How to Read the Bible Adapted from Wilhelmus à Brakel The Christian’s Reasonable Service Guidelines for the Profitable Reading of Scripture

For the reading of Scripture to be profitable, there must be preparation, practice, and reflection.

 Preparation

            You must, with mental concentration, place yourself in the presence of God. You must promote a reverent, spiritual frame of mind, being conscious that the Lord shall speak to him. To promote such reverence, reflect upon Isaiah 1:2, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken.”

            You must lift up your heart to the Lord asking him to cause you to perceive the truth expressed in God’s Word and apply it to your heart. Your prayer ought to be with Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

            You must attentively aim your heart toward obedience in order to exercise faith, be receptive to comfort, and comply with all that the Lord proclaims, promises, and commands. With Samuel your prayer is, “Speak, for your servant hears.” (1 Sam. 3:10).

Practice

            As you read it is essential to do so calmly and attentively rather than hastily with the only objective being to complete the reading. If there is a lack of time it is better to read less with concentration than to read more with distraction.

            You should observe the context before and after the text  you are reading and notice the manner of speech and the object of the text. The text must be compared with other text where the issue is explained more comprehensively, and with texts which are similar in content.

            You should not merely cleave to the literal meaning. This is being satisfied with the rind of the fruit which provides neither strength nor nourishment. One must penetrate to the kernel itself, seeking to perceive the internal essence of the matter.

            Avoid assigning every allowable meaning to a given word. The meaning of Scripture is clear, straightforward, and concise, expressing matters in a more organized manner than any man would ever be capable of doing. This obligates us to search out carefully what the specific intent and objective of the Spirit is in every text.

            Avoid the similar errors of relegating everything to the past or to the future. You cannot read the Old Testament and say, “This is all in the past there is nothing here for me.” You cannot read prophecy and say, “This is all for some time in the future it is not for me.” Such an attitude takes away the true meaning, spirituality, and the power from the Word.

            Avoid thinking that no text of Scripture can be correctly understood unless it is viewed in its context. There are thousands of expressions in God’s Word which, when heard or read individually, have a precise meaning, give full expression to their doctrinal content, and are sufficiently penetrating to stimulate faith, render comfort, and be exhort to obedience.

            If you encounter something which is not immediately understood, put it aside for the time being and continue reading. When you encounter a remarkable text, mark it, meditate on it, memorize it.

Reflection

            Joyfully give thanks that the Lord has allowed His Word to be recorded and preserved and that you have the privilege of reading and applying it. 

            Strive to preserve the spiritual state of mind which is obtained by reading God’s Word.

            Share with others what was read, discussing it whenever possible.

            Strive to obey what has been read by bringing it into practice.

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