DON'T LOSE YOUR BIBLE
Have you lost your Bible? If a preacher came to your home and requested you to get your Bible for a religious discussion, could you find one? When you cannot locate your Bible in your home, you can rest assured that you have lost your Bible. People often lose their Bibles in the church building. God's book is often brought to the place of worship where it is left and never claimed by the owner. A little boy once took the Bible from the cente table and turning its dusty pages said, “Mother, is this God's book?” “Cer tainly,” was the good mother's reply. “Well, I think we had better send~it back to God, for we don't use it here.” In this case the Bible was lost even though it was in the home and in a well known location.
The Jewish nation lost the Bible more than once in its history. One of the most notable examples occurred in the days of King Josiah, one of the great kings of Israel. The story is told in 2 Chronicles 34:15—21. Housecleaning we.s going on in Jerusalem and the house that was being cleaned was the Temple of God. Among the rubbish discovered was a book which had been lost for so long that its message was in a large measure forgotten. Thiâ book that was lost and found was the Bible, the word of God, and the finding of it in the time of Josiah made a difference in the lives of them Who read it. A religious reformation was set in motion which restored the true worship of the Old Testament church. When God's word was found and read, a passover was observed the likes of which had not been seen in 400 yeats. During those days that the Bible was lost, sin weaved the whip which drOve Israel into captivity. In those days of a forgotten and lost Bible sin placed the bombs which in later years blasted the foundation from underneath the Jewish nation. Of course, the Bible which Josiah found in the temple was only a small fragment of the Bible we have today, but it was disastrous in its results. When the religion of Christ was established on earth in the first century, A.D., the apostles and other inspired writers added the 27 books of the New Testament to the 39 books of the Old Testament. The Bible is now complete, and the 66 books of the Bible are the only books in the world which should be accepted as the inspired word of God.
It is a fact of history that the early Christians also lost the Bible, and the result was a thousand years of religious ignorance and superstition. Historians have significantly called this period the Dark Ages, which extended from about 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. England, who gave the world the King James Vcrsion of the Bible, lost the Bible in the 18th century. English thinkers, called deists, denied the miracles of the Bible and rejected the Bible as an inspired revelation from God. The deists claimed that God works only through natural laws and never works by miracles. This idea swept all of England and the Bible was lost. For the most part, it has never been found to this day. France also lost the Bible during the time of the French Revolution in 1789. The French Revolution was to France what the war of independence was to America, and many of our early American leaders were influenced by French thoughts and ideas. The French rebelled against the tyranny of this state religion, nd in their rebellionthey wemt all the way to the freedom of atheism. There was an almost complete break with religion and their new religious ideas affected all nations, especially America. Before the outbeak of the
the French Revolution, France spent millions of dollars indocttinating her people with atheistic literature. They thought the Bible stood in the way of their progress and threw it overboard. Hence, the Bible came. in a very large measure, to be a lost book in France. But with the loss of the Bible they lost much besides. In addition, they lost that which made it possible for half the children of Paris for a time to be born out of wedlock. Furthermore, they lost that which made it possible for as high as ten thousand
new born babies to be fished out of the sewers in a single year. France has never rediscovered the Bible on any large scale. The liberalism of French, French, English, and German theologians who rejected the Bible as the one authoritative revelation of God, spread to America. Their religious thinking even to this day still influences most of the religious seminaries in America, and many religious groups are suffering from that liberalism today. The Bible became, for the most part, a lost book to nearly the whole world in the 18th century.
The greater part of all institutions of higher learning in America do not teach that the Bible is the inspired truth of the one true and living God. The over all result has been to make the Bible a lost book to the people of America. The benefits they receive from the Bible are indirect benefits, and most people no longer read it. God's book unused and unread has produced an appalling lack of Bible knowledge. In a Bible quiz, one group of school boys thought an epistle was the wife of an apostle, the tower of Babel was the place where Solomon kept his wives, and the Mosaic law was a law compelling people to have their floors laid with colored stones. Most people couldn't care less whether or not the Bible is a heaven sent message to earth.
The most effective of all ways to lose the Bible is not to read it. One of our Christian duties is to read the Bible. The Bible says in I Timothy 4:13, “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” Jesus~wes displeased with people who did not read the scriptures. One of his favorite expressions was, “Have youe not read this scripture?” (Mark 12:10) In response to a question, Jesus once said, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?"(Luke 10:26) The Lord taught that each one of us has the personal responsibility to read and study the scriptures. God commanded every king of Israel to acquire a copy of the scriptures and said in Deuteronomy 17:19, “And it shell be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep all the words of this law and these statutes to do them.” However, it ij important to know that the Bible cannot be read as other books and cannot be read like you read a newspaper. There is much in print that requires little more than rudimentary skill to read, but the Bible is a special book which took 1500 years to write; and the result is that it is a book which never had to be written again. It is always contemporary and readable by everyone at every level of intelligence.
Everyone has heard of the “Three R's”: Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic, but have you heard of the three K's,” the three guiding principles of good Bible reading? The first one is “Keep Awake”. This involves more than keeping your eyes open and remaining more or less conscious with the Bible open in your hand. When reading the Bible it is important to keep your mind open and actively at work in the process of learning. The more active you are in your reading, the more you stand to learn. One reason we do not remember more of what we read is because we permit our minds to wander. As we read, we think about something else instead of concentrating on what we are reading. When it comes to Bible reading, everything else must be shut out. The more you put your mind into the Bible, the more your mind takes from it. Mental drowsiness in reading the Bible or hearing it preached can have some strange results. A man was once reading the Bible publicly in a religious service. He read Matthew 20:23,24 like this, “And he saith unto them, You shall drink indeed of my cup, end be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:
but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." And when the ten heard it, they were moved with ‘indigestion&' against the two brethren “ The Bible actually says, “They were moved with 'indignation' against the twe brethren.” Indigestion is a stomach disorder. The apostles were indignant or angry with James and John for requesting a place of special honor in the kingdom of Christ.
In a Bible class where people were reading verses of scripture, one man was reading from the book of Ruth in the Bible. His verses had the name Boaz several times, and this man was the husband of Ruth the chief character in the book. Each time he read this man's name he called him Bozo instead of Boaz. Bozo is a name we have given to a dog. If we ~o not keep mentally alert when we read the Bible, we may get the wrong idea altogether. A man in Fort Worth, Texas, went soundly asleep during the sermon at an evening service. While the man was asleep, an electrical storm came up and the lights went out. He happened to wake up while the lights were out, and it was a startling experience. He thought his brethren had gone home and left him asleep in the building. Angrily he blurted out loud, “They've gone off and locked me in this building.” It was a little embarrassing when the lights came back on. Of course, I realize that some must work nightshifts and may nod during a sermon from a lack of sleep, and people are to be commended for coming to worship without sufficient sleep. Nevertheless, the learning process requires mental alertness in religion as in other subjects. One way to keep mentally alert when reading the Bible is to ask questions while you read. Ask questions which you yourself try to answer in the cOurse of the reading. For example, you may ask, “What is he saying here”?. Or, “What does he mean?” Or, “What is the point”? Another sign of mental alertness in Bible reading is to mark your Bible or jot notes on a pad. Readinc>. if active, is thinking and thinking tends to express itself in words spoken or written. The individual who marks or writes in his books is reluctant to part with them. A marked Bible is a kind of intellectual diary and to pernut someone else to use it is like giving one's mind away.
The second “K” in effective Bible reading is “Keep Noving” In reading God's word, we must be prepared for a basic change in our reading habits. You must not expect to understand the Bible either perfectly or completely on the first reading. One should be satisfied to learn a little, become acquainted with an unfamiliar idea, and come to know a few of the great• characters in the Bible narrative. You should be pleased, if in addition, you have formed some definite impressions of the things which keep us seeking because we do not understand them. The familiar rule that a reader should not go on to the next page until he has mastered this one, does not apply to the Bible. In fact, the rule to follow is just the opposite. Read the Bible right through even though much remains obscure or incompletely grasped on the first reading. What is unclear in some of the parts will become more clear in the light of the whole. What is understood will become the basis for a second and more profitable reading later. The books of the Bible are engaged in something like a conversation with one another. For example, the tree of life is lost to the human race in the first book of the Bible, but is restored in the last book of the Bible. In Gcnesis 22:18 God made the promise to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” This verse is not cleared up until you get to the book of Galatians in the New Testament where it is said that Jesus Christ was this promised seed or descendant of Abraham who has blessed all the nations of the earth (Galatians 3:16). Three of mankind' greatest questions are answered in different books of the Bible. he question, “Where did I come from”?, is answered in Genesis 10:2—5. Everyone alive today came from one of three men: Shem, Ham, or Japheth. If you are a Jew, you came from Shen, your earliest descendant. If you are Gentile you came from Japheth, who is your earliest ancestor. Another great question is, “What am I here for?” The answer is found in the book of Ecciesiastes 12:13, “Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” The purpose of life to keep the commandments of God, and the New Testament affirms the same in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The question, Where am I goinç? is answered in John 5:28,2 where Jesus said some of the human race will be raised from the dead to everlasting life and some to a resurrection of damnation. In reading the Bible, keep moving and the reading of one book in the Bible makes the reading of another book easier.
The third and final rule of effective Bible reading is, "Keep Practicing." Like any other skill the art of Bible reading is acquired by hard work. Wet do not increase skill by doing the same simple things over and over again, but by putting our efforts into doing harder and more complicated things. It requires hard work and long hours of practice to learn how to dribble a basketball without looking at it. It requires diligent practice to make free throws consistently. In Bible reading, as in everything else, practic makes perfect.
And now for a final word. How would you like to be able to say that you have read the Bible completely through. I wonder how many of you listening have read the Bible from cover to cover? If you have, I would like to compliment you for an achievement that relatively few have accomplished. A Christian should not go to the grave who has not read the Bible through. Mark Twain once said, “The great books are the books that everybody wants to have read but nobody wants to read.” This is a very witty remark but is about as true as saying that wealth is something everybody wants to have, but nobody wants to work for. And that is the way it is with the Bible. Everybody would like to have read it but few want to do the work of reading it. Fortunately for the human race, a large percentage of mankind is willing to work for what they want, be it material wealth or the treasures of the mind. Otherwise, we would not now have even the simplest conveniences or the rudiments of civilization and culture. It is a relatively simple thing to read the Bible through if you are willing to work at it.
The Bible is such a large book that to sit down and read it at one sitting would be an impossible task. But there is a simple method which requires little time and effort. You can read the Bible through in one year if you are willing to use a little organization in your life. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible, 929 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament. By simply approaching this problem a day at a time, you can reed the Bible through by reading 3 chapters a day and 5 chapters on Sunday. That is all it takes. Three chapters every day for six days and 5 chapters on Sunday. More to be prized than the discovery of gold mines and oil wells is the disovery of the Bible by an individual or a nation for the first time or the recovery of it after it has been for some time lost. See to it that you do not allow the Bible to become for you a lost book. You need it in the morning time of life to keep you from sin. You also need it in the strain and stress of life's middle passage. And finally, you will need this book to be your staff when you are doing the toilsome journey on the last mile.