Monday, August 15, 2016

The Best-selling Book .......... Parables 471

June 27, 1995

Our new encyclopedia takes up less space than a pocketbook. This latest version of Grolier’s features information on thousands of topics, has colored photographs, movies, animated drawings, even sounds. We can read about doves but also watch their flight pattern. We can see how an eagle catches a fish and watch a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. With multimedia computers and a library of CDS, one picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Even though the industry is evolving from paper and ink, the ability to publish words remains valuable. Where would schools, universities and other learning centers be if we had no books, historical records or written wisdom from the past?

Publishing, CD or otherwise, also has strict standards. For instance, encyclopedias must be accurate because readers depend on them. Not only are details checked and rechecked by editors, errors are spotted and reported by critical readers.

Publishing is an old art. It is mentioned throughout the pages of the Bible. Kings published decrees on animal skins, papyrus, or stone tablets. For them, putting important laws in writing added a sense of authority and permanency over mere oral commands.

The Word of God in its printed form also carries a sense of authority and permanency. In spite of many attempts over hundreds of years to discredit or destroy it, the Bible has survived. Since mass publication started in the 1400's, it has been number one worldwide in sales. The psalm writer probably did not know how prophetic his words were when he penned: “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it” (Psalm 68:11).

If there were no printed records of God’s activities among men, could Christianity survive or even exist? If it had been passed on by word-of-mouth, would its accuracy remain intact? For that matter, do people believe in any philosophy or creed without an unchanging text? Publishing is a vital part of our spirituality.

God could have used other methods to convey and preserve His word and His will but He choose to use a Book. It was a good choice. We still have thousands of ancient copies, with variations of less than 5%. However, many people insist the Bible cannot be true to the original manuscripts thus is unreliable, or it is a collection of fables. Perhaps a verbal telling and retelling would never survive those accusations, but the printed version stands firm, just as God promised. Lives are still changed by reading and applying it.

On that vein, God’s Book is not a volume of scientifically verifiable data like Grolier’s and for that reason, attempts to “prove the Bible” vary in success. Instead, God offered another argument for the validity of His Word. He challenges those of us who believe it to prove it by our lives. We are supposed to be as open and honest about ourselves and God’s message as God is. This “proof” is not a demand for perfection but a call to “tell it like it is.”

In other words, people are more apt to believe the Bible when there is a match between what God says and how His people live! The Apostle Paul put it this way: “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ... written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

Similar to Grolier’s CD version, Christians are “living letters” from Christ. Our lives should be “moving pictures” that speak volumes about the truth in God’s Word. However, we must remember that critics also evaluate our lives. We want to be sure we do our part to keep the Bible on the best-seller list.

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