God is like a doctor who fully understands the sickness of the human condition. In his plan to make us whole he has a perfect prescription, for the Bible has wonderful medicinal properties. It acts as what used to be known as a “restorative”. David said, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” [NASB].
When a doctor prescribes medicine, the pharmacist ensures that there are clear instructions on the bottle. Perhaps there is a skin complaint, and the prescribed medicine is to be taken three times per day with food. But then the patient decides it seems such a waste to pour it down a throat that is without irritation into a stomach that feels fine. The obvious solution is to rub the liquid onto the scalp that is so sore. Two weeks later, the bottle is empty but the problem remains. Why? The medicine has to be applied in the prescribed way.
The Bible is not only the doctor’s prescription; it also comes complete with the pharmacist’s instructions as to the proper application. We are told what to do with it. And if we do not follow these instructions, it will not have the desired effect. In a nutshell, Paul tells us in Romans 6:17,18 it is to be applied to the mind (ingested into the thinking) so that it affects the heart (digested in the emotions),filtering down to to obedience in the will (a change of behaviour). So how can we apply the Word of God to our minds, hearts and wills?
The Navigators have a helpful way of summarizing how we are to take in the medicine of Scripture. They use what they call the five-finger approach to picking up the Bible – or in terms of our analogy, five ways to take the medicine. These five ways are: hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating.
How sad it is that too many people leave the medicine untouched on the shelf when it has the power to bring God’s healing to their soul. How sad that some who pick up the bottle don’t know what to do with it to release its potency into their lives. In a brief series of blogs we shall consider each of these ways of applying the medicinal effects of God’s Word.
For a fuller treatment of these ideas, a couple of audio resources are available on our web site: How to Read the Bible, and How to Study the Bible. See also a free pdf file of a booklet on how to approach the scriptures: The Bible – God’s Life Word.