Brian H. Cosby, excerpt from “Reading the Bible for Transformation” article in The CSB Study Bible
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Roman believers, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rm 12:2). Most of us could probably think of a few ways to avoid being “conformed to this age,” but what about transformation? How are we transformed by the renewing of our minds? How do we appropriate the truth of Scripture into our thinking and affections?
The Spirit of God in Transformation
God uses his Word both to save and to sanctify his people. “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Rm 10:17). That message—the good news of Jesus—is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rm 1:16). We plant and water; God gives the growth (1 Co 3:7).
Thomas Watson (ca 1620–1686), the later English Puritan, wrote, “We may read many truths in the Bible, but we cannot know them savingly, until God by his Spirit shines upon our soul.” We must remember that any transformation that takes place in our lives comes by the sheer sovereign grace of God. Scripture is a means by which God alone saves and sanctifies his people. Therefore, he alone receives all the glory and praise!
Reading the Bible for Transformation
When you read the Bible, read with the expectation that God is at work. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures long ago is the same Holy Spirit who illumines and applies the Scriptures to you as you read. So read expectantly, asking God to show you wonderful things from his Word (Ps 119:18). Thomas Watson gave this helpful exhortation: “Leave not off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed … Let it not only inform you, but inflame you.”
Make Bible reading a priority. If you need to, gather friends for accountability and follow a Bible-reading plan. Remove any obstacles that might hinder your time in the Scriptures. If you don’t, the cares of the world will choke out the cures of the Word (Mk 4:18-19). Oftentimes, Bible reading ignites a great love for reading. So tolle lege (Lat.)—take up and read!