Ronnie J. Westmoreland
Las Cruces, New Mexico
With the reading of such passages as Romans 4:3 ("For what saith the scriptures. Romans 11:4 ("But what saith the answer of God unto him? ") and other such Scriptures, it is easy to see why our attitude ought to be that of "give me the Bible" in everything and in every way.
It ought to be our longing and desire for two very basic reasons:
1. Because of what is accomplished by the Bible and only by the Bible. It is through the word of God (the Bible) that we learn of God's plan for man in regard to salvation (Eph. 3:3,4; Jn. 17:17). When we read the truth as revealed unto man by God we learn that man needs God's guidance in regard to all aspects of his life, including the salvation of his soul. It is the word of God that will give him the information he needs in order to accomplish this (Jn. 8:32; Jas. 1:18; 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:22). It is also through the word of God that the children of God are built-up and given an inheritance (Acts 20:32). It is easy to see that these things and many other such like things are found in the word of God, but what many fail or refuse to recognize is that they are not found elsewhere. Simply put you will not learn of salvation by reading Reader's Digest or by watching the popular evening shows on television. It is any wonder why Paul told Timothy to study (2 Tim. 2:15)?
2. Because it is from God; it is God-given information (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). It is very easy to understand that the things God wanted us to know and the things that we need in order to be pleasing to him, he has provided through his word. It is also easy to understand that since it comes from God, it is without error and it is indestructible (Heb. 6:18; Tit. 1:2; Matt. 24:35; 1 Pet. 1:25; Isa. 40:8). Perhaps more importantly, it is by the word of God that we will be judged (Rev. 20:12; Jn. 12:48).
"Give me the Bible" ought to be our desire all of the time. However, many say "give me the Bible," if or when it does not conflict with my feelings or experiences. In regard to the subject of salvation the Bible says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Certainly no one would declare that, in order for one to be saved, feelings are not involved. The Bible very emphatically teaches that one must have faith (Heb. 11:6) in order to be pleasing to God. However, the Bible in no place teaches that feelings alone are any evidence of one's salvation, neither is it an "experience of grace" that offers the correct evidence of pardon. One may ask, "When do we have evidence of pardon?" As Paul instructs in Romans 8:16,17, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together." It is when we have done those things that the word of God instructs us to do in order to render obedience and bring about the remission of our sins that we can know that we are the children of God. Regardless of "how we feel," we are not a child of God until we hear (Rom. 10:17), believe (Heb. 11: 6), repent (Lk. 13:3,5), confess (Rom. 10:10), and are baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16; etc.).
Some will say give me the Bible as long as it does not conflict with my belief or practices, and yet the Bible says, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 8:24). Other passages such as Colossians 3:17, 2 John 9 and Matthew 28:18 teach us that we must have authority for the things that we do in work and worship. If we do not, we violate the commandments of God and therefore are not pleasing unto him because we have gone outside of his word. However, man oftentimes displays his disregard for God's word by doing things that are contrary to his word. It is usually because man feel's that what one does is not important as long as one is honest and sincere in what he does. Let me offer the following that appeared in the National and International Religious Report (Jan. 1, 1992). (I am not saying that all of the individuals that are members of these religious groups hold true to these statements; however this is what the spokesman in regard to their belief has proclaimed that they believe. If they do not hold to it, it is time for them to speak up or change their belief.) This report states, "A five volume Encyclopedia of Mormonism ($340) has been published by McMillan, edited by two Brigham Young University professors . . . The editors – Noel B. Reynolds (political science) and John W. Welch (law) – said their goal was to produce a scholarly comprehensive work designed to help both Mormons and non-Mormons understand the teachings and practices of the Mormon faith. However, there are some notable omissions in the encyclopedia, including details about 'secret' temple ceremonies that are closed to outsiders. These rites include proxy baptism for the dead and marriages of Mormon believers to deceased relatives. Both baptism and 'celestial marriage' are necessary steps for attaining godhood in the hereafter, Mormonism teaches." The Bible very plainly teaches that we cannot add unto or take away from the word of God (Rev. 22:18,19; 2 Jn. 9; Deut. 4:2; etc.).
The report also stated, "The Church of England's bishops apologized for past prejudice in the church toward homosexuals and said that lay Christians in loving and faithful samesex partnerships should be accepted by the community. "On page 7 is reported concerning the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America "Human Sexuality and the Christian Faith." As its core, the document questions biblical passages concerning homosexuality and suggests that scriptural references to same-sex relations need to be re-interpreted in light of modern theories about sexual orientation. "We must distinguish between moral judgments regarding same-sex activity in biblical times and in our own time," the report states. God's word needs no up-dating because of modern times. It will endure forever and is meant for all eternity (1 Pet. 1:25).
The report also states, "Members of a 24-member United Methodist Church (UMC) panel could not agree on whether homosexuality is a sin. . . . The panel agreed that the biblical references to sexual practices should not be viewed as binding just because they are in the Bible." Yet God's word not only declares that such is sin, but those that do such things are "worthy of death" (Rom. 1:18-32) meaning that they will receive the wrath of God as long as they continue on that course.
Sad to say many brethren will say give me the Bible regarding the plan of salvation, the work and worship of the church, but not on the need of living the life of a Christian. "I want to hear the gospel preached and taught as long as I do have to be involved in bringing it about" is the silent declaration of many in the church today. "You can't tell me how to live my life." Perhaps to some degree that may be right, however God can and has! He also declared that one must live the life of a Christian in order to be pleasing to him and have the hope of heaven being their eternal abode (Gal. 2:20; Tit. 2:11,12; 2 Pet. 3: 11; Rev. 22:14; Acts 10:34,35).
It is easy to see that many times over men want the Bible, but they only want it if they feel that they can put conditions upon it or alter it in some manner to fit their own desires. It is also easy to see that we ought to say and must say (if heaven is to be our home), "Give me the Bible" – always, regardless and without reservations. We must learn to say, "Speak Lord and I will hear – command and I will obey" (and not just say, but do).