Search The Scriptures
By Lois J. Stucky
In the state of Alabama, a judge ordered that public school students in his district could not pray, talk about their faith, quote Scripture, let alone read it, or express their religious faith in high school graduation programs. The case was appealed to the 11th Circuit Court. There it was successfully argued by Christian Attorney Jay Sekulow. The Circuit Court Judge overturned the first judge’s decision. ACLU appealed to the Supreme Court but they refused to hear the case, letting stand the favorable decision. Thank God for every encouragement upholding Bible reading and prayer in our public schools!
Today’s young people deserve the same as some of us remember, when at our high school graduation, ministers led in invocation and benediction prayers, and the township presented graduates with a Bible, with our names inscribed in gold on the front cover. Let us stay alert and pray for those who have fallen far from esteeming the Word of God and acknowledging its great importance in the lives of those being launched out into the stream of adult life!
Pondering this, one wonders, however --does God grieve over a decline He sees in the way that even His own Blood-bought people regard and treat His Word? In the pages of history, for example, we read of John Wycliffe of England. So highly did he exalt God’s Word, that he eagerly worked with others night and day (1378 to 1382) to make the first translation into English, that the common people might have it and find in it God’s way of salvation. The translation was hand-copied and distributed throughout the land. It brought severe persecution from ecclesiastical authorities in Rome, who sought to keep the Scriptures in their own hands. There were dungeons, flames, tortures and martyrdoms. There is William Tyndale as well (1494-1536), who in secret made a translation into English. When found, he was imprisoned, strangled and his body burned. These men and others like them loved God’s Word more than their lives.
During communist days in Eastern Europe, there were those who spent years in hiding, in unhealthful conditions, printing out the Word of God for Gospel-hungry hearts on simple handmade machines. Some workers were discovered and thrust into prison. There were others who painstakingly hand copied the Word, page by page, in order to have what they treasured as their own possession. Even as we read this, God sees precious saints who are clinging to His Word and the faith it proclaims at the cost of their lives.
How does the love and esteem of today’s average Christian for God’s Word compare? Is it not true that many of us allow the reading of God’s Word to become routine and hurried or even crowded out? We realize only faintly the wonder of our God communicating His heart to us through His Word. To think, the great eternal God of ages past and ages to come, wants to commune with each of us individually, we whose lives are but a vapor, appearing for a little time and then vanishing away (James 4:14). We ought to revel in the very thought of communion with Him, and bow humbly, gratefully and in awe, that through His Word and His Spirit He wants to do a faith-building, heart-cleansing work within us, and also let us know how dear we are to Him and how we can live pleasing to Him. How God must long for us to meet Him in His Word, to be elated by His message of love, to be delighted by His gracious promises, to be comforted and inspired in life’s dark hours. He yearns to be all things to us.
William Gurnall reminds us in his article on page 7, that God’s Word is not only the guideline for a safe and spiritually profitable journey through life, but it will meet us at the time and place where we all give account of ourselves to God! (Rom. 14:10-12). “The Word will judge you at the last day” (John 12:48). That bears keeping permanently in mind. It should solemnize us, even make us to “tremble” at the Word of God (Isa. 66:5).
Search the Scriptures
Even diligent students of God’s Word need to be watchful. Jesus said to the Jews that they searched the Scriptures to find eternal life, and yet they missed the One in their midst who had come to give that eternal life (John 5:39-40). How important in searching the Scriptures that the eyes of our hearts search for our Saviour, seeking to touch Him, to communicate with Him, to purpose to obey Him. How vital as well that we look to the Holy Spirit to guide us into the depths and instruct us more perfectly in God’s Word.
For every student of God’s Word, how many do you suppose neglect the Word woefully? George Gallup, who researches the life of America, is reported in an article in The American Bible Society RECORD, as saying that although Americans as a whole may revere the Bible, great percentages of them reveal a “biblical illiteracy.” Less than half of those polled knew the first book of the Bible, or who preached the sermon on the mount. They say they support the Ten Commandments, but they cannot recite what they are. And, of course, our society shows the results of this biblical illiteracy. Unless we know and understand the Bible, we will not know and obey God’s standards. Gallup sees Bible study as an important key to transforming today’s sinful society.
There was a poem circulating some years ago entitled, “The Bible and the TV Guide.” It pictures the two lying side by side on a table in the home. The gist of the poem is the question: which claims the greater part of our time and attention? Today the Bible has even more competition--worldwide web, videos, CD’s, etc.
Bible literacy is best begun in childhood. Parents, after you have taken to heart in this issue, the message by Kim Butts, “The Transforming Power of God’s Word in a Child’s Life” on page 8, please hand your copy on to other parents, or send for copies to distribute to other parents in your Sunday school class, or prayer meeting. Grandparents, be sure your grown children have a copy to help them in bringing up your grandchildren.
The Bible and Revival
Many are longing and praying for revival. It is a biblical revival we must have! Revival is a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. “But what means does the Holy Spirit use?” asks John Stott in God’s Book For God’s People. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God. Stott writes, “Never separate the Spirit of God from the Word of God, for when the Holy Spirit uses this weapon in His sovereign power, He pricks the conscience, cuts out cancerous growths from the body of Christ and puts the devil to flight.” It is through the Bible that the church is revived.
The most effective praying we can do for revival is to find the promises in which God tells us He will pour out His Holy Spirit, and to plead these promises before God. How encouraging it is to be reminded that God gave the promises as an expression of His will, and He is eager, more than eager, to fulfill His promises and get His holy will done.