Friday, September 2, 2022

How to Read and Listen to God's Word

Question 90: How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
Answer: That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives. (WSC)
If you want to benefit from the word of God, you should read and listen to it in a devout manner. The church described in Acts 2 set a good example when they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). We have been given the word of God, and “you will do well to pay attention [to it] as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Diligence and teachableness is essential to profiting from its instruction. As the book of Proverbs teaches, life-giving knowledge and wisdom comes to those who fear the Lord and eagerly seek and call out for knowledge and wisdom from him (Prov. 2, 4, 9:7-12). Psalm 119 is an extended meditation on the surpassing worth of God’s word, the believer’s devotion to that word, and his prayer to be instructed and guided by that word.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you … Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law … I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments … Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.” (Ps. 119:11, 18, 131, 135)
To attend to the word with diligence refers to consistently reading and listening to the word, diligently observing what it means. Preparation refers to putting yourself in a teachable frame of mind, turning away from rebellion, and remembering whose word this is that you are receiving. The prayer we should pray is that God would give us a true understanding of his word and bring it to us, not only in word, “but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:5).

Hebrews 4:2 tells us that the gospel did not benefit the generation that died in the wilderness because they did not receive the word with faith. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 says of those who are perishing, “that they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” Therefore, we should seek to receive the word with faith and love, that we might benefit from it. The Westminster Confession of Faith has an excellent summary of what it means to receive the word with faith,
“By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein; and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.” (WCF 14.2)
Out of faith and love, a person will lay up God’s word in his heart and practice it in his life. And likewise, this faith and love is further supported and strengthened as we keep God’s word on our heart, in our mouths, and before our eyes as we go about our lives (Deut. 6:4-7).

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