God’s Word – Light, Life And Power

By Adolph Saphir

    We ought never to open the Scriptures except with a feeling of profound reverence and gratitude. As one has said, "They are heaven speaking upon earth; in them we hear the voice of the living God."

    The Bible is given by God Himself. He, in His infinite wisdom, has adapted both the matter and manner to our needs and particular position in this world. What can be more precious than His own language and His own words, revealing to us the inmost thoughts and purposes of His heart? We ought to open the Bible with the greatest gratitude. Here is indeed a treasure invaluable. "Oh, how I love Thy Word! it is better than thousands of gold and silver; it is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb."

    In reading the Scriptures, we ought to approach as to a sanctuary, with awe and reverence, with an attentive mind and a solemn, teachable heart. How thankful ought we to be for this revelation from God, for its fullness and simplicity, for the great truths it unfolds and the minute counsels it contains, for its doctrine and consolation; the history of the past and the prophecy of the future, the example of the saints and the varied experiences of God’s children.

    If we speak of our duty to read the Scriptures, we use a weak and inadequate word, that does not at all correspond to the real nature of the case and to the feelings of the Christian. Where there is reverence, love, trust, where there is joy in communion with God, we look upon the reading of Scripture not as a duty, one among many others. It stands by itself. Listening to the voice of God is not one of many duties, but it is the source as well as the regulator of all duties. It is not merely a work which our conscience declares to be right, but our very conscience, and affections, and will, and mind, our whole inner man, receives from this Word light and strength.

    We feel it necessary to read the Scriptures, just as food is necessary to sustain life, and as we desire to breathe pure and fresh air. It is a necessity, not a compulsion of an external kind which is opposed to our nature and which is as a mechanical burden imposed on us. It is a necessity in the sense that our whole spiritual life craves for it and cannot prosper without it.

    Is not one reason of our languid and feeble spiritual life the simple fact that we do not breathe sufficiently the Bible air? Sermons and tracts and religious books contain not sufficiently that ozone which is the exclusive characteristic of God’s Word.

    We speak much, and at times somewhat boastfully, of our great reverence and love for the Bible. But do we love the Bible as God’s revelation in which our minds are to be molded, by which our hearts are to be influenced? Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Let us be really disciples, learners, receiving all our Lord has graciously caused to be written for our instruction.

Life and Transforming Power

    Let us ever remember that God has given unto us His Word that we may find in it Him. God and God alone is life. He has life in Himself and His words have also life. His words bring with them not merely good things, but that which is the first and essential requisite of all good, that is Life.

    The Word is living ("quick," Heb. 4:12), and when it is recognized as the voice of God it is powerful. Christ’s words are spirit and life (John 6:63). They are therefore compared to the seed, which appears insignificant, but which, if received in good ground, soon shows its vitality. Often the seed springs and grows up, we know not how – first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

    The Word of God, received as such, does not remain in us as a dead and inert mass, a mere addition to our knowledge, but is continually active and growing in our thoughts and words, in our character and walk, bringing forth in some a hundred-fold, in some sixty-fold, in some thirty. It is written that we are to lay aside everything that hinders and receive with meekness the engrafted Word (Jas. 1:21). We are to keep the Word, to hide it in our heart, to give heed that the enemy take it not from our memory and our affection.

    In reading the Word according to God’s purpose, in reliance on the Spirit, a wonderful influence is exerted on us. Impressions of an eternal character are received. The influence of the Lord is on the very heart, out of which proceed thoughts and works. Grace is our teacher, and its discipline is through the Word.

    As God’s dealings with us may be all comprised under the two grand lessons, our sin and need, and His grace and fullness, so the Word continually kills and quickens – takes away our own life and gives us the Resurrection Life; discloses to us our nothingness, and unfolds to us Christ’s riches.

    The Word makes us wise unto salvation. The Word teaches us what it is to be wise. The world often mistakes cleverness and prudence for wisdom, and sometimes calls unworldliness folly. But Scripture teaches us that wisdom is from above, that Christ is our wisdom and that the end of wisdom is salvation. Yet this wisdom embraces true prudence in all earthly duties and relationships.

    If we are guided by the Word, if we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, if we have our eyes fixed on His promise, and our affections set on the things above, if we walk with Him in humility and faith, our minds will be clear and calm, our words sober, truthful and kind, our actions straightforward and prudent. In our relationship with our fellow men we shall commend and adorn the doctrine of the Gospel. Oh, how beautiful and perfect are God’s directions in Scripture. If we obeyed God in all things, temporal as well as spiritual, inward and outward, how blessed and attractive our lives would be! What civilization attempts, and attempts superficially, God’s Word realizes, and realizes radically.

Christ in the Scriptures

    The Bible is a book for life, and only he who desires to use it for life can enter into its true meaning. The Bible is profitable, but only when we read as disciples whose object is to "learn Christ." The children of God thus read Scripture, not with the purpose of exhausting its fullness, but of receiving from it what they need for the present, though often they treasure up much which at the time is scarcely understood, but is unfolded in the future.

    In reading the Word in which Christ is the substance, the believer feels that the providence of the Father and the application of the Spirit make the Scripture to have direct guiding, exhorting and comforting meaning to him. He thus not merely sees green pastures, but God Himself makes him to lie down in them, and he receives from the heavenly Shepherd what is beneficial and refreshing for his soul.

    In like manner he feels that he must read with diligence and meditation, not running hastily over the field in which is hidden treasure, but digging deep to discover the precious gold. Our hearts and lives must be fashioned in accordance with the great and solemn Word. We know that the difficulties in understanding the Word are not intellectual but spiritual – in the heart and conscience and will. Hence the study of Scripture is based on self-denial.

    In that wonderful 119th Psalm, we have a most instructive description of the attitude and discipline of one who loves the Word: "I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Thy Word. Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. I hate vain thoughts, but Thy law do I love" (vv. 101, 36, 113). He who desires to see the hidden things of the Word prays, "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults" (Psa. 19:12).

    Whatever the Word is, it is because of its relation to Christ. Is the Word of God quick – that is, living? It is because Christ is the Life. Is it powerful? It is because Christ is the power of God. Is it sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow? It is because Christ is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; because Christ divides between Peter who confesses Him as the Son of God and Peter who savors the things of men.

    Is it a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart? It is because Christ knows what is in man, because He sees Nathanael when He is under the fig tree, and He discerns the Pharisees who think evil in their hearts. Is it said of the Word, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do"? (Heb. 4:13). It is because the spoken and written Word is identified with the Lord Himself, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, even the Son of man unto whom the Father has committed all judgment.

    Is the Word spoken of as the sincere milk, the nourishing food of the soul? It is because Christ is the Bread of Life. Is it commended as light shining into darkness? It is because Christ is wisdom. The essence of Scripture is that Savior in whom are all things which pertain unto life and godliness. The soul that has found Jesus Christ sees Him in Scripture always and throughout.

    Jesus is the door by which alone we can enter the sanctuary of the Word. When we come to Jesus we enter into possession of the Word, for He has the words of eternal life. They are His, and He only can give the Word (John 17:14). As we have the Word through Him, and in Him, so we find Him in every portion of Scripture.

    – Arranged from Christ And The Scriptures by Adolph Saphir.