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Redux: Hearing through the Word

Posted by: David Carroll

I know I've made this point before in this series about "Hearing God" but I need to revisit it again because it is so important and fundamental. Everything we know about Jesus comes from the Bible. Most everything we know about the Holy Spirit comes from the Bible. I say most because someone never having heard God's word could still know his conscience is tugging him away from sin and that certainly would be the Holy Spirit. Most everything we know about God comes from the Bible. Again I say most because we can know His creative power by looking around us.

Romans 1:20 (NKJV)

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

So the reason I want to revisit this subject of Hearing God through the scripture is because the written Word is central to knowing God and knowing what He wants of us. Eagerly studying the word of God naturally and practically leads a person to knowing Christ and wanting to be like Him. I've seen the antithesis of this too, even in my own life. Disregarding the daily use of the Bible leads a person away from Christ. I can readily think of a number of individual people who, when I am around them, naturally draw me to Christ. Thinking about why this is so, I can easily point to the fact that they themselves are saturated in God's word, both devotionally and in their conversation. So, it is self-evident that God's word is vital to a close relationship with God.

Dallas Willard recommends reading the Bible with a submissive attitude. He says:

Study as intelligently as possible, with all available means, but never study merely to find the truth and especially not just to prove something. Subordinate your desire to find the truth to your desire to do it, to act it out!

That's the "how" part but regarding what to read, I know have used a "One Year Bible Reading Plan" before but I know I read much of it without absorbing it. On the other hand, I have struggled with the idea of just beginning to read whatever text my finger happens to open to. It's all good, right? Well, Willard has more good advice about "what" to read too.

We should begin with those parts of Scripture with which we have some familiarity, such as Psalm 23, the Lord's Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, or Romans 8.

Do not try to read a great deal at once...It is better in one year to have ten good verses transferred into the substance of our lives than to have every word of the Bible flash before our eyes...Do not hurry. Do not dabble in spiritual things.

The goal is for the truth of God's word to become part of us. That is to say, we need to assimilate the truth and to agree with it. Agreeing with the truth that we know well and can easily repeat is what it means to have the "mind of Christ." Willard gives five progressive steps as a process of attaining this goal when dealing with God's word:

  1. information
  2. longing for it to be so
  3. affirmation that it must be so
  4. invocation to God to make it so
  5. appropriation by God's grace that it is so

Such use of God's word is a discipline. Ingrained habit and self-control are the keys behind such discipline. Everyday, devote yourself to this kind of exercise an you will find yourself being drawn close to God. Close enough to Hear from God.

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