|Vol. 16 No. 8 August 2014||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
A person cannot always materially change his or her living conditions when it comes to economic circumstances that are beyond one’s capacity to alter them. Yet, there are a number of opportunities to make positive changes in one’s lifestyle, in most cases, irrespective of economic limitations. Certainly, a person can leave behind morally bad behavior with its attendant maladies, and anyone can opt to become and to remain an obedient child of God (Mark 16:16), regardless of inconveniences or even personal peril (2 Timothy 3:12; Revelation 2:10).
Popular music lyrics typify broken homes and the sin-sick world that appears in every direction to which we might cast our view. Shootings are epidemic; murders are widespread from urban metroplexes to small towns and rural areas. The world is awash in alcohol and drugs. The whole planet is crazy about sex; sexy commercials sell cookies and burgers to everything else imaginable. Such a list could be lengthened indefinitely, but you get the idea. It would be difficult to conceive of Noah’s pre-flood world being any more depraved than what we experience in the 21st century (Genesis 6:5). However, mankind does not have to live that way!
More specifically, neither men nor women, for instance, have to troll bars, streets and the Internet for lovers and one-night stands, over which they experience regret – if any part of one’s conscience remains unseared (1 Timothy 4:2) – just to do it again and again, night after night, week after week, month after month and year after year. No one has to live that way!
No one has to wake in the morning, wondering where he or she is and pondering what he or she did or allowed to be done to him or her while in a drunken or drug induced stupor the night before (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8). No one has to accept this sort of thing as “normal” and the predictable, near daily scenario throughout the balance of one’s life. No one has to live that way!
No one has to be ravaged by the guilt of an illegitimate pregnancy or for bringing a baby into this world that is unplanned, unwanted, fatherless and for which one cannot provide even the necessities of life. Abortion would only compound a bad decision already made – for the fleshly passion of a fleeting moment (Hebrews 11:25; 1 John 2:16). No one has to live that way!
No one has to live his or her life in the shadows of ill-fated counterculture derivations from what in any century has been universally revered as virtuous (Romans 13:3; 1 Peter 2:13-14; 3:13). No one has to live in such a paranoid way as to fear from whom, where and when will come the inevitable, violent reprisal from those we have wronged – “did unto them before they did unto me” (Matthew 7:12). No one has to live that way!
No one has to live a solely, self-serving life tied directly and only to one’s physical existence on this big mud ball of woe. No one has to live that way! Instead, our destinies are larger than the saga of daily survival sprinkled with a little amusement along life’s pothole highway to nowhere, because within each of us is a soul (Romans 7:22; Ephesians 3:16) in a temporary fleshly, bodily home, which soul will ultimately return to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7), who then will make an eternal disposition of it (Matthew 25:46). Spiritually speaking, none of us are homesteaders, but each of us is a pilgrim (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11) – either traveling heaven’s interstate or the Devil’s detour to hell (Matthew 7:13-14). Regrettably, most of this world’s population is traveling heaven’s bypass – a thoroughfare constructed by Satan himself, which will speedily and certainly bring its wayfarers to him forever in the fiery furnace (Matthew 13:41-42). No one has to live that way!
Anyone can choose (Joshua 24:15) for himself or herself to set aside the carnality of this world, and rather to willfully (Revelation 22:17) opt for righteousness, which has the promise of blessings in this life and in the eternal life to come (Acts 14:17; 2 Peter 1:3). Furthermore, even “morally good people” need to abide in Jesus Christ with all that means, beginning with becoming true Christians (Romans 10:17; John 8:24; Luke 13:3; Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 16:16) – not denominationalists – but Christians only (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Even Christians need encouragement to do better. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV). The sin-sick and dying world is all around every one of us, but no one has to live that way!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Someone has cleverly observed that the B.I.B.L.E. stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” That sentiment is quite true! God’s Word must be known, loved, respected and applied (James 1:22-25). Certainly without God’s Word, no one is ready to depart this life or even able to really live life the way God intended (Psalm 119:105; 2 Peter 1:3-4). What a wonderful treasure is the Word of God (Psalm 119:162)! Consider just how wonderful God’s Book really is.
B – The Bible is a book about BELIEF. John’s thesis certainly attests to this fact. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31 emp. added). In fact, real faith can only be produced by a study of God’s Word (Romans 10:17; 1:16; Acts 4:4; 8:12; 15:7). The Bible is a book about belief!
I – The Bible is a book about INHERITANCE. In Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders, he affirmed, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Paul again declared, “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). The Bible details forth the hope of which each and every faithful child of God can be assured.
B – The Bible is a book about BEHAVIOR. Unfortunately, “the health and wealth gospel” that is continually propagated throughout this sinful world is false! “Find God in your own way” may be popular, but it is anything but scriptural. Paul’s words to Timothy were clear. “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15). There is a proper way of behavior and an improper way as well (Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 1:15-16, et al).
L – The Bible is a book about LOVE. The theme of the Bible is the redemption of sinful man through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the glory of God (Ephesians 3:10-11), which certainly is a display of God’s love (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). It was love that prompted, promoted and accomplished the scheme of redemption (John 13:35; Romans 5:6ff). Although not just a “love story,” the Bible contains the real definition and display of love!
E – The Bible is a book about ENDURANCE. Over and over again, the Bible admonishes endurance and faithfulness by its readers. The Bible opens with the sad picture of those who failed to endure (i.e., Adam and Eve, Genesis 3) and closes with the consummation of salvation for those who do in fact endure to the end (Revelation 21). Truly, “blessed is the man that endureth” (James 1:12). God’s Book teaches us how to begin the race, how to compete in the race, and how to win and finish the race!
There is simply no other book that is so needed in the world today more than the Bible. What many have learned as children is certainly true, “The B.I.B.L.E., yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B.I.B.L.E.”