Note: These ten tips for getting the most out of your Bible reading are adapted from Richard Baxter’s Practical Religion, chapter 20. Richard Baxter was a prolific writer and a prominent pastor in the 1600s. The Practical Works of Richard Baxter is a treasure trove of almost 1,000 pages in length, covering all manner of useful topics relating to Christian living.
1) When you read the Bible, do not come to it with an evil, unbelieving heart. Do not read it as if it were a common book, with an irreverent heart. Read it in the fear and love of God, the author.
2) Remember you are reading the very law of God, which you must live by and which you must be judged by when you die. Therefore resolve to obey whatever it commands, even though the world, the flesh, and the devil contradict it. Don’t try to get out of obeying those parts which your flesh finds difficult.
3) Remember you are reading the will and testament of your Lord, and a covenant of gracious promises; all your comforts and all your hopes of pardon and everlasting life are built upon it. So read it with love and great delight!
4) Remember it is a doctrine of unseen things and of the greatest mysteries; do not come to it with arrogance, as a judge, but instead with humility, as a learner and disciple. And if anything seems difficult or improbable to you, suspect your own unequipped understanding, not the sacred Word of God.
5) Remember that this universal law and doctrine is written plainly for the simple, and yet it is also able to exercise the most subtle wits. Do not be offended at the plainness of some parts, or the mysteriousness of others; but adore the wisdom and tender condescension of God to His poor creatures.
6) Do not bring to it a carnal mind which savors only fleshly things and is enslaved to those sins which the Scripture condemns. Your carnal mind will find faults in the Word which finds so many faults in you. It will hate the Word which comes to deprive you of your most sweet and dearly beloved sin.
7) Compare one passage of Scripture with another, and understand the most confusing parts with the help of the plainest, and not the other way around.
8) Do not presume on the strength of your own understanding, but humbly pray to God for light; before and after you read the Scripture, pray to the Spirit to help you understand it, and to keep you from unbelief and error, and to lead you into truth.
9) Read some of the best commentaries and study notes, so that those who are better acquainted with the Scriptures than you are can help clear your understanding.
10) If you find there is a point you can’t understand, jot it down and discuss it with your pastor. If, even after that, some parts still remain confusing to you, remember your imperfection, wait on God for further light, and make use of the rest of the Scripture, which is plain.
Reading God’s Story Schedule today, 9/25/13: Malachi 1-4, Psalm 50.
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About Molly Evert
Writer Molly Evert is a wife and homeschooling mom to 6 kids, who range in age from 2 to 18. She runs an educational website, My Audio School (http://www.myaudioschool.com), providing access to the best in children's audio literature. She also blogs at CounterCultural Mom (http://www.counterculturalmom.com) and CounterCultural School (http://www.counterculturalschool.com).
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