HOW TO READ THE BIBLE
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
THE POSITION OF THE WORD IN THE DIVINE ECONOMY, #2 We are born again by the Word of God
God speaks clearly on this subject. "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Peter 1:22-23). Again it is written, "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures" (James 1:18). Divine life cannot be given to the individual apart from the Word of God! It is not enough to adjust our lifestyle; we must be "born again" to "see" or "enter" the kingdom of God (John 3:3,5). And how does that happen? Is it a matter of mechanics or routine? God forbid! The Word of God must enter into your thinking processes--down into your heart. That is another way of saying you think upon what God has said, pondering His words in your heart, and letting them dominate your mind. Referring to this process, Jesus said, "Let these words sink into your ears . . . " (Luke 9:44). God's Word, if received, will produce Divine life within. It becomes the Divinely appointed means of transforming you, recreating you in His precise image (Col 3:10).
Living by the Word of God
Here is an aspect of the Word of God that is rarely embraced. Myriads of professed believers vainly suppose they can remain "Christians" with the Bible closed and their minds shut to its glories. This is what makes Scriptural illiteracy so serious! It is a sign of spiritual death! Once again, the Lord has spoken succinctly on this subject. His declaration spans both covenants, being uttered from Sinai and Mount Zion; the earth and the heavenly Jerusalem. Hear it once again! "And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD" (Deut 8:3). This is the passage Jesus quoted to the devil when tempted to turn stones into bread. "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matt 4:4). Luke states it powerfully in His Gospel. "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God'" (Luke 4:4). A professed believer that is basically ignorant of the Word of God is not alive to God. Such an one is desensitized to God and is alienated in his mind. If we are to believe this word, we can come to no other conclusion!
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God
In a powerful affirmation of the centrality of the Gospel, Paul declared this truth. "But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom 10:14-17, RSV). Note that the phrase "Word of God" (KJV) is here translated "Word of Christ." That is a proper rendering of the text. The emphasis of Romans the tenth chapter is the presentation of the good news of Jesus Christ. That message is the vehicle through which faith comes to the individual. This why the feet of those bearing such glad tidings are beautiful. They have provided for the entrance of saving faith! No Gospel, no faith! You can organize a calling team, develop expert presentations, and spend a lot of time in prayer. But if the Gospel is not proclaimed, there will be no faith, no response, no incessant call upon the name of the Lord!
Sharper than any two-edged sword
The Word of God reaches where mere human words cannot penetrate. It is living and active, always productive in the Kingdom of our God. It only needs to be proclaimed to go to work! Those that close their mouths about God's Word place it in a powerless sheath! How powerfully God speaks on this matter. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb 4:12). See how precise and focused the Word works! It can distinguish between the soul and the spirit--a delineation that cannot otherwise be made! Man is a tripartite being--composed of three parts. Listed in the order of their priority they are "spirit, soul, and body" (1 Thess 5:23). The body is the seen part. The spirit and the soul are unseen. What is the difference between these unseen parts? Men have long debated and philosophized over the issue. Briefly stated, the soul remains part of the fallen nature. It is capable of dwelling in the nether regions of sin, or rising into heavenly places. It is under the control of the spirit, which is regenerated in Christ. Suffice it to say, much of the religion of our time is soulish--anchored in emotion rather than faith, and feeling rather than cognition. If the Word of God is proclaimed, it will decipher between these two unseen parts. It will distinguish between the part of us that has been born again, and that which is not. How powerful is the Word of the Almighty God? Wherever it is believed and embraced, dramatic change occurs. Thoughts are altered, motives are elevated, and insight is sharpened. The individual that takes the Word of God seriously will begin to live differently. The focus of life is changed, as well as the reason for living. Self is no longer at the center of ones existence. Armed with a sense of the temporality of this world, preparations for the next world are made. The prospect of confronting the God that made us provokes sober contemplations. The Word of God has produced these changes by reaching into the citadel of the human spirit.