The close, analytical study of the Scriptures is an absorbing pursuit. But it must never be isolated from a disciplined devotional life in which the Bible is used for the nourishment of the soul. Careful scholarship, patient attention to detail in searching the Scriptures—these are essential. Yet the Bible must always be seen for what it is, the actual Word of God, “living and powerful,” as the writer of Hebrews puts it in that remarkable passage (4:12, 13), in which the written and the incarnate Word so wonderfully merge. As Luther picturesquely said of the Pauline epistles, “The words of St. Paul are not dead words; they are living creatures and have hands and feet.” Therefore, the objective, scholarly study of Scripture must be guarded and supplemented, lest even the best of methodology should lapse into unfeeling dissection of the living Book.

Consider, then, three corollaries of biblical scholarship.

1. The cultivation of the devotional life must go hand in hand with the scholarly study of Scripture.

2. All Bible study, however analytical and objective it may be, must always stand in subjection to our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. In all Bible study the truth must be paramount.

Devotional Use

Now what is the devotional use of the Bible? It is a use of Scripture in which immediate outcomes such as analysis, research, or homiletical study, do not have priority. Thus it is in essence a disinterested use of Scripture, which means that we come to it first of all as spiritual food—feeding upon it in our souls, letting it speak to us, claiming its promises, meditating upon its teaching, resting in its truth, letting it judge us, seeking from it God’s will, living in its light, resolving to walk in its precepts.

For such use of the Bible ...

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