Cover to cover.
I was in New Plymouth on a Campaign for Christ (door-to-door evangelism) in the winter of 1984. One evening Ian Terry and I went to the house of a nice lady who had asked us to return to talk further about setting up a Bible study. We were invited into the home, but not by her. Instead we were greeted by her husband. From the start he sounded like a husband that had been told to be on his best behaviour, but also someone who was going to have his say. Ian Terry lived by the belief that a man with strong feelings against an idea was a man who might be convinced to have strong feelings for it. He should be listened to, because a man who has thought hard to disprove an idea is more likely to think through new ideas presented to him.
Tragically, Ian’s hopes of reasoned discussion were immediately dashed on the rocks of convictions that were more feigned than real. This man didn’t know what he believed but was determined to share what he knew about it. He insisted that he believed in God and was willing to debate any point of religion with anyone, anywhere. During the course of his extended monolog he insisted repeatedly, “You don’t have to tell me what’s in that Bible, I’ve read it over and over – cover to cover.”
There would be no reasoned discussion that night, just bluster. I looked longingly at the woodfire blazing in the corner and concluded that we were just about to experience the reason for it’s being there – the cold, wet night without. For 36 years that man’s words have stayed with me. If he had indeed read the Bible once cover to cover, then I would owe him an apology for doubting him. But sadly, I know I’m right. I know people who have read the Bible multiple times. They have that look in their eyes that says, ‘This is bigger than me.’ The more they read, the more they don’t know. Quiet fascination keeps them collecting the ever-multiplying pieces to fill in the ever-expanding picture puzzle before them. It is hard work. Distractions from the devil abound. Reading schedules must be set in stone and knowing God is the only desired outcome. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom.10:17). If we lack faith, its because we lack its source—it’s not rocket science to work that out.
Man continually strives for prosperity and success. Jesus defined prosperity in terms of being faithful with ‘true’ riches (Luke 16:11) and success in terms of eliminating all which stands between you and following Jesus (Mk.10:17-29). Joshua, Moses’ successor as leader of Israel, was given the means of assuring prosperity and success in the promised land into which he was about to lead the Israelites – “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success’ (Joshua 1:8). This Book of Books is ours to read, too—“Over and over – cover to cover.” Enjoy! firstname.lastname@example.org