David Jeremiah - Stay Confident
Bill Maher is best known as the host of television talk shows. He's a standup comedian, as you know, and he's pretty well known for his acid tongue and for his criticism of everything that's traditional, especially anything that has to do with faith. But back in 2008, Maher added to his résumé by writing and starring in a documentary film called, "Religulous". His stated goal was to attack religion, especially Christianity and its belief in the Bible. He presented this film with a sarcastic tone and with his determined effort to make fun of everything that is sacred. Everything that we believe to be important, he denigrates in his film and in all the commentary that goes around it.
Bill Maher is, however, not the first skeptic in history to doubt the veracity of the Bible, and he won't be the last. But he is certainly a symptom of something the Apostle Peter wrote about nearly 2000 years ago. He said in 2 Peter 3:3: "Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts". Having been raised in the church as a young person, Bill Maher also fits the description of some the Apostle Paul predicted would come. 1 Timothy 4:1, he wrote: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons".
Now, my prediction, though it is not divinely inspired, is that we haven't seen anything yet when it comes to the criticism of the Bible and our faith. There will be more biblical skeptics to join Bill Maher's critical course against the Bible and against the faith. The warning for true Christians is not, "the skeptics are coming," but that they have a well-publicized public platform now and their voices enter the ears of believers through the media. Christians therefore must be prepared as 1 Peter gives us this information to, "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear".
We must always be ready. It is no time for us to get ready, after we hear the criticism because it's out there right now and it's aimed at all of us who believe the Scripture. One man who has learned to do just that, defend his faith with meekness and fear, started down a road not unlike Bill Maher's: the road of scathing skepticism of the Bible's authority.
Pious Jindal, better known as Bobby Jindal, was the governor of Louisiana, the first Indian American elected to statewide office in US history. He was born and raised a Hindu, converted to Christianity after a careful reading of the Bible. It began a spiritual journey to Christ that he describes as gradual and painful. Yet Jindal first picked up the Word with ulterior motives. He, not unlike Bill Maher, had skepticism in his heart. He wanted to disprove a faith. He wanted to prove that it was not true and this is the familiar story we often hear in Christianity, the skeptic who is ultimately converted by following an investigative trail.
Jindal was expecting to find as he studied the Bible, a pack of lies and myths, but something happened as he opened his New Testament. Its pages were like a mirror. He wrote, "I saw myself in many of the parables. Jesus seemed to be speaking across the centuries to me, telling stories written just for me". His curiosity was now in overdrive and Bobby Jindal began to seek out works about the historic accuracy of the Bible. To his own surprise he found himself convinced that here were sacred words that had traveled with integrity throughout 2000 years, firsthand accounts of the ultimate miracle, God in human form. "It was intellectually impossible to deny," he said, "that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and then ascended to heaven". But he said, "My perspective remained intellectual and not spiritual". He said, "I was shaken by what I found, but I was unwilling to give in to what my mind told me was the real thing". But after many hours of counseling with a patient pastor, he finally embraced his new Lord and Savior. Bobby Jindal is an emblem of his era, an emblem that's changing its focus.
Last year, "The New York Times" reported on a change in the interest of college students. After decades of obsession with the more practical curriculum, many young scholars now are gravitating toward courses in philosophy. According to their own words, they're feeling a deep need to make sense out of the world and they're finding that contemporary thinkers and leaders give them no ultimate answers. Therefore, they're digging into the wisdom of the writers from distant centuries. Now, we Christians, those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, we believe that there is only one ancient text that is eternally relevant. The pressing questions of our past, present, and future are all answered by this book because, you see, the Scriptures, like Christ, are eternal. They're authoritative, yesterday, today, and forever.
This book, these words, this Scripture, speaks to us authoritatively. It explains life, but it also gives us strength and comfort to live life. Perhaps greater than anything we have talked about so far in this long series of messages, that will give you confidence in a chaotic time, this is that source. It is the Bible to which we turn when things seem to be upside down in our lives. Now let me just say to you today, men and women, that in the history of human experience, there is nothing like this book. This Bible is no ordinary volume. It's composed of 66 shorter books, written by some 40 different authors over many centuries. It's a kind of a multi-century anthology with no earthly reason to explain its perfect unity. It is incredible that this book should speak with one voice, or that all of its various sections, chapters, and verses, should hold such power over human lives after several millennia. There's no explanation for any of this, unless it is indeed what it claims to be, and that is the eternal Word of God.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm convinced that this miraculous book provides an accurate account of history and the only account of the future. We need this message, this life-changing message, as we've never needed it before in these days. And when this world is in crisis and up seems down, and right seems wrong, this book holds the answers that you need. You and I should inhabit its pages more fully than we reside in our houses. We should consume the truth of this book as surely as we eat the food on our tables. When there's no other visible source of confidence, we can stay confident in the Word of God. When you come to the New Testament and you begin to understand how this book was passed on to us, you meet significant people.
Timothy was a young man, for instance, with an uphill struggle before him. His mentor, the Apostle Paul, had left him in Ephesus, a very difficult place, to guide its church. And that was not going to be an easy task. Paul understood the encouragement that his young protégé needed. Sitting in prison, shortly before his execution by the Romans, Paul could have used a little encouragement himself. But he didn't worry about himself. This wise and godly man by this late season of his life wasn't given to self-pity. Always looking out for others, always abounding in the joy of God's work, he wrote a letter to young Timothy to help him stay focused on the task that he had been given. This letter carries an urgency that stands out among all the New Testament Epistles. It is kind of like what Jesus must have felt in the Upper Room.
Paul recognized that time was short and the stakes were high for the kingdom of Christ. You see, Ephesus was a cultural melting pot, in which people, often even believers, were becoming more worldly every day, and God's inspired Word was being trivialized. So Paul wrote to Timothy these words, and let me just read them to you from the text. 2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 1 and 2. Listen to these words: "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season, out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching".
Notice as you read from the book the first little phrase that gets your attention is this one: "Timothy, I charge you". This is used on six other occasions in the Scripture and it always is the beginning of a clear and urgent command. Even without the charge, these words would have carried the same weight, but the extra notice and the extra importance of it is given by this little phrase, "I charge you". If we were to put that in our language today, we would say, "Listen here, you guys. Listen very carefully. This next thing I'm about to say, it's really important". And then, he says, "Before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing". And you begin to sense the solemnity in the words of Paul as he instructs this young preacher and as he fashions this word of counsel.
Now, the first century when this letter to Timothy was written, is not very different from our century today. Like the city of Ephesus, our culture subjects the Word of God to a great deal of scorn and ridicule and we've illustrated that at the beginning of this message. In 2 Timothy 4, verses 3 and 4, Paul wrote in this same letter, these words: "Time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables".
We live in an age of 10,000 competing voices, do we not? All of them tantalizing, all of them designed to scratch the itching ears of the directionless people in our society. It seems like every day people invent new religions. If Paul were writing in our era, he might call them "ear candy". They sound sweet, they look good, but they have no nutritional value whatsoever. Listen to the gurus who populate the talk shows and you'll notice that the trendy new religions play to the ego while making almost no demands on obedience or sacrifice. Pluralism and tolerance are the watchwords of the day. But all they create is more turmoil, not more peace. All the answers people seek are in the Word of God, where they've awaited us for 2000 years, but today the masses would rather have their ears tickled than have their souls renewed.
And long before Paul, the prophet Amos warned: "Behold," he said, "the days are coming that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of the hearing of the words of the Lord". Kind of a strange sort of famine, is it not? Someone has said, "The problem's not with the corn but with the ears". We may well be in the early stages of that famine. For generations God's Word has been at the center of church preaching. I grew up in a home where I went to church every Sunday, and most of the time every Wednesday, and it was always about and from the Word of God. You would not ever think of going to church without your Bible.
Today, even in the major faith communities, question scriptural authority is the mainstay. Popular speakers advocate processing God's Word through cultural filters of the day, rather than the other way around. We once understood that we don't stand in judgment of the Bible, but the Bible stands in judgment of us. But many today are airbrushing the Word of God and they make it palatable to those who go in for spirituality that costs nothing except the cover price of a bestseller. Instead of being conformed to the image of Christ, we want to conform his image and everything else in Scripture to our sad conditions. Thirty years ago, people were saying, "If it feels good, do it". Today, it's more subtle. We say, "If it sounds good, believe it".
When we're trying to figure out how on earth we can live in confidence in this crazy, chaotic, mixed-up world, we ought to be running to the Bible and not running away from it as many are doing. We are like survivors of the Titanic, the great luxury ship, floating helplessly on the tides. At that boat's launch, even an employee of the White Star line boasted, "Not even God himself could sink this ship". No matter how modern and luxurious the ship was, however, you know, you've seen the movie, it went down and its passengers were left scrambling for scraps of wood to keep them afloat. That's kind of a picture of you and me right now. Our culture of prosperity seemed to be an unsinkable vessel, but it's in pieces right now. Though everything else may fail us, God's Word never will.
Jesus who calmed the storm and walked across the waves, he is still in control. Trillion dollar debts and bailouts, what are these to one who created every star in the sky? He still reigns, he still speaks, and his Word still offers the provision for every need we have in these days. So what exactly are these needs? Paul is going to give us a clue. In so many ways, the great apostle is telling Timothy what the church in Ephesus and the church in our own cities needs to hear when the preacher stands up to preach. We often hear this passage taught in pastoral seminars or preaching conferences, but when I read it this time, I got the impression that maybe it was more for the hearers than it was for the preacher. Maybe this is what we need to use as our list of things that the people in our churches need to be hearing and the people who listen to us and watch us on the radio and on television need to be understanding.
So, what do we need when we open this book? What do we need when we sit in the pews every Sunday? Pastors, what do we need to be offering the people who come to hear us every week? First of all, we need a sure word from God. Paul gives Timothy five commands in this text. Look down at your Bibles and you will see. He says, "Preach, be ready, convince, rebuke, exhort". "Preach, be ready, convince, rebuke, exhort". Remember, Paul is working in a state of urgency and he knows that his ministry is almost complete, even though he still has a fire burning within him for new lands and new souls, he's pretty confident that his major ministry days are finished.
In fact, over in the fourth chapter of 2 Timothy and verses 6 and 7, he writes these words: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing". You can hear the passion in Paul's words. In the previous chapter of this letter, he has spoken to Timothy about truth and the importance of upholding it. He has looked forward to a time when religious leaders will be addicted to pleasure, rather than to fellowship with the Father, and now he is saying to Timothy, "Timothy, what these people need is to hear the word, a sure word".
And he uses the word for preach which means to proclaim with formality and gravity and authority. It means to preach as if you believed what you were saying. On another occasion, this same apostle referred to what we sometimes call and what he wrote about. He called it the foolishness of preaching because the words that are in the Bible, when they're preached to those who don't know Christ, seem like nonsense to them. The Holy Spirit makes the difference and when the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God that is preached, he makes a difference in the heart of the person who hears, but before the Holy Spirit does his work in the heart of the hearer, the preacher has to deliver the goods. He has to give the Word of God. He can't stand in the pulpit and waver, he can't bring a bunch of fun little stories and positive mental attitude stuff. He brings the Word of God and then the Holy Spirit takes that Word and makes a difference in the heart of the listener.
That's what we do at, "Turning Point," the radio and television ministry of this church. We preach the Word to the world. We use television, we use radio, we use the Internet, we use prerecorded media and print media. Sometimes, we just do it the good old-fashioned way. We go where people are and we hold a big meeting. We hold a conference or a rally. It was one such trip that took us to Wake Forest, North Carolina. While I was getting ready for the meeting, one of the gals who works for us in our development department came up to me and she said, "We have another speaker who's going to speak tonight". And that kind of shocked me because it doesn't normally happen, at least I don't usually find out about it just before it happens. And then she told me that the someone who was going to speak was a US Army chaplain and that he wanted to share a word.
Well, this young man's name was Brad Borders. He was a man whose life had been characterized by poor decisions. From his mid teens he had been confused and aimless, and the future seemed to hold no promise for him at all. But according to his own testimony, back in 1994 while driving through the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, he concentrated on keeping his car on the road and he turned up his radio and what he was listening to on the radio was, of all things, some Bible preacher preaching on, of all subjects, the book of Revelation. And he described as he began to listen to this, the strangeness of listening to a biblical teacher when he himself was an atheist. He did not even believe in God.
Brad had always rejected the kind of thing that he was listening to on the radio. But for some reason, on this particular day back in 1994, the message was penetrating his heart and coming in loud and clear. It must have been like somebody listening to a foreign language, but he listened and little by little as he listened, the message began to click in his own heart. "There is a God," he thought abruptly. And the next thought was, "And Jesus Christ is his Son, and I don't know him and if that doesn't change, my life is gonna still be a mess".
Isn't it strange how you can be driving along a road and suddenly you believe your entire destiny hinges on the words from a 2000-year-old book? What would make someone believe that? What mysterious power could bring an adult mind to the conclusion that there is a God when all of his life he had claimed to be an atheist? He told the story. "Suddenly," he said, "the pastor," and by the way, that was me, "was preaching directly to my heart. He was calling on every listener to stop for a moment and consider one question: what's going to happen to you the day that you die"? Brad had absolutely no answer for that question. He had no defense, no diversion, he needed Jesus, he needed forgiveness, and he was certain that God, the maker of everything, was alive.
And suddenly, Brad wanted more than anything in the world to know him. Sitting behind the wheel of a '92 Saturn, Brad Borders prayed his heart out. He asked for forgiveness. He asked for salvation. He asked for the privilege to know Christ personally, and God answered every single request. Fourteen years had passed, bringing this man to the microphone at our "Turning Point" dinner. During the intervening years, he had been mentored and discipled just as Paul had done with Timothy. He actually had gone through seminary. He'd been ordained as a pastor. He had enlisted in the army as a chaplain and was commissioned as a servant of the gospel, traveling to places he could never have dreamed he would ever go. I had never heard one word of this story about Brad Borders for 14 years. I only learned of it because I happened to visit North Carolina and I had to wonder what in the world else God was doing out there through our ministry that we didn't know about.
God had touched this young man with his Word. And in case there's any doubt about the return on God's Word, listen to this. Since Brad Border became a chaplain, he has led more than 700 soldiers to Jesus Christ. Now, that's the power of the Word of God. The power of preaching has nothing to do with me. Believe me, I couldn't convince you or anyone else to believe in the reality of Christ and to commit your life to him. But the Word of God will do that. You'd be amazed, friends, how many times something like Brad Borders has happened, always beginning with the Word of God being preached. Always starting with the message of the gospel.
I remember reading some time ago about a woman who was on her deathbed. She described how she was saved by reading a crumpled ragged piece of wrapping paper in a package shipped from Australia. Someone had used the printed text of a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon to wrap a package for shipment. The sermon had been preached in England, it had been printed in America, it had been shipped to Australia, and then sent back to England as wrapping paper where the woman read it and encountered Christ for the first time and became a Christian. The Word traveled thousands of miles on the cheapest, most crumpled and smeared newsprint, but the truth broke through the simplest of media and God's Word once again was a sure word to this woman.
What do we need today in our culture? We need the power of the Word of God, the sure Word of God, and that's what Paul said to Timothy. He said, "Timothy, I want you to preach the Word". But not only do we need a sure word from God, we need a serious word from God. He says, "Be ready in season and out of season". The word here, "to be ready," means to stand by, to be on hand. Those of us who are charged with the responsibility of teaching God's Word need to understand that this is pretty serious business. Nothing could be sadder than to go and hear somebody open the Word of God and preach it with no passion and no conviction.
Interestingly enough, after Brad Borders became a Christian, we were talking one day at another event and I said, "Brad, you gotta answer this question for me". I said, "Here you are, you're an atheist. You don't even believe in God, and you don't believe in the Bible, and obviously the most foolish thing would be for you to be listening to the book of Revelation on the radio. Why would an atheist listen to the book of Revelation on the radio"? He smiled. He said, "Well, I didn't believe any of it, but it sounded like you did. So I kept listening". That's what I'm talking about, pastors. That's what I'm talking about, teachers. Do we preach the sure Word of God as serious students? Paul commands Timothy to, "boldly proclaim the message of the gospel".
People need a serious word from God. This book and this message is life and death. This provides a defining moment in the lives of those who hear it. And for us to preach anything else, makes no sense whatsoever and in my estimation, it's disobedience to Almighty God. We have been called as preachers of the Word of God. We need a sure word from God and we need a serious word from God, but we also need a systematic word from God. Notice in the passage as you look back again to these two verses in 2 Timothy chapter 4. Here we are told certain things we are to do as we preach the Word of God. And let me just break them down for us. First of all, our minds need to be convinced by the Word. The Word is here to convince. It means to present an argument or a strong appeal. It means something like an attorney presenting a brief.
We're trying to change the mind of the hearer. We're not to just stand up and tell stories. We're to take the Word of God and break it down and create the argument of the Scripture and present it in a very confident and convincing way to our listeners. For instance, here's an illustration of it. Every Easter, we come to the story of the Resurrection. It's not enough just to read the story in the Gospels. We need to present the facts of the Resurrection. We need to convince the minds of those who don't believe in the Resurrection that this is indeed one of the most fundamental facts of the Christian faith. This is what it means to preach the Word of God convincingly, to convince people with our teaching. Then notice, secondly, not only do our minds need to be convinced by the Word of God, our wills need to be convicted by the Word of God.
Notice, Paul's second word is the word "rebuke". I'm sure that's not your favorite word and, honestly, as a preacher, it's not my favorite word either. Nobody likes to be rebuked and if you've got a sensitive heart, you don't like to do the rebuking either. But it's a necessary part of life and it means to reprimand. It is synonymous to the word "convict" in a spiritual context. It means to speak out against sin where we find it. Do you know, in today's church, that's almost an adventure. A lot of the guys I know who preach today maybe have started out as students of the Word of God, preachers of the Word of God, and then they have moved over into another genre where their idea is that they're to give a positive message every Sunday and send people out of the door of the church feeling good about themselves.
But, ladies and gentlemen, that's not the calling of a pastor. We understand why pastors might shy away from telling it like it is, but truthfully, if they would preach the Word of God as it is written, they would find that the people of God would stand up and applaud them for their honesty. And the culture today needs that kind of preaching. Yes, it needs to be done with a spirit of compassion and love. We're to speak the truth in love. We're to be men who have grace and truth, both those things are important. But the culture today is pushing gospel preachers clear to the edge so that many of them never ever preach on sin, they never call out the issues of the culture that are wrong.
Too many pastors attempt to be user-friendly and they don't give any offense. And I need to tell you, I don't start out to offend anyone when I preach. I don't get up on Monday and say, "Let me see if I can find something in the Word of God that I can beat the people of God over the head with next week". I just don't do that. But I have always been a creature that preaches what's next. And my friends, if you start in this book to teach it and you go through the pages of it, there are gonna be some places where you're gonna run into some stuff that's very difficult, very hard on you and then perhaps through your voice can be hard on others.
The Bible is not just a book that is for things, but because it's for things, it's sometimes against things. You've heard me say this before, a lot of times. God has called me to do two things as your pastor: I am not only here to comfort the afflicted, but I am also here to afflict the comfortable. Both of those jobs are important, both of them can be done with a smile, and both of them obviously need to be done with compassion.
Not long ago, I was reminded of a passage in a very famous book that many had to read when they were studying in school, written by John Steinbeck, the author of, "Grapes of Wrath". He was never known as an evangelical, obviously. But he tells a story about something that happened in his life once that illustrates what it means to preach this kind of message. Here's what he wrote after he had gone to a church service in New England and he was reacting to the sermon that he heard while he was there. Listen to this.
He said, "It is our practice now, at least in the large cities, to find from our psychiatric priesthood that our sins aren't really sins at all but accidents that are set in motion by forces beyond our control. There was no nonsense in this church," he wrote. "The minister, a man of iron with tool-steeled eyes and a delivery like a pneumatic drill, opened up with prayer and reassured us that we were a pretty sorry lot. And he was right. We didn't amount to much to start with, and due to our own tawdry efforts we had been slipping ever since. Then, after having softened us up, he went into a glorious sermon, a fire-and-brimstone sermon. He spoke of hell as an expert, not with the mush-mush hell of these soft days, but a well-stoked, white-hot hell served by technicians of the first order. This reverend brought it to a point where we could understand it, a good hard coal fire. For some years now God has been a pal to us, practicing togetherness. But this Vermont God cared enough about me to go to a lot of trouble kicking the hell out of me. He put my sins in a new perspective. Whereas they had been small and mean and nasty and best forgotten, this minister gave them some size and bloom and dignity. I wasn't a naughty child," he said, "I was a first rate sinner".
And even John Steinbeck realized the value in hearing the truth, even though he probably had tongue in cheek when he wrote what I just read. In his letter to Titus, Paul describes what a true teacher must do. Titus, one night he says, "Have a good grip on the message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it". And Paul touches upon the ultimate goal of preaching. In Colossians 1:28 he says we're to be, "warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus". So our minds need to be convinced by the Word, our wills need to be convicted by the Word, and then thirdly, our hearts need to be comforted by the Word.
In her book, "Edges of His Ways," Amy Carmichael is right on target when she points out that no matter what our need may be, what dark cloud may hang over us, we will find just the right word in the Bible, just the right remedy that we're looking for. It may not be the first passage we see when we open the book, but if we search the Scriptures diligently, the Bible will answer every issue that arises. The Bible tells us that we're to comfort one another with the words of the Bible. We're to speak edification and exhortation and build up men. The Bible is ours for every purpose in life but it must be used in an intelligent way. It must be used to convince us and convict us and comfort us. When you are going through difficulty, when you face trials, it is the Bible that you go to because there you will find the comforting words of Almighty God. Our hearts are to be lifted and we're to lift the hearts of others with the truth of this book. I'm sure you know that the place to turn when you need encouragement is probably the Psalms.
Somebody said, "There are more tear stains on the book of Psalms than any other book in the Bible". I can promise you that when I need a lift from God, a word of encouragement, I turn to the middle of my Bible where the Psalms are filled with such information. So we need a sure word from God and we need a serious word from God. We need a systematic word from God and, finally, we need a sensitive word from God. Here we are told in this passage of Scripture that we're to do this preaching and this teaching with all longsuffering. We're to be longsuffering as we teach.
Somebody says, "Why does a pastor need to be longsuffering"? Well, the reason is because when he teaches the people the Word of God, a lot of times they don't do it. So you have to keep coming back and teach it over and over and over again. And sometimes, those of us who listen have to be longsuffering.
For instance, some of you here today may be wives who are really growing in the Lord, and God is using his Word to strengthen you and build you inwardly, but your husbands, he's all involved in his career, and he doesn't have time for all of this, and your temptation is to get a little impatient with him, want him to come along at the same speed you're going, and the Bible says we need to be longsuffering, we need to be patient. All of us need to be patient.
It was February of 1944 when the little Dutch clock shop was raided. An agent of the Nazi Gestapo stood in the living room of Corrie ten Boom's family, his eyes studying the books on a shelf. "You, the old man there," he said. "I see you believe in the Bible". It was true. Every morning before he opened his watch shop, Corrie ten Boom's father, Casper, held devotions with his family. The focal point was a large brass-hinged Bible and Casper would read a chapter, lead a prayer, begin the business day, and then as the sun set, the family would gather again and take up where they had left off in the morning's readings.
Casper's youngest child, a daughter, remembered him reading, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word". The child had wondered what it all meant at the time. A hiding place? What could a word be that would be equated to a hiding place? But this was the dark day when she was about to discover her answer. For you see, old Casper, his four adult children, and one grandchild were ordered out of their home, marched to police headquarters. There they awaited an uncertain fate. They had been charged with secretly sheltering Jews who were under persecution by the German Government.
In the holding cell, the ten Booms ate the little meal that they were given, huddling together in the encroaching darkness. Only one thing gave them a taste of home: time together in the Bible. Casper led devotions that night as if it were any other day and any other place. Of course, he didn't have the great Bible that had been on the shelf and there was no light for reading it, had he had it. But that didn't matter because, you see, he had buried that Word in his heart, the hiding place no enemy could ever invade and he knew the passages about comfort, chapter and verse, and he quoted them as if he were reading them. And his daughter, Corrie ten Boom, wrote: "His blue eyes seemed to be seeing beyond the locked and crowded room, beyond Harlem, beyond Earth itself as he quoted from memory, 'Thou art my hiding place and my shield. I hope in thy Word. Hold thou me up and I shall be safe.'"
Later, in concentration camp, she managed to get a Bible and to read it to her fellow prisoners. "The blacker the night around us grew," she recalled, "the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God". And indeed, the nighttime of her life grew black. She endured the deaths of her father, she endured the death of her beloved sister Betsy, she survived humiliation and cruelty and neglect, but the Word of God and the peace of God flowing from it, brought her through the long nightmare so that she might emerge from her experience to bless the whole world with her message of hope.
Does that story or perhaps something else that I have mentioned, cause you to realize how powerful this book can be in your culture, in your situation? Some of these truths we have talked about are truths very similar to things you've experienced. But my friend, if you don't have a copy of the Word of God and it's not a part of your life, if you're trying to get through these chaotic days without the confidence that comes from the Scripture, you are not going to make it. You are going to be victimized instead of becoming a victor. The light always shines the brightest when all the darkness falls on our surroundings.
Our world is now in crisis and many people that I am talking to today are living with a sense of loss and a fear of the future. The Word of God is available to convince your mind, to convict your will, and comfort your heart. If you will read it, if you will cherish it, and let it dwell within you richly, you will see the darkness of your life begin to retreat as the light of God's truth shines brightly in your life.
If you remember the Bible's warnings, that the Bible and the faith will come under increasing attacks as we get closer to the return of Christ, you will not cower in fear when skeptics raise their voices as they seem to be doing today. Whether they're comedians who try to soften you with their humor, or scholars who try to overwhelm you with their intellectual arguments, or religious leaders who try to convince you that the Bible is just a book, you will be ready and you will make it through in a victorious manner with both hands lifted high. You will remember that the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.