Aiden, my 11-year-old grandson, attended a Vacation Bible School two summers ago and was promised a Bible for perfect attendance. He never received it because the supply ran out.
I overheard him talking to his cousin about this and knew it had to be made right. So a few weeks later I gave him my study Bible; I do most of my Bible reading online these days.
We did a little review of how the Bible was set up: Old Testament, New Testament, why some sentences were in red, notes in the back, maps, and so forth. I told Aiden that this was God’s Word to us.
I had forgotten how extensively the Bible was marked; verse after verse linked in a chain to support various doctrines. A dozen verses linked together to explain the doctrine of the seventh-day Sabbath, another dozen linked to explain what happens when a person dies, another set of verses linked to show how Christ will return to earth, and so on.
Daniel and Revelation had the longest chain of verses by a wide margin.
Thinking about all of this fine Bible study and how it might help my precious grandson learn the important truths of the Bible was exciting at first, but then my mood turned to a strange sadness.
Knowing true doctrines did not keep me from walking away from the church; but knowing the true God does.
Where was the chain of verses that linked us to our Creator? Would Aiden find Jesus if he followed all those verses I had linked together? Would he understand why we were created, and the great plans God has for us? Would he know what went wrong to cause all the misery we see around us? Would he figure out how God fixed our sin problem? Would he discover how much he is loved by God and desire to be part of His family? Finally, would my precious grandson realize what kind of hope is within easy reach?
I had to ask myself where the chain was that linked all the many verses to the assurance we have in Christ, promises that He will never turn away anyone who comes to Him with a humble, contrite heart. A lot of important questions and nothing to show for an answer, at least not in the verses I had marked.
My study Bible was shining a bright light on why I was able to walk away from God some years ago and seek instead the friendship with this world, a friendship that lasted almost 30 years, until God’s whisper in my conscience was too persistent to ignore. The Holy Spirit kept urging me to settle the critical issue about God once and for all.
Knowing true doctrines did not keep me from walking away from the church; but knowing the true God does. When Jesus is the reason for everything, there is no reason and no place to wander. I’m praying that Aiden will discover that in his new Bible.
Some have defined Revelation’s mark of the beast as a form of religion that does not have God at the center. Was my original Bible marking an example of focusing on doctrines and not on God? That may be taking things too far, but the idea did cross my mind.
By the way, these verses that linked together various doctrines in my marked Bible were not only for my own benefit, but were marked so I could methodically make the case of truth to those who wished to study Scripture with me.
That was years ago. Now I will be marking in a new Bible, linking more verses together so that the gospel of Christ is the center of all good and true doctrine. I think I’ll also buy and mark a new Bible for Aiden.
Ken Reetz, a real-estate agent in Oregon and Idaho, grew up attending Adventist schools. It took him more than 60 years to understand what Christ has done for humanity through His great love and amazing grace.