QUESTION 90. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
ANSWER: That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love; lay it up in our hearts, and practise it in our lives.
Q. 1 What has God enjoined upon us, in order to our reading and hearing his word in a right manner?
A. That we attend thereunto; that we receive it; and that we lay it up in our hearts, and practise it in our lives.
Q. 2. What is it to attend to the reading and hearing of the word?
A. It is to make the reading and hearing of it the main business of our life; to have it mostly at heart, because the word contains "that good part which shall not be taken away," Luke 10:42.
Q. 3. How ought we to attend to, or set about the reading and hearing of the word?
A. With diligence, preparation, and prayer.
Q. 4. What do you understand by attending to the word with diligence?
A. A careful observing and embracing every seasonable opportunity, that may offer in providence, for reading and hearing the same, Prov. 8:34.
Q. 5. What preparation should we make for reading and hearing the word?
A. We should consider, that the word has the authority of God stamped upon it, 2 Tim. 3:16; that it is he himself who speaks to us in it, Heb. 12:25; that it is his ordinance for our salvation, John 5:39; and will be the savour either of life or death to us, 2 Cor. 2:16.
Q. 6. Why is prayer requisite for reading and hearing the word in a right manner?
A. Because as it is God alone, and none else, who can dispose our hearts for the right performance of those religious exercises, so he ought always to be addressed and supplicated for that end, Psalm 119:18.
Q. 7. What should we pray for, when setting about the reading and hearing of the word?
A. That it may be "the power of God unto our salvation," Rom. 1:16; or an effectual means in his hand for convincing, converting, and edifying our souls, John 6:63.
Q. 8. What is our immediate duty, when we are actually engaged in reading or hearing of the word?
A. Our immediate duty, in that case, is to receive it.
Q. 9. What is it to receive the word?
A. It is, with all readiness of mind, to take it in, as the dictates of the Holy Ghost to our souls, Acts 17:11.
Q. 10. Why is the right improvement of the word, in time of reading and hearing of it, called a receiving it?
A. Because we can reap no real benefit to our souls, by the offer and exhibition of all the blessings that are brought nigh to us in it, unless we receive them as God's free gift to us, John 3:27.
Q. 11. How are we to receive the word, and all the good that is in it?
A. With faith and love.
Q. 12. When is the word received with faith, in time of reading and hearing of it?
A. When there is an application of it to the soul in particular, in a suitableness to the state and case of the person, and the nature of the word, whether in a way of promise, Lam. 3:24, or threatening, Psalm 119:120.
Q. 13. How may a person know if he receives the word with faith?
A. By the quickening, Psalm 119:50, enlightening, ver. 130, sanctifying, ver. 9, and strengthening effect of it, Dan. 10:19.
Q. 14. What is the native consequence of receiving the word with faith?
A. A receiving it also with love; for "faith worketh by love," Gal. 5:6.
Q. 15. How may our receiving the word with love be discerned?
A. When our affections are drawn out to the blessed truths and objects revealed in it; so as to esteem them more than "thousands of gold and silver," Psalm 119:72, or even than our "necessary food," Job 23:12.
Q. 16. What improvement ought we to make of the word after reading or hearing of it?
A. We should lay it up in our hearts, and practise it in our lives.
Q. 17. What do you understand by the heart, where the word should be laid up?
A. The soul, with all its faculties, Prov. 23:26; the understanding, to know the word; the will to comply with it; the affections to love it; and the memory to retain it.
Q. 18. What is implied in laying up the word in our hearts?
A. That we account it the most valuable treasure, Psalm 119:127; that we keep it with the utmost care, ver. 11; and that we resolve to use it in all the future exigencies of our souls, ver. 24.
Q. 19. How may we know if the word is really laid up in our hearts?
A. By our delighting to meditate upon it, Psalm 119:97; by the Spirit's bringing it to our remembrance, John 14:26; and by our habitual desire of farther conformity and subjection unto it, Psalm 119:5.
Q. 20. For what end should we lay up the word in our hearts?
A. That we may practise it in our lives.
Q. 21. What is it to practise the word in our lives?
A. It is to have a conversation becoming the gospel, Phil. 1:27; or to have both the outward and inward man regulated according to the unerring rule of the word, Psalm 119:105.
Q. 22. What does the right manner of reading and hearing of the word teach us?
A. That the bare outward performance of duty will not be acceptable to God, unless the heart is engaged in it, Isa. 29:13.