‘But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many.’ Daniel 11:32–33
Suggested Further Reading: Ezra 7:1–10
Search the Scriptures. Do not merely read them—search them; look out the parallel passages; collate them; try to get the meaning of the Spirit upon any one truth by looking to all the texts which refer to it. Read the Bible consecutively: do not merely read a verse here and there—that is not fair. You would never know anything about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress if you opened it every morning and read six lines in any part and then shut it up again; you must read it all through if you want to know anything about it. Get those books, say Mark or John; read Mark right through from beginning to end; do not stop with two or three verses, or a chapter, but try to know what Mark is aiming at. It is not fair to Paul to take his epistle to the Romans and read one chapter: we are obliged to do it in public service; but if you want to get at Paul’s meaning, read the whole epistle through as you would another letter. Read the Bible in a commonsense way. Pray after you have read it as much as you like. When you are reading it, if you come to a knotty point, do not skip it. You all have some Christian friend who knows more than you do; go to him and try to get the thing explained. Above all, when you have read any passage, and do understand it, act it out, and ask the Spirit of God to burn the meaning into your conscience till it is written on the fleshy tables of your heart.
For meditation: Daily readings should supplement Bible study, not replace it. Have you ever tried to read the Bible in a year? There are reading schemes to help you. It may be hard work, especially the first time, but many have been so blessed that they have resolved to read the whole Bible every year. But beware of it becoming an academic exercise. Note Ezra’s example—his desire was to study God’s word, to do it and to teach it—in that order (Ezra 7:10). His aim was not to practise what he preached, but to preach what he practised!
Sermon no. 609
15 January (1865)