There’s a scene in the movie, “The Sons of Katie Elder,” starring John Wayne and Dean Martin, in which four brothers are going through their recently departed mother’s belongings. Her rocking chair, gently swaying as if she was still there, is placed conspicuously in the room. The mourning brothers, as they sift through memories, discover mom’s Bible.
John Wayne, playing the eldest son John Elder, opens the Bible to the first page, and then reverential music subtly plays as Duke slowly reads the inscription to his brothers. The brothers halt operations and sit silent in quiet contemplation. Tom Elder, played by Dean Martin, breaking the silence, suggests they raffle off the Bible. John Wayne shoots back with disgust at the suggestion,
“We keep The Book!”
The Book! I love that designation. THE Book! Even those who don’t read it recognize there’s something special about it. Bible means “book.” We call it “THE” Book because of its preeminence. It’s not just any book; it’s The Book. It sheds light on all the other books.
My Bible says “Holy Bible” on the cover. That’s because holy men wrote it. The word “holy” means “consecrated or set apart for sacred use.” These men, with different backgrounds and from different times, were set apart to contribute portions to one large Book. The finished work is perfect in its parts and consistent as a whole, a book set apart from all other books. These “holy men” were normal men; shepherds, kings, fruit gatherers, businessmen, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, fishermen, tentmakers, and priests. They weren’t supermen, they were people like us, and their product, The Book, isn’t other-worldly, it’s for this world. The Bible is a Book for ordinary people living everyday lives, and it’s written in human language, not mystical language.
Within the covers of “The Book” are the Old and New Testaments. These two portions combined teach us about God and humanity. They are distinguished by the Adjectives “Old” and “New” to describe their relationship to each other. The Old and New Testaments are equally true, holy, just, and good. The “New” Testament builds on the “Old” Testament and brings it to fulfillment and perfection. The “Old” promised a Savior, the “New” reveals Him. The Old Testament historically documents how sin and death entered the world, while the New Testament reveals their ultimate abolishment. The Old and New Testaments can be summarized this way: “In the beginning God.. then cometh the end that God may be all in all.” Genesis 1:1, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. The Bible has a wonderful introduction, and it has a happy ending for everyone! There are bumps along the way, but the Bible more than provides for that journey.
Let’s thank God for The Book. It’s God’s revelation of Himself. Let’s pray: “Lord, open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of Thy law and Thy gospel.”
—It Is Written And Still Is!
“…As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The Apostle Paul.
The Word of God is the foundation of our faith. Faith isn’t “positive thinking;” faith is accepting God’s testimony. When we have faith, we are giving God credit for telling us the truth. The belief in the Salvation of All Mankind stands on the rock-solid authority of Holy Scripture. If the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures are a “myth,” or an “allegory,” or anything short of what the Lord Jesus Christ says they are – historical truth – then what Paul wrote in the above passage is meaningless. As a result, both Paul and our Lord Jesus are false witnesses!
If the Old Testament is a myth, then so is Adam, and if the New Testament is a myth, then so is Jesus Christ and everything He accomplished. The Christian, as a result, has no message to proclaim, for if the Scriptures are false, then nobody ever died in Adam, and, as a gloomy consequence, nobody will ever be made alive in Jesus Christ – there’s no sin, no death, no Savior, and no resurrection.
So indulge me for a few moments as I glory in the living words of the living God for a few moments.
—The Hebrew Scriptures
God has preserved His Word. The Hebrews copied their Scriptures with careful hands and have passed them down from generation to generation. The Lord Jesus put His stamp of approval on those Scriptures when He said,
“These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures…” Luke 24:44-45
In that statement, the Lord mentions the three primary divisions of the Old Testament – the law, the prophets, and the psalms, and these are what make up the Old Testament in our standard Bibles. .
As for the Greek Scriptures, the Divine Author has gone to great lengths to preserve His Word and maintain its integrity. He has done this in three ways:
1. Copies (Including, “Lectionaries”)
3. Quotations from the Fathers
Christians, from the earliest days to the invention of the printing press, created multiple COPIES. Copies provided for adequate security against fraud.
The faith was growing throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, and therefore the Scriptures were translated into many languages. The VERSIONS give us authentic records of the preserved New Testament as it existed in the first few centuries of the Christian era.
Lastly, to teach the faith to new believers and defend it against its enemies, teachers and commentators have written a vast amount of written material. These early teachers quoted from the sacred writings and have thus borne testimony to the contents of the codices he had before him. These PATRISTIC CITATIONS, as a result, “are a third mighty safeguard of the integrity of the deposit.”
The evidence of the copies is overwhelming. Most of the ones we have today are from the tenth through the twelfth centuries, yet without question, they are copies of older manuscripts which faithfully represent what the Apostles wrote. The works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Sophocles have the support of very few witnesses which are over 500 years removed from the originals, but the New Testament has thousands of witnesses.
So how shall we thank God for giving us this great treasure? Open the Book, and read it. Read it daily, consistently, with joy and gratitude.
Open your Bibles and drink from the pure fountain of truth!
“A glory gilds the Sacred page
Majestic like the Sun,
It sheds its light on every age
It gives, but borrows none.”
We can say with confidence that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
—What Presidents Said About The Bible
“I have examined all as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life will allow me, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more of my little philosophy than all the libraries I have seen and such parts of it I cannot reconcile to my little philosophy I postpone for future investigation.” John Adams
“I speak as a man of the world to men of the world…search the Scriptures. The Bible is the book above all others to be read at all ages and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice through and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions every day.” John Quincy Adams
“I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better husbands, and better fathers.” Thomas Jefferson
America’s first Chief Justice, John Jay, addressing the American Bible Society, said,
“The Bible will…inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; that this Redeemer has made atonement ‘for the sins of the whole world,’ and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve.”
On May 28, 1802, John Jay wrote to his children after his wife’s death,
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?…Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed….Death is swallowed up in victory (I Corinthians 15).”
On May 17, 1829, John Jay, near death, responded thus when asked if he had any words for his children,
“They have the Book.”
—The Bible: Read it. Know it. Share it.
Let us not neglect this most precious treasure. Be a Bible reader, not just a reader of your favorite parts, but all of it. That’s what we need more than anything – Bible readers. You can begin right now. You can read the Bible through every year. Add up the number of pages in your Bible, divide that by 365, and that’s how many pages you have to read per day to reach your yearly goal – easy peasy! It only requires commitment. Set aside a certain amount of time every day and you can do it. Remember, the first thing you have to do is make Bible reading a habit, and then the habit will eventually make you. The Bible: Read it. Know it. Share it.
I supposed I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third!);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs—
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.
You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
And yawn thro’ a hurried prayer;
You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book—
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look—
Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through!