Without a doubt, the Bible has been read by more people and has changed more lives than any other book in history. It is the most copied or printed work ever and no other book has been translated into more languages. Believe and rejoice in its teaching or reject it completely; no one can honestly deny the Bible’s impact on the world.
Why has this book changed so many lives for the better? The reason is simple; it is the only written work from God and is designed to tell people what they need to know. (Eph. 3:3-4) We learn about the beginning and Creation (Gen. 1), about man’s superior place in God’s design, and about law and sin. (Rom. 7:7-8) From our earliest history the Bible reveals our fall and foretells of God’s promise to save. (Gen. 2 & 3) It makes known God’s true and complete Divine Nature. (Acts 17:22-31) We learn about His love and grace (Rom. 5:1-10), but also about His justice and judgment. (Rom. 2:1-11)
If I had to sum up the Bible’s message in just a word or two, perhaps SALVATION would be a good choice. We learn that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and every sinner needs saving. Specific details about God’s plan to save are first recorded in Genesis 12 with His promise to Abraham. “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies prove, by their fulfillment, that God intended to do what was done. (Isaiah 53 serves as an example of this point)
Just how important is the salvation theme to God’s Word? Jesus came to “seek and to save” the lost. (Luke 19:9-10) It is the reason for Divine revelation. (2 Tim. 3:14-17) It is why we were created. (Eccl. 12:13-14)
The Gospels establish Jesus as the Messiah, the One God always planned to send. (Matt. 1:21-23) Details, like knowing redemption would come from the “precious blood of Christ” were “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” (1 Peter 1:17-21) Even specific events surrounding the first conversion were known by God long before they took place. (Acts 2:14-24) There is simply nothing more important than salvation.
The Lord’s Church should be busy reaching out to the lost. (Rom. 10:13-15)) Local congregations do this by providing a place and time for members to study and grow together. (Eph. 4:11-16) This way every Child of God can reach a point where they are competent to teach others. (2 Tim. 2:2) The local church may also send men out to preach the gospel. (Acts 13:2-3)
Few events are more exciting and fulfilling than when someone’s sins are forgiven because they accept Christ in baptism. There was “great joy” in Samaria when the people “heeded the things spoken by Philip.” What they heeded was Philip’s preaching about Christ, and how they heeded was in baptism. (Acts 8:5-8) The eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” after hearing the Gospel message and being baptized. (Acts 8:27-39) Even angels in heaven rejoice when the lost are saved. (Luke 15:1-10)
It is not unusual for people to follow up this moment of joy with a time of zeal and enthusiasm. Have you ever known new converts to be on fire with passion and intense dedication? They come to every service; often arriving early and staying late just to be around their new spiritual family more. They are hungry to learn, ask questions, and cannot figure it out fast enough. What a delight to see people like this! It has a way of encouraging and motivating those of us who have been Christians for a while.
Unfortunately, there is a danger in letting this bright fire of enthusiasm burn out too soon. Paul said, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Rom. 12:11) I have seen too many people begin their Christian lives with fervor and zest only to flame out before their spiritual journey is finished. (Phil. 3:12-14) Little by little they start to miss a service here and there for no good reason. Pretty soon they get away from the building just as quickly as they can. There was a time when they enjoyed socializing with other Christians and being a part of a hospitable group, but now they seldom get together with their spiritual family.
Why does this happen? Why do people, who were so excited when they learned about Christ, forgiveness, and salvation, lose their zeal? I am sure there may be many factors, but the bottom line is their faith wavered as they settled into the routine of Christianity. It is easy to be enthusiastic about something new and exciting in our lives. The challenge is to maintain this passion as we live day to day.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14) This is a passion deeper than just an excitement for the moment. We are eager to do right and to avoid doing wrong because God has done so much for us. Consistent and steady service is the key to our spiritual success.