"The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple."
"Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures..."
"...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened... (Ephesians 1:17-18)
Bible reading is not to be an empty routine, nor is it merely gathering information about God. It is important that we read the Scriptures while vitally aware of the presence of God, asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand and apply the Scriptures rightly. This is also called the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. He helps us make connections with other truths in the Bible, that we might truly have the mind of Christ. As we study, we must be sensitive especially to those areas that the Spirit of God is drawing our attention to, and we should pray over those truths, commandments, or promises in the text. We need the Lord to illumine our minds and hearts as we read.
Here's how J. I. Packer explains it:
"The work of the Spirit in imparting this knowledge is called 'illumination,' or enlightening. It is not a giving of new revelation, but a work within us that enables us to grasp and to love the revelation that is there before us in the biblical text as heard and read, and as explained by teachers and writers. Sin in our mental and moral system clouds our minds and wills so that we miss and resist the force of Scripture. God seems to us remote to the point of unreality, and in the face of God’s truth we are dull and apathetic. The Spirit, however, opens and unveils our minds and attunes our hearts so that we understand (Eph. 1:17-18; 3:18-19; 2 Cor. 3:14-16; 4:6). As by inspiration he provided Scripture truth for us, so now by illumination he interprets it to us. Illumination is thus the applying of God’s revealed truth to our hearts, so that we grasp as reality for ourselves what the sacred text sets forth." -- Concise Theology (Tyndale, 1993).
C. H. Spurgeon describes it this way, as edited by Alistair Begg:
"Many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers. They reach the ear, but He instructs the heart; they deal with the outward letter, but He imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savor and spirit. The most unlearned of men become ripe scholars in the school of grace when the Lord Jesus by His Holy Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to them and grants the divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible." (From Morning and Evening)
One danger of daily Bible reading is trying to read too much in too little time. It is better to slow down and read what is suitable for the time we have. We need time to reflect on his truth. Pray before and after for the Spirit to enlighten your mind and heart. Journaling also is helpful. So too, Scripture memorization helps us by putting passages into our hearts, that these truths may be recalled at any time.
Let us never forget that we have a dynamic relationship with the word of God, which is alive and active in us:
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
Image credit: photo above by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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