In a previous post, we discussed how important it is to know that the essence of the Bible is the Spirit. Since only the Spirit can give life, for us to get life from reading the Bible we need to contact the Spirit in the Word. By receiving life, we’ll be spiritually nourished, and by that nourishment, we’ll grow in Christ. So being able to receive life from the Bible is crucial to our Christian life.
How can we get life from reading the Bible?
Second Timothy 3:16 is a key verse to show us how to get the Spirit, who gives life, when we read the Word of God:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
The first part of the note on God-breathed in this verse helped us to see that the Spirit is the essence of the Scripture. Now let’s focus on the second part of the note to see how we can contact the Spirit in God’s Word:
“This indicates that the Scripture, the word of God, is the breathing out of God. God’s speaking is God’s breathing out. Hence, His word is Spirit (John 6:63), or breath. Thus, the Scripture is the embodiment of God as the Spirit. The Spirit is therefore the very essence, the substance, of the Scripture, just as phosphorus is the essential substance in matches. We must strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit to catch the divine fire.”
To receive life from reading the Bible, we must “strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit to catch the divine fire.” What does this mean?
A match and the right surface
To understand the analogy in the note, let’s look at how a match works.
A match head is made with phosphorus. The heat of friction ignites this highly reactive chemical when the match is struck against a rough surface. Let’s say we strike the match against a soft sweater, grass, or a plastic bottle; nothing happens because they’re not the right kind of surface. But when we strike the match against a gritty stone, it immediately ignites into flame.
So to start a fire, we need two things: the match itself and the right surface to strike it on.
The Spirit and our spirit
The illustration of the match and the right surface shows us how to catch the divine fire hidden in God’s Word. To do this we also need two things: the Bible (the match) outside of us and our human spirit (the right surface) inside of us.
If we come to the Word of God exercising only our mind with our good understanding, there will be no ignition, no fire. We’ll miss the Spirit in the Word. The Scriptures have to strike against the right surface for ignition to occur. Our human spirit, not our analytical mind or our changeable emotions, is the right surface.
If we use our human spirit as the right surface to strike the Spirit of the Scripture, the Spirit will give us life.
But just how do we use our spirit to contact the Spirit in the Word?
One way is by prayer
Physically speaking, the best way to exercise our feet is to walk. Spiritually speaking, the best way to exercise our spirit is to pray. As we read the Bible with prayer, we use our spirit. When we use our spirit by praying, we “strike,” or contact, the Spirit in the written Word of God.
Even before we begin to read the Bible, we can pray a simple little prayer like this: “Lord Jesus, I want to touch Your Spirit in Your Word. Lord, I don’t want to just read the black and white letters in the Bible; I want to receive You as life from Your Word.” Praying this way makes a big difference as we learn to exercise our spirit when we come to the Bible.
Then, as we read His Word, we can continue to pray by using the words in the Bible as our prayer. We can use these words to pray, praise, thank, and worship the Lord.
How to pray the Word of God: an example
As an example of how to pray with the Word of God, let’s use John 10:11:
“I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
We can pray with the Word like this: “Lord Jesus, I praise You that You are a Shepherd. I’m so glad You are my Shepherd. Thank You, Lord, for making me one of Your sheep. Lord, thank You for laying down Your life for me!”
In other words, we can pray to the Lord using His words, the words in the Bible, as our prayer. As we pray with the Bible, we use our human spirit and we contact the Spirit in God’s Word. This causes the Word to convey to us the Spirit, who gives life to us. We experience what the Lord spoke of in John 6:63: “The words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” This life feeds our spirit, satisfies our inner hunger for God, and waters our thirsty soul. And just as a child grows physically by being nourished, we experience spiritual growth in our Christian life by being nourished by the Spirit in God’s Word.
Knowing the essence of the Bible and exercising our spirit with the Word
Knowing that the Spirit is the essence of the Bible will revolutionize how we handle the Word of God. We’ll no longer handle God’s Word simply as a book of teachings or an outward guide on how to live. We won’t come to God’s Word using only our mind. Instead, we’ll exercise our spirit in prayer to contact the Spirit in the Word. We’ll come to the Bible wanting to receive life from the Word of God.
How does this post affect your view of reading the Bible? Share your thoughts and experiences below.