One thing I have found to be true in all my years of ministry: If you do not love, know, understand, practice, and obey the Word of God, you cannot be a victorious Christian. The Bible is not an ordinary book! It has qualities that cannot be said of any other book.
I want you to learn how to study your Bible—how to make it burst aflame in your hand and heart. In any realm of life, knowledge is power, for knowledge of truth transforms. This is true in business, in athletics, work, school, home--everywhere. We must be molded, motivated, and managed by the Word of God.
We must know the Word to have spiritual power. Yet for many people, the Bible remains a closed, mysterious book. They just don’t understand it. The problem is, there is no cheap, lazy, or magical way to understand the Bible. But it’s not impossible an impossible task. In fact, it’s joyful and thrilling.
Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the Bible, reveals the Bible’s qualities that set it apart from all other books. It’s a good place to see and appreciate the Bible’s utter uniqueness among all books.
A Timeless Book
The Bible is not the book of the month or the book of the year. It is timeless the unchanging book of the ages.
“For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89
“Concerning Thy testimonies, I have known of old that Thou hast founded them for ever.” Psalm 119:152
“Thy Word is true from the beginning: and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” Psalm 119:160
In the New Testament, 1 Peter 1:25 states, “But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever …”
Forever! God says the Word—the Bible you hold in your hand or have on your shelf—is done. Settled in heaven. If it’s on the shelf, dust if off and get it into your heart.
Emperors like Diocletian have decreed its extermination, atheists like Voltaire have railed against it, agnostics through the years have cynically sneered, liberals strive to remove the miracles from the Bible, and materialists have simply ignored it. How is it that the Bible still stands after centuries of attempts to destroy it? Because it is eternal, settled in heaven.
Other books may come and go. The Bible is here to stay. Thousands of years have passed since it was written. Empires have risen and fallen. Civilizations have changed again and again. Yet the Bible stands, ultimate and indestructible.
A Truthful Book
“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is the truth…Thou art near, O Lord; and all Thy commandments are truth…Thy Word is true from the beginning … ” Psalm 119:142, 151, 160.
In the Gospel of John, Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Jesus had already answered that question in John 17:17 when, speaking to the Father, He said, “Thy Word is truth.” In a world that has lost its appreciation for truth, you can say without apology that the Bible is truth.
Today there are many attacks on the truth of the Bible. There’s the frontal attack of liberals who deny it is true. There’s the attack from the rear by those who want to substitute their own experience over the Word of God, saying, “Well, I know what I feel or think.” Some will even argue, “I don’t care what the Bible says. Let me tell you what I experienced.” There’s an attack from the flank by people who don’t necessarily deny the Bible but want to replace it with psychology, philosophy, or other things—as if the Bible itself were not good enough.
But if you’re looking for truth, you can find it in the Bible. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” That word inspiration is used only once in the Bible—here in this verse. What a magnificent word it is. In Greek it literally means “God-breathed.”
Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” He did not simply breathe upon the writings of men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul, making their words His own. They held the pen of God. They were His instruments as He spoke, breathing the Scriptures out. Therefore, the Bible is true, because the God of truth cannot speak error.
When you read the Bible, you find phrases like “the Word of the Lord,” “the Word of God,” or “the Lord said” used 3,808 times. If the Bible is not the Word of God, it’s the biggest bundle of lies ever unleashed on planet Earth. The Bible is truth, absolutely.
There are other virtues of the Bible which set it apart. If you don’t appreciate the virtues of the Word of God, you won’t have any desire to understand it.
A Treasured Book
“The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” Psalm 119:72
“How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (v. 103)
“Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” (v. 127)
Saints and heroes of the faith have pillowed their heads on the Word of God as they walked through the chilly waters of death. Martyrs died for the witness of Jesus Christ, holding the Word of God as flames came around their feet.
The early Church never questioned it, argued very little about it, preached and proclaimed it. They loved, lived, practiced, trusted, and obeyed it. They claimed it constantly.
Is that true of you? You will never have a victorious Christian life if you do not love this book.
A Living Book
“For the Word of God is quick [alive], and powerful.” Hebrews 4:12
Jesus said, “… The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63
Unlike great works of poetry or prose, the Bible pulsates with life, for its Author is the Creator of the universe, in Whom all things consist and in Whom we live and move and have our being.
The Bible Must Be Assimilated
For the Bible to become a living, breathing, life-giving reality for you, you must assimilate it. You don't just read a cookbook, you eat the meal. If you don't assimilate it, no matter how much you appreciate it, what good is it? To “assimilate” the Bible means to take it into your mind, to thoroughly comprehend it, to use it as nourishment for your mind and heart.
How do you do that? Often in my sermon preparation, I have put my pencil down and bowed my head to say, “Oh my God, help me to understand this. God, give me understanding.”
Ask God to Be Your Teacher
“Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me Thy statutes” (Psalm 119:12). Have you prayed, “Lord God, be my Teacher”? Pray over the Word and ask God to teach you.
When you ask God to do this, several things will happen:
“Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” (v. 18) You may have 20/20 vision, but God must open your eyes for you to behold the wondrous things in His Word.
After His Resurrection, Jesus walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He began to talk to them about the Old Testament, the Law, and the Prophets.
“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)
When you ask Him, God will do that for you.
“Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” (v. 36)
If you don’t have a desire for the Word of God, ask, “Oh God, please incline my heart. Move my heart, open my eyes, stir my heart.” When you pray over the Word, your heart will be stirred.
“Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments.” (v. 73)
When your eyes are opened and your heart is stirred, your mind will be enlightened.
Begin to do these now.
¨ Stow it in your heart,
¨ Show it in your life,
¨ Sow it in the world.
And your Bible, a timeless, truthful, living treasure, will burst aflame in your heart.