November 5, 2015

What to do with the Bible

by Jesse Johnson

I recently came across this short article (perhaps it was even a sermon outline?) by W. H. Pike, who pastored Eagle Rock Community Church in Los Angeles in the early 1900’s. It serves as the introduction for “The Summarized Bible,” by Keith Brooks, which is a Logos resource I recently stumbled across and can’t put down (if you have Logos, look for that work). It is a list of commands the Bible has concerning itself. In other words, it tells you what to do with the Bible:   

The Bible is wonderful because it gives us a knowledge of God, of men, of the Universe, and of Redemption. No other book can be compared to it in this respect, but it not only informs us about these important truths, but it also tells us what we are to do with it. We have within the Bible itself instruction as to our attitude toward it.

We are exhorted to:

1. “Read it” (Neh. 8:8). And may I suggest that it be read slowly, carefully, prayerfully, in large portions, repeatedly, reverently and with a willing spirit to follow its precepts.

2. “Believe it” (Rom. 10:8). Because it is the Word of faith. It has been given to increase our faith in God and His working in the Universe.

3. “Receive it” (Jas. 1:21). Here it is the engrafted word that is to be received as the soil received the seed, or the tree receives the graft. Taking the Word of God in our heart life, allowing it to grow and bear its own fruit in motives and actions.

4. “Taste it” (Heb. 6:5). For it is the good Word of God. Some seem to be afraid of the Bible for fear it will require them to do something they do not wish to do. Be not afraid; it is good and right in all its requirements.

5. “Eat it” (Jer. 15:16). This process suggests that we not merely taste but actually live by it, as Jesus said, “Ye shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4.

6. “Hold it fast” (Tit. 1:9). It is a faithful word. All its promises are true; all its history is true; and its statements are truth. Therefore we are to rest our faith upon it.

7. “Hold it forth” (Phil. 2:16). Because it is the Word of Life. All who come under its benificent rays feel its life giving power.

8. “Preach it” (2 Tim. 4:2). Here it is called simply the Word. It suggests that we are not to preach any one part of it or any one phase of it, but preach it in its entirety and fulness.

9. “Search it” (John 5:29). This suggests work and patience. The Greek word carries the idea of “ransack” as the housewife goes through the home at housecleaning time; or “to track” as the hunter laboriously follows the game through the brush, so we are to search for truth and run down the lines of God’s revelations to man.

10. “Study it” (2 Tim. 2:15). Here is a word that means close application to the Word of God, as the builder minutely studies the plans of the architect before erecting the structure.

11. “Meditate on it” (Ps. 1:2). This word has much the same meaning as “eat” for it means literally “to chew the cud.” Turning the Word of God over and over in the mind till the sweetness of its truths feed our souls.

12. “Compare it” (2 Cor. 2:13). This is not so much what we do with the Scriptures as what the Holy Spirit does with them in our hearts. This is a divine commentary always at hand. Or as John puts it in his first epistle 2:27: “The annointing which ye received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as His annointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even so as it taught you, ye abide in Him.”

13. “Rightly divide it” (2 Tim. 2:15). This is not an arbitrary division of subjects but the following of a line of truth from the first place mentioned to the last place mentioned; noticing it in all its relation to other truths and as the word literally means “the cutting of a straight line” of truth in the Bible.

14. “Delight in it” (Ps. 119:92). Seven times in this Psalm the Psalmist speaks of delighting in God’s word. This should always be the heart ambition and attitude.

So, how are you doing? Go down this list, and ask yourself: “Am I using the word of God as it directs me? Or am I failing to follow the directions?”

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Cheryl

    Really enjoyed this…but didn’t see how John 5:29 fit point 9…

    • Jason

      You passed the test for #1.

    • I’m guessing he is tying it to John 5:28–that those who come out to eternal life do so because “they hear his voice.” I think that verse refers to the voice of Jesus raising the dead, but I think Pike takes it as reference to the voice of Jesus through his word. That’s my best guess.

    • I’m pretty sure he meant the reference to be John 5:39, not 5:29, where Jesus tells the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” Because the second person indicative and the imperative are identical in form in Greek, you could translate this as “You search,” as the NAS does, or as an imperative, “Search.” This guy apparently takes the latter. Not sure that’s the best way to go.

      Incidentally, I also think Phil 2:16 is better translated “holding fast” rather than “holding forth.”

      • Alex

        Good call, Mike. This certainly seems like a plausible explanation.

      • Your answer is better than mine. I’m posting the screen shot on Twitter, just for fun. Can’t figure out how to load the graphic on Disqus…

  • tovlogos

    If everyone Christian (it would be unrealistic to expect the world to…) tried to observe these mandates, results in the Christian life are inevitable, Jesse. As we hobble to the kingdom, if these things are our sincere intent, God is not slow to bring us all the way. Great post.

  • Adam

    Another good study to go along with this – Psalm 119 with its 182 references to God’s word, precepts. laws. testimonies, etc. No better place to hear God’s voice than His Inspired Word!

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