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COLUMN: FAITH: The Instruction Manual for Life

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There are a number of opinions about the Bible.  Some believe it to be just a good book.  Others think that it is a good book with some spiritual value. There are those who think that there is no value in this great book at all. But to those of us who are Christians the entire Bible is held in the highest of esteem. It is the Instruction Manual for Life both here and hereafter.  

I have this inscribed in the flyleaf of my preaching Bible which I purchased in 1973, the year I went to seminary and also the year I was ordained. It speaks of how much I value this wonderful book.  

Here is what is inscribed: “The Scriptures in the Bible did not originate in the minds of men. God so directed the writing of the Scripture that without waving the writer’s human intelligence, their individuality, their literary style, their personal feeling or any other factor, His complete coherent Message to man was recorded with perfect accuracy, the very words of the original Scripture bearing the authority of Divine Authorship.” The concluding comment is: “The Bible is the mind of Christ and Christ’s mind is perfect.”  

This article is not dealing meant to deal with the multiple translations that are available today even though one should do a lot of close research before they purchase a Bible. They will be reading a book looking for guidance and they should make sure, as much as is possible, that the translation is a good one with which many Bible scholars approve.  Personally, I use the New Schofield Edition of the King James Bible.  This version has many good notes and other helps for the reader.  It also shows some words which have been changed to reflect the proper usage of our day. It has the original word in the margin if the reader or preacher prefers the original word even though it may be antiquated and possibly give the wrong impression in this modern day. However, if I were starting out today as a young preacher, I would choose the New King James Version. It is very accurate and true to the original King James Version but it employs some modernization of some early English wording to make it much more readable for the modern mind.

No matter what translation one wants to employ, the Bible will do them no good if it is not read and if it does not “get into our souls” and effect the proper change.

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Too many people have a plethora of Bibles but they are rarely read. If one does not eat food they will die physically and if one does not feed the soul with God’s Word, they will suffer and find that they are starving spiritually.  No one wants that, so they should read and follow the words and thoughts in the Instruction Manual for Life.  

It is easy to fall into a lifestyle which omits God and His Word. That is a perilous situation.  It is also easy for people who read the Scripture to take it for granted and place little value on it.  They read it occasionally, but they don’t really listen to what is being said. Jesus said this about the Scripture: 

“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).  In the same verse it also declares this: “It is the spirit that giveth life, the flesh profits nothing.”  

So, our relationship with God cannot be attained by things we do. That is why it is so important to listen to God’s Instruction Manual for Life.  The lifestyle which omits reading the Bible, will result in spiritual dryness.  

It is easy to reach the point that Readers Digest or some other printed material will interest a person more that the Bible, and when someone reaches that point, they will read something else. That’s exactly what Satan wants them to do! Sports magazines, historical magazines, home decorating publications and other things become the focus and not the Scripture. I’m not saying to leave off those publications of interest.  What I’m advocating for is that one makes sure they spend the proper time in the Bible so that they will have the right foundations for life.

Any preacher who is honest with himself will have to admit that after studying and studying, writing and writing, and preaching and preaching, giving and giving, they can run out of gas after a while. Here is the answer to that problem: When one opens the Bible and it seems to say nothing, the prescription is to open the Bible. Begin reading anywhere. It really doesn’t matter what passage is read. Read slowly and then read it again and focus on the words that are actually being said. Listen for the message.  Get your pen and paper, pray earnestly and begin reading. Before long you will discover and energy that you had been lacking. Additionally, start a word study on the passage and before long a sermon will begin to emerge.  You will find your energy and interest is being renewed by the Spirit of God. 

It is His desire that the man of God listens to the Spirit of God and then gives the Word of God to the people of God.  Remember this:  The Word of God is the mind of Christ and His instructions to us.  He will begin to inspire the preacher or person who simply gets into the Word and begins reading and studying it.  So, if you are “dry” just follow that little prescription.  God will show you things you never imagined.

But that prescription is not only for preachers.  It applies to any person who is earnestly seeking a word from God and a renewal of their interest in and understanding of the Scriptures.  

For example, Sunday School teachers cannot be effective unless they become a student of the Word.  They should not accept a teaching assignment unless they are willing to put the proper time into understanding the Scripture so that they can impart it to their people in the class time. 

The Instruction Manual for Life has been freely given to us and we should not neglect it.  It will give you the strength and ability to go through the problems of life with assurance and confidence. 

Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com 

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