What is special about Bible verses?
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.—2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
God revealed Himself in Jesus, but we are also given God’s revelation of Himself in written form — the Scriptures. These are not just written by people inspired by the Holy Spirit, but the words and phrases have their own spiritual life, such that God uses them to speak to us.
Look on the title page of any book and you’ll find an important line in the small print. Sometimes it is just the name. Sometimes it is the imprint year and words: xxxx identifies as the author of this work copyright year.
The Bible, 66 books, has the imprint of God Almighty and there should be a copyright warning because we are told not to add to or subtract from these words in Deuteronomy 4:1-12, echoed in Revelation 22:17-19
How we read it
That doesn’t mean taking things in an over-literal or legalistic way. That was the mistake made by the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, who studied Scripture and took seriously what is said – but often missed the spirit that was behind the words. They reduced Scripture to a set of propositions to be strictly followed and added to Scripture by making those propositions complicated and lengthy. That is legalism, where supposed righteousness is measured by what you do and don’t do, overlooking the much greater (but more difficult) priority of one’s relationship with God. It is the fault common to all religions which try to construct a repeatable system to teach and to follow, rather than the discretion and responsibility of being led by the Spirit in a relationship with God.
These are words written by human authors but but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Scripture, “breath”, “wind” and “Spirit” are interchangeable. God breathes His spiritual life into us — as in the title line of the well-known hymn “Breathe on me, breath of God”.
God’s spiritual life has been breathed into the words in the page, which us why they speak to us beyond the actual words — there is an impartation, something spiritual being created in us, as we engage with God’s truth put into words.
The interaction is important — it is how we grow. God intends for us to grow in Him, to build our spiritual maturity, every day of our lives. Like every kind of fitness, there are growth pains and setbacks in the progress. But if we stay with it, we grow.
That means us reading the Bible and letting God speak through it day by day. It confronts the rather unspiritual idea that we attend church or chapel once a week or once a month, and watch a spiritual person at the front doing the engagement with God on our behalf, including reading His word. When printing was ‘new technology’ and education restricted to a privileged few, not everyone could read and it made practical sense to read out words publicly. Now printed Bibles are plentiful, and we have searchable Bible texts available on the screen of a smartphone in our pocket. What our Father wants from us is developing our personal relationship with Him, and that means having plenty of our own engagement with the number one way He speaks to us.
Teach us what us true
God not only wants us, His children, to grow, but His Spirit in us gives us a hunger for more — we want to grow. Spending time with God and His word — the daily quiet time — is a habit all Christians learn and although fashions in discipleship come and go, some form of quiet time has always been one of the essentials in spiritual life. What God shows us in our quiet time is our news, our Good News for the day. We listen to broadcasts that keep us informed about the world, local and worldwide. It’s not always uplifting. As a source of encouragement it lets us down more often than not.
So we need to give some precious time and attention to what is always life-giving and a source of encouragement — God giving us His word for today, from His word that has endured, and has an eternal quality.
We don’t need to be biblical scholars or have an encyclopaedic knowledge — the Holy Spirit can show us where to go or give us a phrase to search. We just need to be alert, and willing to be led in directions that might not make sense to us at the time.
Corrects us when we are wrong
Similarly, Scripture acts as a yardstick to measure against. A proposed course of action, or a response to somebody, or just an attitude we are holding — if it doesn’t check out with Scripture, Scripture has ways of showing us.
Around this time of year, when the clocks change to winter time, many churches celebrate Bible Sunday. Gathering as church to celebrate and worship God has no meaning apart from His word. The early apostles taught disciples in the temple courts — from the Scriptures. And the believers also met from house to house, and discussed what was being learned from the Scriptures, Acts 20:20. Some traditions put more store by symbolic acts that they designate as sacraments. How many people have a life-changing conviction and find new life, born again spiritually, through this means? What we do know, is that “faith comes by hearing the message, and. the message is heard through the word about Christ,” Romans 10:17, and many, many people come under holy conviction and are born again through hearing the word proclaimed. So if we are seeking an outward sign of an inner blessing, this is the one that has the most personal testimonies of change!
• Do you have a routine for giving God space to speak to You through His word? How could you improve this?
• Start a journal, where you can write or record what you sense God saying to You through His word, reflect on it — and perhaps share it, for the encouragement of someone else.
For a prayer based on this verse, go over to this page on www.glowweobley.com