William J. Stewart
Looking across my bookshelf, I see many books containing various forms of valuable information. There are some ‘inspirational’ writings by well esteemed authors encouraging us to rely upon the all-powerful Author above. There are resources such as sermon outline books, ready for use when and if the need occurs. There are volumes of great information concerning the Scriptures; Bible encyclopaedias, Bible handbooks, Map and Chart books, surveys, concordances, and much more. Many publications of Webster’s adorn my bookcase, dictionaries and thesaurus’. But there is one book that does not have a place on my bookshelf. Not that it is not worthy of a place, for if it desired one, I would remove all else for it. Yet, the Writer of this book desires that it never end up on a bookcase. The title on the cover of the book — HOLY BIBLE.
All too often, the Bible finds itself within the confines of a bookcase, surrounded by other books which pale in comparison as far as importance. The saddest sight I have ever envisioned was that of a Bible sitting on a shelf covered in dust. We tend to be too careful with our Bibles. We avoid overuse, wanting to be sure that the golden lined pages remain such. We cringe at the thought of the cover on our Bible having any blemish. The bindings are treated with great care, lest they should break. And as far as those who would dare to use their pens and pencils, high-lighters and such within its pages — how bold can one be!
Our concept of a quality copy of the word of God is inaccurate. We like seeing the crisp pages and the flawless workings of the manufacturers. A glistening cover, trimmed to perfection. Yet there is a problem. The only way that a book can thus remain is by not using it. We need to pick the book up. We need to read it. We didn’t purchase it on account of the beautiful workings of the manufacturers, it was for the wonderful workings of God which are found inside. Read it! Put notes in the columns. Highlight! Underline! The Psalmist wrote, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” We cannot write the word of God upon our hearts until we have picked it up and spent some time in it. Paul told Timothy to “…study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We need to get into the word, and thus, we will profit greatly.
Many a sermon has passed over pulpits to ready listeners with little reference to the Scriptures. Lessons that many preachers put forth are bursting at the seams with personal examples, fables, illustrations, wise sayings… but where is the word of God? Peter writes, “…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…” If within the Scriptures we are given the things profitable for life, most importantly, a godly life, then by all means, let us fill our speech with such.
We must discover the significance of the word of God. Note why some of the writers of the New Testament books wrote:
- The gospel according to John says, “…these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
- Jude records, “…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith…”
- The first epistle of John declares, “…these things we write to you that your joy may be full…” and “…these things I write to you, so that you may not sin…”
- Peter affirms, “…I now write to you…that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”
- Paul relates to Timothy, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
These writers found it necessary to write. We should find their writings necessary to read, to study, to meditate upon, to put into practice. Paul assured Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We cannot expect to be the people of God without using His word.
Have you ever bought a desk or some item which required you to set it up? Inside the packaging, you will find that the product comes complete with instructions on how to assemble it. I’m sure that I am not along in saying, “I should have used the instructions from the start.” Much time and energy can be wasted in putting a unit together without heeding the instructions. Parts are put where they don’t fit. Extra pieces still lie on the floor once you’ve finished. You stand back to admire your work, and it crumbles to the floor. “I SHOULD HAVE USED THE INSTRUCTIONS!”
There is a certain way to build a desk, a bookcase, or whatever it might be that you have bought. The enclosed instructions reveal the plans. A Christian life is much the same. We try to make it by ourselves. “I know how to do it,” we declare. And things continually crumble to the ground. A word of advice — refer to the instructions. The word of God is a guide book for the soul. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for … instruction in righteousness…” God hasn’t left us to attempt on our own to determine what we should do. He’s given us a guide which “…pertains to life and godliness…”
The title for this article is from the letter of James. He pens, “Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word…” James implores us to leave the things of this world behind. He wants us to die to ourselves, and thus yield our own will to the will of the Father of spirits. Why James? “…Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
May our Bibles be tattered and torn by hour upon hour, day upon day, year upon year of use. May we daily consult the instructions by which we can live the godly life in Christ Jesus. May our bookshelves never have room for a Bible to sit for very long, but may the immense corridors of our heart always be ready to receive the words of life.