The Young Man And His Bible
Mr. Donald K. Steele of Peterborough, Ont., is president of Kawartha Lakes Bible School and an elder in the Edmison Heights Bible Chapel. He is employed as an audio-visual coordinator by the Peterborough County Board of Education, married, and the father of two teenage daughters.
This helpful study is the first of an extended series of studies by Mr. Steele, designed especially for young men.
As we begin this new series for young men, it must be clear to all of us that young men are the future of the assemblies. If we are not encouraging the young men among us to grow spiritually, to serve faithfully, and to worship intelligently, we shall have either no assembly in the future, or one that is greatly impoverished through our lack of vision. What a tragedy to visit an assembly where the sons of the elders do not attend, or show no interest in the work. How sad it is to see an assembly where a few do all the work, assume all the responsibility, and do not make any visible attempt to share the blessing of work and service with others who might need only a little responsibility to catch fire and begin to grow.
I usually think of myself as a young man of forty-four. If you are a young man of nineteen, or twenty-four, you would think of me as middle-aged.
Somehow it is true that we are as young as we feel, as was perfectly expressed by the American management consultant, Peter F. Drucker, who said, “Here I am fifty-seven years old, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!” This series of articles then, is for young men, and I shall adamantly resist defining that group as beginning or ending at any particular chronological age.
We must also assume that the young man reading this article is born again, regenerated by the mighty power of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such young men have new life, eternal life, different from natural life in both duration and quality, and they know that they belong to God, and that He has a significant part to play in the direction and goals of their entire future here on earth. It is to such young men that we speak, concerning the Bible.
Some “Musts” About the Bible
The Bible must be appreciated for what it is. It is the mighty Word of God, quick and powerful, with a cutting edge which goes through sham and pretence and carves right to the heart of the, malaise and wickedness enveloping so much of our civilization today (Heb. 4:12). We must appreciate that the Bible is true, not only in a broad outline, but in very particular points. To assert that any part of the Bible is myth, as modernists do of the account of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, is to attack and attempt to destroy the credibility of all Scripture, for if parts cannot be believed, then can any of it be believed? Young man, do you truly appreciate the sacred Word of God, in all its purity, truth, majesty and power? There is no other book on earth like it, for it alone was written by God for man, to reveal His divine plan for the ages.
Elementary though it may appear to many, the Bible must be read! If we read newspapers, magazines, or even commentaries and biographies, but neglect the reading of the Bible, we are missing the best for that which is clearly second best. Almost any young man can read the Bible through in a year by setting aside twenty minutes a day for such reading. Is it asking too much that we attempt to read God’s Word through each year? If Bible school students can do it in eight months, together with all their other studies and areas of service, surely you can do it in a year. The blessing to be derived will be much greater than the effort involved. Of course, we are not advocating simply skimming for the sake of getting through, but a thoughtful and careful reading, noting difficulties, and seeking advice or clarity from commentaries or other Christians. Often we can gain insight by simply reading the passage again in the Amplified Version or some other translation. This leads us into the notion that the Bible must be understood. It does no good to read, if we do not understand what we read. Understanding comes from study, and study involves footnotes, marginal notes, concordance use, commentaries, and such tools as the serious student will quickly acquire as he looks into the Word of God in a determined and orderly manner.
The Bible must also be believed. Salvation comes to us as we believe what the Word of God teaches us concerning the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins at Calvary, and his burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of His Father above. There is no salvation without belief, nor can there be any spiritual growth without further belief. Does the Bible tell us that we are all sinners by nature and by practice? Then we’d better believe it, and learn what the remedy for sin is, not only for the unsaved, but also for the born-again sinner, for salvation is not by any means the instant end to all our sinning. 1 John 1:9 tells us what to do about sin in the life of the believer. Does the Bible tell us that God prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah? Then we’d better believe it. God does not lie. If man can prepare a machine which will take 100 men around the world under water, as a nuclear submarine can do, is it expecting too much of God that He could prepare a fish or whale (the two are not the same thing at all) to carry Jonah for a few days, as a mighty lesson to the errant prophet concerning the doing of God’s will? Surely we must believe the Word, in every particular, if it is to grip our lives and have its wonderful cleansing and instructing effect upon us.
The Bible must also be memorized. I was thrilled recently to read the biography of Dawson Trotman, and to learn of the tremendous emphasis on Bible memorization that he promoted as he founded the world-wide organization, the Navigators. If a young man is to be able to use the Bible properly, it must be stored in the heart, where its cleansing power was recognized by the psalmist (Psa. 119:11). Organizations such as the Navigators and, for children, the AWANA clubs, have given much thought to which verses are key verses and worthy of memorization. Other mighty students of the Word have, of course, memorized whole books, and we have heard of some who committed the entire New Testament to memory, a great but not impossible task.
The Bible must be defended. Today, as never before, the Bible is under attack by modernists, humanists, agnostics and athiests, all of whom deny its authority and power because they do not wish to live according to God’s plan for His people. The church today has been infiltrated by apostate teachers [see Peter (2 Pet. 2:1); Jude (v. 4); and Paul (Gal. 2:4)] whose teaching is sensual, demonic, rejects authority, and despises the majesty and power of God. Authors such as Harold Lindsell in his book The Battle for the Bible have covered this topic very well, and they should be read.
The Bible must be taught. There are those among our assemblies who seem to believe that every public service on the Lord’s Day must be devoted solely to the preaching of the gospel. Now the preaching of the gospel is important, but it is not the sole reason for the existence of the church. The church, even in the great commission, is exhorted to go and to “make disciples” of the lost, and those who are converted are not made into disciples without the serious and consistent teaching of the Word. I have noted that in many of our assemblies the morning service, or Family Bible Hour, is held at the same hour as the Sunday School. Usually all the teenage folk attend the family Bible Hour and are considered too old for Sunday School. In many of these same assemblies, the teenage group is conspicuously absent from the midweek prayer and Bible study service. When, then, do they receive any teaching in the assembly? Not many young people’s meetings are geared to a teaching ministry either, and so it is possible for young people in many churches to drift along through these incredibly important and formative years, almost totally untaught in the vital truths of the Word of God! For a group which once prided itself on the teaching of Scriptures, and a folk who were known as the people of the Book, we have drifted rather far. I say again, the Bible must be taught, and there is nothing quite like a lively group Bible study well led and carefully guided to whet the appetite for more!
Questions to Ask and Answer
As a young man, where do you stand with respect to your Bible? God has given it to you. It is quite literally your operator’s manual for the Christian life. It is your handbook, your guidebook. How often do you refer to it, study it, read it, memorize it, and work at understanding it? Is it precious to you? Do you appreciate its majesty, its sublime truth, and its enduring nature? Do you defend it before those who would tear it apart and render it obsolete and insignificant? Do you seek to have it taught in your assembly, by the Sunday School teachers, elders, visiting speakers, and all who show an aptitude for such work? A young man who would make his life count for God must begin with the Word of God, for this is the source of learning, wisdom, power, and blessing. Young man use your Bible! An unknown writer has left us this wonderfully compact comment on the Book of books:
This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy.