Give Me The Bible In 2020
An old song requests as we teach and admonish one another:
"Give me the Bible, Holy message shining;
Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way;
Precept and promise, law and love combining,
Till night shall vanish in eternal day."
May 2020 be a year in which you allow God to speak to you every day through His word! I strongly encourage every person in this church to select a good plan for Bible reading and faithfully follow it throughout this year. There are several options described in the daily Bible reading schedules on the table in the foyer. Look at those as helpful suggestions to you.
What does it mean to "follow the Bible"? Almost all of our religious neighbors claim to do so--some are so conscientious as to have "Bible" in their church names. Great reformers and restorationists for centuries have pointed men and women to the scriptures as their rule of faith and practice. When Martin Luther rebelled against the "salvation of works" ethic of the Roman Catholic Church, he took the position of "sola scriptura" (scripture only) as the only way to know and follow God's will. His positions set him squarely against the prevailing doctrine of the church (Roman Catholic) which taught that the proclamations of the Pope were the "voice of God.” While it is very easy to say "we go by the Bible,” it is not so easy to really and truly approach the Bible as our only authority in religion.
Martin Luther opted for doing any moral and "reasonable" activity in religion or worship not specifically forbidden by the Bible. Another Reformation leader, the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli, took a different approach. He decided to allow only what the Bible specifically approved, saying that the scriptures are "the rule of faith and practice for Christians" and "the New Testament presents a normative pattern.”
Dork Phillips in the sixteenth century book Vindication wrote, "It is evident that whatever God has not commanded and has not instituted by express commands of scripture, He does not want observed nor does He want to be served therewith, nor will He have His word set aside nor made to suit the pleasure of men." American Restoration leader Alexander Campbell wrote, "We choose to speak of Bible things by Bible words, because we are always suspicious that if the word is not in the Bible, the idea which it represents is not there; and always confident that the things taught by God are better taught in the words and under the names which the Holy Spirit has chosen and appropriated than in the words which man's wisdom teaches." Alexander Campbell's father, Thomas Campbell, wrote "We will speak where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where it is silent." A motto often quoted by Christians in the nineteenth century reflected this sentiment: "We will call Bible things by Bible names, and will do Bible things in Bible ways."
What about those religious practices not mentioned in the scriptures? Does God's silence approve or forbid? Peter wrote: "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Later in the same verse he says "that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever." It is an honor to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit to use their words to direct our lives and every religious practice we observe. The "oracles of God" are the Old Testament (Romans 3:1,2) and New Testament (2 Peter 3:1,2) scriptures. Paul exhorted Timothy to give diligence to show himself approved to God by being able to "rightly divide" the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). He admonished the Colossian brethren, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). To do something, or speak something "in the name of" someone else is to do so by their authority. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into "all truth,” therefore we have revealed to us in the Bible "...all things that pertain to life and godliness..." (2 Peter 1:3). Clearly God wants us to have Bible authority for all that we teach and practice. To many people, this ancient and fundamental truth is a revolutionary concept!
It is essential that we look to the Bible to guide us in our quest for the peace that “surpasses all understanding” and that will guard our “hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” The answers to how we can face every challenge of our lives is revealed in the Bible – in “precept and promise,” and in the lives of Bible men and women. Diligent personal study, thoughtful meditation, and regular attendance and participation in Bible classes provided by the elders and taught by qualified teachers will bless your life!
So, "Give me the Bible!" If time continues, 2020 will be inscribed as a final date on many grave markers. It might be yours or mine or someone we love dearly. Should we stand by the open grave and bury our loved one(s) from our sight, what else do we have except the promises of a loving God as revealed in His book? Be encouraged by the song's words:
"Give me the Bible, lamp of life immortal,
Hold up that splendor by the open grave;
Show me the light from Heaven's shining portal,
Show me the glory gilding Jordan's wave."