The Bible is the Word of God and one must believe it to be triumphant in Christ. It is where one begins. Back in the early days of my being a Christian I had some doubts about the Bible and no peace of mind. Then one day after reading it I said to the Lord, "Lord, I believe this Book to be Your Word. I receive it as such and will no longer have any doubts about it. There are some things that I do not understand in it, but I accept it as your Word." When I took that step, the Lord gave me peace of mind. I have never had any doubts about it since and I have been teaching it for years. I thoroughly believe it and stake my life on it. If it is not the Word of God, I have wasted my years in the ministry.
The Bible claims to be God's Word. It is God's revelation of His ways to your heart. This is how God talks to you. It is the only positive way that you can be sure you are His child. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (I Pet. 1:23-25).
The Thessalonian believers have so received it. Paul said. "And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were enamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia" (I Thess. 1:6.7).
The Bible is inspired by God which makes it an amazing book. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16,17). No other book can compare with this book or claim for itself what this book does.
God told Joshua, when he took the place of Moses, to operate by the Bible. If all believers would do what he did, they would live successful Christian lives. He said, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Josh. 1:8). The two things Joshua must do and all believers in Christ must do if they would be a success for Him are (1) meditate in it, and (2) observe to do according to all that is written therein. To meditate is to chew God's Word as a cow chews its cud. Read a paragraph and chew it over. In other words, think it over, and assimilate it. Get it into your system so that you understand it and observe to do all that it says. How simple. It takes more than just reading a passage. It must be applied to the life. Do what James said, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22).
The Book of Colossians says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom ..." (3:16). In other words, let the Word be at home in your heart and you be at home in the Word. That takes spending some time in the Book.
Jesus clearly knew the value of the written word when He said to Satan, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). It is the best weapon one can use against the wiles of the tempter. Satan came to Him in a moment of weakness. He was hungry after having been in the wilderness for forty days and nights. The devil came to Him at that moment of His life and said to Him, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread" (Matt. 4:3). The use of the memorized Word can stop Satan at any time. No doubt this is the reason the Psalmist wrote, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee"(Psalm 119:11). Memorize it if you want victory over temptation. The Holy Spirit will bring it to your mind as you need it.
How much we take in to keep our spiritual life nourished should be more important than what we eat physically. Life is more than food. The Apostle Paul had it right when he said, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). To live a deeper life with our Lord, one must take time to eat the Word. Remember Jeremiah the prophet said, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jer. 15:16). We too are called by His name but we do not take time to eat the Word. It is vital that we take special time every day to apply the Word of God to our lives that we might be spiritually strong. To be filled with the Word of God is another way of saying be filled with the Spirit. Actually a person is filled with the Spirit in direct proportion to how much he is controlled by the Word of God.
Jesus prayed for the believers in John 17:17. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Notice that Jesus makes sanctification and His Word synonymous. If you want to be sanctified, it does not take an emotional experience of a so-called second blessing. What it takes is obedience to God's Word. You are being sanctified as you obey and do His Word. Sanctification is what God has previously done in you. When you were born again, He at that time set you apart from the world for Himself. What He has done in you, you now agree with and set yourself apart for Him. You do this by your practice of obeying the Word. The more you obey His Word, the more you become sanctified. In other words, you are sanctified in proportion to where you are in obedience to the Word. That is progressive sanctification. Complete sanctification takes place when one arrives in heaven. It takes a sanctified life to walk on the water with the Lord victorious over your trials. Christ gave Himself for the church, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:26-27). As you spend time in the Word, you will see your sin, like a person looking into a mirror, and it should cause you to confess your sin to God. As you confess and forsake your sin, you are being washed by the Word. You are being conformed into the image of Christ. You are becoming a "sanctified vessel, meet [or fit] for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Tim. 2:21).
God's Word will be your guide if you want to please Him in all that you do. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps. 119:105). "For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death" (Ps. 48:14). "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23). "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5,6). You need not walk with any uncertainty when you have God as your guide. He will lead you in the right paths and around life's pitfalls. The deeper life is one of assurance in Christ. You tread with a solid step in Him. He knows the way you take and where you are going.
Remember that God wants you to grow as a believer in Christ.
Let me give you a few suggestions on how to study the Bible for yourself and get something out of it for your heart.
1. DO A PARAGRAPH STUDY.
A paragraph consists of one unit of thought like bricks in building a house. In the Bible you build on them like you do in any other book and it can be any number of verses. You may even have a Bible that has paragraph markings "¶" indicating where a new paragraph begins.
2.GIVE THE PARAGRAPH A TITLE ACCORDING TO ITS CONTENTS.
Make your title as brief as possible. It does not have to be fancy, but use words that express what you see to be the main thought in the paragraph such as "The Ministry of John the Baptist".
Every form of Bible study uses four simple words: observation, relationship, interpretation, and application.
3. PRACTICE OBSERVATION.
This is where you put your powers of observation to work. List everything that you see in the paragraph such as people, places, things, doctrine, location, grammar, etc.
4. STUDY RELATIONSHIPS.
A teacher in a college I attended years ago said, "You do not study anything until you see relationships." How do things you have listed relate one to another? How does this paragraph relate to the previous one or to the one following? Does it continue the narrative, is there some exposition? Is there a comparison, a contrast?
5. INTERPRET THE PARAGRAPH.
What does the paragraph mean or say? When you interpret you are getting an understanding of what it means. What did it say to the ones to whom it was written originally? Put it into your own words.
6. APPLY IT TO YOUR LIFE.
List the spiritual lesson or lessons that you have learned for yourself. Never leave the paragraph until God has spoken to your heart. This is where Bible study has value for you. This is what can be called eating the Word. It is where God talks to you and may even touch your emotions. The Bible will be alive to you when you get something out of it for yourself. Take time to pray in it and do a little meditation. Thank God for what He gave to you and ask Him to make it real in your life. This is application. Don't miss it. Chew the food and digest it. Do a paragraph a day. Memorize a meaningful verse. The deeper life in Christ means Bible study. Prayer and Bible study are how you stay in touch with God. A paragraph a day will keep the devil away.
Used with permission of the author. From Walking on the Water by Al Troester. Bucksport, ME: Evangel Printers, ©1995. Chapter 8.
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