God longs to grow me up spiritually but He must have my full cooperation - Part 1
by David Leach
Why God wants me to continually study my Bible - both as part of a group and on my own.
Ps 51:6 Behold, You (God) desire truth in the inward parts (of me), And in the hidden part (of me) You will make me to know wisdom.
The passionate desire of God our Father is for each of us His children to let Him impart more and more truth to us. Jesus said “I am the …truth” (John 14:6). So to impart truth means to impart Jesus. How does God do that? Well, Jesus said to the Father “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). So God imparts more of Jesus (the truth) by imparting to us more of His words from the Bible. And where does God desire to impart them? Into our inward parts, that is into our hearts or spirits as distinct from our outer parts or heads.
It is into this hidden spiritual part of us that God desires to reveal and make us know wisdom. God says “I am wisdom” (Prov. 8:12 TEV). So to know wisdom is to know God. Again, how does God impart wisdom (Himself)? God says to us "Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth” (Prov 4:5). So God imparts wisdom (Himself) through His words, the words of our Bible.
God’s primary purpose for my study of the Bible therefore is for me to let Him progressively transfer to my heart more of Himself, His nature, His life, through His words, the words of my Bible. And those words are Jesus Christ. Notice though, that having imparted to me some of His words (Himself) He does not want me to turn away from them nor forget them but rather that I should retain them. Therefore He says to us "Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live” (Prov 4:4). Only to the extent we retain His words do we retain God in our hearts.
If we let His words go we let Him go. But if we love Him, if we love Jesus who is His word then we will love the words that He has imparted to us and retain them, that is, we will keep them safely in our hearts. For Jesus said “If anyone loves Me, he will keep (retain) My word and.. We (the Father and I) will …make Our home with him” (John 14:23). This is how the heart of a Christian increasingly becomes the dwelling place of God, this is how Jesus Christ increasingly abides in us. And this is God’s principal objective for us to study our Bibles.
Sadly this isn’t happening for many of us born-again Christians. Why not? One reason is that when we get spiritually unclean through an unrighteous thought believed, an unrighteous word spoken or an unrighteous deed done, we won’t let God wash us with the washing of water by His word (Eph 5:26) so we stay unclean and all growth stops.
What then should be my chief aim in studying my Bible both in a group and on my own?
Prov 4:7 (This is God’s counsel to each of us) Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
My chief goal for myself should be the same as God’s chief goal for me which is that I should get, as in receive, and keep on getting on a daily basis, more and more wisdom: Meaning, more and more of God, more and more of Christ, by receiving into my heart more and more of God’s words from my Bible. Notice however, in both Proverbs 4:5 and 4:7 above, God implores me not to get wisdom alone but with the wisdom to also “Get understanding”.
Meaning, don’t just try to receive God’s words but with the words, which are wisdom, also always receive understanding of those words. Now just whose understanding of God’s words does God want me to have, my own or His? We really should know this by now, God says “Do not lean into your own understanding” (Prov 3:5). In other words God admonishes us not to try and comprehend the scriptures with our natural human understanding, intelligence or brains.
We will never be able to unlock the wisdom of the word of God this way since “No …Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). Instead God solicits you and me to “Lend your ear to my understanding” (Prov 5:1), for He’s the only One who can interpret and apply His words.
Do you remember how in Luke 24:45 Jesus opened the understanding of the disciples so that they could comprehend the scriptures? Why could Jesus do that for them and not for others? Because they really loved Him and He says in John 14:21 I will reveal myself (by making my words known) to anyone who loves me. Do we really love Him?
Why is it so important to abandon our own understanding of God’s words and just get God’s understanding? Andrew Murray in his book “Abide in Christ” says that (God’s) understanding is the gate to the heart. Without my having His understanding, God’s words will not enter my heart. And if they don’t enter my heart, then they will be stolen from me. Jesus addressed that in the parable of the Sower and the Seed. For He says” When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it (with God’s understanding), then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside” (Matt 13:19).
Only when I comply with God’s summary directive to me to “Get wisdom”, meaning get His word, meaning get Himself and with Himself “Get understanding” that is, God’s own understanding of His word to me – only then will all of God’s and my multiple purposes for my study of my Bible be fulfilled. And some of those purposes are, increasingly:
• To know God better and keep growing in His Grace, in His love, and in His faith.
• To be changed progressively and made more like Christ.
• To know and be empowered to do His ongoing will for me.
• To remain living in and enjoying the presence of His company.
• To please Him as my creator, my redeemer and my Lord and Owner.
• To be always more effective in my service to Him in the lives of others:
as a soul winner, as a discipler and to fulfill His specific calling on me.
• To be in and to stay in submission to, full of and to be led by His Spirit.
• To overcome, in Christ, my three enemies; the world, my own flesh and the devil.
• To die, in Christ, by faith, to my old self, my own will, to independence from God.
• To make my calling and election as God’s child secure and insure eternity with Him.
To receive God’s word and His understanding of it in Bible study my heart must be right:
God’s chief aim in my study of the Bible, to impart Himself to my heart through His words...