George Whitefiled was a man of God who lived from 1714 to 1770. Here is an excerpt from his classic sermon “The Duty of Searching the Scriptures.” As you read it, let the Holy Spirit you the importance of the Spirit and the Word working together in your life, for this is the only way that we can be balanced Christians who avoid doctrinal error. Without further ado, here’s the promised excerpt:
Our blessed Lord, though he was the eternal God, yet as man, he made the scriptures his constant rule and guide. And therefore, when he was asked by the lawyer, which was the great commandment of the law, he referred him to his Bible for an answer, “What readest thou?” And thus, when led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, he repelled all his assaults, with “it is written.” A sufficient confutation this, of their opinion, who say, “the Spirit only, and not the Spirit by the Word, is to be our rule of action.” If so, our Savior, who had the Spirit without measure, needed not always have referred to the written word. But how few copy after the example of Christ? How many are there who do not regard the word of God at all, but throw the sacred oracles aside, as an antiquated book, fit only for illiterate men? Such do greatly err, not knowing what the scriptures are… Have Christ, then, always in view when you are reading the word of God, and this, like the star in the east, will guide you to the Messiah, will serve as a key to every thing that is obscure, and unlock to you the wisdom and riches of all the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
Search the scriptures with an humble child-like disposition.
For whosoever does not read them with this temper, shall in no wise enter into the knowledge of the things contained in them. For God hides the sense of them, from those that are wise and prudent in their own eyes, and reveals them only to babes in Christ: who think they know nothing yet as they ought to know; who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and humbly desire to be fed with the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.
Search the scriptures, with a sincere intention to put in practice what you read.
A desire to do the will of God is the only way to know it; if any man will do my will, says Jesus Christ, “He shall know of my doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” As he also speaks in another place to his disciples, “To you, (who are willing to practice your duty) it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to those that are without (who only want to raise cavils against my doctrine) all these things are spoken in parables, that seeing they may see and not understand, and hearing they may hear and not perceive.”
In order to search the scriptures still more effectually, make an application of every thing you read to your own hearts.
For whatever was written in the book of God, was written for our learning. And what Christ said unto those aforetime, we must look upon as spoken to us also: for since the holy scriptures are nothing but a revelation from God, how fallen man is to be restored by Jesus Christ: all the precepts, threats, and promises, belong to us and to our children, as well as to those, to whom they were immediately made known.
Let me advise you, before you read the scriptures, to pray, that Christ, according to his promise, would send his Spirit to guide you into all truth; intersperse short ejaculations whilst you are engaged in reading; pray over every word and verse, if possible; and when you close up the book, most earnestly beseech God, that the words which you have read, may be inwardly engrafted into your hearts, and bring forth in you the fruits of a good life.
You can read the Whitefield’s class sermon at this site. If you are in the prophetic ministry, you may want to take note of my books, “The Heart of the Prophetic” and “A Prophet’s Heart” so you can learn more about the particular deceptions you’ll face in your calling—and how to avoid them.