By: Kevin Smith
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A few years back in college, while reading the Bible and praying, I started to notice things changing. It was no longer just me picking up some sacred book to get knowledge about Jesus and truth. I had this profound revelation that God wanted me to read differently than I had been doing for so many years. I heard the still, small voice of God speaking to my heart, “Notice my promises, have faith in them, declare them as truth, and walk in them.” I felt as if he was saying, “There is a way to know me more intimately than you do.” For me, this was definitely deep and intimate, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear as well.
I want to encourage people, no matter where you are in your faith. Whether you don’t have any or you are very seasoned in fearing, loving, and obeying God. I feel what God revealed to me that day can help anyone, no matter where you are, to grow closer to Jesus in a very intimate, intentional, and powerful way.
It’s almost strange how many truth statements are made in the Bible that you may have glossed over. There is a purpose why the Bible makes claims of truth and one of those reasons is found in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” God actually breathed the Scriptures into existence by Jesus (who is the Word of God, ex. John 1:1-5, 14), through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in those who call on the name of Jesus and obey His commands (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13-14). I say all of that to say this: any time someone in the Bible makes a truth claim, it can be taken as truth because God created the Scriptures. To break down what God revealed to me about noticing His promises, having faith in them, declaring them, and living in light of them, let’s look at a couple examples.
In a Bible study I’m currently in, we just went through Matthew 5, which is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus says many things, but we will start in verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…” These are probably some of the more obvious promises that you can pick out from reading. If Jesus makes these claims, then you can be assured that they are not only promises, but that they are true. The next step would be to have faith in these promises. This isn’t just to believe the promises, because simply believing them doesn’t make them real for you. To have faith in them is to accept that you can directly apply these promises to your life in a practical way. Jesus doesn’t just say these things because they might be true, or if you want them to be then they can be. No, He says them because He wants you to know that they are true and to actually live your life as if they are, indeed, true. Once you have faith in a promise, you can then declare the promise because you have faith in it. Declaring the promises of God only makes your faith in them set and solid. Have you ever thought you had faith in something written in the Bible, yet when someone questions you on it, you begin to doubt? This could be because doubt makes you question your own belief in something – that it’s real, that it’s true – then you decide whether you want to apply the promise to your life through faith, where that promise is grounded in experience, or you throw it out because you realize it’s just something you read. Don’t think of doubt as bad either. In fact, a healthy dose of doubt is good because doubt forces you to choose faith or nothing. Now, if you are willing to declare a promise to someone else, then you are putting your faith on the line and trusting that what God said is true. The final step is to live in light of the promises and walk in them. If all you did was see the promise, have faith in the promise, and declare the promise, you aren’t living it yet. To directly apply a promise to your life and live in light of it, is what makes every step before that meaningful. It is easy to do steps 1-3 if you never have to go through the experience and truly have faith that they are true. It’s when things get hard and you are mourning that Jesus’ words of “you will be comforted” becomes real.
Think of any promise you read as God declaring that promise to you. Since they are his words, he is directly speaking to you. Jesus isn’t dead, he’s alive (Luke 24: 1-9). Jesus isn’t some character in a novel. The Bible isn’t “based on a true story and true events.” We aren’t reading about just a historical figure like we would Abraham Lincoln. Jesus is living right now. If God is declaring the promises to you, then do you believe them when you read them? Hebrews 4: 12 speaks of the word of God being living an active. Don’t think of reading the Bible as words that were written thousands of years ago, think of them as God speaking them to you today, because the Bible is living and active. So when you speak to someone about the promises of God, understand that they were declared to you first. God himself declared them to you through his word. God knows what he said is true. So do you have faith that what he said is true?
If Jesus is alive, then you can communicate with God any time you want. Romans 8: 34 says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” The relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in prayer is this: our relationship with God the father was disrupted by Adam and Eve’s sin. He sends his son Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice because no human could atone for us unless it was God himself. Once Jesus accomplished his work on the cross, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended into Heaven (John 20: 30, Acts 1: 9), Jesus sends God the Spirit to be our Helper (John 16: 7-15). So when we pray, we pray to God the father because he is the one whom our relationship was broken. We pray in the name of Jesus because “for no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). And we pray through the power of the Holy Spirit because he was sent to us as our helper, guarantee, and seal that we are indeed, God’s children.
I hope this helps you in your relationship with God through being able to read your Bible in a clearer way and praying in a more deliberate way as well. There are many other aspects to reading your Bible that can help, these are just a few. Feel free to contact Matt Gordon to ask questions if you want to go more in depth. He can put you in contact with me, or he can walk through things with you as well. I will be happy to help!