2. THE SCRIPTURES AND
The Holy Scriptures are wholly supernatural. They are a Divine revelation.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). It is not
merely that God elevated menís minds, but that He directed their thoughts.
It is not simply that He communicated concepts to them, but that He dictated
the very words they used. "The prophecy came not in old time by the will of
man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2
Pet. 1:21). Any human "theory" which denies their verbal inspiration is a
device of Satanís, an attack upon Godís truth. The Divine image is stamped
upon every page. Writings so holy, so heavenly, so awe-producing, could not
have been created by man.
The Scriptures make known a supernatural God. That may be a very trite
remark, yet today it needs making. The "god" which is believed in by many
professing Christians is becoming more and more paganized. The prominent
place which "sport" now has in the nationís life, the excessive love of
pleasure, the abolition of home-life, the brazen immodesty of women, are so
many symptoms of the same disease which brought about the downfall and death
of the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. And the
twentieth-century idea of God which is entertained by the majority of people
in lands nominally "Christian" is rapidly approximating to the character
ascribed to the gods of the ancients. In sharp contrast therewith, the God
of Holy Writ is clothed with such perfections and vested with such
attributes that no mere human intellect could possibly have invented them.
God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself.
Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is
impossible. It still holds true that "the world by wisdom knew not God" (1
Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is "the unknown God" (Acts
17:23). But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul
can know God, know him in a real, personal, vital way. This seems to be
recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of
God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a
knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks. An
intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural
God can only be known supernaturally (that is, known in a manner above that
which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to
the heart. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favored with
this supernatural experience has learned that only "in your light shall we
see light" (Ps. 36:9).
God can only be known through a supernatural faculty. Christ made this clear
when He said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God"
(John 3:3). The unregenerate have no spiritual knowledge of God. "The
natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are
foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). Water, of itself, never rises above its own level.
So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere
nature. "This is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God"
(John 17:3). Eternal life must be imparted before the "true God" can be
known. Plainly is this affirmed in 1 John 5:20, "We know that the Son of God
is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is
true." Yes, an "understanding," a spiritual understanding, by new creation,
must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way.
A supernatural knowledge of God produces a supernatural experience, and this
is something to which multitudes of church members are total strangers. Most
of the "religion" of the day is but a touching up of "old Adam." it is
merely a garnishing of sepulchers full of corruption. It is an outward
"form." Even where there is a sound creed, only too often it is a dead
orthodoxy. Nor should this be wondered at. It has ever been thus. It was so
when Christ was here upon earth. The Jews were very orthodox. At that time
they were free from idolatry. The temple stood at Jerusalem, the Law was
expounded, Jehovah was worshiped. And yet Christ said to them, "He that sent
me is true, whom you know not." (John 7:28). "You neither know me, nor my
Father: if you had known me, you should have known my Father also" (John
8:19). "It is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your
God. Yet you have not known him" (John 8:54,55). And mark it well, this is
said to a people who had the Scriptures, searched them diligently, and
venerated them as Godís Word! They were well acquainted with God
theoretically, but a spiritual knowledge of Him they had not.
As it was in the Jewish world, so it is in Christendom. Multitudes who
"believe" in the Holy Trinity are completely devoid of a supernatural or
spiritual knowledge of God. How are we so sure of this? In this way: the
character of the fruit reveals the character of the tree that bears it; the
nature of the waters makes known the nature of the fountain from which they
flow. A supernatural knowledge of God produces a supernatural experience,
and a supernatural experience results in supernatural fruit. That is to say,
God actually dwelling in the heart revolutionizes, transforms the life.
There is that brought forth which mere nature cannot produce, yes, that
which is directly contrary thereto. And this is noticeably absent from the
lives of perhaps ninety-five out of every hundred now professing to be Godís
children. There is nothing in the life of the average professing Christian
except what can be accounted for on natural grounds. But in the genuine
child of God it is far otherwise. He is, in truth, a miracle of grace; he is
a "new creature in Christ Jesus" (2 Cor. 5: 17). His experience, his life,
The supernatural experience of the Christian is seen in his attitude toward
God. Having within him the life of God, having been made a "partaker of the
Divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4), he necessarily loves God, loves the things of
God, loves what God loves; and, contrariwise, he hates what God hates. This
supernatural experience is wrought in him by the Spirit of God, and that by
means of the Word of God. The Spirit never works apart from the Word. By
that Word He quickens. By that Word He produces conviction of sin. By that
Word He sanctifies. By that Word He gives assurance. By that Word He makes
the saint to grow. Thus each one of us may ascertain the extent to which we
are profiting from our reading and studying of the Scriptures by the effects
which they are, through the Spiritís application of them, producing in us.
Let us enter now into details. He who is truly and spiritually profiting
from the Scriptures has:
1. A clearer recognition of Godís claims. The great controversy between the
Creator and the creature has been whether He or they should be God, whether
His wisdom or theirs should be the guiding principle of their actions,
whether His will or theirs should be supreme. That which brought about the
fall of Lucifer was his resentment at being in subjection to his Maker:
"You have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my
throne above the stars of God . . . I will be like the most High" (Isa.
14:13, 14). The lie of the serpent which lured our first parents to their
destruction was, "You shall be as gods" (Gen. 3:5). And ever since then the
heart-sentiment of the natural man has been, "Depart from us; for we desire
not the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve
him?" (Job 21:14,15). "Our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?" (Ps.
12:4). "We are lords; we will come no more unto you" (Jer. 2:31).
Sin has alienated man from God (Eph. 4: 18). His heart is averse to Him, his
will is opposed to His, his mind is at enmity against Him. Contrariwise,
salvation means being restored to God: "For Christ also has once suffered
for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (1 Pet.
Legally that has already been done; experimentally it is in the process of
accomplishment. Salvation means being reconciled to God; and that involves
and includes sinís dominion over us being broken, enmity within us being
slain, the heart being won to God. This is what true conversion is; it is a
tearing down of every idol, a renouncing of the empty vanities of a cheating
world, and taking God for our portion, our ruler, our all in all. Of the
Corinthians we read that they "first gave their own selves unto the Lord" (2
Cor. 8:5). The desire and determination of those truly converted is that
they "should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died
for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15).
Godís claims are now recognized, His rightful dominion over us is
acknowledged, He is owned as God. The converted yield themselves "unto God,
as those that are alive from the dead," and their members as "instruments of
righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13). This is the demand which He makes upon
us: to be our God, to be served as such by us; for us to be and do,
absolutely and without reserve, whatever He demands, surrendering ourselves
fully to Him (see Luke 14:26,27,33). It belongs to God as God to legislate,
prescribe, determine for us; it belongs to us as a bounded duty to be ruled,
governed, disposed of by Him at His pleasure.
To own God as our God is to give Him the throne of our hearts. It is to say
in the language of Isaiah 26:13, "O Lord our God, other lords beside you
have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your
name." It is to declare with the Psalmist, not hypocritically, but
sincerely, "O God, you are my God; early will I seek you" (Ps. 63:1). Now it
is in proportion as this becomes our actual experience that we profit from
the Scriptures. It is in them, and in them alone, that the claims of God are
revealed and enforced, and just so far as we are obtaining clearer and
fuller views of Godís rights, and are yielding ourselves thereto, are we
really being blessed.
2. A greater fear of Godís majesty. "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let
all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him" (Ps. 33:8). God is so
high above us that the thought of His majesty should make us tremble. His
power is so great that the realization of it ought to terrify us. He is so
ineffably holy, and His abhorrence of sin is so infinite, that the very
thought of wrongdoing ought to fill us with horror. "God is greatly to be
feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all
those who are about him" (Ps. 89:7).
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10), and "wisdom"
is a right use of "knowledge." Just so far as God is truly known will He be
duly feared. Of the wicked it is written, "There is no fear of God before
their eyes" (Rom. 3:18). They have no realization of His majesty, no concern
for His authority, no respect for His commandments, no alarm that He shall
judge them. But concerning His covenant people God has promised, "I will put
my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me" (Jer. 32:40).
Therefore do they tremble at His Word (Isa. 66:5), and walk softly before
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Prov. 8: 13). And again, "By the
fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Prov. i6: 6). The man who lives in
the fear of God is conscious that "the eyes of the Lord are in every place,
beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. 15:3), therefore is he conscientious
about his private conduct as well as his public. The one who is deterred
from committing certain sins because the eyes of men are upon him, and who
hesitates not to commit them when alone, is destitute of the fear of God. So
too the man who moderates his language when Christians are about him, but
does not so at other times, is devoid of Godís fear. He has no awe-inspiring
consciousness that God sees and hears him at all times. The truly regenerate
soul is afraid of disobeying and defying God. Nor does he want to. No, his
real and deepest desire is to please Him in all things, at all times, and in
all places. His earnest prayer is "Unite my heart to fear your name" (Ps.
Now even the saint has to be taught the fear of God (Ps. 34:11). And here,
as ever, it is through the Scriptures that this teaching is given us (Prov.
2:5). It is through them we learn that Godís eye is ever upon us, marking
our actions, weighing our motives. As the Holy Spirit applies the Scriptures
to our hearts, we give increasing heed to that command, "Be you in the fear
of the Lord all the day long" (Prov. 23:17). Thus, just so far as we are
awed by Godís awful majesty, are made conscious that "You God see me" (Gen.
16:13), and work out our salvation with "fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12),
are we truly profited from our reading and study of the Bible.
3. A deeper reverence for Godís commandments. Sin entered this world by
Adamís breaking of Godís law, and all his fallen children are begotten in
his depraved likeness (Gen. 5:3). "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1
John 3:4). Sin is a species of high treason, spiritual anarchy. It is the
repudiation of Godís dominion, the setting aside of His authority, rebellion
against His will. Sin is having our own way. Now salvation is deliverance
from sin, from its guilt, from its power as well as its penalty. The same
Spirit who convicts of the need of Godís grace also convicts of the need of
Godís government to rule us. Godís promise to His covenant people is, "I
will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will
be to them a God" (Heb. 8:10).
A spirit of obedience is communicated to every regenerated soul. Said
Christ, "If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23). There is the
test: "Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" (1
John 2:3). None of us keeps them perfectly, yet every real Christian both
desires and strives to do so. He says with Paul, "I delight in the law of
God after the inward man" (Rom. 7:22). He says with the Psalmist, "I have
chosen the way of truth," "Your testimonies have I taken as an heritage
forever" (Ps. 119:30,111). And teaching which lowers Godís authority, which
ignores His commands, which affirms that the Christian is, in no sense,
under the Law, is of the Devil, no matter how oily-mouthed his human
instrument may be. Christ has redeemed His people from the curse of the Law
and not from the command of it; He has saved them from the wrath of God, but
not from His government. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart" never has been and never will be repealed.
1 Corinthians 9:21, expressly affirms that we are "under the law to Christ."
"He that says he abides in him ought himself so to walk, even as he walked"
(1 John 2:6). And how did Christ "walk"? In perfect obedience to God; in
complete subjection to His law, honoring and obeying it in thought and word
and deed. He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17).
And our love for Him is expressed, not in pleasing emotions or beautiful
words, but in keeping His commandments (John 14:15), and the commandments of
Christ are the commandments of God (cf. Ex. 20:6). The earnest prayer of the
real Christian is, "Make me to go in the path of your commandments; for
therein do I delight" (Ps. 119:35). Just so far as our reading and study of
Scripture is, by the Spiritís application, begetting within us a greater
love and a deeper respect for and a more punctual keeping of Godís
commandments, are we really profiting thereby.
4. A firmer trust in Godís sufficiency. Whatever or whomsoever a man most
trusts in is his "god." Some trust in health, others in wealth; some in
self, others in their friends. That which characterizes all the unregenerate
is that they lean upon an arm of flesh. But the election of grace have their
hearts drawn from all creature supports, to rest upon the living God. Godís
people are the children of faith. The language of their hearts is, "O my
God, I trust in you: let me not be ashamed" (Ps. 25:2). and again, "Though
he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13: 15). They rely upon God to
provide, protect and bless them. They look to an unseen resource, count upon
an invisible God, lean upon a hidden Arm.
True, there are time when their faith wavers, but though they fall they are
not utterly cast down. Though it do not be their uniform experience, yet
Psalm 56:11 expresses the general state of their souls: "In God have I put
my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." Their earnest
prayer is, "Lord, increase our faith." "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing
by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Thus, as the Scriptures are pondered,
their promises received in the mind, faith is strengthened, confidence in
God increased, assurance deepened. By this we may discover whether or not we
are profiting from our study of the Bible.
5. A fuller delight in Godís perfections. That in which a man most delights
is his "god." The poor worldling seeks satisfaction in his pursuits,
pleasures and possessions. Ignoring the Substance, he vainly pursues the
shadows. But the Christian delights in the wondrous perfections of God.
Really to own God as our God is not only to submit to His scepter, but is to
love Him more than the world, to value Him above everything and everyone
else. It is to have with the Psalmist an experiential realization that "all
my springs are in you" (Ps. 87:7). The redeemed have not only received a joy
from God such as this poor world cannot impart, but they "rejoice in God"
(Rom. 5:11); and of this the poor worldling knows nothing. The language of
such is "the Lord is my portion" (Lam. 3:24).
Spiritual exercises are irksome to the flesh. But the real Christian says,
"It is good for me to draw near to God" (Ps. 73:28). The carnal man has many
cravings and ambitions; the regenerate soul declares, "One thing have I
desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house
of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord" (Ps.
27:4). And why? Because the true sentiment of his heart is, "Whom have I in
heaven but you? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside you" (Ps.
73:25). Ah, my reader, if your heart has not been drawn out to love and
delight in God, then it is still dead toward Him.
The language of the saints is, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom,
neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and
the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold,
and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I
will joy in the God of my salvation" (Hab. 3:17,18). Ah, that is a
supernatural experience indeed! Yes, the Christian can rejoice when all his
worldly possessions are taken from him (see Heb. 10:34). When he lies in a
dungeon with back bleeding, he can still sing praises to God (see Acts
16:25). Thus, to the extent that you are being weaned from the empty
pleasures of this world, are learning that there is no blessing outside of
God, are discovering that He is the source and sum of all excellency, and
your heart is being drawn out to Him, your mind stayed on Him, your soul
finding its joy and satisfaction in Him, are you really profiting from the
6. A larger submission to Godís providences. It is natural to murmur when
things go wrong, it is supernatural to hold our peace (Lev. 10:3). It is
natural to be disappointed when our plans miscarry, it is supernatural to
bow to His appointments. It is natural to want our own way, it is
supernatural to say, "Not my will, but your be done." It is natural to rebel
when a loved one is taken from us by death, it is supernatural to say from
the heart, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name
of the Lord" (Job 1:21). As God is truly made our portion, we learn to
admire His wisdom, and to know that He does all things well. Thus the heart
is kept in "perfect peace" as the mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Here,
then, is another sure test: if your Bible study is teaching you that Godís
way is best, if it is causing you to submit unrepiningly to all His
dispensations, if you are enabled to give thanks for all things (Eph. 5:20),
then are you profiting indeed.
7. A more fervent praise for Godís goodness. Praise is the outflow of a
heart which finds its satisfaction in God. The language of such a one is, "I
will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my
mouth" (Ps. 34:1). What abundant cause have Godís people for praising Him!
Loved with an everlasting love, made sons and heirs, all things working
together for their good, their every need supplied, an eternity of bliss
assured them, their harps of gladness ought never to be silent. Nor will
they be while they enjoy fellowship with Him who is "altogether lovely." The
more we are increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10), the more shall
we adore Him. But it is only as the Word dwells in us richly that we are
filled with spiritual songs (Col. 3:16) and make melody in our hearts to the
Lord. The more our souls are drawn out in true worship, the more we are
found thanking and praising our great God, the clearer evidence we give that
our study of His word is profiting us.