Building on the previous article, this article is looking at the final three (of four) essential habits (we looked at one major one last week and three this week) to increasingly see and savor the glory of God in the Scriptures.1 As I said, I’ve chosen those words increasingly and cultivate intentionally. For cultivates underscores that it takes work to acquire these habits and increasingly highlights that the cultivating it is a process.
Aggressively Marinate in the Scriptures
Second, we must aggressively marinate in the word. Many Christians read their Bibles passively, as if they are watching a symphony. However, God’s word calls us to actively engage with it, marinating in it, pondering over it with reference to our own hearts. John Piper notes how many testify that God gave them experiential insight into the Scripture through the “basic discipline of looking long and hard at what is really there.”2 Here Piper gives the helpful illustration of a hypothetical scenario in which he hid ten million dollars in your house that was yours for the taking if you found it. There is little doubt that you would continue to search for it until you found it. And yet, we know that the treasures of God’s word are “more to be desired” “than gold, even much fine gold (Psalm 19:10).”3 The goal, of course, is to become saturated with the word of God. Charles Spurgeon called John Bunyan “a living Bible!” “Prick him anywhere” he said, “his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the world of God.”4
Fixate on the Promises of God
The third habit we must cultivate is to steadfastly focus on the promises of God. We must fasten our faith to Scripture. Our faith must not rest on hazy impressions that God is somehow working to help us. Rather, it must rest on clear, sharp, specific promises to us from his word. For the Holy Spirit loves to brood over specific promises of God’s commitment to His people rather than vague, hazy impressions.5 This reality calls us to memorize all-encompassing promises.6 In times of doubt or anxiety we remember Isaiah 41:10: “Fear…not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” When we are uncertain what to do next in life, we remember Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In the midst of trials and uncertainty of whether all will be well, we remember Romans 8:28: “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” And we must not merely believe that these are promises in general, but must believe that these promises are for me. As Martin Luther famously said, “the Christian faith is a matter of personal pronouns.” Luther exhorts, “read with great emphasis these words, ‘me,’ ‘for me,’ and accustom yourself to accept and apply to yourself this ‘me’ with certain faith. The words our, us, for us ought to be written in golden letters — the man who does not believe them is not a Christian.”
Refuse to be Satisfied Until You Experientially Savor What You See
Finally, we must possess a relentless refusal to be satisfied until we experientially savor what we see. Isaac Ambrose said that the foundation of the Christian life is an “inward experimental looking unto Jesus, [that] stirres up affections in the heart.” producing an “inward experimental knowing, considering, desiring, hoping, believing, loving, joying, calling on Jesus, and conforming to Jesus.”7 There is a quote that hangs on the wall of my study by the nineteenth-century-Christian evangelist, George Müller, that says, “the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.”8 As Christians seeking to see God rightly and savor God truly we cannot be content with merely reading without seeing the glory of God in the Scriptures or mere seeing without savoring. We must seek to have our souls happy in the Lord, to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). As we come into a fuller experience of these truths, we will find ourselves increasingly satisfied by Christ, increasingly claiming him is as our supreme treasure chief delight of our lives, and growing in Christlikeness.
1 This article is an expand and updated version of one section of Greg Salazar, “Growing in Christ-likeness,” in Joel R. Beeke, ed., Growing in Grace (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020). As the footnotes reveal this entire final section is heavily indebted to John Piper’s masterful treatment of this subject in his Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
2 Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.227
3 Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.333
4 Charles Spurgeon, “The Last Words of Christ on the Cross,”, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 63 vols. (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1977), 45:495.
5 Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.287
6 Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.287
7 Isaac Ambrose, Looking unto Jesus: a view of the everlasting Gospel; or, the souls eying of Jesus, as carrying on the great work of mans salvation from first to last (London: Nathanael Webb and William Grantham, 1658), p.22.
8 George Müller, Autobiography of George Müller (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1906), p.152.