When we become Christians, we agree to listen to and obey God’s commandments above every other person, thing or source of influence in our lives. These commandments are written down for us in the Bible.
However, the Bible contains more than commandments. The Bible tells us what God is like. The Bible teaches us how God sees us as human beings, how much He loves us, and what the future of the world will be like. By reading the Bible we start to understand more about God, and how He works in our world. We also start to understand how God wants us to live, in relation to Him, in relation to one another as human beings and in relation to the world that He has created.
We also learn in the Bible about the history of mankind, and how God related in Biblical times to His chosen people, the children of Israel. (Jewish people are still God’s special people today, but God has now graciously extended to everyone the possibility of becoming His children.)
Within the Bible, we are told to study to demonstrate that we understand the Bible and that we can correctly apply the truths within it: 2 Timothy 2v15: “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. The same writer, the Apostle Paul, in the same letter, 2 Timothy, also tells us that: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”(literally God-breathed)”… and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3v16-17).
However, as Christians our interaction with the Bible is not only about knowing what it says, as important as this is. We are also to saturate our hearts with the word of God. The more the word of God takes root in our hearts, the more it can work to uproot all that is in our hearts that is not aligned with God and His truth. For instance, God’s word in our hearts helps to uncover and deal with entrenched pride, deep-seated prejudices, insecurities, hateful or vengeful thoughts. This is because: (Hebrews 4v12) “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, it pierces even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. ”
Throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, there is a great emphasis on the importance of putting God’s word into our hearts. Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible (and also the Bible’s longest chapter period), and all about the word of God, asks us (v9) “How can a young man cleanse his way?” And then the answer is given “By taking heed according to Your word….” And then in verse 11: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You…”
Jesus tells us in John 15.7 that we should abide in Him, and let His words abide in us, and then we can ask what we wish, and it will be done for us (a point being that what we desire will itself be determined and conditioned by the words of Christ dwelling in us). In the letter to the Colossians (3v16) Paul again tells us that we should let the word of Christ dwell in us richly….and again in the letter to the Romans 12v1-2 Paul tells us that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is brought about by the word of God living in our hearts as well as the Spirit of God.
Getting to a point of depth and intimacy with the Bible does not happen accidentally. We have to make time for it. We have to deliberately and consciously focus on it. We also have to take time to think over the Bible, to let it take root in our hearts, to let it shape our thinking.
As a Christian I have personally always been more prayer oriented. Making time to really steep myself in the Bible is something I have always wanted to do. That is to say, I know the Bible, I know the stories, I confidently understand the doctrine, and I do dedicate lots of time to reading it. However it would be more true to say that all of this has been happening in my head, or my intellect, rather than my heart. This is why I can write this Bible blog, and explain about what it means to be a Christian. However it would not really be true to say that the teachings have so deeply permeated into my subconscious that they automatically direct my thoughts and actions. This is what we aim for in putting God’s word into our hearts. Now I have actively started making time to meditate deeply upon the Bible, and I can say with 100% conviction that the Bible works, as surely as prayer works. The Bible is genuinely alive, and it is truth. If you want to do yourself a huge favour, grab a copy and immerse yourself into it!
Photo of rings in Bible by Mbragion on Pixabay