On Reading the Scriptures
It is not sufficient for you to read about the Scriptures, you must read the Scriptures for yourself. A Christian ignorant of his Bible is practically defenceless against the attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil. He is a spiritual dwarf, for he cannot grow without the sincere milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2). He is overcome by the wicked one, for he is unable to wield the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Eph. 6:17). He stumbles into snares and pitfalls and wanders into by-ways, for he is without that lamp for the feet and that light for the way which the word of God supplies to all who consult it (Psalm 119:105).
You will find it of immense help to you to form the regular habit of reading the word of God every day. We see that the Bereans were specially commended in that they searched the Scriptures "daily" (Acts 17:11). You will have to overcome many difficulties in order strictly to observe this rule. But nothing that is really worth doing at all is done properly without taking pains and exercising self-denial. And most probably, if you do not mean to lose your daily portion, you will have to rise earlier, or to deny yourself some form of recreation. But whatever you may give up in this way, you will certainly be no loser.
You will observe that the Bereans searched the Scriptures. This implies an eager, earnest endeavour to understand what is read. It is the willing heart that is taught of God. The listless reader will gain neither pleasure nor profit.
Do not forget that Christ is the key of the Scriptures. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was an enigma to the Ethiopian eunuch, for he knew not Christ. But directly Philip "preached unto him Jesus," his soul was filled with divine light. It is the Lord's own word concerning the Scriptures that "they testify of me" (John 5:39). The Jews believed not Christ, and therefore understood neither the law, the prophets, nor the psalms.
Read your Bibles with implicit faith. Receive every word as from God Himself. Do not create difficulties by setting one passage against another; but believe both to be true. For it is "through faith we understand" (Heb. 11:3). In the writings of men it is well to seek to understand before believing. But the Bible comes to us with the authority of God, and the first thing required of us is to accept it with all the unquestioning faith of little children.
But do lay to heart the necessity of being regular in reading your Bibles. It will assist you to have a definite plan to follow as far as possible. Some find one method suitable, some another.
We should be glad if some of our readers would write and tell us what plan they find best, how much they read daily, and what portions of the Word they read. If their plans were made known through the medium of these papers, they might be of service to others.
We trust that this invitation will be responded to because we believe that a good many may be thereby helped in what constitutes a very practical difficulty to them. We refer to the difficulty some find in reading regularly at a particular time.
Some have to leave their homes at a very early hour. Some have little or no spare time throughout the day. Others return to their homes late at night and excessively wearied in body. Some again seem to be unable to find a quiet time to read the Bible in private.
These circumstances are magnified at the suggestion of the Evil One into insuperable obstacles, and are made into excuses for serious neglect of the Scriptures.
We hope therefore some of our correspondents may be able to give useful hints that may assist others in overcoming these small hindrances and in forming the habit of reading the Word of God daily.
But whatever plan is adopted, helpful as it may prove, the main point will be missed unless the Scriptures are read in the proper frame of mind and attitude of soul. Handle the Sacred Volume with. reverence. Turn its pages with pious fear. Receive its words with lowliness and readiness of mind. Treasure its teachings in the heart. Come to it with eagerness and leave it with regret. Carefully ponder over every verse. Meditate long, but pray without ceasing.
Remember above all things that the word of God is designed to form the affections of the heart as well as to develop spiritual intelligence. It is not sufficient for you to know the various ways in which the love of God has been manifested, that knowledge must move the very inmost depths of your being. It must quicken the energies of your soul into ardent love to God as well as to those that are His, indeed to all men. It is well to have clear views of scriptural truth. This should be our hearty desire. But oh! how necessary to sit in quiet meditation at the Master's feet and allow His blessed words to distil into the soul and animate and inflame the affections towards Himself. Beware therefore lest the head grows at the expense of the heart.
This may be prevented by being careful to put into practice whatever He shows us is His will. It is the heart desirous to do His will that is taught of Him (John 7:17). This again brings us back to the necessity of reading the Bible daily. For God shows us His word "here a little, and there a little," as we require it. And, so to speak, God will set us our daily tasks if we only humbly, reverently approach His word and attentively listen to what He has to say.