I remember when I was a young preacher in North Carolina. I was going to seminary, supporting a family, and preaching at a country church in Johnson County, North Carolina. The little church that called me to be their pastor had been started in 1916 and it had never been full time. I told them I would come and be their pastor if they would commit to going full time with Sunday A.M. and P.M. services as well as a Wednesday evening time for prayer and Bible study. They agreed and I went to be their Pastor. They are still full time and I left there fifty-two years ago.
One of the first things I started boring in on when I went to that little country church was the fact that few people read their Bible and prayed. Quite frankly, I don’t see how a church, a denomination or a single church member can get along without Bible reading and prayer. It is inconceivable to me that Christians ignore and almost completely forget to read the Bible on a daily basis. I make sure that I read my Bible each evening until I can no longer hold my eyes open. Going to sleep with God’s Word on one’s mind is one of the best things that can be done to ensure a good night’s sleep and proper rest.
Somehow, reading the Bible brings peace and assurance no matter what is going on at the time in this old wicked world. And believe me, there is a lot going on with the vast majority of it being directed by satan using the people that God created for His own fellowship.
I have read many kinds of books over the years although fiction has been read the least. I have more to read concerning the ministry and being a preacher than I have time to devote to it so why would I want to take that time reading something that is not true but dreamed up in the mind of another? I have read history books that are intriguing with their facts but there was no presence of the spirit in them. I love books about the Old West and the interesting characters that lived during those days. They are mostly employed by me as character studies of some of the most notorious people who ever lived. But they don’t tell one how to be saved. Science is particularly interesting to me as is archaeology. But there is no inspiration in them like there is in the Bible. Math books won’t lead one to salvation and neither will books on the universe and the wonders of it. But, the Bible will! The Bible is a book the Lord intended us to read but that’s not true of all these others. They are not inspired by His Spirit. God’s instructions for life are contained in the Bible and one reason that people live life so miserably is that they are ignoring the instructions for proper living. The Bible is God’s Word to each of us and how sad it is to see it laying in the back seat of a Christian’s automobile only to be picked up just before they attend Sunday School or a worship service. Much of what a preacher will cover in his sermon is rooted and grounded in the scripture and how can a person understand what is taught if they are not familiar with the text Book….the Bible. I am not saying that recreational reading is not good. I am merely saying that they must not take the place of Biblical reading.
Scripture tells us what is important for life. It tells us how to follow God’s Will and also how to reserve our place in Heaven through Jesus Christ. Math won’t do it. Neither will science or economics but the Bible will. It tells us how to relate to God and man so that we can live in peace with both. If we all treated each other like the Bible tells us to do, this world would not be in such a dire mess today.
The Bible tells us the deep secrets about heaven, angels, demons, Jesus and eternal life. It also warns us about the destruction of satan and the terrible place called hell. It gives us the promises of God concerning life here and hereafter. Does one find such things in the books we tend to read while the Bible is laying in the back seat of the car? I don’t think so!
I have been reading the “Killing” series by Bill O’Reilly. They are well written and exciting while being factual as well. But I find myself left with a book on my shelf after the reading is done. I’ve read it, absorbed its information and there it is on the shelf. The Bible never stays on the shelf. It calls to us to pick it up and find out about real life. History is interesting but it’s gone. Social studies books lose their authority because society changes and leaves the thoughts of the book behind. Nothing leaves the Bible behind. It sets the pace if we would only listen. Many have said that it is no longer relevant to today’s world. The reason they say that is that they have not read it enough and don’t intend to so they try to convince people that its relevancy has vanished with the changing times. But, I say to you that our society would not be so wicked and confusing if the principles in the Bible were employed. There would not be sixty-three million dead babies if our leaders who opened the door for abortion had listened to what the Bible says about life. People would not be in debt over their eyeballs if they had listened to what God has told us about being in debt to others. There would be no murders which is now a national epidemic if they followed the Bible. The value of human life would be viewed differently if our populace knew, or cared, about what the Bible says about the precious nature of life itself. People who have no fear of going to hell because of their actions would not be killing others and then themselves if they understood what God says about murder and judgment. The Bible’s instructions would keep people from doing such things if they understood, read and believed God’s Word.
I think I have made my point about the importance of knowing and following what is clearly told to us in the most popular book in the history of the world: the Bible. Remember, one can read on just about any subject they can think of but life comes from reading the Bible. It all boils down to: Are you Reading the Right Thing?
William F. Harrell is former pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Augusta.
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