Shall We Send It Back
A lad of seven years took the Bible one day from the library table in his home and asked, "Is this God's Book, Mother?" "Certainly It is," was her reply. "Well," continued the lad, "don't you think we might as well send It back to God? We don't use It here, do we?" This incident may cause us to smile, but it reveals a sad and vital lack of reading the Bible. Whatever may be one's views of the Bible, there are many sound reasons for reading It. We need to read It because It is:
The Book of Life
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). When we try to "live by bread alone," we feed the body but starve the soul. A short time ago a man died of starvation in Olympia, Washington. After his death it was discovered that he had $38,000 on deposit in local banks. He never referred to his money, even when physicians were seeking to check the ravages of malnutrition. He let his body starve with plenty on hand to feed him. Maybe you, my reader, are letting your soul starve, although the Word of God is at hand to provide you with life-giving spiritual food. John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said, "For years I have read my Bible through once a year. I read It every morning, as the very best way to begin the day."
Perhaps you think you have not time to read the Bible every day. A man once made this excuse to D. L. Moody. He answered, "My friend, if you are too busy to read the Bible every day you are busier than Almighty God ever intended any human being should be, and you had better let some things go and take time to read the Bible." With almost every kind of machine goes a book of instructions. The Bible is the Book that goes with man. Think of it-having sixteen waking hours every day to travel the highway of life, and no time to read the Guide Book! Then how can we expect to follow the right road and escape the bypaths and pitfalls? No wonder so many "wrecks" are strewn along life's highway. William E. Gladstone, England's great prime minister and Christian statesman, often came home from Parliament very late at night. But no matter how late, he arose at 6:30 in the morning and gave the first hour of every day to reading the Word of God and to prayer. He said, "Talk about the questions of the time! There is but one question-how to bring the truths of God's Word, the Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture, into vital contact with the minds and hearts of all classes of people."
If we neglect to read the Bible, we are missing the best things in life. Earthly things do not satisfy the heart. The Bible is the Book of the heart. It shows us how we may possess and enjoy real life. A worthwhile life, and satisfaction in life, are found by reading and receiving the Word of Life into our hearts. "The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Woodrow Wilson said, "I am sorry for the men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and of the pleasure." On another occasion he wrote, "The Bible is the Word of Life. I beg that you will read It and find this out for yourself-read, not only little snatches here and there, but long passages that will really be the road to the heart of It." And he continued, "When you have read the Bible, you will know that It is the Word of God because you will have found It the key to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty."
The Bible covers the whole range of human life. It follows us to the lowest depths and leads us to the highest heights. It tells us about real men and women and reveals God in relation to human life. Herbert Hoover said, "The study of this Book (the Bible) ... is a post-graduate course in the richest library of human experience." A leading educator stated, "I would rather have my son acquainted with the Bible and ignorant of all other literature than to have him acquainted with all other literature and ignorant of the Bible."
"There's just one Book for life's gladness;
One Book for the toilsome days;
One Book that can cure life's madness;
One Book that can voice life's praise.
There's just one Book!"
We need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Light
"The entrance of Thy Words giveth light" (Psa. 119:130). Life is full of perplexities. There are so many things about which we want light. The Bible gives us the light we need. It enlightens us as to the origin, purpose, problems and destiny of life. Like the bright sun in the heavens, the Bible shines through the fog of human speculations, bringing light and warmth to all who will receive Its beneficent rays. "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17) is the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Bible. Much that is called light is gross darkness. "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20). The Bible gives us the true light about God, about ourselves, about the future of the world and the future life as well as about the problems of sin, suffering and the way of salvation.
"A glory gilds the sacred page,
Majestic like the sun:
It gives a light to every age;
It gives, but borrows none!"
We need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Salvation
"The Holy Scriptures ... are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). The Lord Jesus Christ made the way of salvation very simple when He said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in" (Rev. 3:20). The very moment we open the door of our hearts by believing on Him, He will come in, and we will be saved. But until we yield our wills to His loving holy will and receive Him as our personal Savior, we are eternally lost. There is no other way of salvation. Read John 14:6 and Acts 4:12.
"How can I look on Calvary's Cross,
And see my Savior there
With outstretched arms the world to save
My sins Himself to bear?
How contemplate, and yet withstand
Such love as He has shown,
Who died to draw the sinner near,
And claim him for His own?"
The story is told of a man who had never read the Bible. One day he got hold of a Bible and began to read It. Soon he exclaimed to his wife, "If this Book is true, we are lost!" Then he read on and not long afterward shouted joyfully to his wife, "If this Book is true, we can be saved!" And they opened the door of their hearts and received the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved. Will you, my friend, do the same thing just now, right where you are? God grant it. You will then be a babe in Christ and need to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Spiritual Growth
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Christians cannot grow without food. God's Word is the food. And it is a great day when "baby" learns to feed himself. Many who have been Christians for years have never learned to feed themselves from God's Word. How tragic! Listening to sermons, attending Bible classes and reading good books and articles cannot take the place of personal feeding on the Word of God. We cannot thrive unless we get spiritual strength every day from God through His Word. God's heart is sad because so many of His children do not feed on His Word and grow.
Prayer is not a substitute for reading the Word of God. When we pray, we talk to God. And when we read God's Word, He talks to us. Of the two, it is more important that God speak to us. First read the Word, then pray. God's Word will give us the desire to pray and matter for praise and for petition. What we read in the Bible yesterday, or a while ago, will not give us the spiritual strength we need today any more than the physical food we ate yesterday will give us sufficient bodily strength for today. We take time every day to feed our bodies, which are temporal. Dare we fail to take time every day to feed our souls, which are eternal? Is that good judgment? Why not take Job's attitude? He said, "I have esteemed the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12). Resolve that you will not take time to feed your body unless you will also take time to feed your soul. If you will do that, you will find time for both. Satan hates to have us read the Word and does everything he can to block it. You be as persistent in taking time to read God's Word as Satan is in trying to hinder you, and God will help you. Set aside a regular time each day, and hold sacred your appointment with God. Ask God to make you hungry for His Word. "For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (Psa. 107:9). The more you read God's Word the more you will come to love It. You will find It not only food, but rich dessert! You will say with David, "How sweet are Thy Words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Psa. 119:103). As we pursue our pilgrim journey, we need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Comfort and Hope
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). Although the world outlook may be dark, friends may fail and earthly things in which we trusted may crash around us, yet, if we are right with God, all will be well with us. And as we read the Word of God, rejoice in His loving, all-wise will and trust Him, we will learn patience and receive comfort. We will also have a true and inspiring hope: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
How to Enjoy the Bible
"Thy Words were found, and I did eat Them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy Name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jer. 15:16). Many people do not even read the Bible. Some read It but do not study the Bible. If we let the Bible go through our minds like water through a sieve, It will not do us much good. We need to study God's Word carefully (read 2 Tim. 2:15). And it is possible to both read and study the Bible and yet not "eat" the Word of God. To "eat" the Word means to meditate upon It (chew It), to ponder its message to our own heart (digest It) and to apply It to our own life (live It). Do you know what it is to "eat" the Word of God? God grant that you may. It will then be the joy and rejoicing of your heart. Read the Bible book by book. While each book has a distinct message, they form a marvelous unity. Avoid the "grasshopper" method of skipping about here and there. In each chapter of the book you are reading, find and write down in a notebook three things: first, the main subject; second, the best lesson for your own heart; and third, the best verse if you could have but one. Memorize this verse. Read the Bible through again and again.
"There's a Man in It!"
Two little sisters were trying to put together a cardboard puzzle map of the United States. It was cut up into odd shapes. They were getting discouraged. Suddenly the older sister turned a piece over and saw on it part of a man's nose. On the back of another piece she saw part of a man's ear. "There's a man in it!" she exclaimed. They knew what a man's face looked like and soon put the pieces together correctly. Then their father turned the whole puzzle over for them, and there was the map of the United States. The Bible is a puzzle to many because they do not realize that "There's a Man in It," even the Lord Jesus Christ. He said the whole Bible was about Himself. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). To understand the Bible, we need to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and look for Him everywhere in His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to take the things of Christ and show them unto you. May our desire be:
"More about Jesus in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine."
D.L. Moody wrote on the fly-leaf of his Bible these words: "This book will keep me from sin, and sin will keep me from this Book." That is a true statement. The habit of reading God's Word daily will do more for the stability, purity, peace, joy and fruitfulness of the life of a Christian than any other one thing. And many unsaved ones have been led to accept Christ by reading His Word. My friend, is He your Savior? If so, is He the Lord of your life? If so, can you say,
"Holy Bible, Book Divine,
Precious Treasure, Thou are mine"?
The Bible becomes ours, not by merely owning a copy, but by storing It in our mind and heart. Read It now, while you can. What a tragedy to grow old without Christ, or, if saved, to know only meagerly the treasures of God's Word. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col. 3:16). When this heavenly treasure, the Bible, is really ours, we will value the Words of God as did David, when he said, "More to be desired are They than gold, yea, than much fine gold" (Psa. 19:10). Gold cannot buy happiness, but God gives us abiding happiness through His Word.