Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
A commonly held thought about the Bible is that it’s mainly for studying, and so questions like these arise: How can I study the Bible? What Bible study method should I use? What’s the best Bible study tool?
Although these are good questions to consider, they distract us from one of the most crucial concepts about God’s Word.
The Bible is mainly a book of food
We should certainly read, understand, and even study the Word of God, but one of the most important things we can ever know about the Bible is that God intended it to be food to us. Many verses throughout the Bible express this thought. Here are just a few.
- Psalms 119:103—“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
- Jeremiah 15:16—“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Jehovah, God of hosts.”
- Matthew 4:4—“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.”
- 1 Peter 2:2-3—“As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
We all know physical food is absolutely necessary to nourish and sustain life. By eating food we live and grow. Eating spiritually is paramount to our Christian life. God gave us His divine life when we were regenerated, and He gave us His Word as our food so we can be nourished and grow in His life.
The concept of the Bible as food revolutionizes our approach to it
If we think God’s only intention in giving us His Word is that we would understand doctrines and teachings, our aim would be to acquire more knowledge from it. We may spend our time reading the Bible in a cerebral way and gain much knowledge in letter from the Bible. Yet we’re still hungry within and spiritually weak.
This is like being hungry and coming to study, but not eat, the delicious dishes prepared by a chef for us. We would never do such a thing with food spread before us. Instead, we would eat it, taste it, and be nourished and satisfied by our eating.
God, our “chef” has prepared His Word as a wonderful feast to nourish us. Seeing this about His Word will revolutionize our approach to the Bible. We’ll approach it not solely or mainly as a book to study but as food to eat so we can be living with God’s life.
The key to eating God’s Word as our food
So how do we eat God’s Word as food?
John 6 gives the account of the Lord’s physically feeding the multitude in a miraculous way. But then He speaks of Himself as the bread of life, the bread that came down out of heaven to give life to the world, and in verse 57 He says we must eat Him to live:
“As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”
The Lord, of course, didn’t mean we should physically eat Him, so He continued in verse 63,
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to You are spirit and are life.”
The key here is to see the Spirit gives life, and God’s words are spirit and life for us to eat and live. But how can the words of the Bible be converted from mere black and white letters on the page to spirit and life to feed us and give us life?
Converting the words to spirit and life
To illustrate how to convert God’s Word into spirit and life, let’s consider the use of an app, short for application. An app is a piece of software created and designed for electronic devices like smart phones and tablets. They enable users to perform all kinds of tasks, such as shopping or tracking fitness. Some apps convert one language into another.
Did you know God installed in us an amazing “converting app?” This God-created “app” is our human spirit, the deepest part of our being. Designed specially by God, it has the ability to contact Him and receive His life. Our spirit, when we use it, can convert God’s words into spirit and life to us.
How to use our spirit to convert the Word into spirit and life
The way to use, or exercise, our human spirit is to pray. So the way to use our spirit to convert the words in the Bible into spirit and life is to pray over and with them.
For instance, in our Bible reading we may come across Hebrews 4:12 which says,
“For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
We may not fully understand what this verse means, but when we use our spirit to pray with these words, they become nourishing food to us. We can eat this verse by praying like this:
“Lord Jesus, thank You, Your word is living! It’s not dead. Oh Lord, Your living word gives me life. And Lord, it’s also operative. Oh Lord, I let it operate in me. And thank You, it’s sharper than a two-edged sword, and can divide my soul from my spirit. Lord Jesus, I want to live in my spirit where you are, not in my soul.”
When we take time not just to read but also to pray over and with the words of the Bible, we receive spirit and life as God intended. God’s Word comes alive to us. Eating God’s Word as spiritual food satisfies us.
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