April 28, 2009 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Grace Baptist Church, Malanda, Queensland, Australia
Forty years ago one of my old Bible college teachers died in the pulpit, in the middle of his sermon. He paused, sat down, laid aside his earthly tabernacle, and was ushered by the angels into Heaven's gates. I often reflect on the things he taught us. In fact, as I write, I realise that I am still being molded by his life. I am teaching one of my Scripture classes in the public school two new choruses and just realised today that I learned them from that dear old preacher, all those years ago. In the photo album of my heart, his page is especially precious to me, with the corners of the page well worn from turning. The memory that moves me most is not one I saw for myself. A friend gave it to me. The old preacher spoke in chapel one week, and my friend told me he peeked during the prayer before the sermon. To his surprise, the old preacher was kissing the pages of his Bible. That touched me so deeply that I never forgot it. Kissing the pages of his Bible!
THE GOLDEN KEY
Why did his simple, secret act of devotion to the Word of God speak to me so powerfully? For me, it was the dawning of a great truth, a truth which has increased in magnitude over the years until it has become a continual enlightenment to my soul. The truth is this --- A man's attitudes and responses to the Word of God are the key to his godliness. Tell me how a man treats his Bible, how he handles the Holy Scriptures, how he receives and responds to the words of God, and I think I can tell you his life story.
I know, someone will object to this bold affirmation, but its truth is too well established to refute. It is what the centuries keep saying to the hours.
In our day many pastors view the Bible mechanically, and their ministries display their engineering expertise. To them the Bible is a box of tools, or a bin of nuts and bolts. Their churches reflect their view of the Bible. They are workshops of well oiled machinery. Efficient. Running smoothly. Working like a production line, maybe, but cold and impersonal, and without life or love.
Some see the Bible as a book of philosophy, full of erudite and sophisticated reasonings. Their churches are filled with members wearing oxygen masks due to the thin air they must breathe as their pastor leads them way up beyond the top of Mt. Everest in a search for truth beyond Scripture. They are unaware that they are fostering a form of gnosticism, but that is what it is.
Others use their Bibles as sales manuals for prospective customers.
Yet others handle the Word of God as though it were a work of fiction or a movie blockbuster, designed to entertain a bored and jaded world on its way to Hell.
Examples of the Bible being misused could be multiplied endlessly, but what we need to ponder deeply, and frequently, is how godly men have handled their Bibles down through the ages.
HOW GODLY MEN HANDLE THE BIBLE
The Psalmist spoke of this when he wrote, "O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day." Job revealed his heart when he said, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." At the end of the book of Isaiah is my favourite description of the godly and their responses to the Bible. It is found twice, in Isaiah 66, verses 2 and 5, where we read of the man who trembles at the Word of the LORD. In these verses, God promises that He will look to that man (more than he looks to the heavens, the earth, or the temple), and that He will defend that man and honour him. The Jews in Jerusalem, in a time of revival under Ezra, knew what it meant to tremble at the commandments of God (Ezra 9:4 & 10:3). Daniel and his companions (10:7), and Paul (Acts 26:14) trembled at the Words of God. Even unbelievers are seen occasionally trembling at the Word of God. Belshazzar's knees gave way at the very sight of the handwriting on the wall (Dan.5:6). Possibly the best text on men trembling at the Word of God is Exodus 19:16, 18, when both the mountain and the people quaked and trembled (same Hebrew word) at the presence and voice of God.
LESSONS FOR THOSE WHO WOULD TREMBLE
It is from such texts that we learn three great lessons.
First, it is usually when the Word of God is spoken, and sometimes when it is written, that it has the power to make men tremble! Worldly wise men, ever so eloquent and refined, never speak the Words of God with power! They may inform and entertain, and they may sway the multitudes or move them to tears, but they can never call down the power of God upon their hearers.
Second, when the Words of the LORD are spoken in faith by holy men, and with power, men quake and tremble before the God of Heaven. Surely this is the missing factor in our churches' equations for blessing! The dry bones are never brought to life until there is a shaking, and there is never a shaking until an Ezekiel prophesies over them (in fear and trembling) with the Word of the Lord.
Third, when men tremble at the Words of the Lord, sceptics tend to be few and far between. There were no German rationalists in the congregation in Exodus 19 that trembled before the voice of God. Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, are wonderfully silent on the subject of modern sceptical criticism of the Word of God. Israel was too busy trembling at the Word of the Lord to be sceptical. Mssrs. Westcott and Hort were absent. Griesbach, Lachmann, and Semler, Aland, and all his sceptical disciples disappear like mist before the burning sun when men tremble at the Bible. It ought to be painfully obvious to one and all that critical men have no desire to fellowship with those who tremble at the Word of God. I have read enough of Westcott and Hort to perceive that they did not fit in with the evangelistic meetings of D.L. Moody or Gypsy Smith. Hudson Taylor and George Muller were no heroes of the men who loved the whisper of the Serpent's criticism of God's Words. Arrogant men who avoid the bold preaching of the gospel despise the Bible, and their judgment is near. Proverbs 13:13 reads, "Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed, but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded." It is in the peace and quiet of the Garden, not in the shadow of Boanerges' pulpit that we find the sceptical questions of the critics as to the accuracy and interpretation of the Words of the Lord.
Surely, the need of the hour is for God's men to preach with power the Word of God, and to do so in faith, and men will tremble once again before the God of Heaven and at His Words!
Christmas Evans knew very little English and preached almost entirely in Welsh. His fiery preaching brought so many to Christ, and they rejoiced in their Saviour so loudly, that many English preachers accused him of excess. One of his critics came to hear Evans for himself, so Evans attempted to translate a phrase here and there into English for his guest's benefit. So powerful was the Word of the Lord from the lips of the old one-eyed preacher, even in Welsh, that the English preacher, smitten with conviction, cried out, "Is this my dear Saviour? Lead me to him!!!"
Which, I think, adds another piece to the puzzle.
Trembling saints are contagious if their trembling is at the Word of God.
Oh God, make us to tremble before Thy Word.
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