HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE REALIZING POSITIVE LONG-TERM RESULTS
If there are no positive results from reading God's Word, no real benefit has been realized. A "positive benefit" is one that is productive. It is the fruit that grows for you to eat. God-blessed activities always yield God-blessed results! It is never pointless to willingly subject your mind to God's Word in faith. It is never fruitful to handle God's Word in a state of general disinterest, or out of a sense of obligation. The results that are realized must be "long-term." You are being readied to spend eternity with God, and the Word of God is designed to work in you to that end.
Reading to believe
When you read the Word of God, you should read it to believe it, not to understand it. This in no way deprecates understanding, which is essential to spiritual growth and fellowship with the Lord. In God's kingdom, understanding proceeds from believing. This is quite different than worldly wisdom. In the world, men believe what they understand. In Christ, we understand because we believe (Heb 11:3). Prior to our Lord's death, He told His disciples He was going to be betrayed, suffer many things, and finally be killed. They found this difficult to believe. It simply did not mesh with their perception of the Kingdom of God. After He was risen, however, their view of Scripture was changed. Here is the record; "When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken" (John 2:22). I suggest that such belief is now the manner of the Kingdom. An awareness of the risen Christ will directly impact upon your reading of Scripture! Do not read the Bible to learn interesting things, or to become familiar with the customs of the times. Read it to believe! Those that believe Scripture will come to Jesus, appropriating the salvation that He has wrought for humanity. In a most remarkable word, Jesus revealed the power of believing Scripture, and the eternal liability of not doing so. "And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life" (John 5:38-40). Suffice it to say, believing the Scriptures, particularly as they relate to the Lord Jesus Christ, will bring spiritual life to you. It will enable you to be perceptive of and respond to your heavenly Father.
There are statements in Scripture that provoke deep thought. Such thoughts were called "cogitations" in the book of Daniel (Dan 7:28). These are thoughts that captivate the mind. They are not surface considerations, but summon the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength into operation. One such statement is found in the book of Acts. "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). This text has been a battle ground for theologians over the centuries. Some state that men believe because of Divine determination. Others say Divine determination was provoked by the people believing. The answer lies in an understanding of the "work" of believing (John 6:29). Believing is evidence of Divine activity. We have a categorical statement on this in the Word of God. "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil 1:29). Thus faith is "obtained," not produced by human effort. As it is written, "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:1). The things we believe cannot be confirmed in the flesh. They are heavenly things, not accessible to any of our physical senses. Paul calls them "things not seen" (2 Cor 4:17-18). Here is how it works. The Gospel whets the appetite of those that peruse it. They want to know God, receive Christ, and enjoy salvation. Yet, these realities are all beyond their grasp. It is God that gives them the ability to believe. He does it upon the basis of a heart that is "honest and good" (Luke 8:15). How does all of this fit in with our subject? If you want to believe, approach the Word of God with an honest and good heart, you will not be disappointed. Things that are beyond the reach of your natural abilities will be comprehended by the grace of God. No wonder Scripture speaks of "those who had believed through grace" (Acts 18:27). Read the Bible to believe it! The comprehension of Scripture springs from the belief of its testimony. Paul did not pray for people to understand the Word of God until they believed it! The Ephesians are a case in point. The Apostle desired that the grow and advance, and therefore besought the Lord in their behalf. His prayer was prompted by an awareness of their faith. "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Eph 3:14-21). The Colossians were also the subject of Paul's prayers. Their belief qualified them for the blessing. "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously" (Col 1:9-11). The belief of Scripture inducts you into the realm of blessing! Read the Bible to believe it.
Mixing the Word with faith
The Word of God is not effective for the individual until it is mixed with faith. A person can be subjected to great quantities of the Scripture, but until it is believed, it will not be profitable. Israel provides us an example of this truth. "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by (mixed with, KJV) faith in those who heard" (Heb 4:2). There is the explanation for the failure of multitudes to appropriate the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The remarkable progress of people in the faith is also explained by this text. Read the Bible to believe it!