¡Hola, hola! Week 30 is here! Woohoo! And how wonderful it is to know that the Lord has helped us to persevere and not lose heart. For all of us working behind this project it is a great joy to hear from you and know that the Lord is doing a mighty thing in your lives and communities as you open the Word and read it. Our God is faithful and His Word is sure!
I have been thinking this week about the – very simple but nonetheless amazing – fact that when we take the Book of God and read it, we are opening the same book that all of the Redeemed of the Lord have read through the ages all over the world. The same message that sustained them sustains us. The same Truth that has shaken the world before, is the same Truth that is shaking ours today. We are truly united by the same living Word to the family of God through time and space.
All of this thinking gave me the idea to share with you some advice from the Saints from long ago regarding the Scriptures, especially advice on how to read and approach the Scriptures (this explains why our email is longer this week).
John Newton, in one of his letters wrote, “If you sincerely seek the Lord’s direction by prayer, you will of course make use of his appointed means of information, and search the Scriptures. Give me leave to offer you the following advises, while you are reading and comparing spiritual things with spiritual. First, Not to lay too great stress upon a few detached texts, but seek for that sense which is most agreeable to the general strain of the Scripture. The infallible word of God must, doubtless, be consistent with itself: if it does not appear so to us, the obscurity and seeming inconsistency must be charged to the remaining darkness and ignorance of our minds. As many locks, whose wards differ, are opened with equal ease by one master-key; so there is a certain comprehensive view of scriptural truth, which opens hard places, solves objections, and happily reconciles, illustrates, and harmonizes many texts, which to those who have not this master-key, frequently styled the analogy of faith, appear little less than contradictory to each other. When you obtain this key, you will be sure that you have the right sense.”
Spurgeon delivered a wonderful sermon on how to read the Bible, and I will share his main points here: 1) Read and depend on the Spirit of God: “Look up, reader! The next time the book is in your hands, look up before you open it—and while your eyes are running down the page, look up and pray that God would shine upon it! And when the chapter is finished and you put the book away, take a minute, again, to look up and ask His blessing. If by reading the Scriptures we were only always reminded of the Holy Spirit. If we got no other good from the Scripture, itself, except the turning of our souls to think upon that divine and blessed one, that would be, in itself, an inestimable blessing! Do read, then, thoughtfully remembering the great author.” 2) Read and meditate: “I like to turn it over and over again in my mind, for any one text of the Scriptures you will find to be like the kaleidoscope. Turn it one way and you say,“What a fair truth of God is this!” Turn it another way and you see the same truth, but under how different an aspect! Turn it yet once more—and keep doing it all day—and you will be amazed and delighted to find in how many lights the same truth will appear and what wonderful permutations and combinations you can find in it!” 3) Read and apply: “Endeavor in reading a page of the Scriptures, always to see how much it belongs to you…Ask God not to let your Bible be another man’s Bible, but your own Bible. 4) Read and practice. 5) Read and pray: “A passage in Scripture will often open up when you pray over it…we should pray over every passage in order that we may be enabled to get out of it what God would impart to us. A text is like a treasure chest which is locked—and prayer is the key to open it—and then we get God’s treasure! The text is God’s letter, full of loving words, but prayer must break the seal.” 6) Read and try: “Scripture is not to fit your opinions, but your opinions to conform to the blessed word!” 7) Read and tell out: So you, Christian, who are the noblest work of God, should not be satisfied unless your life is continually spreading around of the truth of God which has been made vital to you and will be new life to others!”
Thomas Watson has some advice on how to read the Bible, but I will mention only two points: 1) He encourages us to “get a fervent love for the Scriptures,” and he continues saying, “Prizing refers to the judgment of a man, but love means also the affections. We should delight to be in the pages of God’s Word; we must learn to delight in its comforts and in its reproofs and corrections.” 2) Watson also chooses to encourage those who struggle to profit from their reading saying, “You can profit from reading the Scriptures even if you do not attain to the level of others. Do not judge yourself according to the standard of others.”
I hope you also find encouragement in these words and that you continue to strive to abide in the Word of God:
This week we will read Jeremiah, 2 Timothy, Proverbs 22 and 23, and Psalms 48, 49, 52. And I am sure you will find this to be a banquet that will satisfy your soul.
May our prayer this week be, “Lord, teach us to pray as we read the Word and mediate on it as we pray and work.”
Under His sun and by His grace,
Becky Pliego and Ladies Fellowship Team from Christ Church