by Nancy Petrey
The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. But it is rare in some parts of the world where it is such a coveted possession that people will risk their lives to have one. In China, believers often share one copy of the Bible. Each person receives a page, and when they have memorized it, they get back together to exchange their portion of the Bible. (http://www.watersourceministries.com/bible-smuggling/) Many Christians in this country have several copies of the Bible, and yet few even read it, much less take it to heart.
I love the Bible. It has been the guide for my life ever since I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. I have not understood it perfectly, but the Holy Spirit has been given to me to teach me, as Jesus promised. Seeming contradictions have sometimes cleared up, but even when parts of Scripture are puzzling, I trust that it is still God’s Word, and I will eventually understand it either here or when I see Him face to face.
The assault on the authority of the Bible is troubling to me, because without this “anchor” for the soul, we will drift into dangerous waters and be destroyed. Jesus’ words are a gracious invitation from a gentle Shepherd to follow His way and His words: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). And the Apostle John instructs his “little children” thus: “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3). Remember that Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Many Christians declare that we are not under the law, we are under grace. But God has made a way for us to keep His commandments: “… the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the SPIRIT” (Rom. 8:4). Remember that Jesus said He didn’t come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. Heaven and earth will pass away, but one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matt. 5:17-18).
How important is the WRITTEN Word of God? When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he said, “It is WRITTEN, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). Jesus was quoting from the law in the Old Testament—Deuteronomy 8:3. To apply these words of Jesus to the current debate about legalizing sodomy is irrefutable —“It is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22 and 20:13). To God it is so serious, it incurred the death penalty, as did any form of sexual sin!
Before I myself get stoned, I will point out that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, a sin punishable by stoning, that He did not condemn her! But He ALSO SAID, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus didn’t make light of her sin, but He forgave her. He knew He would soon be dying a tortuous death on the cross so that He could be her sin substitute and take the death penalty for her. “God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). That is the GOOD NEWS He has commissioned all Christians to go and tell! But if a person will not admit what he is doing is sin and ask for forgiveness, how can he be pardoned? He can’t.
One last point. The history of how we have the Bible today is a story filled with great sacrifice and death. For instance, John Wycliffe opposed the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. He translated the Latin Vulgate into English in the 1380s. The Pope was infuriated, and 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug up, crushed, and scattered in the river! John Hus, one of Wycliffe’s followers, was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire! His last words were a prophecy that God would raise up a man in 100 years “whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” It happened when Martin Luther in 1517 nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention against the Roman Catholic Church on the church door. Luther translated the Bible into German.
William Tyndale translated the Bible into English “illegally,” while he was in hiding. He was arrested, tried, and convicted, then strangled and burned at the stake in the prison yard, Oct. 6, 1536. His last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” This prayer was answered three years later when King Henry VIII published the English “Great Bible” in 1539.
In order to shorten this lengthy post, I will quote what I found online as a good answer to the question, “Is the Bible still the best-selling book in the world?” The best answer on www.answers.yahoo.com is: “Still the best-selling book of all time…. People are literally dying for it. People in countries where the book is banned, where getting one in, or taking one in, could get you killed, and people are literally risking life to get them the book anyways. Funny, I don’t see anyone willing to die for a lie. The faith flourishes where persecuted, so by all means, let the atheist taunt and jeer, it helps get rid of the chaff.”
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