206. TO READ OR NOT TO READ?
(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
In this information age, I don’t think that there has ever been a time that we, as human beings, have had so many books, Articles and other written material, giving notes, guidance, explanations, expositions and interpretations of the Word of God, the Bible.
Many people who have professed to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour, feel inclined to write on some issue, topic or theme or on a range of issues, on the basis that it will bring edification to the body of Christ and even help unbelievers to come to a knowledge of the truth.
This is a good thing. We are certainly to use our gifts, talents and abilities for the Lord and if we believe that he is calling us to write about his Word and to impart wisdom from it, then we should. In addition to the many Articles that I have felt led to write on over the years, I too have penned at least three-quarts of a book which I intend by the grace of God, to one day publish and I desire to pen at least three more, on topics that I am passionate about and think will be a blessing with God’s help, to fellow believers.
Sadly though, whereas there are genuine believers who feel led to use what God has given them to faithfully write material based on truth, so as to promote God’s Kingdom agenda, there are those who have falsely professed faith in Jesus, who may even attend Churches and preach, who have also decided to write books and other material for the Christian community and the world in general, under the guise of ‘Christianity’. These people handle the Word of God deceitfully and given that they are not genuine, they write and publish books, Articles and other material with an ulterior motive, whether this be to make money, to become popular, to be highly esteemed in the eyes of men, to nurse their ego, to boast, to be considered to be a great intellectual and to lead people astray. In short, their goal is not to lead people to God but away from him.
In truth and in fact, there are many books and material out there today being sold under the banner of ‘Christianity’ that are really presenting a manual on how to get to hell. That is, they are so filled with lies and deceit, that to follow what their authors say and to subscribe to their teachings, would mean to believe lies and reject God’s truth, as given in his Word, the Bible.
Some false writers are subtle in their offering. On the surface, they are careful to write much truth to get people to think that they are credible but when you examine what they’ve written closer, you realize that they have planted a few lies here and there and on majorly important issues, the intention being, to get those who read their garbage to believe a lie and ultimately, lead the gullible astray.
In light of this information age, where there are so many so-called ‘Christian’ books and material available, in hard copy and even online, it is important to get one thing clear: The Word of God does not need a crutch nor does it need a wheel chair. IT IS PERFECTLY ABLE TO STAND ON ITS OWN.
What on earth do I mean by this statement, which many are bound to find somewhat controversial? Well, let me say it another way: Good Christian books are nice to read yes and may even genuinely edify (as long as they contain truth) but it is good to remember that the Word of God does not NEED any supplement. IT IS SELF-SUFFICIENT. That is, it would not be rendered incomplete or unsatisfactory if no external book aid or notes were to be used, nor does it need to be improved upon or enhanced by any external supplementary writing. In short: IT IS SELF-SUSTAINABLE and SELF-DEFENSIBLE.
While it is nice to read books that are genuinely good because they contain good information, good notes, good guidance and stick to truth therefore, it is important to remember that the Word of God does not NEED them.
I would like to repeat this for emphasis, as we can sometimes forget: The Word of God does not NEED them. The Word of God is AUTHORITATIVE IN ITS OWN RIGHT and COMPLETE IN ITS OWN RIGHT. If you have nothing else but the Word of God therefore, you have enough. While reading Christian material can be useful therefore, you are not missing out on anything if you decide to stick with the Word and not to read any external Christian literature. Even if they are full of truth and exposition and can indeed be helpful as you seek to live for the Lord, the fact of the matter is that you do not NEED them. All you NEED is God’s Word.
As stated before, I am not denouncing the reading of books, Articles and other materials purported to be from Christians. I am simply reminding Christians, that the Word of God, the Bible, does not NEED supplementary books. Supplementary books are useful, yes, if they are truthful but something being useful is not the same as being necessary.
There is a difference. All things may be lawful but not all things are expedient (1 Corinthians 10:23).
To say that external books, Articles and other Christian written material are necessary (as opposed to useful) is to say that the Word of God is not adequate on its own, in fulfilling all that God intends for it to fulfill.
The Word of God tells us to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the WORD of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Notice that it did not say rightly dividing books and other external material about the Word of truth.
Yes some external Christian material can help us as we seek to rightly divide the Word of truth but we must remember that our devotion is to God’s book, the Word of God and not to any of these writings. The SUPREME book, greater and far superior than any other book and the one in which no other earthly book can compare is the Word of God. It is in a league of its own. It has absolutely no contenders and no equivalents.
In Psalm 119:9-16, the Psalmist, focused solely on what God had said, commanded or instructed by his word and no other book or material, stated:
- “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”
Notice that the Psalmist did not say that supplementary books about God’s word had the power to cleanse the way of a young man. Notice that he did not say that he had hid the content of any external book or statement made by man, in his heart but only God’s Word. No other writing deserved that lofty position.
Alas, when engaged in spiritual warfare and fighting against enemies and foes, principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places, we are not told to go read a good Christian book or some good Christian Article or material but to “…take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD” (Ephesians 6:12).
2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us further, that the weapons of our warfare (of which THE WORD OF GOD is one such weapon) “…are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” No earthly book, Article or other material can make such a boast.
Hebrews 4:12 conveys, that “… THE WORD OF GOD is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Notably, no such boast has ever been made anywhere nor can it be made truthfully, of any earthly Christian book, Article or material.
Once again, it is important that I point out that I am not bashing books and if a Christian chooses to read books or other external material to guide him or her with the study of God’s Word, nothing is wrong with this, provided that:
- 1 – That Christian knows that the Bible (not any other book, material or statement of man) is the ultimate authority on all matters;
- 2 – That Christian knows (although he is reading other books and material), that the Bible is capable of standing on its own without the need for aid and that, given that he is indwelled by God’s spirit, he has no need that any man should teach him. For, the spirit, which has anointed him, is sufficient to teach him of ALL things and to guide him, as he reads the Word. The Word of God states in 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” In John 16:13, Jesus also told his disciples, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
- 3 – That Christian is very careful as to whose material he reads, doing his due diligence where possible, on the author of the book, what he or she believes, the life that he or she has led, what he or she has said in times gone past and who he or she is known to have been affiliated with. If the source of the material is false, if the writer is not reputed as someone that holds fast to sound doctrine but is double-minded or is known to usually say and do things that are suspicious when compared to what the Word of God says, then the content of the book will be bound to feature falsehoods.
- 4 – That Christian is not naive, presumptuous or overly confident in his own ability to detect that which is of the Lord, from that which is counterfeit (without God’s help) and so, he prayerfully asks the Lord for guidance as to what books or material He (God) has approved of and that he (the Christian) can therefore read.
- 5 – That Christian is careful to guard his heart against any deception that may be featured in any books or material that he reads.
- 6 – That Christian is grounded on the authority of God’s Word and resolute in his stance to quickly dismiss any book, writing or material that he may come across (irrespective of who wrote it), if it opposes, contradicts, doubts, conflicts with or otherwise undermines God’s Word and what he knows is true about God’s Word;
In short, I am saying that, if as a Christian, you are not grounded on the authority of God’s Word, not careful to guard your heart against deception, are naive, presumptuous or overly confident in your own ability to detect that which is of the Lord, from that which is counterfeit, not very careful as to whose material you are reading, not aware that the Bible is capable of standing on its own and that it is the ultimate authority on all matters, THEN YOU SHOULD PROBABLY AVOID READING ANYTHING EXTERNAL TO THE BIBLE, AS IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY, THAT YOU WILL BE LED DOWN THE WRONG PATH AND ULTIMATELY EMBRACE LIES.
While good Christian books are nice, we must not be foolish. We must also ensure that we put things into their proper perspective. If we think that the Bible is incomplete or needs some aid to better understand it, then maybe we are not ready to be delving into other books and material because we are still immature in our thinking.
The Lord is able, through his Spirit, if he indwells you, to give you understanding of his Word, without your needing to consult other man-made books. Once again (and I cannot stress this enough), good Christian books are indeed useful but when we begin to think of them as necessary, there is where the problem lies.
The Lord certainly never intended his Word to be read as an Addendum to something else or for any other book or material to be considered a necessary supplement. That is, he did not create the Bible as a Part 1 and expect us to look to man-made books and material for Part 2 or the sequel.
We must remember these facts because they are important in keeping us from getting seduced by the books and material of men or us esteeming books and material too high in importance, elevating them even to the point where we dethrone, question or begin (through the germination of seeds of doubt), to challenge truths as contained in THE GOOD BOOK, the Word of God, considering the author or writer of the earthly book or material, to be the authority and no longer God.
We ought never to get to the place where we believe something because ‘so-and-so’ said it or wrote it but must stay in the place where we believe what we believe solely because God’s Word has said it. That is enough to settle it.
We must remember as well that, whereas we can put 100% confidence in the infallibility of the scriptures, we can’t put 100% confidence into books, Articles or other material, written by men. For, their books may be fraught with errors or have some level of truth but still contain some element of error.
When getting ready to read earthly books and material therefore, even where they are purported to be Christian material and sell in Christian bookstores and are promoted on Christian websites, we must be on our guard at ALL times (irrespective of who the author is and how much we respect or admire him or her). We must be good soldiers and prepare ourselves to be alert. Like the Bereans, we must be careful to ensure that we weigh everything written about in a book, Article or other material, by the yardstick of the Word of God. If it comes short, then it is to be rejected because it is not based on truth.
If we are not sure what the Word of God says on an issue and so can’t discern when a writer is outright lying or has inadvertently or innocently arrived at a wrong conclusion, then maybe we are not ready to be reading these so-called Christian books and material. For, there is a real danger that we could be led astray. If you don’t know what is truth and are not properly grounded in it, it is easy to convince you of a lie and to induct or indoctrinate you with it. If you don’t know the truth, then maybe you shouldn’t be reading books and other external material to help you arrive at truth but use your time instead to read THE BOOK of God which is infallibly true.
My advice to all Christians is to spend more time reading the Word of God which is infallibly true in its account, its explanations and prophesies and can be relied on wholeheartedly for TRUTH and less time reading books and other material that people have claimed to have written, about the Word of God. If for example, you are spending more time reading my Articles than you are in the Word of God, that is a serious problem. You need to meditate on the SOURCE.
If we are not careful, we can take something that is good (like reading good Christian books and material) and put so much emphasis on it, that it is turned into something that is evil.
As human beings, we have a tendency to do this. For example, the fact that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus Christ was a lovely thing and for which Mary gave thanks to God. However, people have taken her name and corrupted it and turned it into something evil, leading people to hell by telling them to point the worship to her (which is idolatry), instead of solely to the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy of worship.
Yet, Mary was a sinner like all other human beings and therefore also in need of the Saviour. Hence the reason she stated to Elisabeth in Luke 1: 46-47, “…My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
Similarly, good Christian books and other material that contain the truth about God’s Word are welcome and can certainly edify the body of Christ. However, we must never make them tantamount in importance to the Word of God (because they are not), see them on the same level, put all of our reliance in what earthly authors (apart from those who were inspired by God to write the Bible) say (as they could contain some element of error) and we must never forget that, while good Christian books and other material may be useful to our Christian walk, they are not necessary.
Only the Word of God is necessary. In Job 23:12, Job, who considered the word of God to be so necessary, that he saw it as more important than even his daily food, stated, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.“
In summary, if you are a Christian and love reading Christian books, Articles and other material, by all means, prayerfully continue, as good Christian books, Articles and material can indeed provide a benefit once they promote truth. HOWEVER, let your navel-string be planted in the Word. For, no book, Article or written material (even the Articles on this Website), could ever serve as a substitute for the Word of God or be on par with the Word of God and God did not give us his Word to be read as an Addendum to any man-made book, Article or written material.
People who try to promote their book and sales therefore by saying that in order to understand some portion of scripture or some topic in the Word, you need to buy their book or material are lying. People only need to read the Word. The last thing that people need is a high-headed intellectual who has prided himself into believing that what he has written is on par with the divine Word of God. Pride deludes and so where a person is puffed up in his so-called intelligence, there is a high likelihood that his book or material, though touted as Christian material, contains lies that will lead people astray.
If we remember these basic truths, we would do well as Christians. Never make the mistake of putting confidence in the writer of a book, his Christian reputation or his writing ability. For, at the end of the day, he is but a man and can be prone to error.
If you put confidence in any man, you are likely to be led down the wrong path at some point or other and to end up disappointed. For, only God is worthy of our complete confidence and trust, not any sinful human being. Put your confidence where it belongs therefore: in God and in his infallible Word the Bible.
No matter who a person is or how noble, respected and seemingly spiritual, Psalm 118:8-9 reminds us that, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”
Micah 7:5 tells us further,“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide…” and Jeremiah 17:5 warns us, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”
John 1:1 states that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The Word was therefore in existence from the very beginning, even before men and women were in existence and before they conjured up the idea to write books, Articles and other material. In short: THE WORD IS ETERNAL AND DIVINELY INSPIRED but no earthly book can boast of being the same, no matter who wrote it. In fact, any merit that a book may derive is to the extent that it refers mankind back to the Word of God and the wise principles that can be extracted therein.
John 1:1 also lets us know that the Word is GOD. It thereby follows that, since a person is cursed if his heart departs from the Lord (Jeremiah 17:5) and the Word is THE LORD, then it follows that cursed is any person if, through his reading of books, Articles and other material purported by writers to be Christian material, he allows what is contained in these man-made books not to draw him closer to the Lord but to make him depart from Him and doubt Him and His truth.
John stated of Jesus in John 3:30, “He must increase but I must decrease”. Since JESUS (who is both GOD and LORD – John 20:28) is the WORD of God (John 1:1,14; Revelation 19:13), what John said holds true as well, when it comes to the earthly books and other material that man has written of their own accord (even those that have been approved by God). The WORD of God must increase but all human beings and the books or material that they have written, must know their place and decrease.
In light of all that has been mentioned, if you are a Christian and love God’s truth, prayerfully, carefully and cautiously read other books and material if you wish but be careful to RESIDE in the Word of God, the source of all truth and wisdom. For:
1. The Word of God is THE authority.
2. The Word of God does not need an Addendum or supplement. It can stand on its own.
3. No earthly book or writing is on the same level or wavelength, no matter how intellectual, studied or wise the person who wrote it.
4. A book only has merit if it refers to the Word of God, rightly divides it and extracts principles from it and when it does, it is not to point the glory to the earthly writer but to God.
(Written on 4th January, 2022)
A few days ago, I was speaking to someone about false teachers, prophets, pastors and speakers. In response to something I said, she enquired about certain denominations (which I knew did not believe the truth of God’s Word based on their strange doctrines and were therefore cults, not Churches).
In response to me indicating that one of them had gone so far as to create its own book and was not therefore following the Bible, she replied in their defence, that they were using the Bible but it was just that they also were using another book.
I could not believe what I was hearing and that the person with whom I was speaking, who ought to have known better, thought that this was okay. She thought that it was okay for people who call themselves to be of God, to add to God’s Word with another book, that they considered tantamount to that Word.
Her statement alone confirmed the point that this gathering was not a Church but a diabolical cult. It also reinforces all that I have been saying above. Since when did God’s Bible need an Addendum or supplement?
These people had created a book full of their own teachings and man-made and put it on equal par with God’s Word the Bible, using it as a necessary Part 2 or sequel to the Bible.
What folly! This book, clearly inspired by the devil was also steeped in lies, went against and thereby undermined the stand-alone authority of God’s Word the Bible, which is true.
In Deuteronomy 4:2, the Israelites were cautioned:
- “Ye shall NOT add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
In Revelation 22:18-19, the scriptures state of the book of Revelation:
- “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
To say that a gathering was simply using another book along with the Bible therefore, as if this is okay and the Bible was created to be paired with some other man-made book which contained additional information is delusion at its worst!
It underscores what I’ve been saying. No man-made book or material is to be considered to be on par with God’s Book the Bible because none is. Also, if in an earthly book’s pages, there are things that contradict, undermine or go against God’s Word (which is the ultimate and ONLY authority), it was definitely created to lead you AWAY from God, not to Him. It is there to trip you up and deceive you with lies from the devil.
Even if a book has nothing but truth in it and the author’s intention is pure, in that he simply wishes to edify the body of Christ with the material and lead people to the Lord, this does not change the fact that this book is inferior to God’s Word. It does not change the fact that God’s Word remains supreme and is capable of standing on its own without help from any man-made book, Article or material.
(Addendum written on 4th January, 2022)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article and Addendum to be interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 16 – ‘What Is The Bible?’
- Note 192 – ‘Attitudes And Approaches To The Word Of God’
- Note 201 – ‘Holding Fast To Your Beliefs, Standards And Boundaries’
- Note 203 – ‘How Important Is Truth To Christianity?’
Additionally, under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ Page:
- Note 228 – ‘God’s Laws Are Supreme’
- Note 302 – ‘God Has Said It, So That Settles It!’