The times in which
we are living have produced a philosophy of life based on human feelings and
human desires. The whole purpose of life is to satisfy men, or so we are told.
Young people seek to discover their true selves and search for satisfaction
in the satiation of their five senses.
This is the result
of a humanism which for the last fifty to seventy-five years has been held before
the minds of the race as the hope of mankind. Man has made great progress in
technology, in medicine, and certain sciences, so he feels he is capable of
other discoveries which will further elevate man in his own eyes. One branch
of so-called science is psychology. In this area he thinks he has made great
discoveries and presumes to prescribe for the members of the race who are in
trouble mentally, socially, or some other way. But with all the discussions
and the accumulated opinions of men there seems always to be a definite lack
of comprehension of the human psyche, leaving man on an island, stranded in
the mire of his own turmoil.
Most learning is
built on known discoveries of the past. Because the supposed solutions of the
past have not always worked, they suppose they must trash such "knowledge" and
proceed blindly to find new answers. The problem, however, is that solutions
of the past have not been tried, or sufficiently or correctly applied to see
if they work. Men do not need to re-invent the wheel. They do not need to expend
energy or money on what has been proved over and over. They simply use what
has been proved. Though the principles of Christianity have been proved again
and again, men assume that they do not as they look at society and see so much
of what is obviously not the teaching of the Bible, or of the Lords churches.
A MANUAL FOR
A reliable manufacturer provides with his product not only a guarantee, but
an instruction manual for its use. Following these instructions gives the best
or most satisfactory service. God has graciously revealed to man what He needs
to know about His Maker and about himself, so that he can live happily now and
prepare for life hereafter.
As with so many
things purchased men tend to assume they can put together or use what he has
bought using his own judgment. Often he ignores the manual or the instructions
and then finds later that he has spoiled the product or is utterly helpless
in making it work. Our life is too valuable to waste it on such careless procedures.
If we spend our money for a product we at least ought to learn how to use it
before creating an embarrassing problem or losing the product entirely. In the
same way we should learn of our beginnings, our limitations, our true needs,
and the consequences of failing in any of these areas. Where is this information
available? God has provided a Bible which gives all the information we need
regarding the most important elements of our being.
Before the Bible
came to us in printed form men had to depend on a direct contact with their
Maker. When Job was in deep trouble there was need of such information. No one
had a Bible in those days, evidently because it had not been given. If it were
available, surely Job or one of his friends would have been quoting from it,
since they were conscientious men. Job himself, according to a record preserved
to us in what is likely the first Bible book written, was a righteous man. God
Himself is quoted as saying he was. He walked in humility in spite of his riches,
and he shared his material wealth with those less fortunate. There was an enemy,
according to this record, who judged men by the way they responded to the good
provided them, feeling that God is a respecter of persons. He felt that His
giving of such benefits to Job is what kept him in line. The principle is still
around, as that enemy spreads this falsehood today. It is stated a number of
ways: "Every man has his price." "What is in it for me?" "You scratch my back
and Ill scratch yours." "Nobody works that hard for nothing." On and on we
could go, giving these expressions which suggest that we are all covetous, selfish,
looking out for Number One. Every falsehood has a measure of truth behind it,
else no one would be deceived by it. Men are selfish. They do care for themselves
and often do not care who gets hurt as long as they get their way. It is a doctrine
from the enemy, Satan himself.
God did not make
man to live this way. God Himself is not like that. He made man in His own image,
meaning that he is possessed of self--determining elements. When a man allows
these to dominate his decisions and his life he becomes a very detestable being.
There are elements
of ones make up which will counteract the self motive when necessary. Love,
compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and many others will make for great sacrifices
for the sake of others. This is seen in the Person of God.
How do we learn
about these potential elements of human personality? In spite of sin in the
world, a direct outgrowth of selfishness, a certain amount of the good elements
still show in human beings. We often summarize these as "the milk of human kindness."
For the most part, however, the love of self destroys this in men. They are
cruel, unforgiving, unloving, unkind, and untrustworthy. All of these bad qualities
and more come to us by birth, marking the original disobedience of man. The
best source of information as to what a man is like will be found in the Bible.
God gave us this book so we could see ourselves as He sees us. Along side this
picture is the picture of perfect goodness in Himself, particularly in Jesus
His Son. We are told that no man is capable of imitating the perfect example,
no matter how hard he tries. To overcome this weakness in man God has demonstrated
His own love, compassion, and specially mercy, and does something which goes
beyond our expectations. He assumes the responsibility for our helplessness.
Since we did not make ourselves in the first place we did not just happen
our Maker stands behind the product He has made and will correct it. This
does not overlook the fact that we abused the product and brought on the damage.
All He requires for a refurbishing of our lives is that we do not interfere
in His work and allow Him to make us like Himself. This is called faith. Trust
of the Maker would seem to be easy. Man, however, does not like to admit his
limitations. He desires our confidence and wants us to depend on Him consistently
THE BIBLE AS
A MANUAL FOR LIFE
who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers
by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son (Greek,
in a Son), whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made
-- Hebrews. 1:1, 2
God speaks. He
uses various ways to convey His messages. He speaks at different times. Men
are not able to bear all of Gods wisdom, nor all the may sometime need, all
at once, so He gives it distributively, or progressively. Before any part of
these words were recorded in a Book, the Bible, God spoke to men to meet the
particular needs of their lives:
there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them
-- Job 32:8
The English word
inspiration only occurs here and at 2 Timothy 3:16. The sense is the same. God
breathes in or on a man to give him the thoughts, even the very words, which
he needs for understanding. Elihu, the speaker, said that the spirit constrained
him to speak (Job 32:18). He was moved by the Truth which registered within
himself to explain what older men had not explained. He felt that God would
take him away in death if he did not present what he felt in his inner self
God does so move
on men to know Him. But we are ahead of our purpose. Before the Bible was given
in its completion men had to depend on this inspiration for information about
God. It seems this is likely the manner in which "wise men from the East" knew
about the coming of the Christ. It is suggested that even lost men have enough
of such "inspiration" or help to know about God and be without excuse if they
refuse Him (Romans 1:19, 20). The heavens declare His glory and the things which
are made give understanding (Psalm 19:1-4 ; Romans 1:20). A mans comprehension
is limited by his own blindness, so God graciously goes further and sends men
who have His Truth, including the Bible, so that men may know about God and
about themselves as they stand before God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16, spec. v. 14).
HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND
A common complaint is that men do not understand stand the Bible. They excuse
themselves on the grounds that they did not get much education, so they cannot
grasp the meaning. They then assume they are dependent upon men who can explain
it to them. Several things are wrong with this conclusion: "Every one shall
give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). Then the lack of understanding
just may be a blindness brought on by our own sinfulness.
Men believe what
they choose to believe. As long as we set ourselves to judge the Bible instead
of allowing it to judge us we are likely to miss its meaning. In other words
one has to be honest with what is obvious. When our own heart condemns us there
must be a reason. We can use the modern psychological explanation and blame
it on our parents or some condition in our childhood. But the truth is, we know
when we have done wrong.
We can see it in
what it does to our health (self), to our families (an extension of self), our
neighbors, and all others who have any contact with us.
the word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight (nobody can
hide from God E. B.) but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of
him with whom we have to do." --
We can argue that
this is just an opinion of men who are blinded by religion, but we must consider
the possibility that it is ourselves who are blinded. "But if our gospel be
hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan)
hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious
gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians
4:3, 4). This blinding naturally is upon sinners who have not accepted the statements
of the Bible, it is also on those who have trusted the Lord to save them, but
have not surrendered their lives completely to Him (1 John 2:11).
We see, then, that
God reveals Himself so that men may know what it is that gives them the guilt
feelings they have when they do things which are wrong. There is a standard
of right and wrong. It is not simply the facetious requirements of a segment
of the human race. God is the source of such a standard. If it be asked why
he has determined that certain things are wrong and certain other things are
right, the answer is that He has made this determination based upon His own
nature. Some things are simply contrary to His nature. These He will not do
and does not will that His creatures do them. Others are in accord with His
nature and these He would have His creatures do. Inasmuch as He is the Creator
He has the right to make such requirements upon all His creatures. It is not
that He is simply dogmatic and jealous of His own Self lest men do wrong. He
is holy and just and desires holiness and righteousness in all men.
Do we not all like
others who like the things we like? Are we not drawn to those with the same
interests? There is no other eternal being who could provide God with fellowship,
so He made men who might fellowship with Him. But how can He fellowship those
who are contrary to Him?
Whatever is put
down as good is there because God is good. Whatever is not good is labeled as
sin. God did this from the beginning. He knew, of course, that men might go
contrary to Himself, so He warned them from the start. This is the lesson of
the "tree of life" and the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." We must
understand that there is a God who made us and He is in a position to determine
what shall be permitted and what shall be judged and punished. "Shall not the
Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). "Is anything too hard for
the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).
IS THE BIBLE
TOO HARD FOR MAN?
If God is the Creator He has the right to do with men what is right in His own
eyes. This, perhaps, is the reason man chooses to believe in evolution. If he
came this way then there is no God, so we do not have to be concerned with the
Bible and its restrictions. But just a minute: If man came by evolution from
a lower form of life, where did that lower form come from? If it came from a
still lower, going on back to a mere chemical existence, how do we account for
that existence. If there were nothing on the earth but one big rock, who made
Did the rock just
crystallize itself out of the nothingness of space. Even so, who accounts for
the space. We are assuming there had to be "something" before we can proceed
with the evolving process. There had to be something before there could be a
"big bang." Frankly, it is just too hard to believe that it all "just happened."
I prefer to believe, as the Bible teaches, that it is all designed, coming from
the hand of an All-wise, Supernatural God.
How about understanding
the Bible itself? Is it not a riddle, full of strange stories and happenings?
Is it not filled with symbols or figures of speech? Yes, there are some of these.
These are also found in the writings of men.
Language is of
such a nature that words must be used. If those words are sufficient to describe
what we are thinking we use them literally. If not, we take some words and inject
them into areas which are not literal. Literal language has to do with things
pertaining to the body, the past, present or future. But when we speak of the
mind, or of the spirit and soul, we must use words. Some of the same words will
suffice, but others must be figurative. We know that in English some words are
compounds, that is, two or more elements of a language are put together to describe
Take the word conceive.
It is made up of com, together, and capere, to take; hence, to take in, receive.
To take into the womb is the literal idea. But intellectually, one takes in
an idea and conceives an extended idea. He puts together two or more ideas to
give a more extensive thought. The process is the same, and might be said to
be literal, but it illustrates how non-literal language becomes literal. The
extended thought may reach beyond literal, material, things to that we call
A spiritual "taking
in" might be called a quickening, or making alive, and we approach the early
elements of the spiritual operation we call a "new birth." These things are
real enough for believers, but they are not literal in the sense they are physical
or material in nature. A thing may be real without being material or concrete.
We can think of real things which are not material. We can "feel" these things
but not with the physical sense of touch. They register in our physical beings
but are physical in the sense of visible happenings. But even what is not open
to the eye may be seen, as any blind man can tell you.
This excuse that
symbols and figures of speech and of syntax are too hard soon breaks down, for
all men, including unregenerate men, are familiar with language which conveys
ideas and expresses feelings which are not visible to the eye nor subject to
the touch of the hand. May we stop these lame excuses of saying it is too hard
and allow ourselves the luxury of taking language in context. This means we
allow the thought to extend into areas which are not subject to the five physical
senses in order to appreciate truth which goes beyond what pertains to the body.
Maybe the psychologist can be satisfied with the explanation that the whole
of life is a form of the reproductive process, particularly what is called "sex"
in these degraded times, but we all know that life has many expressions and
experiences which transcend the merely physical.
Thus, the language
of the Bible has to do with much more than that which is temporal. It reaches
back before our birth and it extends beyond the grave. If some symbols are necessary
to convey the feelings or the sense of eternal things, though those eternal
things touch the area of time in which we live, then may we not allow such symbols
or figures. The rule is, we take the literal sense of language except as this
makes language ridiculous. Then we check to see if there is not a figurative
A SEVERE FAULT
IN READING THE SCRIPTURES
Unconsciously men read the Bible in order to prove their preconceived ideas
of what it says. Even conscientious people do this. For example, when a family
raises up children they are taught what the parents believe, if they are sincere
Christians. The result is that the children believe the teachings of the parents
in large part. They may be interfered with by peers, by the educational system,
and by the spirit of the age. Yet, we expect our children to believe as we do.
It is very sad
to realize that where parents do not give serious attention to their beliefs,
particularly when they let the children "make up their own minds," as so many
claim to do, thinking this is the right approach, the children are left in a
confusing world and often neglect to look into the things of God as they should.
Is one being good to his child, or even fair, if he allows that child just to
absorb whatever ideas are thrown out wherever he might be? I think not. Suppose
the parent feels he himself is weak or uncertain about spiritual things. Do
we just ignore the welfare of the child? I fear most do, for that is the nature
of weak convictions. But we bring our children into the world and are therefore
responsible for the direction in which they are pointed. We cannot excuse ourselves
and say that everyone must decide for himself. Yes, everyone does, but parents
are responsible in large degree for that child would not have been born had
it not been for them. We thus assume a tremendous responsibility in bringing
a new human life into the world.
Are you uncertain
about your own course in spiritual matters? Has a thought ever arisen as to
whether you have chosen the right course? If it has, then you are responsible
to begin by study and prayer to learn for yourself what God has told us in His
Word. Listen to His voice in the creation. Study, pray, seek the Lord. Come
to a personal knowledge of Him. Know the peace and the assurance which can be
felt. Get your own convictions. "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man
dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7). The next verse tells us that our lives are
lived to the Lord. We are His, so we dare not go on in selfwill, striving for
self pleasing things. Whether we accept the responsibility or not, we are in
debt to our families, our neighbors, our community, our nation. We are not mere
creatures of time, here today and dead forever. We are beings from the hand
of God, spiritual beings, and it behooves us to recognize this and become responsible
to Him who made us.
soul may feel he is wise in touching that about which he knows little or nothing.
But is indifference a proper assumption of responsibility Each of us is responsible
to God, not just for our own lives but in large measure for the lives of t hose
around us, specially those close to us. It is not just negligence; it is gross
sin to ignore God in this way. It says that God is unworthy of our attention.
He is not good enough to claim my time or my possessions. This attitude is not
only the sin of unbelief, but it is the sin of rebellion. We would think that
a child, our own child, is rebellious, if he regularly neglected to heed what
we tell him. We tell him for his own good and safety, and for the good and safety
of those around him. Also, what we tell him is for the good of children to be
born years later. A life built day by day and it begins with birth. The preparing
of the mind and heart, as well as the body, is for the sake of the individual
child, but also for posterity. God planned it that way and we are refusing to
allow His plan when we just ignore His word. We cannot say that lack of time
to make a living, or any other thing, is justification for neglecting the study
of the Bible worship, and a proper ordering of our lives after the principles
God has given us.
God Himself put
the curse on the creation the man. Yes, it takes time to deal with the elements
of the curse, but our dealing with them is occasion to think of God and why
we are in this position . It is a lesson we must learn.