In the weeks leading up to SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium in Anaheim last month, some of our billboards in Southern California were taken down because the images were considered offensive. The offending image showed me holding up a Bible. The good news is that it became a national news story, and I was able to talk about the Bible all over America.
The fact that people say the image of a Bible is offensive speaks of the power of the Bible. If someone thinks the Bible is filled with myths or made-up stories or is full of contradictions, then why do they care if I believe in it? Why do they care if I even hold it up? The fact that someone would find such an image offensive is an acknowledgment of the power of the message that is in this book.
If you don’t believe me, try pulling out a Bible sometime when you’re in public – like when you’re on an airplane in that middle seat in coach. Some people will be alarmed, as though they’re afraid it will attack them.
People recognize what the Bible represents. The Bible is a book like no other. Millions of people will attest to the fact that it has changed their lives. Its words have brought hope to the hopeless, perspective to the hurting and comfort to the bereaved. The words found in the Bible have healed marriages and cured the addicted. Why are these words so powerful? Answer: because they are the very words of God.
The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with 3.9 billion copies having been sold in the last 50 years. Despite the fact that the Bible is often ridiculed, destroyed and attacked, it lives on. Many books are released, last for a few years and then disappear. But the Bible lives on because it is not just the book of the week, the book of the month, the book of the year, or the book of the decade. The Bible is the book of the ages, because it’s God’s book. And God speaks to us through it.
Imagine for a moment if you received a text from God. Would you read it? Would you respond? I think you probably would. God has sent you a text, and it’s called the Bible. He’ll speak to you through this book.
The Bible says that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV). Hebrews 4:12–13 says of the Bible, “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it – no matter what” (MSG).
Think of the impact the Bible has had on the United States. Six of our nation’s original nine colleges were started by people who believed in the Bible. The Salvation Army, which has touched thousands and thousands of people over the years, was founded by a man who believed what was said in the Bible.
The abolition of slavery was led by men and women who believed in the Bible. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln believed in the power of the Bible. George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world is communicated in this book.”
Think about how the Bible is used to make a point. For instance, if you’re trying to convince someone of the truth of what you’re saying, you might say, “I swear on a stack of Bibles.” But you don’t say, “I swear on the dictionary this is true” or “I swear on my iPad it’s true.” When someone gives testimony in a court of law, he places his hand on the Bible.
Nine of every 10 American homes have a Bible. But the problem is that fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels found therein. We have Bibles, but we don’t know what’s inside the Bible. We don’t actually read it.
The No. 1 reason people give for not reading the Bible is they don’t prioritize it. They get up in the morning and have all these other things they might do: check their email, see if anyone texted them, or catch up on social media. But they don’t prioritize the Bible.
Yet when trouble comes into their lives, this is the first book they’ll go to. I know this from experience. Ten years ago, our oldest son Christopher died in an automobile accident. It was the worst moment of our lives. What got me through this was the Lord speaking to me through the Bible. Looking at verses of Scripture gave me perspective. It was a lifeline to heaven.
Steve McQueen was the No. 1 actor in the world, but he became disillusioned with Hollywood and went on a search that led him to a little church in Ventura, California. There he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
About eight months later, McQueen learned that he had terminal cancer. He was hoping to get an unorthodox treatment in Mexico, so he chartered a jet to fly there. But before he left, he made one request of his pastor: McQueen wanted to meet Billy Graham.
His pastor, Leonard DeWitt, contacted Graham, who came to see him before the plane took off. McQueen was alarmed because he had misplaced his Bible, so Graham gave him his personal Bible.
In Mexico, McQueen’s surgery was a success. But sadly, he died of a heart attack shortly afterward, holding the Bible Billy Graham had given him. The Bible was the last thing McQueen held in his hands before he entered eternity.
When you buy a new gadget, you get out the user’s manual to find out how it works. A lot of people don’t realize there is a user’s manual for life, and it’s called the Bible. It is God’s word to each and every one of us … if we would just open it and read it.