July 06, 2019 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
You have heard it said that the book is always better than the movie. If you have read a book that is later made into a movie, many times you will be disappointed when you see the film. The movie doesn't always get it right. It may leave things out that are integral to the story, or it may be inaccurate. There is a thing, after all, called artistic license.
Now if you see the movie first, you may have a different experience when you read the book. The movie may distort your understanding of the story. The images a movie implants in your mind may not live up to those images you naturally conjure up in your imagination as you read a book. Many people for that reason will read the book first before seeing a movie.
Hollywood is always looking for stories. People love stories. Life is made up of stories. Hollywood is in the midst of releasing a number of Bible-themed movies. Son of God is playing and soon the $125 million Noah will hit the silver screen. In development are Pontius Pilate and the Redemption of Cain. There is something ironic in all of this.
Statistics tell us that ninety-two percent of American households own a Bible. Today, you can buy a Bible at Wal-Mart or read one for free on the internet or your smart phone. The statisticians also tell us that fifty-nine percent of Americans read the Bible occasionally and only nineteen percent of churchgoers read it daily. Despite the prevalence of Bibles in our nation, few read them and even less have an understanding of the Bible's contents. If you haven't really read the Book, you are easy prey to be misled by a Hollywood production.
There is no other book in the history of humanity like the Bible. It is actually a collection of 66 books; 39 make up the Old Testament and 27 make up the New Testament. These 66 books were written over a period of 1,500 years by more than 40 authors who came from various walks of life. Some were farmers, others were prophets, all were inspired by God. The Bible was written on three different continents and in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. It was written in different literary genres: some history, law, poetry, letters, gospels and apocalypse. The Bible is the book with the most manuscript evidence of any other book written in human history. It has been remarkably preserved over the years so that what we have today is amazingly accurate. Despite the fact that the Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a period of 1,500 years by more than 40 authors, it has a single progressively developed theme running from Genesis to Revelation without contradiction: God's redemption of humanity.
The Christian is to be a person of the Book. The Christian is to study God's word and live by it. Jesus reiterated that "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) The Bible is the only objective deposit that God has given us of His truth. Thus, we are to test truth claims against the word of God, like the Bereans did of old when the Apostle Paul preached to them. "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)
The person who meditates on the word of God will be blessed. He is the one who can go through the storms of life with perspective and hope. The psalmist wrote, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1:1-3)
In our world, especially in the information age in which we live, truth and falsity battle it out daily on the battlefield of our minds. What is really true? Can you trust that? Many people are trapped by falsity. Let me give you an innocuous example. A man discovers a lump on his body and becomes concerned. He googles his new malady and becomes even more anxious about the situation, concluding that he is terminally ill. He imagines what it will be like when he is gone. He becomes depressed and fearful. He finally gets the courage up to see his physician who gives him an accurate and reasoned diagnosis. The lump is nothing to worry about at all. What he experiences next is nothing short of an emotional catharsis. He is set free from his anxieties by the truth. In the spiritual realm, only the truth of God can set us free. Lies make spiritual prisoners of us all. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
The Holy Scriptures guide us and give us the wisdom to walk wisely. The psalmist sung to God, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105). Our heavenly Father knows best. The Bible is God's word; it is not of mere human origin."All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) From the pages of the Scriptures we truly learn how to live. The Book will keep you from sin, but sin will keep you from the Book.
God's word produces the change of heart and life each one of us needs to mature as a human being. If we are not growing, we are not healthy. Many of us are in a rut of our own making. And what is a rut? A coffin without any ends. It was English pastor Matthew Henry who wrote, "Sacred truth produces a spiritual change in the mind of men, which neither rain nor snow can make on the earth. It shall not return to the Lord without producing important effects." "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11)
We live in a world of hype and spin. Hollywood makes its millions by movies that are loosely "based upon a true story." We need edification more than entertainment. A movie cannot act as the Cliffs Notes to eternal truth. British preacher Charles Spurgeon said it well in words that are as apt for our time as his: “There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”