When traveling in your car at night, it is a good idea to turn on the headlights or you will end up in the ditch.
When walking down a deserted trail in the dead of night, it is a good idea to have a flashlight or you will become hopelessly lost.
And when following the path that leads to salvation, it is a good idea to take along your Bible or you will lose the way. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Our earthly sojourn is a passing through the darkness of a terrible spiritual night. At the fall darkness descended upon the earth—the darkness of sin and death, the darkness of God’s wrath against sin. Ever since the fall man has had to make his way through the night.
But there is a path that leads out of this darkness, that leads to the light of a new day, to the glory and salvation of heaven. Take that path, follow it throughout your life and it will bring you to heaven. It is the way of salvation.
That does not mean, of course, that we are saved by what we do, by our own good works. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. All our salvation is in Christ. We are saved only because of His cross. But that does not alter the fact that to attain the salvation of heaven we must follow the way of salvation. God does not bring us to heaven apart from the way we live and walk. He does not save someone in Christ and then allow that person to live in sin and wickedness. He rather causes that individual to love Him, to serve Him, and to walk in good works. And that is the path that leads to heaven—the way of serving God, the way of good works.
There are, however, other paths down which one can go, depending on what he really wants and desires. There are those, for example, whose one aim and goal in life is to attain earthly riches and wealth. Life for them consists in the abundance of things which a man possesses. Consequently, they set their feet on, the path that leads to earthly treasures. Their whole life is aimed in this direction. They will do anything and everything for earthly wealth.
Others are interested in having fun and a good time. Their heart is set on the pleasures of this world. Their motto is “Let us eat, drink, and be merry.” Consequently, they follow the path that leads to earthly pleasure. Their whole life is centered around the entertainments of the world.
Others are more concerned with friends, popularity, and social standing. Consequently, you will find them on the path that leads to the attainment of their heart’s desire.
And so there are many paths in life down which one can go, all depending on what one seeks most in life.
But principally there are only two possible paths. It is either the path that leads to salvation, or the path that leads to earthly treasures and pleasures, to popularity and social standing and to whatever else it is that the sinful heart might aspire. And these two paths are mutually exclusive. One can not walk them both at the same time. It is a matter of either. . . or. No man can serve two masters.
On which path are you?
If your heart has been touched by God’s grace, if the grace of God controls your life, then your heart and affections will be set on the things which are above. Your chief desire and one purpose will be to attain the salvation of Christ. And your feet will be on the path that leads to eternal glory.
But we must be guided along that path. The way must be shown to us. Remember, it is spiritual night now. And that is what God’s Word does. God’s Word, the Bible, is a lamp unto our feet, a light upon our path that shows us the way of salvation. Follow the way of the Bible and you will be on the path that leads to salvation. Of this you can be sure. It will never lead you off the path. It will never give you wrong directions. You can trust the Bible. You can depend on it to show you the way. It is, remember, God’s Word.
And this Word of God is the only guide that you can depend on. There are many guides other than the Bible that one could follow, and which many do. There are those, for example, who are guided by their feelings. They do what they feel like. They do what feels good to them. They do what they feel is right. Others are guided by reason. What they do and how they live are determined by what sounds reasonable and plausible, by what they think is best. Others are guided by their friends. What their friends do, what their friends like, what their friends suggest is the determining factor in their life. Others are guided by the majority. Others are guided by astrology and superstition. Others are guided by the general consensus of the intellectual community.
Take these, however, as your guide through life and sooner or later they will lead you off the way of salvation. Take these as your guide, apart from the Bible, and you will lose your way. You will become hopelessly lost in the darkness of our present spiritual night. Only one true and faithful guide there is that will show you the way of salvation. That is God’s Word, the Bible.
But it can be your guide only if you use it. When you are taking a long trip and do not know the way, then you take along a good road map. A map will show you which roads to take, which turns to make. A maps will guide you to your destination. But that map will not do you much good if you simply leave it in the glove-compartment and never so much as look at it. To serve as a guide it must be used and studied. So is it also with the Bible. It will not show you the way of salvation unless you use it. A closed Bible that is seldom read simply can not serve you as a guide. A Bible that is placed on some obscure shelf, left to gather dust is like a flashlight without batteries, a lantern without oil. It sheds absolutely no light on your path. A Bible must be used; it must be read; it must be studied diligently. The Bible that serves as a lamp unto our feet and a light upon our path is the Bible that has become worn and tattered and frayed through constant use.
Trouble is that this is no longer being done. It seems as though faithful, diligent Bible study is a thing of the past. The people of God are no longer studying the Bible as they ought. For the most part our Bible “study” is limited to a chapter a day, often hastily read at the supper table. There is very little meditating on God’s law day and night any more. (Psalm 1:2) This becomes evident from a few pointed questions that can be asked on family visitation. This is evident from the generally poor turnout for societies and from the quite evident lack of any sound preparation. Evident it is also from the appalling lack of the knowledge of Scripture that characterizes the church today. Far too many people of God simply do not know the basic ABC’s of God’s Word. The reason is, no study of God’s Word. The Scriptures commend the Jews of Berea in that they “searched the Scriptures daily.” (Acts 17:11) Hardly could that commendation be given to many of us. There is today a sad lack of any diligent searching of the Scriptures.
Why is that?
We are too busy, we say. We have too many things to do during the day. We have our jobs. And to keep up the payments on our house, our car, our furniture, our boat, and just generally to get ahead requires that we put in long, tedious hours. Besides, there is our recreation. We have to have our recreation. What would life be without baseball, football, and basketball, without hunting and fishing, without boating, without picnics, without television, without socializing? Life is just too busy nowadays. The pace is just too hectic. Our intentions are good. We mean to take out time for the Bible. But generally when the day is done we find that we simply could not squeeze it in.
I believe it!
But then let us also give this its proper interpretation. Think about it once. What we are really saying is that we have set our feet on the path that leads to earthly treasures and pleasures rather than the way of salvation and, therefore, do not feel any real need for the Bible.
If your feet are on the path that leads to the treasures and pleasures of this world, then it is only natural that you will find little if any time for diligent Bible study. For the Bible simply does not serve as a guide in these matters. The Bible is not a handbook on how to get ahead financially. The Bible is not filled with helpful hints on how to win friends and influence people. The Bible is no guide to earthly pleasure. If it were, perhaps it would be studied more. But the Bible does not do this. There are other materials that serve this purpose. The Bible serves as a guide only to show us the way to salvation. It only stands to reason then, that, if our heart is set on the things of this earth rather than on the things above, we will find very little time for the study of God’s Word.
Bible study is the trademark only of those whose hearts are steadfastly fixed on the things above and whose feet are on the path that leads heavenward. They alone see the genuine need for the Bible. They alone will find interest in it. They alone will find time to study it.
Let us, therefore, leave the paths of this world. And, setting our feet on the path that leads to salvation, let us diligently study the Scriptures, following its divine light as it leads us heavenward.