This is post 6 of 12 in the series “WHY I BELIEVE"
- Why I Believe In The Incarnation
- Why I Believe In Angels
- Why I Believe In The Virgin Birth
- Why I Believe In Jesus Christ
- Why I Believe In God
- Why I Believe The Bible
- Why I Believe In The Church
- Why I Believe In Heaven
- Why I Believe In The Atonement
- Why I Believe In The Resurrection
- Why I Believe In The Holy Spirit
- Why I Believe In The Trinity
Why I Believe The Bible
II Kings 22:8
Whenever I begin a public reading of Scripture, I always say as firmly and as categorically as I can, “This is the Word of God.” I do not say, “Listen for the Word of God.” I do not say, “May this be God’s Word for you.” I do not say, “This Book contains the Word of God.” For me there are no conditions, no reservations, no uncertainties. I say, “This is the Word of God.” I say it because I believe it, and I believe it with every fiber of my being.
Let me review with you a great Old Testament story in order to make the point. A long time ago there was a king in Israel whose name was Josiah. He reigned from 638 to 607 B.C. In spite of the fact that both Josiah’s father and grandfather had been rotten kings, Josiah himself was very good. One of the things that he did was to rebuild the temple, which, through neglect, had fallen into disrepair. As the restoration work was in process, the workman chanced to find in some dusty nook or cranny a scroll. Sensing its value, they took the scroll to Hilkiah, the high priest. Hilkiah, in turn, delivered the scroll on to King Josiah, saying, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” The king had the book read to him and when he heard the words, he immediately repented for he realized that much of what was going on in his nation was an offense against God. He then sought the advice of the leading prophet in the land—only it wasn’t a prophet but a prophetess—a woman. Her name was Huldah. Huldah decreed that the word of God must be read to the people of the land. King Josiah ordered the people to hear what God was saying through this book. As a result tremendous reforms—political, social, economic, and religious reforms—swept the land. False idols were torn down. Purveyors of the occult were driven out. God’s covenant with His people was taken more seriously. Worship of God was purified. The reading of the Book changed things. The reading of the Book always changes things. The reading of this Book can change things even now. You see, I believe that the words spoken by Hilkiah comprised one of the most powerful and poignant statements in all of Scripture, and I believe that those words provide the theme for our consideration today. “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.”
If that were more true, the Bible would have greater power in the church.
Of course, you say, “Where else would you expect to find the Bible than in a temple, a place of worship, a church?” But the fact is that, in that day and in this, the Word of God is not being heard in many places of worship.
Kenneth Macfarlane tells about the pastor in Kansas City who had been receiving criticisms with regards to his Sunday School. He decided to visit in one of the classes the next Sunday. He chose the fifth grade class. He listened as the teacher asked the class, “Who tore down the walls of Jericho?” Nobody answered. So the teacher called on one of the students. “Billy, who tore down the walls of Jericho?” Billy immediately replied, “I don’t know, Mrs. Smith, but I didn’t do it.” Of course, the pastor was shocked. He went rushing to see the Sunday School Superintendent, and he said, “Listen I’m really upset. I was just in the fifth grade class and the teacher asked Billy Jones who tore down Jericho’s walls and Billy said he didn’t do it. Now what do you think about that?” The Superintendent said, “Well, preacher I don’t know about this incident you’re investigating but I know Billy Jones, and if he said he didn’t do it, I believe him.” Now the pastor was horrified. He called a meeting of the Christian Education Committee for that night. He told them the story of what had happened and then he asked, “What shall we do about this?” The Chairman of the Christian Education Committee, one of the Elders, quickly said, “Now listen Pastor don’t get all excited about this. We’ll just take up a special offering and pay for the damages that were done!”
Well, the ignorance of many people in the church today with regards to the Bible is quite amazing. There was a time when a preacher could stand in the pulpit and make an incidental reference to a Bible story and everybody in the congregation would know immediately the story to which he referred. No more. I think it is largely the fault of those of us who are ministers. There are too many ministers who read books about the Bible but do not read the Bible itself, too many ministers who believe that their congregations want to hear about things other than the Bible, too many ministers who proclaim their own words rather than the Word of God. That is why it was so encouraging to me just the other day to hear one of the families who joined our church recently say that the reason they took that step was because in this church, obviously, the Bible is believed, honored, preached, studied, and obeyed.
For my part, I read this Book every day of my life. I read it in the sunlit days of my experience, and I read it in the dark nights of my soul. I read it when I am believing, and I read it when I am unbelieving. I read it when I am strong, and I read it when I am weak. I’ve never been able to read it without finding something new. I have never been able to plumb its depths or scale its heights, but I will never stop trying. When you lay me to rest, put with me this Book I so love. When I rise up from the grave, there is only one thing I want to have with me and it is this Book. Everything in my life, which is good, finds its birth in these pages. Everything in my life, which is bad, finds in these pages the changing, saving, forgiving Grace of the God whose Book it is. “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” If that were more true, there would be greater power in the church.
And if that were more true, the Bible would have greater power in our society.
I want you to note that the story in second Kings tells us that, as a result of reading just a portion of this Book, that whole society was changed. I contend that if this Book were read, truly read, today the same thing would happen. It’s interesting isn’t it that, while the Bible is far and away the best selling book of all time, it is also the least read. Oh there was a time in this country when we as Christians were called “The people of the Book” but no more. I haven’t traveled in every nation on earth, but I have been to quite a few and I will tell you that when you go into a nation or a culture where this Book is not known and not honored, you find the worst disease, the worst debauchery, the worst depravity, the worst poverty, the worst privation, the worst perversion, the worst depravation of human rights, the worst diminishment of the human spirit, and the worst devaluation of human life that you find anywhere on the face of the earth. That is why we, as a people, must get back to this Book and back to its good news of Jesus Christ. There have been times in history when it was against the law to read the Bible. Henry VIII, for example, allowed people to read the Bible in private but they couldn’t read it in groups or when they were in church. Why? Because he so feared the power of this Book. Slave owners, here in America, would not allow their slaves to read the Bible because they didn’t want them to hear so much about freedom and dignity. But as far as I know, the only place where it is illegal to read and study the Bible today is in our schools. Isn’t that a tragedy, and doesn’t that explain much that is wrong in our society? We offer sex education classes to teach our young people the mechanics of sex, but we offer no moral guidelines for conducting their sexual lives. Little wonder that we are experiencing a bumper crop of teenage pregnancies, abortions, rapes, and suicides.
Parents, here’s the question I want to put to you now. You are terribly concerned about your child’s physical, social and mental development. Are you just as concerned about your child’s moral and spiritual development? Is the Word of God read and heeded in your home? “I found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” If that were more true today, there would be greater power in our society.
And if that were more true, the Bible would have greater power in our individual lives.
I read about a man whose aunt died. In her will she wrote, “I leave to my nephew my Bible and its contents and anything else that remains after my lawful and just debts are paid.” What remained turned out to be two hundred dollars. He spent the money quickly. The Bible he put in a drawer. There it remained for thirty-five years. Then in a time of personal distress and difficulty, this fellow one night pulled out that old Bible deciding that perhaps God’s Word might help. When he opened the Bible, he found stuck in amongst its pages more than five thousand dollars in cash. Because, for so many years, he never opened the Bible he missed the treasure. Well, there are a lot of people who miss an even more valuable treasure because they do not open the Word of God.
One of our members said to me recently, “You know, we come here on Sunday all beat up from the struggles of life, and you stand up there and try to put us back together again, but who puts you back together when you are all beat up?” Well, I was certainly grateful that this person cared enough to make a comment like that. I have thought a lot about the question. I have to say that that which puts me back together again, that which fills me with joy and puts the wind of the spirit in my sails again, is seeing you grow in your faith in Jesus Christ. It is when I see the teachings of the Bible take hold in your life that I am encouraged and restored. For this Book is the ultimate infallible standard for everything we say, think, believe, and do. In its stories, its symbols, and its songs; in its parables, its pronouncements, and its promises; in its characters, its commandments, and in its Christ, we find nothing less than the word, and the peace, and the power, and the pardon of God. We find everything we need in our churches, in our nation, in our individual lives.
I shall never forget standing by the bedside of a great strapping young football player who had just been diagnosed as having a terminal illness. As I stood there, I saw his Bible on the table beside his bed. I asked, “Would you like for me to read to you from your Bible?” He nodded yes. I inquired, “What would you like for me to read?” He quickly replied, “Oh, just hold it in your hand and it will fall open to my favorite passages.” That’s exactly what happened. The pages of his Bible fell open to the places that he had marked and read repeatedly, and I read to him from those pages.
Where would your Bible fall open? At the bill of sale, or where you keep an old letter or a birth certificate, or where that faded rose is crushed between the pages. Do you understand that that young football player experienced the peace and the power of Jesus Christ because the word of God was held so deeply in his heart? “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” So I do believe the Bible. I believe it with my life. I pray that the same may be true for you…