How to Read the Bible Like George Whitefield
George Whitefield was once the most famous man in America. Whitefield (1714-1770) was an evangelist and Calvinist preacher during America’s Great Awakening, and it is estimated that during his lifetime he preached to over 10 million people, often to outdoor crowds of up to 25,000 at once.
By all accounts, George Whitefield’s remarkable ministry was marked by his devotion to Jesus Christ and to the truth of Scripture. Clearly, we can learn much about studying Scripture from a man who preached over 18,000 times.
Whitefield continually feasting on the Word of God. He said, “I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees… . This proved meat indeed and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh light and power from above.”
Do you regularly feast on the Word of God?
Here are George Whitefield’s 7 Tips for Reading the Bible:
1. Always Look for Jesus
Have always in view the end for which the Scriptures were written, even to show us the way of salvation, by Jesus Christ.
“Search the Scriptures,” says our blessed Lord, “for they are they that testify of me.” Look, therefore, always for Christ in the scripture. He is the treasure hid in the field, both of the Old and New Testament. In the Old, you will find him under
In the Old, you will find him under prophesies, types, sacrifices, and shadows. In the New, manifested in the flesh, to become a propitiation for our sins as a Priest, and as a Prophet to reveal the whole will of his heavenly Father.
Have Christ, then, always in view when you are reading the word of God, and this will guide you to the Messiah, will serve as a key to every thing that is obscure, and unlock to you the wisdom and riches of all the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
2. Read It With Humility
Search the Scriptures with a humble, child-like disposition.
For whosoever does not read them with this temper shall in no wise enter into the knowledge of the things contained in them. For God hides the sense of them from those that are wise and prudent in their own eyes, and reveals them only to babes in Christ—who think they know nothing yet as they ought to know; who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and humbly desire to be fed with the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.
Fancy yourselves, therefore, when you are searching the Scriptures—especially when you are reading the New Testament—to be with Mary sitting at the feet of the holy Jesus; and be as willing to learn what God shall teach you, as Samuel was, when he said, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”
Oh that the unbelievers would pull down every high thought and imagination that exalts itself against the revealed will of God! O that they would, like new-born babes, desire to be fed with the pure milk of the word!
Then we should have them no longer scoffing at Divine revelation, nor would they read the Bible any more with the same intend the Philistines brought our Samson, to make sport at it; but they would see the divine image and superscription written upon every line. They would hear God speaking unto their souls by it, and, consequently, be built up in the knowledge and fear of him, who is the Author thereof.
3. Practice What You Read
Search the Scriptures with a sincere intention to put into practice what you read.
A desire to do the will of God is the only way to know it; if any man will do my will, says Jesus Christ, “He shall know of my doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
As he also speaks in another place to his disciples, “To you, (who are willing to practice your duty) it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to those that are without (who only want to raise cavils against my doctrine) all these things are spoken in parables, that seeing they may see and not understand, and hearing they may hear and not perceive.”
For it is but just in God to send those strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, and to conceal the knowledge of himself from all such as do not seek him with a single intention.
Jesus Christ is the same now, as formerly, to those who desire to know from his word, who he is that they may believe on, and live by; and to him he will reveal himself as clearly as he did to the woman of Samaria, when he said, “I that speak to thee am he,” or as he did to the man that was born blind, whom the Jews had cast out for his name’s sake, “He that talketh with thee, is he.”
But to those who consult his word with a desire neither to know him, nor keep his commandments, but either merely for their entertainment, or to scoff at the simplicity of the manner in which he is revealed, to those, I say: he never will reveal himself, though they should search the Scriptures to all eternity. As he never would tell those whether he was the Messiah or not, who put that question to him either out of curiosity, or that they might have whereof to accuse him.
4. Apply What You Read to Your Own Heart
In order to search the Scriptures still more effectually, make an application of everything you read to your own hearts.
For whatever was written in the book of God was written for our learning. And what Christ said unto those aforetime we must look upon as spoken to us also: for since the holy Scriptures are nothing but a revelation from God, how fallen man is to be restored by Jesus Christ: all the precepts, threats, and promises, belong to us and to our children, as well as to those, to whom they were immediately made known.
Thus the Apostle, when he tells us that he lived by the faith of the Son of God, adds, “who died and gave himself for me.” It is this application of Jesus Christ to our hearts that makes his redemption effectual to each of us.
And it is this application of all the doctrinal and historical parts of scripture, when we are reading them over, that must render them profitable to us, as they were designed for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and to make every child of God perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work.
I dare appeal to the experience of every spiritual reader of holy writ whether or not, if he consulted the word of God in this manner, he was not at all times and at all seasons as plainly directed how to act, as though he had consulted the Urim and Thummim, which was upon the high-priest’s breast.
For this is the way God now reveals himself to man: not by making new revelations, but by applying general things that are revealed already to every sincere reader’s heart.
And this, by the way, answers an objection made by those who say, “The word of God is not a perfect rule of action, because it cannot direct us how to act or how to determine in particular cases, or what place to go to, when we are in doubt, and therefore, the Spirit, and not the word, is to be our rule of action.”
But this I deny, and affirm on the contrary, that God at all times, circumstances, and places, though never so minute, never so particular, will, if we diligently seek the assistance of his Holy Spirit, apply general things to our hearts, and thereby, to use the words of the holy Jesus, will lead us into all truth and give us the particular assistance we want.
5. Rely on the Spirit
Labor to attain that Spirit by which they were written.
For the natural man discerneth not the words of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned; the words that Christ hath spoken, they are spirit, and they are life, and can be no more understood as to the true sense and meaning of them by the mere natural man, than a person who never had learned a language can understand another speaking in it.
The Scriptures, therefore, have not unfitly been compared to the cloud which went before the Israelites; they are dark and hard to be understood by the natural man, as the cloud appeared dark to the Egyptians. But they are light, they are life to Christians indeed, as that same cloud which seemed dark to Pharaoh and his house, appeared bright and altogether glorious to the Israel of God.
It was the want of the assistance of this Spirit that made Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel and a ruler of the Jews, so utterly ignorant in the doctrine of regeneration. For being only a natural man he could not tell how that thing could be.
It was the want of this Spirit that made our Savior’s disciples, though he so frequently
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