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Bible Knowledge

D M McIntyre

The Bible may be described as the expression of the mind and heart of God. If we desire to know Him and be filled with the Spirit it is necessary to familiarise ourselves with the Word of God that reveals Him. In the days of His flesh our Lord had occasion more than once to rebuke the Pharisees for their ignorance of Scripture. "Have ye not read?" (Mt 12.3,5; 19.4; Mk 12.26), He asked in tones of rebuke; and again He said, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Mt 22.29; Mk 12.24). And is it not true that many Christians are ill–instructed in the truth of the Bible and are weak in spirit because the Word of God does not dwell in them richly?

Whatever the reason, we seem to find it easier to interest ourselves in many books other than the Bible. We prefer religious journals, expositions, commentaries, sermons even, to the pure Word of God. One reason for this preference is, no doubt, to be found in the fact that a resolute mental and spiritual effort is involved in the reading of the Scriptures. It may be compared to mountain climbing; the ascent is laborious and long, but on the uplands the air is free and sweet and clean, and from the summit one beholds the lands of far distances. The longer one studies in this way the more one learns to relish the atmosphere of these spiritual heights. There is no royal road to an adequate knowledge of Scripture; the student of the Word of God must heed the call, "gird up the loins of your mind" (1 Pet 1.13), and the counsel, "exercise thyself…unto godliness" (1 Tim 4.7).

As we read we ought to remember that the Book before us, written by holy men of old, was given by the inspiration of the Almighty. The book, as a whole, and in every fragment, is a message from God. It comes to us with as real an intention as if it came with the direction of our name upon it, fresh from heaven. An English mystic three centuries ago thought he heard a celestial voice salute him by name and say, "I have a message from God unto thee". The message of Scripture to the devout reader is no less real than if it had come thus to him, alone of all the world, clear from the solitude of God.

We ought to read the Word of God prayerfully. If there should be in what we read today a precept, let us embrace it; if a promise, let is claim it; if an example, let us emulate it; if a warning, let us fear before it. And always let us lift up our hearts to God saying, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Ps 119.18). One who has prayed the Bible through, turning every word of God into application, is far advanced in holiness, and is able to understand something of that which is wrapped up in the stupendous phrase, "the fulness of God" (Eph 3.19).

If we read with fresh application, the Bible will always display itself in new significance. John Owen says, with one of his sudden flashes of insight, "A commandment that is always practised is always new, as John speaks of that of love" (see 1 Jn 2.8-11). There is nothing that will rehabilitate an outworn Bible as a renewal of Biblical practice. When the Bible becomes uninteresting, go down deeper into its meaning, yield a more unquestioning obedience to its authority, accept with greater simplicity of spirit its revelation of the unseen God, and the trenches that were dry and gaping with thirst will be filled with a living and laughing flood. The true way to realise the worth of the Bible is to receive what it offers, and to perform what it enjoins.

The Bible is given to us as knowledge: faith and obedience turn it into power. The navigator in the chart room of an ocean liner studies the course as it is outlined. Point to point the knowledge is transferred to the steering gear. By this way the liner cuts its path through the sea from continent to continent: knowledge is changed into power.



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