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1179. How to Read Your Bible

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2022 7:00 pm

1179. How to Read Your Bible

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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February 3, 2022 7:00 pm

Dr. Mark Minnick of the BJU seminary faculty continues a doctrinal series entitled “God’s Word in Our Hands” with a message titled, “How to Read Your Bible,” from Genesis 1:1

The post 1179. How to Read Your Bible appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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R.C. Sproul
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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. We're continuing a study series entitled God's Word in Our Hands. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Mark Minnick. Two summers ago, my wife Linda and I had the opportunity of visiting some missionaries who are serving in very small churches in northern Wales.

And we arranged to have a few days afterwards in a rental car to visit some of the places in Wales connected with famous figures in church history. We went to a very small village in which there was a girl born to very poor parents. Her father was a weaver. Her name was Mary Jones. Some of you may be familiar with her story.

At the age of 10, she coveted to own her own copy of the Bible. For six years, she took care of other people's children. She took in their laundry. She mended their clothes. She gathered firewood.

Did all of these things in order to only earn small coins. Her father built a rude little wooden box and put a hole in the top of it where she could drop these coins and save them. And after six years of that, at the age of 16, she finally had enough money to purchase a Welsh translation of the scripture. She was now 16 years of age, and one sunny morning she set out barefoot so that she would not wear out her only pair of shoes. She walked 25 miles to the only pastor they were aware of who might have a copy of the Bible that she could purchase. And the next day she was able to do that, and then she had the 25 miles to walk back. Her Bible rests today in the archives of the British and Foreign Bible Society, but her story is so well known that the Welsh Tourist Board mapped out the 25 miles that she walked over hills and crossing rivers and across fields, and you can hike that same distance today.

Linda and I didn't have the opportunity to do that, but we drove much of it. And as we viewed it from outside the comfort of our car windows, we just marveled at what this young woman was willing to do in order to get a copy of the Bible. And of course it's very humbling to think then about how easily we in our generation have been able to obtain copies of scripture. But the fact is that every copy of the Bible that we hold in our hands today was handed down to us at very dear cost, as I'm sure you are aware of. And when you go back and look at the names of those who gave their fortunes, their reputations, and in some cases their lives to make it possible for us to have English Bibles in our hands today, it truly is a remarkable thing. Wycliffe and the Lollards, Luther in Germany, the other Reformers, William Tyndale.

What these people went through in order to make this possible for us is impossible for us to fully appreciate. I brought to the pulpit today an older copy of the Bible. It is a King James Version. It's dated 1683, and I brought it to the pulpit because it is an illustration of what I'm talking about.

It's an early study Bible filled with notes done by a Puritan named Samuel Clark. Samuel Clark and his father both were ejected from their churches in 1662 under the administration of Charles II. And for the next 26 years, until the glorious revelation of 1688, these two men along with several thousand other British ministers and several hundred Scottish ministers, these men in the prime of their lives were all deprived of an opportunity of having a church.

These were the years during which John Bunyan spent 12 years in the Bedford prison. If these men were to preach at all, they did so in the woods, in caves, in barns, in the middle of the night. But it was during these years that they persisted in their own pursuit of a knowledge of scripture and trying to pass this on as best they could.

And Samuel Clark put together this Bible that is just filled with devout notes on scripture. When this Bible was printed, the Revolutionary War was still nearly a century away. The Civil War was two centuries away. The Second World War was nearly three centuries away. It's an amazing thing to hold in your hands a Bible that's going on now four centuries old and to know that it was handed down.

It was bequeathed to us at a fearful cost. So the opportunity of speaking to you today about how to read it is a really precious opportunity and I'm so grateful for it. I want to ask you if you would open your Bibles to the very first verse of the scripture. Book of Genesis, first chapter, the first verse.

The message today is not going to be the exposition of any single passage, but in just a moment I want to refer to that first verse and then to a second verse in that chapter. I want to suggest this morning that the most important thing when it comes to reading the Bible is not methodology. Although methodology is important, but it's not paramount. The most important thing to really profit from these precious Bibles is a certain mentality. Not methodology, but mentality.

What I'm talking about is a certain point of view. And there are two things I want to call to our attention about this this morning before talking a little bit about methodology. And the first of these is that it is absolutely critical to come to grips with what we're supposed to be looking for. When we open a Bible, what are we supposed to be looking for? And the best answer to that is that we are not supposed to be looking for something about the Bible itself. That is scriptural facts.

And we're not even supposed to be looking for something about ourselves. That is practical applications, not scriptural facts or practical applications. We have it suggested to us rightly if you'll just look at the first four words of your Bible. Look at Genesis 1, look at the first line. And it reads, in the beginning.

And what's the fourth word? In the beginning, God. And what we're supposed to be looking for is the Lord. The Bible is about God.

It's not in the first place about us. We come in, but we come in secondarily, as do all creatures. Who is the one who created everything that exists? Who's the one who destroyed them all in a flood? Who's the one who preserved eight people and began all over again with them?

Who's the one who scattered the early peoples at the Tower of Babel? Who's the one who appeared to an idolater named Abraham? Who's the one who initiated a covenant with him and with his descendants? Who's the one who appeared to Moses at the burning bush? Who's the one who brought the children of Jacob out of Egypt? Who's the one who brought them into the land? Who's the one who went before Joshua in the conquest? Who's the one who set up one king and tore down another king? Who's the one who sent his son into the world? Who's the one who appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus?

Who's the one who appeared in visions to John the Apostle? The whole Bible is about God. It's about God's initiation of all of these relationships. The right mentality when opening the Bible to really understand the Bible and feed from the Bible is to begin with who the Bible actually is about. And that's something you have to turn a little switch in your mind about and you have to do it deliberately and intentionally. Because our tendency really is to open the Bible first and foremost and to try to find ourselves.

And that's why certain parts of the Bible are not only more familiar to us, but they actually become our very common points of reading. Because we're most interested in ourselves. When really what God wants us to do is turn that switch. You have to make yourself do it. You have to remind yourself to do it. And think to yourself, I'm primarily reading about God.

And then I come in. And the second thing when it comes to mentality that I think is very helpful for us is the matter of really coming to grips with what we're doing when we open this book. Now because it is a book, our tendency is to think primarily in terms of this, that we're reading. And we are.

Or we're studying and that's a step even better. And we tend to think of those terms because these are the mechanics of what is necessary to really get at what is here. But I want to call your attention to just one other very suggestive line in Genesis chapter one and it's in the third verse. The first verse again, in the beginning, God. And if we'll just start right there every time we open the Bible, if we'll start with that in our minds at the beginning right now as I open these pages, God.

And then the third verse says, and God said. And that too is just a little adjustment that we make in our conception of what we're doing. That it is, of course, necessary that we read, but that our reading has a different character to it than when we open any other volume in the world. That in our reading, even in our studying, what we're really doing is listening. Because God is speaking. And our heart cry needs to be that of Samuel. It's a remarkable and wonderful and suggestive example. Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.

That's really what we're doing. And the reason that we can say that and be so confident about it is because of what the scripture says about itself when it tells us that this is a book, Hebrews 4-12 says, our King James Version reads, that is quick. And what that word means, of course, is living. It's really hard to comprehend that this is a book whose pages actually move.

It's living. And Hebrews 4-12 says it's active. That's what that word powerful means. Peter talks about this. He says the word of God is living and enduring. Now, folks, those are not just figures of speech.

That is truth in its most literal form. And the reason for that is because we are indwelt by God's Holy Spirit, and he was the one who breathed these words out. And he himself is active with those words whenever we open the Bible and our spirit toward God is speak. Your servant hears.

And you know what it is. Any of you who are truly God's children, no matter how distant you may feel yourself from the Lord right now this morning, you know what it is. You've had those experiences in your life when you've opened the Bible and you have read something that you've read many times before. But this morning, it's like it's like God takes a bright yellow highlighter and just runs it right through a particular line.

And you are electrified with the stunning shock of it. It's the living Holy Spirit taking the things of Christ and disclosing them to us today. It's the coveted experience that we all wish would take place every single time we read the Bible.

It doesn't, unfortunately. But once you've experienced it, you are never satisfied until it's happening again and again and again. There is a hunger in your spirit that cannot be denied.

That's what you always are looking for. You are opening the Bible in order to find out about God. And you do it by really listening to him. And if someone asked the question, why doesn't it happen more often? Well, undoubtedly there are many, many reasons for that. But folks, one of the really common reasons is this, that far too many times we quench the Spirit of God. Maybe we have grieved the Spirit of God. Many Christians have grieved the Spirit of God. We live every moment of our lives indwelt by either a grieved or ungrieved Holy Spirit. Every minute we live with a grieved or ungrieved Spirit of God. And when we grieve the Spirit of God, he often goes silent.

And the pages are not warm and bright. And God himself explains this. There are passages in the Old Testament where he speaks of himself in these very terms. He said to his people in the Book of Isaiah, the 57th chapter, You don't remember me.

You don't even give me a thought. And therefore I'm silent. In the 50th Psalm, God says, You've put my words behind you. You've delighted in thieves. You've kept company with adulterers. Your tongue has framed deceit.

So I kept silent. Now folks, that's the answer for someone here today. If you ask the question, I know I'm a child of God. I know what it is to experience the Lord really addressing me from scripture. I've had those moments, but it's been a long time. Then you just need really to take this as a helpful possibility that you have quenched the Spirit of God. And the best way to remedy that is to go in silence and quiet and alone and shut everything out and talk not just to the Godhead, but talk to the Spirit of God personally and apologize. And with a contrite and humble spirit, beg Him to speak to you again. And the wonderful thing about God is He lifts up the humble.

He always does. And once that kind of thing is readjusted in our hearts, then there are ways of reading the Bible methodologically that are very, very helpful. And I want to turn to these at this point. I want to start here.

I have eight points to this very quickly. I want to start with the possibility of your purchasing for yourself a copy of the Bible that you will really treasure. What I'm talking about is you're doing what Mary Jones did. If you have to save your money for a while, if you have to sacrifice, if you have to set aside something else that you'd like to have or even need to have. I want to suggest the possibility that you do that in order to be able to own for yourself a beautiful copy of God's word in the finest binding that you can afford. Something that you will treasure all of your days.

In other words, that you will put your money into it. Jesus said that where people's treasure is, their heart is. And this is just a simple little practical way of starting off on a good foot, maybe a new foot for many, many people with the Bible. I wish someone had told me when I came to school here as a freshman to do this. I wish someone had told me right here your freshman year, why don't you purchase a brand new Bible? Get the finest Bible that you can and make sure that it's got some margins in it that are large enough that you can write in them. And then I wish that all during my college years here that that had been my university Bible and that I just mark that Bible up in my Bible classes and in chapel and in my own personal devotional life.

And if at the end of the four years the margins were filled in many, many of the books or the Bible was worn out, that's okay, I could put it on the shelf. But I'd always have that then as a memory of my trek, my journey with the Lord during these really formative years here in the university. And here were all the things that the Lord ministered to me during that period of time.

I want to suggest that possibility to you. And then secondly that when you get that Bible that you sign and seal that Bible with your own surrendered signature and your own sacred ambitions. On the fly leaf of that Bible, in the best handwriting of which you're capable, boldly and with a fully surrendered heart, inscribe your name. And then why not take the 19th Psalm or the 119th Psalm, some other passage of scripture concerning the word of God, and dig out of those passages a nugget or two that captures your spiritual ambitions for your life listening to God's word. And write it carefully right into your name. And then thirdly, begin to read that Bible. And read it in ways that will be most helpful to you.

I want to just share with you some of the things through the years that have been most helpful to me. And that is first of all to sacrifice to get the best time of your day for doing that. Now the best time of day for everyone is not precisely the same, but for many, many people the best time of day for listening to the voice of God is the morning. And there's some sacrifice connected often in being able to give the best part of your morning to the Lord. But I think that you'll discover if you get in the habit of doing that, that you will preserve in your own heart a sense of the Lord's presence all through the day in ways that you probably are not capable of doing without beginning the day like that. And for most of us, even though when we get up in the morning we're a little groggy and we're not quite going yet, the fact is that the world isn't as busy yet and our minds have not yet been imprinted by all of the busyness of the day and the urgencies of the hour.

In other words, there's more of a blank space on our spirit first thing in the morning than probably any other time of the day. And if you will get into the habit of making use of your morning, really there's a sacrifice to this. Offer this up as a morning sacrifice to the Lord.

Pay the cost to be able to do it. And then do whatever you need to do to get as awake as you can, get a cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate or whatever you like to drink. Get alone with the Lord in a little pool of light. Get it as silent as you need.

Get silence if you have to wear headphones that are noise canceling. Do whatever you have to do. But get alone with the Lord. And recognize you can't multitask God. I mean you can read the Bible and multitask. You can listen to the Bible on headphones while you're jogging or running or exercising. All of those are helpful things.

But folks, what we're talking about is something that is definitely a huge step up above that. We're talking about giving God your undivided attention. And we all know how annoying it is to be trying to talk to someone about something important and they've got a piece of technology and they keep glancing at us the whole time that they're doing this. After a while, you just give up.

The Bible is God. He's speaking. He needs silence. Give it to Him. And be willing to sacrifice to do that. And if you've not done that and you begin it, you are going to be amazed at the difference that it will make. Then fourthly, I'd like to suggest that you pray before you open the Bible. Be dependent on the Lord about this.

Be intentionally dependent. Tell the Lord that He must open your heart if you're to get anything and plead with Him briefly to do that. And once you've done that, then open your Bible. And fifth suggestion is this, that you read over a course of time the whole word of God. That you let God say to you everything that He is saying to His people. Read the entirety of the word of God.

Folks, if you only read the portions that are easy, if you read only the chapters in which you're interested, if you read only what you find at the moment to be personally applicable, if you do that habitually, you will be defective in your understanding of God. And that is one of the reasons why Christian people can get together and sometimes discuss very, very important matters. And they cannot seem to come to a close understanding on those things.

And it's because they don't have the same governor on the conversation. Some of them are bringing to the conversation only a part of God's word. It's all they know.

It's about all they ever read. For us to have the full-orbed understanding of the entirety of the character and perfections of God, and the way He reacts in certain situations to our behavior or our thinking, the way He intends to govern the world and to dominate the lives of people sovereignly, what He intends to do in redemption, what His ultimate objectives are for all of this, you only get this when you read the entirety of what He has to say. And He can't say it all in a single chapter that happens to be our favorite portion of the word of God. We've got to expose our spirits to all of it. Read the whole Bible. And that brings me to this sixthly, read by a Bible plan. It's helpful to have a plan. The one that I personally have used for many, many years was done by the Scottish preacher Robert Murray McShane.

It's very commonly used around the world. You can get it easily, just access it on the internet. Robert Murray McShane Bible reading schedule. The advantage of that schedule is he starts you in the Bible at four places simultaneously. So you're not reading the entirety of the Old Testament for nearly three-quarters of the year before you ever get to the New Testament. So he starts you on the very first day in Genesis, Matthew, Ezra, and Acts. And if you read just those four chapters a day, it'll take you through the whole Old Testament once a year, the whole New Testament twice a year, and the book of Psalms twice a year just reading four chapters a day. If you can't read four chapters every day, read two chapters a day. That means that every two years, you'll be all the way through the Old Testament, you'll read the New Testament once a year, Psalms once a year. It's really a very fine Bible reading schedule.

Just check it off as you go through there. But use some kind of plan to get yourself through the Scripture that way. And remember this, that as the old Puritans used to say, when we read the Bible, we either do plow work or spade work. Plow work is when you're digging a shallow furrow across the whole surface of it.

That's necessary. Spade work is when you really dig down into something. And what's helpful to do is take that Bible reading schedule, read all four chapters, and then maybe a couple times a week when you have a little extra time, take one of the chapters and spend an extra 15 to 20 minutes with it. Read it a couple more times, read a good devotional commentary on it, mark up the margins of your Bible with what you learn, do some plow work and do some spade work, have the telescopic view where you're seeing everything, get certain portions under the microscope. It's that combination that will really allow the Lord to address your heart powerfully.

And that brings me to this lastly, walk away with something to savor. I personally try every day to spend a little bit of time on Scripture memory. Often it's no more than three or four minutes just reviewing a verse or two that I've learned in the past. Very often it's a little longer than that and it's adding new verses to the repertoire. But I try when I read the Scripture to find something in one of those chapters that will stick in my mind, I write it on a card, I carry it in my pocket, and I try throughout the day to return to it like you'd put a lozenge under your tongue and just suck on it. Take something away from your Bible reading that God spoke to you that morning and let him carry you all through the day in an empowered way with that. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Mark Minnick, pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, which was part of the series called God's Word in Our Hands. Thanks for listening and join us again next week as we conclude the series here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-13 01:08:47 / 2023-06-13 01:18:36 / 10

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