The Good Book
Theme: Positive Christianity
by Mark White
Some think that there is nothing positive about the Scriptures. “They are full of ‘Thou shalt nots.’ ” You may have concluded that the Bible is an antiquated, obsolete collection of writings which has no value for our technologically advanced society. One young man told me recently that the Bible included a lot of “pretty stories,” but that it was of no significance for enlightened, modern man. Is the Bible out of date? Does it hold no value for those at the brink of the twenty-first century?
Of course, the Bible does contain many “Thou Shalt Nots” They are placed there for the good of man, and right thinking people understand that God’s commandments, whether negative or positive, are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). Nor is negative instruction without its positive effect. Without some restrictions, man’s life would be chaotic. Our federal government enacts many restrictive laws every year; constitutional government rests on the assumption that social order and the general good can only be attained by restricting individual liberties. There must be both negatives and positives in living a happy, harmonious life,
There is much about the Scriptures, however, which is positive. The Holy Spirit has revealed the right way as well as marking the wrong. Actually, the New Testament was written to reveal the most positive event that the world has ever known and will ever know the advent of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians that before Jesus came they were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2;12). Can you imagine any more negative, desperate thing than to have “no hope” and to be “without God?” just think of what it means when a physician leaves a hospital room saying, “It’s hopeless.” It means that you are at the point of desperation,
The Scriptures point us to Jesus as our Savior and friend. Jesus highlighted what the Bible can do for us when He said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me” ( John 5:39). Paul wrote to the brethren at Rome: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). This hope which we so desperately need is sure because God who gives the promise cannot lie; “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19). The blessed revealed hope we have in Christ is the most positive thing in the world because it offers direction and stability in a turbulent society. Jesus came and gave us this hope, And, frankly, l need whatever hope l can get,
The Bible is positive because it contains principles which if incorporated into our daily lives will result in fuller, much happier living. The Bible is a manual for good relations with our fellow man. In First Peter chapter three, verse ten, the Scripture declares, “He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.” This is the divine formula for the “good life.” No human formula for happiness could rival this revealed wisdom. Even the problems of world strife could be remedied if man would follow the principles given by the “Prince of Peace.” Imagine what could be if world leaders sat down at the conference table with open Bibles! All of the evils of our world would vanish if men would look to the Scriptures for the direction they need.
Yes, the Bible does contain some negatives, And those negatives will bless our lives in a very positive way. But the Scriptures also give us a positive hope and a positive outlook on life. The Bible is the most positive book ever written; we must learn to use it not only as a rule book but also as a guide book.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1984