Now this is not my first time to read the Bible cover to cover. This is in fact my fourth complete reading. The first time I read it was as part of a college course. The professor told me she would flunk me if I didn’t read it. I didn’t put too much effort into that first reading, but I did get a passing grade. And along the way I did learn a few things. The second time I read it was because of peer pressure. I was in a church where it seems everybody else was doing it, and they were all staring at me wondering why I wouldn’t get with the program. So I did. And I picked up a few more things. The third time I read it was because of my own choosing, and it’s amazing how much more I learned. This time through is the best reading so far.
People who say they don’t believe the Bible really bother me. The main reason is because they nearly always say they have never read it. I would hate to show my absolute stupidity by getting out there and making authoritative statements about things I know absolutely nothing about. A while back I talked at length about the Masons. There’s a reason I don’t trust those boys. I know too much about them. I think every self-respecting atheist ought to read the Bible at least once before coming out with their declaration.
Some say they don’t believe the Bible, but I have a greater problem – I do believe it. The ignorant can just avoid it all, call it rubbish, and they don’t have to deal with any of it. I believe it all and have to deal with all the problems found in it. And here’s a bit of truth: the Bible doesn’t pull any punches. We like to paint our heroes in a good light. The Bible brings out the great flaws in the lives of the most beloved people. And it gets even worse than thatn. It gets into the motives of men’s hearts. As of February 13, 2010, I am in I Kings, and this is the hardest reading I’ve done so far. I think the reason is because I am awake and paying more attention than before.
And I don’t want to give the idea that it’s only the heathens who don’t want to read to the Bible. Last year I was visiting a church and after the Sunday morning service I told the preacher I was reading the Bible through for the fourth time. During his message the next Sunday he made sure to say that reading the Bible for yourself was way overrated. And I know he is not alone in his thinking. Back when I was a boy, Catholics were encouraged not to try to read and understand the Bible on their own. That sort of thing needed to be left to the highly educated professionals. They would in turn explain it to us lesser mortals. And indeed, there have been times in our history when it was against the law to own a Bible. Violators and translators were imprisoned, and sometimes put to death. And I’m not talking about in Communist China; I’m talking about laws and persecutions extracted by the church on its own people.
And here’s the grain of truth behind the thinking that average Christians should not try to study and understand the Bible on their own – the Bible is hard to understand. Before I start reading each day, I make sure to ask the Almighty to help me understand. The things in the Bible are not figured out with the natural mind. If He doesn’t give me understanding, then I will remain ignorant. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person in the Trinity, and one of His jobs is to help us understand the Bible. Thomas Jefferson tried to understand the Bible without relying on the Holy Spirit, and you ought to see a copy of the Jefferson Bible. It is so incredibly thin. He read the Bible and accepted only what he could understand and prove. The Bible says the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and that made sense to him, so he accepted it as truth. The rivers run to the seas and clouds bring rain – well sure! But he rejected those parts of the Bible that required faith and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
And at some point, I can actually see why some get disturbed when folks get to studying the Bible. There’s no getting around the fact the pages of history are dripping with blood that has been shed in the name of Jesus. The Name of Jesus is the most powerful Name and if you want justification for killing, then there’s no better way to do it than to do it in the Name of Jesus. Charles Manson, Jim Jones, early Catholic leaders, the KKK, Nazis: they all pled a Divine calling for their actions. They all pointed to scripture for their reason. They mishandled the Word of God, but it sure worked. They gave people conviction to fight and kill. If Jesus weren’t the real deal, He would have long ago been rejected by sane thinking men.
I am not approaching the Bible as some casual read. I don’t think of it as studying Shakespeare. The Bible is from the Almighty and it has changed the course of history – sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. I want Him to use it to make a good change in me.
Makin’ sawdust & Diggin’ the music