The Bible Is Trustworthy
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Ps. 119:11)
Each year we celebrate Bible Week, beginning with Bible Sunday. At the time of the recent Bible Sunday I decided to study some of the wonderful attributes of the Word of God, as given in Nave's Topical Bible, and I invite you to consider some of them, along with selected references from the Old Testament and the New. If you have your Bible handy, you may wish to look up some or all of these inspiring passages, perhaps along with the contexts. [If you want to look up Bible verses online as you read, clicking here will open up "The Bible Gateway" in a new window. You may then use the title buttons on your browser screen to move back and forth between the Bible and this article.]
Book of the Ages
Books can be wonderful things, and fortunately many of them are greatly to be cherished, either for a limited time, or longer, but none can compare with God's Word, the Bible. It has been called, and properly so, the "Book of Ages." Psalm 119:89 points this out. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." Some books can be useful and instructive: for a time, but then lose their charm or their dependability. A physics or chemistry text may fill a great need at a certain time, but just a few years later prove to contain many ideas that no longer are held to be correct by scientists. Fortunately, down through the generations the Bible has resisted every effort of its detractors to show it to be obsolete.
The Bible is divinely inspired. Many books are inspiring, to a limited degree, but none can compare with this one. Writing to Timothy, in his 2nd Epistle, verses 16 and 17, Saint Paul declared: "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, throughly furnished unto all good works." In the NIV verse 17 reads, "So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Peter, in his 2nd Epistle, 1:21, sheds additional light on the matter of divine inspiration. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
Food for the Soul
As the body requires food to sustain and strengthen it, so the soul requires spiritual food, something the Bible supplies in full measure. Job, who was perhaps a contemporary of Abraham, realized this full well when he said, 23:12b, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." That is saying a great deal, is it not? Most of us would like to enjoy as many as three meals a day, with at times something between meals, if we are doing strenuous work.
I well remember working in the harvest field at Belleview Schools in Westminster, Colorado as a teenager one summer. Young Wilbur Konkel (later Bishop Konkel, the head of Pillar of Fire Missions in Africa and elsewhere for many years, until his death) and I were students at that time, he in the college, and I about to become a junior in high school. We began the work day by eating breakfast at 6, and were soon out in the field pitching bundles of wheat, oats, or barley onto wagons, to be pulled by horses or a tractor to the threshing machine. Although we no doubt ate a hearty meal at noon, we were pleased, later in the day, to see Rev. L. S. Wolfgang, not only a talented preacher of the Gospel, and our treasurer, but "farm boss," arrive on the scene with some ice cream.
No doubt Job ate well, before calamities overtook him, for he had great wealth, but he had the right perspective on things when he said that he esteemed the Word of God more than his necessary food.
Peter gives some additional insight on this matter in his first letter, Chapter 2 and verse 2. He evidently was writing to young Christians who had recently come to faith in Christ. This is what he said: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." There are simple Bible passages that are so easy to understand that a child may know what they mean, and begin to grow in grace, as well as challenging portions that the oldest scholar or sage will find deep enough to continue challenging his understanding.
Have you ever tried to find your way, walking along a road or footpath on a night without moon or stars? If so, you must have realized how important light can be. We turn to the 119th Psalm for two verses that may be familiar to you. Verse 105: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Verse 130 says, "The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." Not everything, all the time, is illuminated in a blaze of glory, as we study God's Word. Sometimes we must be content with enough light to take a single step, but that may be sufficient for the time and the place. And sometimes it may seem that the whole path from earth to heaven is so clear and bright that there is not a shadow anywhere!
Some years ago Rev. Elsworth Bradford and I accompanied Bishop Wilbur Konkel to Liberia for the annual conference of Pillar of Fire congregations there. This time it was to be held in a remote location in the "bush," or the jungle. Bishop Konkel and I had gone part of the way by jungle missionary plane, but after dark had to trek some distance through woods and over streams. Fortunately we had guides who were equipped with kerosene lanterns, and who knew the way. The light of the lanterns did not go very far, but they were sufficient to enable us to keep on the trail, and to cross the streams on simple "bridges" that were merely logs.
Have you come across information that seemed perfectly logical and easy to understand, and then later found out that it was incorrect, or even false? We need have no fear as to the reliability of God's Word, for it is absolutely trustworthy. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus assured his hearers: "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." He also pointed out that He did not come to "destroy the law, or the prophets . . . but to fulfill." (Matt. 5:17-18)
On another occasion, shortly before the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus made this clear statement: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." (Luke 21:33) Yes, we can be sure that Christ's words will endure, and they will all be fulfilled.
Bible Study Enjoined
During the first year of His ministry Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of a great religious feast. Already His enemies were trying to kill Him. On the Sabbath day He healed a man who had had an infirmity for thirty-eight years. Instead of being convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, His enemies shut their ears to the truth and even more ardently sought to kill Him. He gave them some good advice, and it is good advice for all: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5:39) Can anyone with an open mind and open heart study the scores of prophecies of Christ that have been fulfilled to the letter, and come away unconvinced that He truly was, and is, the Messiah?
Saint Paul had experience with all kinds of Christians. Some were more zealous in their Bible study than others. The people of Berea, for instance, were reported by Paul as "more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11)
If we could not read, or if we had no access to a Bible, we might have some excuse for not being diligent in daily Bible study, but most of us can read, however slowly and imperfectly, and most of us have a Bible, or can easily obtain one if we so desire. Let us emulate the Bereans, and search the scriptures daily!
Blessings to Those Who Reverence It
There are wonderful blessings promised to those who reverence and study God's Word. Joshua realized this some 1300 years before Christ was born. He phrased it this way:
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all this is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Most people would like to be prosperous, and have good success, at least in the material sense of the word, but how many are willing to pay the price by diligently studying God's Word? May you and I be among the minority who do so!
The Psalmist David was at first only a shepherd boy, but he soon learned the blessing of studying that part of the Bible that was available to people of his time. This is what he said concerning the judgments, or the laws of the Lord: "In keeping of them there is great reward." (Ps. 19:11) Some of the reward is positive, for great blessings will often follow keeping God's commandments. Some of the reward may be of a negative variety. Think for a few moments of how many sorrows and griefs people bring on themselves because they think they know more than their Creator, and refuse to obey His laws? The obedient Christian will avoid many sorrows and problems as he strives to "trust and obey."
Jesus said: "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock." (Matt. 7:24) You know this story, and the story of the man who built on the sand. Isn't it clear and plain? The one who not only studies the Word of God, but faithfully seeks to put it into practice, is assured that his spiritual "house" is on solid rock, not shifting sand, and in the times of testing and adversity, which come to all, that "house" will not be destroyed, but will endure.
There are also a number of other wonderful Scriptures along this line you may wish to look up, so I will give the references: Luke 11:28, John 5:24, John 17:17, and Eph. 5:25-26.
A Saving Power
One of the great truths concerning the Bible, is that in it there is saving power. Paul phrased it this way: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) [Some versions use the term "Gentile" instead of "Greek."] If there were not another single benefit in studying God's Word, would not this one, saving power, be enough to cause us to cherish it, and to strive to follow its precepts?
Purifies the Life
There is one more attribute I should like to emphasize: God's Word purifies the life of the one who studies it and gives heed to its counsel. Holiness of heart and life can be seen from Genesis to Revelation, either through types and symbols, or through the plain teaching of our Lord and His disciples. Let us notice one verse from Psalm 119, it is the 9th, and then the words of Jesus in John 15:3. Although the verse in the Psalms is addressed to young men, its truth is applicable to all. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word." And the words of Jesus in the passage from John: "Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."
A minister of the Gospel one day had had invitations to speak to two groups. Let him tell you about it. "One morning I spoke to eighty students in a class in a state university. I was informed that it would be better if I did not mention the Bible in the university. That same afternoon I was invited to speak to eight hundred men in the state prison, and the warden asked me to give them Bible truths." It sounds to me that the warden had better sense than the university spokesman!
If you ever go to Hawaii, I hope that you will go to the Punchbowl Cemetery, where thousands of American servicemen and women are buried. It will give you some idea of what our liberties have cost. Some time before Pearl Harbor the Gideons were able to place 50,000 New Testaments on the ships in the Pacific. After the attack on Pearl Harbor "many bodies were found in the posture of reading their Testaments. Many had signed their names on a blank line on the last page signifying their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior."
Let us go back just a little. There was a nurse who had a son in the navy who went to Honolulu to work in a hospital. She "never went to church, never read the Bible." She had not seen her son for two years. When the attack came the nurse "offered her services," and was given the duty of helping identify bodies in the morgue. Imagine her shock and horror when she looked upon the face of her son! "She fainted and was carried to her quarters." Later her son's effects were given to her, among which was a little watersoaked, unreadable New Testament. On the last page he had signed his name. She asked a chaplain for a New Testament like that and read it from cover to cover and learned of the love of Christ who gave Himself to save us from our sins. She realized that her son "had accepted Christ before he died," and took that Testament and signed her name under that of her son.
In a village in Argentina a soldier heard music, and entered a little mission where the Gospel was preached. After the service the missionary asked the soldier if he was a Christian. His answer was: "Yes, I am." The missionary asked where he had heard the Gospel, and he replied that it was from his mother. It turned out that the family lived in a remote area, and she had never been to a Gospel service, had never heard a preacher. A colporteur had left a copy of the Bible with that woman, and through it she had come to know Christ as her Saviour. She had a large family, fourteen children, the youngest twelve years of age, and she led all of them, including this soldier, to Christ, through the reading of that Bible left by the colporteur.
Yes, the Bible is trustworthy; it is divinely inspired; it is light for the pathway, and food for the soul. It has saving power; it purifies the life; and blessings are promised to those whose reverence it, read it and obey it. Through it we can come to know Jesus Christ as the One who died on the cross for our sins, and "suffered without the gate" in order "that He might sanctify His people." (Heb. 13:12)