Now more than ever we need to read and study these two books:
OK, now that I have your attention, a few prefatory remarks are in order. The two books I have in mind are mainly those which Christians should be reading, although non-Christians would also benefit greatly from regularly perusing them. And to be precise, they are not exactly two books.
That is, the first book is actually a collection of 66 books found in one volume. I refer of course to the Bible. And the second ‘book’ is really the book of history. My point here is that all Christians should be avid students and readers of the Word of God, but they should also be careful students of history.
Being well-versed in both books will not guarantee that you will live a fail-proof Christian life, but they will be of enormous help in so many ways. That the Bible is something all Christians should be reading, studying and applying on a daily basis goes without saying.
It is our daily bread, and it contains all we need to be faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus Christ. Yet the number of Christians who do not daily read the Bible, or who have never read the Bible all the way through, is quite a worry. How can anyone claim to love and serve God when they ignore his main means of communication with us?
I recall in my younger days when I was courting a gal and we were apart, I would eagerly look forward every single day to any mail that might come from my beloved. When you love someone you can’t stand not hearing from them and being in regular touch with them.
If we are Christians, we should have the very same eager passion and desire to be in regular communication with God. Prayer is part of this of course, but certainly reading the Word every day is as well. It is not a chore, it is not onerous, it is not a duty. When you love someone you really do want to spend time with them. When you love God you really do look forward to searching the Scriptures daily.
And as I have said often, if you have not yet read through the entire Bible, you really should. There are plenty of reading plans out there to help you in this. But if you simply want to read the Bible from cover to cover, the simplest plan is to start on January 1 each year at Genesis 1, and finish on December 31 with Revelation 22.
If you read just over three chapters a day, you will get through all 1189 chapters in one year. It is not too hard to do – simply set aside 15 minutes a day for this and it will be an easy and enjoyable process. Of course that is just a bare minimum. Spending more time, and reading and studying more, is even better yet.
Let me offer just a few quotes on this, roughly in order of when they appeared:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” David in Psalm 119:105
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” St. Augustine of Hippo
“The Bible is alive. It has feet; it runs after me. It has hands; it lays hold of me.” Martin Luther
“Leave not off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed… Let it not only inform you, but inflame you.” Thomas Watson
“Study hard the Bible, for the well is deep and our minds are shallow.” Richard Baxter
“There is not enough Bible-reading among us. It is not sufficient to have the Book. We must actually READ it, and PRAY over it ourselves. It will do us no good, if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds. Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading.” J. C. Ryle
“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.” Abraham Lincoln
“There is enough dust on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.” Charles Spurgeon
“The Bible is endlessly interesting because it is God’s story, and God by nature is himself endlessly interesting. The Bible is an ever-flowing fountain. The more you read it, the more you find its truth and beauty to be inexhaustible.” D. A. Carson
“You are not educated if you don’t know the Bible. You can’t read Shakespeare or Milton without it … And with the schools now, they don’t even teach it as a document … So kids can’t quote the King James Bible. That’s terrible.” The late atheist Christopher Hitchens
While the Bible is the authoritative and inspired word of God, history is not. But if we ignore the lessons of history, we will end up repeating its mistakes, as the Spanish philosopher Santayana put it. And the work of God can be discerned in history as well. We find his providential workings throughout.
But because so much of Western education today is so deficient, and so taken up with indoctrination for various secular left causes, instead of actually educating people, we now have entire generations who are woefully devoid of any basic understanding of history.
And all that is made worse as more and more history is being rewritten or stamped out altogether. Pulling down statues of Columbus or Lincoln or Washington is just a part of this. Rewriting history to suit activist narratives is another part of this. So we are being robbed of our own history.
All tyrants know the value of controlling knowledge of the past. They understand that if they can control history, they can control the masses. If they can redirect the past, they can carefully direct the future. All the book bans and cancel culture that we see everywhere in the West today is simply the leadup to actual book-burnings.
And history has taught us what happens when they start burning books. But most Westerners today have little or no awareness or understanding of what transpired in Nazi Germany in the 1930s for example. So now we are doomed to repeat it. And this never ends well.
Indeed, as has been said: if they can burn books today, they will burn people tomorrow. Let me again offer some relevant quotes here to remind us of the utter importance of knowing history, and learning from it:
“The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living. Without some such contrast or comparison, without some such shifting of the point of view, we should see nothing whatever of our own social surroundings. We should take them for granted, as the only possible social surroundings. We should be as unconscious of them as we are, for the most part, of the hair growing on our heads or the air passing through our lungs. It is the variety of the human story that brings out sharply the last turn that the road has taken, and it is the view under the arch of the gateway which tells us that we are entering a town. Yet this sense of the past is curiously patchy among the most intelligent and instructed people, especially in modern England…” G. K. Chesterton
“We need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion.” C. S. Lewis
“The greatest advances in human civilization have come when we recovered what we had lost: when we learned the lessons of History.” Winston Churchill
“One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again.” Thomas Sowell
“The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley
“The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.” Paul Johnson
And given that George Orwell has had so much to say about history, especially in his dystopian novel 1984, let me offer four powerful quotes from him:
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except the endless present in which the party is always right.”
Yes that sounds just like the cancel culture we are enduring right now. And this should shock every single one of us. Our history is being destroyed and Big Government keeps getting bigger. The banning of books is a big part of this. With so many already being banned and pulled, I seriously wonder how long my own books will be freely sold on online bookstores.
As anti-Christian bigotry and persecution continues to ramp up in the West, both the Bible and history are under very real threat. All the more reason to be daily reading the Bible while we still have the freedom to do so, and to be a careful student of history before that too is radically erased.