Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Would you die for a paperweight?

Know how libraries have banned book months? Where some books just have content that’s too extreme to be allowed?  I worked in a library all through high school and college, and the banned books events always fascinated me–mostly because I thought it was ironic that libraries seem to boast about how many banned books they keep in their catalog.

Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of it being banned? Always made me smile.

Have you ever read a banned book? There are lists all over the place, some comprehensive and others not so much.

Well, the Bible is the ultimate banned book. People have died for this book, and that can’t be said of Huckleberry Finn or The Color Purple. Both great stories, but nobody died because they owned a copy.

So why are people afraid of the Bible? What is it about the Bible that scares people so much?

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Ephesians 5:8-14.

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible.

The Bible calls itself the Word of God over and over again. All throughout Scripture, the Bible is called light because it is Truth. And the problem with Truth (and Light) is that it reveals what’s hidden in darkness, and revealing what’s done in the dark makes people uncomfortable. It demonstrates that we’re not as good as we think we are, that we need a Savior, that we are not the final decision maker in our own lives, that our lives (in fact) don’t belong to us anyway.

Christ-followers don’t talk about the Bible as much as we should. Maybe that’s because it intimidates us. Maybe that’s because we don’t think it’s relevant. Maybe we’ve never tried. But the fact is, Christ followers know what we know about God from the Bible.

So why don’t more Christians know what’s in the Bible? Honestly, I meet more Christians who know more about reality TV than they do about Scripture. And, believe me, I like entertainment, but the life lessons (worth keeping)that  you can pick up on TV didn’t begin on TV. They started in Scripture.

The Bible can be intimidating, that’s for sure, especially if you’ve never tried to read it. But there’s something about the Bible that might make it more interesting, if you think about it.

Whether you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God or not, you have to recognize how many people have given up their lives or their freedom simply by owning a copy and refusing to give it up.

Regardless of what is written in it, first take into account how it has changed the course of human history, how it has changed the lives of people who read it, and how it seems to terrify governments everywhere. Have you ever thought of that?

Without even mentioning that there exists more evidence to the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible than any other historical manuscript in the world, how it changes people should get you interested in what it’s about. Irrelevant books don’t change people.

(And, yes, the change in people’s lives comes from the power of the Holy Spirit, but you know what I mean.)

If you’re looking for an undeniable source of truth to base your life on, realize how many others have chosen the Bible. Again, I’m not saying you should believe the Bible is truth just because so many others have. But I’m saying you ought to take it seriously. And, if nothing else, it ought to make you realize that reading the Bible isn’t as impossible as people seem to think it is.

Uncounted Christ-followers in the age of the Early Church were murdered for their faith. That hasn’t changed either. More people are killed for their faith today than in ancient times.

I’m not talking about dying for their faith. I’m talking about being murdered for their faith. There’s a big difference there.

People don’t die for coffee table paperweights. These are real people, with real lives, real choices–and they are willing to give up their lives (often in brutal or sadistic ways) rather than give up their faith.

So whether you’re ready to accept what the Bible is or not, at least recognize that it’s more than fairytale. Be willing to really consider it. Be open to researching what it really is and where it came from, who believed it and who died for it, and I think you might surprised.

God’s Word won’t do you any good if you don’t listen.

Today’s verse is Matthew 24:35. And, as is normally my habit, I went ahead and read the rest of the chapter just to understand the context. And I tell you what, if you have a moment this morning, you really should read the whole chapter. Wow. That’s all I have to say. The whole chapter is both electrifiying and terrifying. And I don’t know about you, but verses 9-14 sounds awfully like the world we’re living in today. …

Matthew 24:35 says this:

35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

I was trying to think of something really deep and powerful to say about this verse this morning, but the beauty about Scripture is that I don’t have to be deep. Scripture is deep enough on its own without me trying to explain it. And–actually–that fact in itself pretty much explains this verse.

The Bible is the most unique book ever written. It’s the No. 1 bestseller of all time. It’s been translated into more languages than any other piece of literature. And parts of it are considered the oldest pieces of “literature” that still survive. There may be some argument that the Epic of Gilgamesh is older but I think Job may be the same age. I can’t remember. Anyway, it’s old. But even though it’s old, it’s still relevant to our culture.

Believe it or not, it is. If you have trouble believing the Bible is relevant to our world today, get a translation that makes sense to you (New Living Translation or the Message) and then read it again and you’ll understand that there isn’t a single event or circumstance in our modern world that hasn’t already happened in the Bible. There isn’t a single problem anyone has that God hasn’t showed us how to overcome through Scripture.

And I guess the thing about the verse this morning that leaves me speechless is the fact that Jesus said that His words would never disappear — and they haven’t. The Bible has been around for thousands and thousands of years. And it’s still intact. That’s what boggles my mind.

And I’m not going to go into the details of manuscript preservation and accuracy of the original manuscripts. If you want to discuss that, there are other places for that. But I’ve done the research, and anyone who can believe that the Bible isn’t 100 percent what God wanted us to have right now hasn’t read it. Anyone who can believe that the Bible is just a book of stories about morality hasn’t read it. Anyone who believes that Bible doesn’t make sense hasn’t read it.

So if you believe any of those things … read it.

Ha! And if you don’t believe any of those things … read it.

The Bible is God’s Word. It’s the way He communicates with us. Yeah, there may be a few people who God speaks to directly. I’m not going to dispute that (be careful with that, though; here’s another good reason to read the whole chapter of Matthew 24). And there are definitely times when I have felt the Holy Spirit urging me to do something but not exactly in an audible voice. The vast majority of the time, if God wants to tell us something, He’s already told us … in Scripture. And we just have to read it to find out what He wants us to do.

So you can carry a Bible around all you want or have them sitting all over your house. But they won’t do you any good if you don’t read them. And they won’t make any sense to you if you don’t study them.

So what are you waiting for? The words written in Scripture are the same words God spoke thousands of years ago. They’re the same words Jesus spoke. They’re the same words God moved prophets to write, kings to sing, shepherd boys to compose. They haven’t changed. And they won’t change. So instead of just taking peoples’ word for it, why don’t you read it for yourself?