You who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written - God made man for fellowship and the enjoyment of himself. To this end he disclosed himself through his presence, actions, and speech. Holy Scripture is the record and continuing means of his self revelation. Inspired information, images, impressions, and insights are preserved in the miraculous Book of God and are available to those whom he illuminates with his heavenly truth, which he transmits to us through guided human thought and language. The work of the Holy Spirit within the human authors ensures that the words of men constitute the Word of God. Individual understanding and style characterize the Bible as human, but the cause of Sacred Scripture, and guarantee of its trustworthiness, are found in God, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” 2 Peter 1:21). Habitual intimacy with Scripture verifies this fact. The same Spirit who moved its writers moves reliant readers to the overwhelming conviction that they are reading and hearing the Word of God through the presence and influence of the Spirit of God himself. The contact is personal, poignant, and powerful. The Book in one’s hand is alive in one’s heart. It’s message is understood and felt.
for our instruction - Instruction is the answer to our ignorance and God’s inscrutability. How could the inwardly blind ascend to knowledge of the utterly sublime? It could only be through the condescension and gracious communication of the mind of God to the minds of men. The true knowledge of the Lord must come from above. It is not within the reach of man. We have to listen humbly to the Lord and pray that he will come to us in his word and teach us through it. Our attitude and approach are expressions of total dependence and earnest longing to know him. We only discover what he divulges.
Help us so to hear them - “Help” is the first word on our lips as we open the Scriptures. Arrogant reliance on our acumen and expertise is excluded from the start. There is no study akin to Bible study. It combines spiritual and intellectual exercises and not only the use of a keen mind but also a clean heart. God must attune both to himself with a sweet submissiveness to his wisdom which cannot be fathomed by ours. When we take his word in our hands we hand ourselves over to him for his word of rebuke which works repentance, his word of promise which works faith, and his word of enrichment which brings strength and joy. “Help” is the frank admission of our helplessness and the key to his effectual aid. Every collect in the BCP conforms to Augustinian train of thought in that we are completely dependent on prevenient grace. “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’” (sovereign determination, see Matt 11:25-26). No wonder the Lord Jesus advised, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). The gift of hearing is a divine prerogative and inestimable human privilege.
to read, note, learn, and inwardly digest them - These words emphasis the active and earnest way in which we take up and take in the Word of God. It is no casual occupation. Focus on the Word is not a hurried glance but a sustained gaze. A swift and superficial relationship with the Bible is spiritually hazardous and a hindrance to faith for thoughtful folk who witness the crassness that often passes for Christianity. Our refusal to chew meat in terms of doctrine causes outsiders to conclude that we actually imbibe sour milk. Slick “texting”, citing passages of Scripture without regard to Biblical context and the depth of its content, attracts ridicule rather than respect. We read searchingly and lingeringly, we hold words and concepts in our minds, probing them with honest and open enquiry, we learn, actually bow before the Word, rather than manipulate or presuppose the text, and then we ponder, reflect, and ruminate in prayerful meditation on specific assertions with an appreciation of their place in the whole spectrum of revelation. Our subjectivity is haughty and selective, attempting to take control of Scripture according to ingrained and often undetected bias. The Word commands our humility and assent.
that by patience and comfort of your holy Word, - We are inclined to rush towards results when God would have us rest in the results he would achieve at his own pace. Waiting on the Lord is not an excuse for apathy but an “active” anticipation of divine possibilities suggested by his promises. We linger in his sure fulfilment of his sovereign purposes but also lean forward in stimulative trust. The Word affords the believer consolation and encouragement.
we may forever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, - The goal of Scripture is not short term gratification and success in this life but the attainment of heaven and its glories through sanctification and suffering on earth by the divine enabling and constant manifestation of his faithfulness. God grants us his effort to “hold fast” to the pledge he has made to us. Grace always generates energy in the direction of seeking God and serving him with an inner urgency. It is not simply external busyness (about which we may boast) but interior resolve to be truly godly in ways that are instinctive but not advertised (Lord, when did we...? (Matt 24:37ff).
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. – In the whole matter of our redemption and restoration to God, from preparation to full possession of salvation, everything that happens for us and within us is a gift of God and through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. His is the action, externally and internally, that saves us, and there is no contribution from us. Even our necessary co-operation is caused and continued by him. God works for, on, and in us. It is comprehensively an accomplishment of grace. We are his workmanship from plan to product. His love was fixed upon us from eternity and fills us from the moment of our calling. Man does not will or work until God creatively lays his hand upon him and moulds him once again in the divine likeness, the image of Jesus Christ. We are inert until he enlivens us and implants his eternal life within us.