|Volume 19 Number 7 July 2017||
Why should you allow the Bible to direct your life? There are critics who ridicule people who live by principles found in the Bible. The critics mock Bible believers calling them by prejudicial names—names like “Bible-thumpers,” “stupid,” “ignorant,” “judgmental” and perhaps the most despised name of all, “intolerant.” When I choose to believe in the Bible as a guiding principle of my life, then I risk being called by these names. However, why should I allow an ancient book to direct my life? Why should you?
People who genuinely believe in the Bible as God’s Word want to live by the Bible’s principles. These people believe that the Bible’s principles have come from God. When people practice Bible principles, they become the finest examples of human behavior anywhere in the world! That’s right! That is a good reason to follow the teachings of the Bible because they are the best principles in the world by which to live.
Jesus’ half-brother James put it this way:
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 ESV)
This is an excellent description of a Christian who is basing his or her life on Jesus Christ and His biblical principles for living. Does that mean that every believer in Christ is living by Jesus’ principles? No! Unfortunately, not every so-called Christian believes in living by the Bible.
James shows us that there are two kinds of conventional wisdom in the world. James calls one of them earthly whereas the other is heavenly; heavenly wisdom comes from God. The earthly wisdom is based on getting ahead in life. It’s all about me! My behavior will be unspiritual and even devilish when I live out of jealousy and selfish ambition. On the other hand, if I live by heavenly principles, then those principles will first be pure. That is, heavenly principles are lived without selfish ulterior motives. Instead of clashing with the ambitions of other people, my actions will be “peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Don’t you like to deal with someone with those characteristics? Friend, if you are not a Christian, and yet you behave according to those heavenly principles, then by some means you have learned that this is the best way to live life. In fact, by treating other people this way, you are practicing Jesus’ Golden Rule by treating others the way you wish to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Jesus’ apostle Peter had this to say to Christians:
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:11-17)
Friends, Peter’s advice came from the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians were ridiculed in the first century just like they are today. Christians were living lives that the majority thought was completely ridiculous. Yet, those Christians were following heavenly wisdom; through the inspired apostles, they had gotten their instructions from Heaven! That’s right! Yes, you should follow the Bible because it gives guidance about the best way to live on earth.
In the next chapter of his letter, Peter continued this same kind of reasoning about how to conduct one’s life.
Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For
[Peter now quotes from his Bible!]
Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (Psalm 34:12-16)
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:8-17)
Yes friends, one great reason to live by the Bible is because living by those principles brings the greatest joys of earth and peace for your soul.
However, there is another reason for living life according to Bible teaching. The reason is simple: There is a life after this one! That’s right! There is a life after this earthly life, and it is a reward for those who obey Jesus Christ in this world! The Bible prepares a person in this world so that he can receive “a place among them that are sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18) in Jesus Christ. Jesus said there was a reward waiting in the age to come. The apostle Peter said to Jesus one day, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30).
Whatever a person leaves behind for the sake of Christ and the Gospel will be multiplied a hundredfold in this world. However, there is something else that person will receive in the age to come; that person will receive “eternal life.” An eternal existence with Christ is waiting for those who will live in this world by Christ’s principles for living. Friends, those principles are contained in your Bible, and especially in that part of the Bible called the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
Eternal life is a great promise indeed. Allusions to it even appear in the Old Testament. The old prophet Malachi, in the last book in the Old Testament, had this to say.
Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” (Malachi 3:16-18)
God sees the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Can you? The Bible is the book that makes this distinction clear! Consider these words about the wicked.
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak who are caught in the schemes [the wicked] devises. [The Wicked Man] boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked man does not seek [God]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. [The Wicked Man’s] ways are always prosperous; your laws [O God] are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” [The Wicked Man’s] mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. [The Wicked Person] says to himself [or herself], “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” (Psalm 10:2-12)
The God of Heaven will not forget the helpless, and neither will He forget the wicked! Two different lifestyles; two different philosophies of life! There is the honest person, and there is the liar. There is the giver, and there is the taker, the thief. There is the selfish, self-seeking person, and there is the person who cares about helping others. There is the person who is covetous for every dollar he can get, and then there is the person who will give away his last dollar to someone who needs it more than he does. There is the one who will crush you, and then there is the one who will lift you up! The Bible teaches, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Two different lifestyles; two different destinies! Why don’t you adopt the Bible as your guide for life? Let Jesus Christ be the Captain of your salvation! Don’t face the next world without Him! Visit a church of Christ near you where the great principles of the Bible are believed and taught.