Finders and keepers

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I have just seen two profoundly moving videos at Justin Taylor's blog. The second I have seen before: the Kimyal tribe of West Papua, Indonesia, receiving New Testaments in their own language for the first time. The first, equally telling, is much briefer, showing believers in China rushing to receive Bibles in their language for the first time. They hug them, weep over them, and then the sudden hubbub subsides as they open them reverently and lovingly, and begin to drink in the truth.

I don't know how many Bibles you have in your home, or how many translations you have one tap of your finger away, or how many Bible study tools are at your disposal. I would imagine that almost none of us struggle to obtain the Word of God.

The Word of the living God.

The out-breathed truth of the Creator and Saviour of mankind.

Has familiarity bred contempt? Do we value the truth as we should? With what eagerness or languor will you go to church tomorrow to hear the Word of God read and preached? Will once be enough? How often do you turn to it during the week?

Such questions put me in mind of the story of John "Roaring" Rogers, preacher at Dedham in Essex at the beginning of the seventeenth century, where he had a reputation as "one of the most awakening preachers of the age." His gift lay in his distinctive delivery of the sound and careful sermons which he prepared, and so well-known did Rogers and his preaching become that godly people used to say to one another, "Let us go to Dedham to fetch fire."

Several well-known anecdotes capture something of the fervency and intensity of Rogers the preacher and his self-forgetful earnestness in the pulpit. Thomas Goodwin, himself to become a renowned preacher and scholar, tells of how he went to hear Rogers preach before he was converted, not imagining that anyone would be able to touch his conscience. Goodwin reported his experience to John Howe, who recorded it in this way:
He told me that being himself, in the time of his youth, a student at Cambridge, and having heard much of Mr. Rogers of Dedham, in Essex, purposely he took a journey from Cambridge to Dedham to hear him preach on his lecture day. And in that sermon he falls into an expostulation with the people about their neglect of the Bible [I am afraid it is more neglected in our days]; he personates God to the people, telling them, "Well, I have trusted you so long with my Bible; you have slighted it; it lies in such and such houses all covered with dust and cobwebs. You care not to look into it. Do you use my Bible so? Well, you shall have my Bible no longer." And he takes up the Bible from his cushion, and seemed as if he were going away with it, and carrying it from them; but immediately turns again and personates the people to God, falls down on his knees, cries and pleads most earnestly, "Lord, whatsoever thou cost to us, take not thy Bible from us; kill our children, burn our houses, destroy our goods; only spare us thy Bible, only take not away thy Bible." And then he personates God again to the people: "Say you so? Well, I will try you a little longer; and here is my Bible for you, I will see how you will use it, whether you will love it more, whether you will value it more, whether you will observe it more, whether you will practice it more, and live more according to it." But by these actions [as the Doctor told me] he put all the congregation into so strange a posture that he never saw any congregation in his life. The place was a mere Bochim, the people generally [as it were] deluged with their own tears; and he told me that he himself when he got out, and was to take horse again to be gone, was fain to hang a quarter of an hour upon the neck of his horse weeping, before he had power to mount, so strange an impression was there upon him, and generally upon the people, upon having been thus expostulated with for the neglect of the Bible.
Neglect of the Bible. Careless disregard for the Word of the Most High and Most Holy. You are not entitled to it, and God is not obliged to provide it. Does your neglect and the prospect of God's response bother you? What if the Lord is saying, even now, "I will try you a little longer; and here is my Bible for you, I will see how you will use it, whether you will love it more, whether you will value it more, whether you will observe it more, whether you will practice it more, and live more according to it."

Count your copies. Peruse your programmes. Appraise your apps. Do not imagine that he cannot yet take it away.
Posted February 1, 2014 @ 11:01 AM by Jeremy Walker
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