Rev. Chip Hammond
Bethel Church maintains a supply of pew Bibles available for the services of worship. A number of years ago a former member criticized this practice. He said that he believed that even having such Bibles, and announcing page numbers in connection with the passages preached, kept Christians in a state of retarded development, never having to become familiar with the Bible in general, and their own Bible in particular.
I strongly disagreed with him. His assumption was that only those who reached a certain level of maturity should come to Church. One of my great desires is that God will bring to us people who may not own a Bible or who are unfamiliar with the Bible. We do not want such people to be made unnecessarily uncomfortable because they don't have a Bible to turn to, or because they don't have the foggiest idea where Habakkuk is.
The mistake that this man made was in assuming that the pew Bibles are there for the mature in Christ-- they're not. They're there for the babes, for those who are crossing over from death to life, and those being called "from among the Gentiles." But if you are a mature Christian, I'd like to encourage you in regard to worship, Sunday School, and Bible study to bring your own Bible!
Ephesians 6:18 calls the Word of God "the sword of the Spirit." The Greek word for "sword" here is the word machaira- the Roman short sword. It was an up-close and personal weapon, usually no more than sixteen inches in length. It was a reactive weapon, the thing to grab if your enemy was upon you without warning. It was your last resort - if you didn't prevail with this weapon, you were doomed.
When I was a chaplain with the Leesburg Police Department, I noticed that most of the long guns were stored in the department armory. But not so the police handguns. Each officer was issued a specific handgun, and he kept it with him at all times. The serial number was recorded at every range session, so as to be sure that the officer always had the same handgun, the specific one he was issued. And within regulations, the officers are allowed to make certain approved modifications to personalize their weapons. Because he may need to rely on it to save his life, the officer must be proficient with that sidearm, not one merely like it, if he is to have the best chance of going home that night.
For Christians, though the spiritual fight often comes to us through flesh and blood, Paul tells us that flesh and blood is not really what we wrestle with. Behind the flesh and blood attacks on Christians lie demonic principalities and powers, spiritual forces of evil.
I know a man who for the past twenty years has sought to saturate his mind with the Word of God every day, and relate every situation and event to a biblical principle derived from a specific Bible passage. A Bible was given to him in 1985 by his wife. It is tattered and torn. The text is underlined, and there are notes from sermons he's heard scribbled in the margins. The binding has been re-glued times without number. His children pity him because his Bible is so old and worn!
But it is his sword, a familiar friend, and he carries it with him wherever he goes. He knows this particular Bible like the back of his hand. Whenever a question or issue comes up, his mind immediately seeks the biblical principle that will bring the answer. The principle is indexed in his mind to specific passages, and this Bible, well worn and familiar, falls upon the passage as though it had a will of its own.
I have seen training tapes in which police officers have recounted incidents of survival of a murderous attack. A number of them have commented on how important it was to have the actual gun they trained with and knew like the back of their hand, not one merely like it.
We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but as tactically savvy officers know that not just any gun will do, so spiritually savvy Christians should be aware of the same when it comes to the machaira tou pneumatos - the sword of the Spirit. So bring your own Bible.