seek with our hearts so that we can understand the truth and God’s will. Just as the Old Testament prophesies say: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). “But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). The prophecies of the Bible are all from God and we can’t explain them according to our own will in the slightest. But, back then, the Pharisees understood them literally relying on their own imagination and thought that the One who would come was born to a virgin and was called Messiah. He would have extraordinary power and save them from the Roman government. But when the prophecies came true, the fact didn’t adhere to their conceptions: God didn’t use the name Messiah but Jesus; the Lord Jesus had mother and father, which externally looked like He was not born to a virgin and He didn’t assume power, but instead, He was met with the persecution of the Roman government and the derision and slander of the Pharisees. The Pharisees understood the prophecies of God coming to work only from the literal level and, as a result, they didn’t know or accept the Messiah who had already come. Ultimately, they nailed the innocent Lord Jesus to the cross, which provoked God’s disposition and brought the loss of the nation to the entire Israel nation. From these historical lessons, we can see that when reading God’s words in the Bible, we cannot understand or explain them in literal terms; otherwise, it will be very easy for us to resist God and ruin our own lives. Just as 2 Corinthians 3:6 says: “For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” God’s word is extremely profound. Especially when reading the prophecies of God in the Bible, we even more need to pray to God and seek His will and if we can’t understand it, we should keep a reverent heart and wait for God’s enlightenment. This way, we can be protected and our lives can be benefited; moreover, we won’t be the ones who resist and judge God and His work.
3. Focusing on God’s Demands When Reading the Bible and Practicing According to God’s Words
There are many God’s demands of us in the Bible: Some are related to how man prays to and worships God; some teach us that what kind of man is in line with the Lord’s intentions. But whatever God demands of us, if we can accept and practice them accurately, then we will surely gain edification and benefits in life.
For example, the Lord Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). From the Lord’s words, we can see that God requires us to be honest people because only by being honest people can we. Many people think that as long as they keep their rules and do not lie at any time, they will become honest people. That lies cannot be found from mouth is a standard of being an honest person. But sometimes even if our mouths don’t tell lies, our hearts can still cheat God—we are lying in our hearts. Then is a man like this an honest person on earth? Being an honest person also need to be a man who has no deception within his heart. This is the second standard of being an honest man. Then, are having no lie in word and having no deceit in the heart the standards of being an honest man? In our experiences, we can still feel that when we, praying before God, don’t open our hearts, we are some disguised and deceitful. This time, we get a little more understanding: Being honest is also related to opening our hearts to God. From this we can see that to be an honest man isn’t as simple as we’ve imagined. It requires us to seek and go deeper unceasingly in our experiences and gradually achieve accurate knowledge of God’s requirements for honest people. This is how we can truly become honest people in God’s eyes and gain God’s blessings.
Let me give another example. In Matthew 22:37-39, the Lord Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The Lord requires us to love Him with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our minds. How should we practice to meet God’s demands? Many people rely on enthusiasm to work and sacrifice everything for the Lord and they are able to endure much hardship and pay much price, so they think that they have achieved loving the Lord with all their hearts, souls, and minds. Actually, the Lord not only requires us to work, run around and suffer a lot for Him but also requires us to have no intentions and impurities when working and running around, to be ready and willing and have no complaints no matter how much we’ve suffered and paid, to do everything for the sake of practicing the truth and following God’s will, and to hold on to the Lord’s commissions, expend for Him and be faithful to the end no matter how many trials and refinements we will endure. People like this can be regarded as practicing the truth and such people truly meet God’s demands of loving Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds. If we can only work, suffer, expend and pay much price for the Lord but cannot give up our personal aims and intentions, which are in order to gain blessings and go to heaven to satisfy our own desires, or if we just do some work by abiding by doctrine and following procedure, then we cannot be said to be practicing the truth, much less loving God and following God’s will.
The Lord’s requirements of us are the truth we should practice. But the inner meaning of the truth is very profound, which requires us to ponder it more by relying on God, and to continually experience it in depth. This way, we can finally meet God’s requirements and become the man who is in line with God’s will.
4. Paying Attention to Knowing God’s Disposition and What God Has and Is From His Word When Reading the Bible
When it comes to the understanding of God’s disposition, many people will think that the Lord Jesus is a merciful and loving God, just as in Matthew 18:12-14, the Lord Jesus said: “How think you? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and goes into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” From the parable of the Lord, we can see that the Lord used sheep as an analogy for the believers who truly follow Him. The Lord knew deeply that before we understand and obtain the truth, our statures are very small and it is very easy for us to walk the wrong path and fall into all kinds of temptations of Satan, such as fame and fortune, money, status, pleasure and so on. When we are bound by these things and fall into Satan’s nets, God will be pained by this. But because of God’s merciful and loving disposition, He will give us chances. As long as we can find our way back from going astray and truly repent to God, He will show mercy to our childishness and turn a blind eye to our ignorance and rebelliousness, making us truly feel God’s love and salvation. God’s disposition is full of His love and care for mankind, so we all think that God’s disposition is just mercy and lovingkindness.
However, in the Bible we can see another aspect of God’s disposition. Just as in Matthew 23:13-15 the Lord Jesus cursed the Pharisees: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” The Pharisees were deeply versed in the Bible but they didn’t understand the true meaning of the verses. They didn’t understand or obtain the truth from the verses, much less develop a heart of reverence for God. When the Lord Jesus came to do work, they didn’t seek or investigate the Lord’s work; instead, they wantonly condemned the Lord Jesus and said the Lord Jesus was driving out demons by the prince of demons, and they labeled the Lord Jesus’ work, filled with God’s authority and power, as madness. They committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and seriously offended God’s disposition. Furthermore, they also incited and deluded believers to resist and condemn the Lord Jesus, making the faithful lose the Lord’s salvation. The Lord Jesus denounced the Pharisees with the “Seven Woes” due to their evil behavior, which fully shows God’s holiness and righteous disposition which cannot be offended.
From the way in which the Lord Jesus treated different people, we can see that God shows mercy and lovingkindness to the people who truly believe in and follow Him and don’t define His work according to their own notions and imaginations; yet God shows His majestic, wrathful and righteous disposition which cannot be offended to the evil people and antichrists who resist, rebel against Him, condemn His work by relying on their imaginary notions and set themselves against Him purposely. So in order to understand God’s disposition and achieve true knowledge of God, we should investigate in many aspects and cannot measure or define God’s work and disposition based on one passage or several passages of scripture. If we define God’s disposition only according to one passage of scripture, then we not only cannot achieve true knowledge of God’s disposition but will repeat the same mistakes of the Pharisees and become the man who resists God and is detested, rejected and eliminated by God.
If we want our reading of the Bible to be in line with the Lord’s intentions and greatly beneficial to our life, grasping the above four elements is of the utmost necessity to us. If we read the Bible by following our own will and according to our personal preferences and imaginations and notions, then it will be very hard for us to obtain the truth and be blessed by God. Only if we grasp these key elements in our reading of the Bible can we gain edification and benefits in life.