The Holy Scriptures
The Holy Scriptures are like no other writings. All other writings have had their origin in the mind of man, and are written with the conviction and expectation that the reader will be able to grasp the meaning of what is written. But this is not the situation with the Scriptures. The writers of the Bible not only make no assumption that the mind of man will be able to seize the thoughts recorded therein, but his inability to do so is very distinctly affirmed (see Luke 24: 45; 1 Cor. 2: 14). God, who inspired the writers, is the only One who can enable us to understand that which He has caused to be placed on record for our instruction.
Therefore a mere study of the Word is not sufficient of itself to place us in possession of the thoughts of God. Certainly we should read it, pay attention to all that it brings before us, believe it even when we do not grasp its meaning, and meditate upon its precious utterances—but this is not enough. All, all of this must be done in prayerful dependence upon its Author, the Holy Spirit, and in distrust of our own natural reason which ever revolves in its own blind orbit, excluding every ray of divine light.
If any study of the Bible is to be truly profitable, there must be the utmost confidence in it as a revelation from God. Attention must be given to its most minute details, for there is nothing unnecessary placed on record, nor shall we find any vain repetitions crowding its pages. Neither must we imagine that any question has arisen among His people unforeseen by Him, since it is impossible for the enemy to deliver a surprise attack upon One who knows the end from the beginning. Every twist given to the evident meaning of Scripture by the stubborn sectarian (who would compel it to lend support to his miserable counterfeit of the truth), and every dogmatic display of isolated texts, wrenched away from their proper connection in order to turn the heart from the living Christ in heaven—all was foreseen by the Author of this wonderful book, and ample provision made for its detection and exposure.
The Bible is a sharp sword for the conscience, and many a wandering soul has felt its edge. It is a light that lays bare the secret chambers of the heart of man, and manifests its deceitful intentions, and all its bitter enmity against God. Yet at the same time, it reveals the heart of God in all His fathomless love to the guilty. It guides the footsteps of the pilgrim through this wilderness where there is no way, and discloses before his heavenward gaze that celestial home, in which there is fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore. It gives us a glimpse into the eternity that is past, and also directs our eyes forward into the rest of God, and to the day when all things will be made new, bathed in the glory of redemption.
The characteristics of the children of the devil it faithfully delineates, and the children of God it minutely describes. The worthless musings of the human mind are recorded, as are also the counsels of the eternal God. The folly of the creature and the wisdom of the Creator; the way of falsehood and the way of truth; the way of righteousness and the way of sin; the way of life and the way of death; the way of man and the way of God—all are recorded there for our enlightenment and eternal blessing. Happy is the man whose confidence is in its heavenly origin, and whose heart and mind are filled with its precious truths!
Its blessings are exalting, and enriching, and its curses are blasting, bewildering, abasing and impoverishing. Obedience to its precepts purifies the soul, and rebellion against its commandments hardens the heart, benumbs the conscience, and deadens the sensibilities. It criticises its critics, judges its judges, makes liars of its calumniators, and forever justifies its friends. It will have the last word at the last day, and from its sentence there shall be no appeal. It is a well–spring of living water in this arid waste, and living bread in this famine–stricken scene. It makes the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dead to live. In the might of the Spirit, it is living and powerful, sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (see Heb. 4: 12). As to the one who despises its testimony, it were good for that man had he never been born!
In His marvellous grace, God has given us this wonderful volume, and He would have us approach it with fear and trembling—not because we are uncertain of our deliverance from the judgment to come, but because of its holy and sacred character. It tells us that there is “no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8: 1)—the believer’s redemption by the blood of the Lord Jesus, his relationship to God, and his eternal security, occupy an important place on its sacred pages. But just because it is a revelation of God, it is to be approached with holy reverence, and not with the lightness with which one may take up any other book.