Speaking of….Tools!

I knew a young man many years ago who told me he was thinking about enrolling in one of the area trade schools to become a mechanic. He hadn’t decided if he wanted to work on cars or heavy trucks, and he was asking for my advice. But he said he wanted to learn a trade that he could always depend on. The only problem was, what few tools he owned were the cheap imports. They were very poor quality. They were not suitable for a professional mechanic. On the other hand, I had a lot of tools I didn’t need anymore after making the transition into aircraft maintenance. And I really didn’t have room to store them, so I gave him an assortment of professional quality tools.

Sometime later, I learned he had taken those tools I gave him and sold them over at Trader’s Village. (For those of you outside the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Trader’s Village is a local flea market.)  I ripped him up one side and down the other! I reminded him that the reason I gave him those tools in the first place was so he could take them and make a living, not sell them for cash. It’s sort of like the old adage, “Give a man fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.” He had no idea what that meant.

In his Bibliology sermon titled “Books and THE Book”, W.A. Criswell said of the Bible:

It is unique, it is separate, it is apart; it is the great unlike, unrivaled. I have three reasons for that avowal—first:  Only here, only here do we find the true revelation of the things that really matter, only here.  The things that I really want to know are answered for me only in this Book; in none other, in the Book.  The question of where did I come from, and the whole universe around me; the question of what is the meaning and purpose of my existence; how am I any different from an autumn leaf that falls to the ground?  Billions of those leaves fell last fall; there are billions of them preparing to fall now.  How is my life of any more worth or significance than one of those leaves falling to the ground?  Is there meaning and purpose in existence?  I can find the answer only in the Book.  And the ultimate and final question:  Where am I going? What is the future that lies ahead for me?  Beyond the gates of death, into what kind of an existence or world do I enter?  I can find the answer only in the Book.  All of the other questions that I seek in life are immaterial or ephemeral or extraneous.  But the dynamic and central and meaningful questions that I want to know are found only in answer in the Book.

To me, this explains why in the Book God did not reveal at first to us all of these secrets of modern scientific discovery, the secret of the atom, or of the stars, or of chemistry, or of physics, or of all the other sciences:  we can learn those things in their time.  They are not ultimately and vitally important.  What is important is that I know God, and the meaning of life, and the way I ought to live, and the hope for tomorrow; these are the things that are most important, and that’s why God revealed them to us in this Book.  This Book is to us what a compass is to a mariner, what a radar screen is to an airplane pilot, what a blueprint is to a builder:  it shows us the way and the meaning and the substance of life, and the ultimate destiny that lies before us.

And if I may add to the late Dr. Criswell’s words, the Bible is to a Christian what tools are to a mechanic, or a carpenter, or any skilled tradesman. As Criswell pointed out, the Bible and only the Bible answers the questions that really matter to us. Where did I come from? Where did everything around me come from? Why am I here? Do I really matter? And what happens after I die? It is the most important tool God gave us because it not only answers those questions, it also teaches us how to live by clearly defining the difference between right and wrong.  It reveals God to us and teaches us all we need to know about His nature and His character. But the Bible is like any tool in the sense that if it’s going to do what it was intended to do, you have to pick it up and put it to use.

And it has to be used properly, not misused or misapplied. You wouldn’t use a wood saw to cut a piece of metal. You wouldn’t use a hammer and chisel to perform delicate work on an electronic circuit board. Likewise, it’s vital that we know how to properly apply scripture, being careful in the process not to twist it by trying to make it say something God never meant for it to say. In 2 Peter 3, the Bible gives a very plain and simple warning about that.

Peter wrote:

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

When Jesus was led out to the desert to be tempted, Satan twisted and misapplied scripture to try to cause Jesus to sin. But Jesus thwarted Satan through the truthful application of God’s word. All it took was four small passages from the book of Deuteronomy, and the devil was done. Such is the power and truth of God’s word. There’s a saying I’ve heard all my life – “Use the right tool for the right job, otherwise you’ll only make a mess.” All we have to do is take one look at what’s going on in the world today to see how true that is. The world looks to anything and everything but the Bible, the principle tool given to us by Almighty God. The mess is plain to see.

I have a box full of tools at home and at work. Many are made for a specific purpose and because of the type of work I do, I have to buy multiple tools that are all the same, like sheetmetal clamps for instance. I can’t work on aircraft sheetmetal with just one sheetmetal clamp. I need many. Paul wrote that all scripture is God breathed, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Many functions, one tool, kind of like a Swiss Army Knife! But seriously, when it comes to the Bible, it’s all we need. It needs no other secular work of literature or textbook to supplement it. The Bible is the right tool for the right job no matter what challenges we face.

As for that young man, he never did go to trade school. He never became a mechanic. He never learned how to make use of the tools I gave him and as a result, he never gave himself the opportunity to learn a skill that would have lasted him a lifetime. Instead, he sold them for the quick and easy cash. And sadly, many people today don’t make use of all that God has given them. God offered all of us the free gift of grace and salvation through faith in Christ, and He gave us His holy word the Bible, the only tool we need to help us grow in our faith. And this doesn’t just apply to the lost. There are Christians who admit they hardly read the Bible. There are churches that barely teach or preach the Bible. They don’t realize just how much they’re hindering their own growth, and how much they’re hindering their ability to have a close personal relationship with God.

The tools I use to make my living will one day rust and wear out. They’ll be of no use then. But the Bible has stood the test of time. It is eternal. The words of Psalm 119 and verse 89 tell us:

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.

That’s from the English Standard Version. This is the same verse from the King James:

For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.

And from the NIV:

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

God’s word is fixed, settled; it stands firm. It’s as relevant now as it was 50, or 500, or 1500 years ago.

People have rejected and denied it, yet the Bible endures. People have tried to disprove it and refute it, and they’ve failed every time. Truth always triumphs. God’s Holy word: It’s the only tool we need to build upon and maintain our relationship with God.