By Stephen Green
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
I hope we can take it as a given that every Christian wants to know more of the Lord. Especially in prayer our desire should be to pray with the mind of God. The Apostle Paul claimed to have the mind of Christ. It is tempting to think from the use of the word ‘we’ that all Christians of whatever level of spiritual maturity have the mind of Christ.
However, that apparently did not apply to the church in Corinth. In the very next chapter the Apostle upbraids them for being carnal rather than spiritual. They had some way to go before they would have the mind of Christ. Clearly there are no shortcuts to the throne-room.
Conditions to Be Met
The Lord Jesus laid down a number of conditions which need to be met before prayer will be answered in the exact way hoped when it was made. One of these conditions is given in the verse above: ‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you.’
Prayer at its best is a two way street. We set out our needs before the Lord and attend to his response. But there are occasions when we cry to the Lord for a particular outcome, and on those occasions especially we need to be praying with the mind of God himself lest we ask amiss, as the Apostle James puts it (Jas 4:3).
So I want to suggest that the place to find the mind of God is quite simply in the word of God. And since our Lord Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the mind of God is the mind of Christ and the word of God is the word of Christ. Now we can bring the words with which we opened from first Corinthians and the Gospel of John together. Having the mind of Christ is the same thing as abiding in him and having his words abiding in us.
Prosperity and Success for the Lord
Turning to the quote from the book of Joshua, we all want to be prosperous and successful. But the context is that Joshua had a job to do. He had been commissioned by the Lord to take the people of Israel into the promised land. And he was successful at it precisely because the book of the law did not depart out of his mouth. He meditated therein and then did exactly what he had been told to do.
It is interesting to note that the ‘book of the law’ was Joshua’s Bible. All he had was the five books of Moses. With our complete revelation, we should do a lot better, although we have more to read and more to meditate in. However, by using the Christian Voice Bible reading plan it is possible to read right through the Bible in one year with a time investment of less than 20 minutes per day.
More of that later, but the point I’m trying to make is that Scripture is teaching us that only by knowing the word of God, meditating in it, and having it never far from our mouths will we know the mind of God well enough to make our prayers heard, our way prosperous and our doings for the Lord successful.
Revelation of the Spirit
A couple of verses earlier in his letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote:
1Cor 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
We see here that to have the mind of Christ on any given subject we must not just search the Holy Scriptures but also listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through them. The Holy Spirit has to soften our hearts and illuminate our minds to make us receptive to the word of God. Too often we have baggage from the world which has to be cast off to make way for the spirit of God:
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Just before his famous word about how the Lord Jesus humbled himself to become one of us, the Apostle Paul wrote:
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
For the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Biblical witness, we need to humble our hearts as Jesus humbled himself for us. There is no point reading the word of God only to dismiss it as irrelevant or not in accordance with our preconceptions or experiences or an inward voice or a dream we just had or the spirit of the age. If we filter the Scriptures through our own sinful prejudices we shall never have the mind of Christ. We need instead to filter our prejudices through the Scriptures and receive the whole counsel of God in humility.
The Power of the Word of God
There is power in the Scriptures which we can only dimly discern. The Lord Jesus refuted the suggestions of Satan through his knowledge of the Scriptures, in point of fact through verses from the book of Deuteronomy. Satan was sent away with his tail between his legs.
At other times in his ministry, our Lord took those who were contending with him right back to the scriptures:
Matt 12:5 Have ye not read in the law?
Matt 19:4 Have ye not read?
Matt 21:16 Have ye never read?
Mark 12:10 And have ye not read this scripture?
Mark 12:26 Have ye not read in the book of Moses?
Luke 6:3 Have ye not read so much as this?
The Prophet Isaiah wrote this:
Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Word of God in our mouth
Joshua was told that the book of the Law should not depart out of his mouth. It seems a curious expression. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews recalls Jeremiah’s word from the Lord; ‘I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people’ (Heb 8:10 cf Jer 31:33).
We are rather more used to the word of God being in our minds and our hearts than in our mouths. Isaiah too speaks of a people who keep the law of God in their hearts, and he gives them a promise which we shall gratefully receive:
Isa 51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
But the word of God being in our mouths? What is that about? Is it something to do with the great Hebrew word, the Shema of Deuteronomy?
Deut 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Speaking and Praying the Word
Teaching and talking constantly of the scriptures, about the scriptures, sharing and discussing the things of God, or being ‘ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear’ (1Peter 3:15). Having the word of God so close to our mouths that we are as ready to give an answer to unbelievers as our Lord was to Satan only comes from studying the Scriptures and meditating prayerfully, just as Joshua was instructed.
Paul told the Ephesian elders:
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
A lifetime of study, prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was behind that assertion.
There is another place where the Scriptures can usefully be in our mouths, and that is in the place of prayer. It is good to pray the words of God, firstly because there is no better way to be in agreement with God than by praying the word of God. The Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer, Jeremiah’s Lamentations, all these are powerful prayers straight from the mind of God. Secondly, in prayer for a specific matter, it is good to remind the Lord of his word in Scripture. ‘Lord, your word says …’ And how shall we do any of this except by knowing his word in the first place?
Read the Whole Bible Next Year
I just hope and pray that each of our members will begin really to get into the Bible; and perhaps the best time to start doing that will be on New Year’s Day.
Our Lamplight Bible reading plan was one of the first things we published when Christian Voice was formed fifteen years ago. We published it out of a simple desire to help our members read the word of God, so they could discern the will of God and pray with the mind of God.
What makes the Lamplight Plan different is that we read two chapters of the Old Testament with a chapter or part of a chapter of the New Testament on each day. The Old Testament is chronological, with the Prophets set in their context. The order of the New Testament is theological so we start with the Gospel of Luke, follow that with Acts, and end up in John’s Gospel, letters and Revelation. Unlike some other reading plans, no Scripture except John 1:1-18 is repeated, and Psalms and Wisdom words are interspersed through the year, often alongside relevant OT or NT Scriptures. So the Lamplight Plan is as good for reading through the Bible the first time or the twenty-first.
The Lamplight plan begins in January and now is the ideal time to place an order for yourself or for a friend or relative. For only £1.50 and a time investment of just twenty minutes a day, you will read the whole Bible through in one year and become daily more acquainted with the mind of Christ. What is there not to like in that?
Order Lamplight now on the resources order form!