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“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)
Isn’t that what we all want as followers of Jesus—to not just read God’s Word, but to be transformed by it? John Wesley, in his 1765 Preface to Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament*, penned sound advice on how to approach Scripture:
- To correctly interpret God’s Word we need God’s Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21). Wesley recommends that before we open our Bibles, we seek the Holy Spirit’s help to understand what we are reading, and conclude our time in God’s Word by asking Him to engrave God’s truths on our lives.
- Just as we need food every day, we need God’s Word daily. Reiterating God’s instructions in Joshua 1:8, Wesley suggests we read Scripture both in the morning and in the evening, choosing passages from both the Old and the New Testaments.
- Wesley encourages us to note the basic threads of our faith in the passages we read. We will see how God purposefully wove together His message from Genesis to Revelation. (John 5:39) As we read, we can keep these questions in mind:
- Which verses help me see my sinful nature?
- How does this scripture dovetail with Jesus’ sacrifice for my salvation?
- What aspects are mentioned of the new life Jesus offers me?
- How am I challenged to holier living?
- Wesley advocates meditating on truths we find in the Bible, allowing God’s living, active Word to judge the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. (Hebrews 4:12) The all-exposing beam of Scripture will prompt both praise and repentance.
- Lastly, the Word of God is a lamp to guide us in our daily living. (Psalms 119:107) Wesley admonishes us to prayerfully search the Scriptures with the intention of learning God’s will for our lives, and then determine to follow it.
As we respond to the Spirit’s gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudges, the Bible will become a powerful tool God uses to remold, refine, and redirect us.