How To Read And Apply The Bible As A Book For Other People
C H Spurgeon in his sermon How to Read the Bible wrote…
The third rule for our guide should be Read and Apply. What I mean is just this. Do not read the Bible as a book for other people. Do not read it merely to say, “Yes, it is true; very true; I believe its doctrines to be the revelation of the infallible mind of God himself.” But endeavor also in reading a page of the Scriptures, always to see how much it belongs to you.
For some of you, there is very little in the Word of God except threatening. Pray God to help you to feel the solemnity even of the threatening, for if you feel deeply the threatening now, you may be delivered from the tragic fulfillment of it by-and-by. If you are made to tremble under God’s Word, you may never be made to tremble under God’s hand.
If you feel the wrath to come now, you may never have to feel it in the next world. Ask God that his threats may drive you out of your sins, and drive you to seek pardon in Christ. Then when you read descriptions of the human heart, and the fall, the corruption, and the depravity of our nature, look, and see yourselves as in a looking glass, and say of each man as you hear of his sin. “
“I am such a man as this was, and if I do not fall into precisely the same sin, yet the possibility and peril of it are in my heart, and I should do so, but for God’s restraining grace.” Take the very histories home to your heart, and find a point in them, either of encouragement or of warning for yourselves. As for the doctrines, recollect that a doctrine killed except as it is personally grasped and as you feel your interest in it.
I have known some rejoice greatly in the doctrine of election who never were elected, and some who were very pleased with the doctrine of justification by faith, but who had no faith by which to be justified. I have known of some, too, who gloried in final perseverance, but who, if they had finally persevered would certainly have been in hell, for they were on the road there.
It is one thing to know these truths, and even to fight for them with the zeal and bitterness of a controversialist, but it is quite another thing to enjoy them as our own heritage and our portion forever. Ask the Lord to show you your interest, in every truth, and; do not be satisfied until you have an assured personal interest therein. Especially let this be so with the promises. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee!” Well, it is a very fine promise, but if it is read to me thus: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” what a transformed and glorified promise it then becomes! Stout old Martin Luther used to say, all vital religion is in the personal and possessive pronouns.”
Is it not so? “When thou pass through the river I will be with thee, the floods shall not overflow thee!” Oh! truly, such a promise is a cluster of Eshcol, but it is in Eschol’s Valley and I cannot reach it there, but the promise applied is the cluster brought to me just where I am, and I can receive it, and delight myself in its luscious sweetness.
Take care, nonetheless, to seek for the application of precepts. Some are always looking out for other people’s duty, and are great judges and critics for what others ought to do. “Who art thou that judges another man?” To his own master, he stands or falls.
See what precepts are binding upon thyself, and then, as a child of God, be thy feet swift to run in the way of his commandments. Read the Bible as a man reads his relation’s will, to find what legacy there is in it for himself. Do with the Bible as the sick man does with the doctor’s prescription.
Follow it by personally doing what it bids thee. Ask God not to let thy Bible be another man’s Bible, but thine own Bible, God’s own mouth speaking to thy soul of the things which make for thy peace.
Read And Practice
Fourthly and this is very hard because you have not believed in the Son of God. The gospel is a very solemn thing to every man because if it is not a savour of life unto life since it must always be a savour of some sort, it, therefore, becomes a savour of death unto death.
Some seem as if they read the Bible to know how not to do, and the more God commands the more they will not obey. Though he draws them they will not come to him, and when he calls the
m they will give him no answer. A sorry, sorry heart is that which so uses God’s Word as to make it an aggravation of its sin.
Our life ought to be and if God’s grace be much in it, it will be a new translation of the Bible. Speak of bringing the Bible down into the vernacular! Well, this is it. The worldling’s Bible is the Christian. He never reads the book, but he reads the disciple of Christ, and he judges the Christian religion, by the lives of its professors. The world will learn better, and will more likely be brought to know Christ when the lives of Christians are better, and when the Bible of the Christian Life shall be more in, accordance with the Bible of Christian doctrine.
God makes us holy; sanctify us, spirit, soul, and body, and then we shall be made finely serviceable both to the Church and to the world. Read and practice; but we shall only be able to do this, as God the Holy Spirit shall help us.
Try (Ed: in the sense of to test or examine) what you hear; try what you profess; try what you read. Goldsmiths keep bottles of acid by which they test everything that has offered them for sale, whether it is gold or merely tinsel, and the Christian should keep God’s word near at hand and treasured in the soul, to test thereby all that he hears.