Question 42 - How is the Word of God to be read and heard?
With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
Answer for kids:
With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith and practice it in our lives.
2 Timothy 3:16–17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Commentary (from newcitycatechism.com Web App)
The Bible is not just another book, and so we ought to approach it in a unique way. The Bible is God-breathed: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). It’s inspired. That doesn’t mean that the Bible is inspiring. Now, it is inspiring. But whether anyone in the world is inspired by the Bible, the Bible is still inspired itself. It’s God’s Word to us. It’s God exhaling, God opening his most hallowed lips and speaking to us. So, this Word is God’s Word, and this Word is exactly what God wanted to be written down in Holy Scriptures.
That means we ought to approach Scripture with a special reverence and with special care. We come to the Bible very carefully. We want to be diligent. We want to be prepared. We want to take it seriously. And we also come to this book with a special reverence, because God is speaking to us. One of the ways to think of submitting to the Word is that we stop telling God what to do. God now speaks to us. A theologian once said that to be a Christian means you put your hand over your mouth and are silent. This doesn’t mean that we can’t ever cry out to God. Certainly the Psalms are full of that. But it means that we approach Scripture with reverence, wanting to hear from God, submitting ourselves fully to the Word of God.
When we come to the Bible, our aim is not just information. It’s never less than information—we’re not against information. God uses that. But it’s more than just information we’re trying to get from the Bible. We want faith. That’s what God wants: for us to accept the Word with faith, with a real delight, with a desire for it, a dependence upon it. When we embrace God’s Word with faith, we store it up in our hearts. Charles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan that if you would prick him, his blood would be bibline. He was so full of the Scriptures that it came out of him. That’s what we want; that’s why we store it up.
And then we practice it. Did Jesus say, “If you love me, you will have a tingling sensation in your heart”? No, he didn’t say that, though that’s wonderful. But he said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). So if we are serious about loving God, we must be very serious about obeying God and obeying his Word to us. That’s the aim: to be transformed by it, to embrace it in faith, and to worship at his feet.
Really, in its simplest form, we ought to come to the Word of God with the same sort of attitude with which we’d come to God himself. If God spoke to you, which he does in the Scriptures, if God opened his mouth to us, how would we approach him? Well, I think we would listen carefully. We would listen diligently. We would listen submissively. We would listen expectantly. And we’d listen with an aim to love and obey.
Giver of the Word, help us to treasure your Scriptures as our most precious possession. May it be in our minds and on our lips. Let it transform our thinking and reform our living. Make us attentive students and devoted servants of your perfect Word. Amen.