All normal Christian young people know something of the treachery of their sinful nature. They know a little of how much inclined they are to the allurements of the seductive wicked world environment they live in. They confess many failures, and the falling short of holy resolution. For they, too, groan with, “The good that I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Rom. 7:19. The Bible then puts this question to young people: “Wherewithal shall a young man (i.e., a young human being) cleanse his way?” The answer of the Bible is, “by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.” Psalm 119:9.
The young person of the religious persuasion of modern liberalism thinks he is principally good and pure (Prov. 30:12), but can improve himself by studying the classics, becoming an expert in (the false science of) sociology or by practicing yoga. But the Christian, with David’s (the Beloved’s) word in his heart, with that one word, sweeps aside the world’s long list of human remedies. He wastes no time on ethical self-culture or so called scientific methods. He maintains that he finds the path to clean living by taking heed thereto according to the Word of God. The Bible is his enchiridion on personal purity.
It is so much more difficult for today’s young people, than, say, for those of the past two generations, to face the towering tidal wave of current impurity. Then what is it which enables them to “Go forth in His service and strong in His might to conquer all evil and stand for the right”? Not some cool judgment formed on the spur of the moment. but an obedient response to and walking in the truth of scripture.
Then “seek ye out of the Book of the Lord and read.“ Isa. 34: 16. Even the farmer, who often must work, as the saying goes, “from see to cain’t see. ‘ ‘ has time to read and systematically study the Bible. How much more the young person burdened with only the low level of modern working hours! There goes that smiling lad peddling newspapers or delivering orders from the fish market, happy because he always hides GOD’S Word in his heart and carries everywhere a small New Testament in his pocket. Some of the smaller books of the Bible can be read through thoughtfully in fifteen minutes. So, read such a book daily for six months or more and see what impact it will have on your spiritual morale. Or, read the Book of Proverbs. Having thirty-one chapters, it may be read a chapter a day according to the date of the month. Some have been reading Proverbs in this way for years. Let each have his own Bible for the scripture reading in the family circle and in the weekly Bible class. Some churches provide no pew Bibles inasmuch as the members bring and use their own at the worship services. (One church provides a swiveled shelf which from an out of the way position may be swung up to hold, during the sermon and before each pew occupant, one’s Bible.)
Then read your Bible with prayer for the stimulating and enlightening power of the Holy Spirit, so that you may understand the covenant mercies of our God. How blessed, in a poor home, to pray a few minutes in the bathroom, for lack of any other privacy! Perhaps the missionary on the field may be privileged to conduct his devotions by wooded mountain stream, or on mountain top overlooking seeming endless ranges. Have your own secret place to read the Word and pray in solitude. Often the fullest blessings require quiet contemplation, free from distraction. On the other hand, your love and hunger for God’s word will enable you to concentrate and read it (on coffee-break or lunch period) though situated between composing room and foundry. When you read, do so attentively. With common courtesy we pay attention to those who address us. But our minds must be sharpened with a special spiritual alertness when God speaks to our souls.
Read your Bible intelligently. Learn to frequently use an exhaustive concordance, a Bible dictionary. Begin to accumulate and use the standard Bible helps: commentary, topical text-book, Bible treasury. Get in the habit of studying the Bible in methodical search, book by book and verse by verse. Better to go through the Bible, not like a leaping, lapping greyhound, but more like a plodding plow horse.
Read the Bible daily. A chapter a day will take you through the Bible in three years. There are reading plans in which five chapters a day get you through the whole Bible in one year. This way you feed your soul on the whole counsel of God. You also learn to overcome sin and solve problems in a biblical manner.
Read an epistle (letter), or any part of scripture, as though it were written personally to you. Why does God send you these words? That you may better understand the preaching of the word, be kindly warned against every wicked way, become thoroughly taught in all wisdom and be presented complete in Christ. Col. 1:28. Modern evangelism sees many “converts” from the entertainment world “saved” in their sins. They get newly converted, yet they continue in the casino, the Sunday sports arena or on the stage. But you must be satisfied with nothing less than being saved from your sins. Matt. 1:21. Jenny Lind Goldschmidt, the Swedish nightingale (b. 1820. d. 1887), whose voice entranced millions, quit her concert career at the height of her public life. When asked why, she replied, “When every day made me think less of this,” indicating her Bible, “what else could I do?” If you must, wrench out of your life anything that would entice you from God’s Word and Christ’s Church.
What we have been saying here is not any false piety of individualism with its anti-church conceit. This is all the counsel of the true church. The church is not some mere, vague, ethereal, invisible body of Christ. For the Body of Christ is manifested in the local instituted church. But today it is the popular thing to despise the church instituted by Christ himself. Why is that, if one wants to walk in the way of holy scripture? For we read in God’s Word of the church at Antioch. Now for any believers living in or near Antioch, would it be proper for them to look askance at the church, keep aloof from it, and every Lord’s Day remain home to enjoy (to use a modern thought) their Spurgeon and their Bible in private at home? Can anyone defend from scripture the home apart from the church? It can’t be done! We also read of the church at Cenchrea, the church of God at Corinth (and remember that this church was still a true church although as far from perfect as could be!), the church of Ephesus, the church of Colosse, the churches of Galatia, the churches of the Gentiles, the church of the Laodiceans (and compare Rev. 2:8, 12, 18; 3: 1, 7). These were all organized churches, with deacons and elders ordained in them (Acts 6 and 14). Jesus had said that He would build His church and that it would continue to the end of the world, hell itself unable to prevail against it. That this is the concrete, local, organized church is clear from the fact that it is visibly manifested in the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments continually to the consummation of the age. So, baptism is to be administered constantly to time’s end. Matt. 28: 19-20. So, the Lord’s Supper is to be administered and observed “until He come. ” I Cor. 11 :26. The command of the sovereign Head of the church still is, “this do ye in remembrance of Me.” I Cor. 11:25. How dare anyone not do this? Is it not so that the counsel of the scripture, the counsel of Christ and the counsel of the church are all the same indisputable counsel of God? Then how is it possible to have one of these counsels without the others? How possibly could you have the counsel of God apart from the counsel of the church? All who receive that counsel of the church and walk in it bow to Christ. All who do not walk in it bow to some other. Perseverance in the counsel of the church is the way of purity and victory over temptation and sin. Our providences and our experiences get old and we can blow the dust off them. But don’t let dust accumulate on your Bibles. The true church always wore their Bibles out. Do the same: wear your Bible out. Then get a new one and wear it out, in blessed, consecrated use.