THE BIBLE IS A DEMANDING BOOK
Clem Thurman (via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 28, No. 24)
[Reprinted with permission]
“Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day …Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:97,105). The great books of history, language, mathematics, arts, philosophy, sciences, etc., are the source of man’s education. Through reading, we are able to improve the quality of life and also the quality of living. Not only schools and libraries, but homes, need good books that will cause us to think, plan and improve.
But there is another book, far more vital to our welfare than any of those. It is unique, it has stood the test of centuries, it deals with matters that are eternal. It is the Bible. We read of it in 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired of God.” And of that message, Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 2:13, “When ye received the word of the message, even the word of God, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” The Bible, composed of sixty-six books, is really only one book, for God is the author. It is His word. And while other books may be optional, the Bible is a demanding book. Let us look at its demands.
The Bible Demands That It Be Read
We may get by without reading some books, but the Bible demands we read it. “As I wrote afore in few words; whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). As the Jews listened to “the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day” (Acts 13:27), so must we read the inspired word today. The letters written by the apostle Paul were to be read to the churches (Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27). It is the only way that people could benefit from the Scriptures.
Jesus pointed out the only access to the Father in John 6:44-45, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:44-45). That is the reason why we should “search the Scriptures daily” and “study to show thyself approved unto God” (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15). For any who would find the purpose of life, and eternity, the Bible demands that it be read.
The Bible Demands That It Be Believed
With most books, it doesn’t really matter whether or not you believe them. But the Bible demands we believe it! “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God …Without faith it is impossible to please him …If you don’t believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:6; John 8:24). Only through the word is faith possible, and the word is written to produce faith in us: “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31).
The apostle showed the importance of the Scriptures in Rom. 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” The power of God is channeled to us through the gospel, and we can receive that power only when we believe that gospel. That is why Paul wrote that the word “worketh in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13) and we are chosen to salvation through “belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). In Heb. 4:2 we read of Israel, “The word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard.” And the same principle is true today: the Bible will profit no one until that person believes it.
The Bible Demands That It Be Obeyed
If a student does not do what the book tells him, he may flunk the course. But the Bible is the book by which we all shall be judged (John 12:48), and it demands that we obey. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:22, “Ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth.” Christ is said to be “the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). And Jesus said in Matt. 7:21, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The Bible points out, from Genesis (2:17) to Revelation (22:14), the necessity of obeying the commandments contained in it.
The Bible principle is very simple: “hear and do.” God says, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves” (Jas. 1:22). When people trust and love the Lord, it is so simple: “If ye love my, ye will keep my commandments …He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me …If a man love me, he will keep my word” (John 14:15,21,23). But what if one refuses to do what the Bible demands? “And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
The Bible Demands That It Be Lived
Many men have written books that advise people how to live, some promise peace and some happiness. But the Bible doesn’t offer advice, it demands that we mold our lives by its teaching: for peace, happiness and eternal salvation. In Rom. 1:16-17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel …therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.” That book not only tells us how to live but why!
Some books of man advise, “Do what brings you pleasure.” But the Bible makes strong demands: “Instructing us, to the intent that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12). Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, without sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). When we apply ourselves to the study of the Bible, with the will to do what we learn, we “are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). Only by meeting the demands the Bible makes can we become like Jesus Christ.
The Bible Demands That It Be Defended
Some argue that the truth needs no defense. But that has never been true. Truth is truth, whether or not it is defended, but its effect can be nullified without defense. Someone has said, “Tell a lie often enough and it will be believed.” Paul wrote of gospel truth, “I am set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:16). If ever there was a book worthy of defense, it is the Bible. The apostle wrote, “The gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you” (1 Cor. 15:1-2). And when some questioned Paul’s credentials as an apostle, he said, “My defense to them that examine me is this …” (1 Cor. 9:3). He never hesitated to defend the gospel, nor his right to deliver the gospel to others.
The Lord knew there would be false teachers who would try to destroy the saving power of the gospel. Thus did He worn: “Beware of false prophets …Believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (Matt. 7:15; 1 John 4:1). The only standard by which to test them is the Bible (Acts 17:11). As Paul wrote, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Error believed brings condemnation, just as truth believed will bring salvation. So the admonition is given, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The Bible Demands That It Be the Sole Authority
With scientific questions, there are often widely differing authorities quoted. This results in several “theories of evolution,” all different; and differing theories in nearly every field of science. But in the realm of religion, the Bible demands that it be the sole authority. Not me, not you – the Bible! The warning is given in 2 John 9, “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God.” The warning again in Gal. 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed.” When people in Corinth were following after men, instead of seeking Christ first, they were censured severely for it. Then the apostle said, “These things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written” (1 Cor. 4:6).
The sufficiency of the Bible is clearly shown in 2 Tim. 3:16-17, “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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” If the Scriptures do that, what would be the need for some other book to guide us in our spiritual lives? If we are interested in life, and things that pertain to God, then we must go to the Bible: “His divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain to life and to godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Everything that we need to know, everything God wants us to know, is in the Bible.
The Bible is truly a demanding book. And it will endure: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35), and “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48), and “The word of the Lord abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:25). The Bible! Give yourself to its study, mold your life by it, and it will be to you “the power of God unto salvation.” Then the demands the Bible makes of you will be worth it, as you live in faith and hope of that eternity with the Saviour!