Bibles are everywhere. Following centuries of painstaking hand copy-work, Gutenberg’s press began to churn them out around 1456. Since then, the most published book in human history has been distributed in 7.5 billion copies and counting.
Thanks to the Gideons there’s one in your hotel room. You may own a few old Bibles passed down by a parent or grandparent. Perhaps there’s a BIG family Bible. Random versions from who-knows-where likely reside on your shelves. The average household holds three or four.
Nowadays “there’s an app for that” and a great website called Biblegateway.com displays any version in your choice of language, searchable and on demand.
The Bible’s attestations to its own value and veracity often fall on skeptical ears. Its human authors say they were “carried along by the Holy Spirit,” calling the contents “God-breathed” and enduring. Compelling support to the power and truth of the Judeo-Christian scriptures is seen in their longevity, stewarded and refined across 5 millenia. Add to that their unequaled distribution, with portions in 2,400 languages touching 90% of the world’s readers.
But, the real proof is in the changed life, re-directed, restored, and saved by the power of the Good News. Seven hundred years before Christ the prophet Isaiah believed that God personally gave Him this statement about “the Word of God:”
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Some time ago, a man was distributing Bibles in Zimbabwe when he received an antagonistic response. “If you give me that New Testament, I will roll the pages and use them to make cigarettes!” “I understand that,” the book bearer replied. “But at least promise to read the page before you smoke it.” The man agreed and took the New Testament.
Years later, that man who had given the New Testament was attending a church convention in Zimbabwe. The speaker on the platform suddenly spotted him, pointed him out to the audience, and said, “This man doesn’t remember me, but fifteen years ago he tried to sell me a New Testament. When I refused to buy it, he gave it to me, even though I told him I would use the pages as cigarette paper. I smoked Matthew and I smoked Mark and I smoked Luke. But when I got to John 3:16, I couldn’t smoke anymore. My life was changed from that moment!”
The Lenten season is upon us. Christian’s often give something up for Lent. This year, let me suggest that you also pick something up for Lent, a Bible, in a readable version. Unlike cigarettes, it doesn’t have a warning label but perhaps it should: “CAUTION: It has been determined that this book will be beneficial to your health…forever. Handle with care.”