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Next Weeks Best Seller, Part 1

I'm usually not a prognosticator. I can't look at the sky and tell you if it's going to rain tomorrow. I rarely predict a political election in October or guess on Monday who will win the weekend's games. I can't tell an expecting mother whether she should buy pink or blue. Nevertheless, I'm about go out on a limb and make a bold prediction: The Bible will be at the top selling book next week.

There. Mark it down. Put it on the bulletin board. Keep it on file. You can bring it up the next time you see me.

You've probably guessed that this is a very safe prediction and can tell that I fear no egg on my face. This is because the Bible is always-week in, week out; year in  year out; century in, century out-the world's best selling book. According to The Baltimore Sun: "The number of Bibles sold each year in America is so great that an exact count is impossible. Distributors estimate that Bibles represent about $200 million a year in sales, equal to roughly 30 million books (these figures do not include Bibles given away)."' U.S. Bible sales may reach 850,000 a week, not counting those given away. No other book consistently sales so.

The Bible's popularity is not limited to America (the world's supposed "Christian" nation), as one might expect. According to Gideon's International website, they alone distribute one million Bibles each week world-wide. Total Bibles distributed by Bible societies in one year (1998) was 20,751,515. Including New Testaments, and other portions of Scripture, Bible Societies distributed 585,023,708 pieces of Scripture that year.' This does not count Bibles sold internationally or those given away by individual churches and missionaries.

Why is the Bible Next Week's Best Seller?

The Bible is a book for everybody. The Bible has been translated into 2,303 4 languages and dialects-more than any other book. Jesus said the Gospel would go into "the whole world" (Mt. 26:13). It has the record of "...the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world' (Jn. 1:9). The Bible's message of salvation is not just for Jews, nor just for Gentiles; it is not only for Americans, or Africans, or Australians, or Asians. God never intended for the Bible to be read in the Americas, the Koran in the Middle East, the Torah in Israel, the writings of Confucius in south Asia, and the books of Marxism in north Asia. The Bible is for the inhabitants of the whole earth (I Jn. 2:2; Psa. 72:19). Henry Van Dyke said, "It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. It comes into the palace to tell the monarch that he is a servant of the Most High, and into the cottage to assure the peasant that he is a son of God. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life." The Bible is a stream wherein the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade.

It is a book for every generation. Parts of the Bible have been around for a hundred generations. The complete Word has been in human hands for over 2,000 years. Yet, each new generation re-discovers its marvelous message of salvation. The dove Noah released from the ark soared across the wide seas that engulfed the world, found no roost, and sought again the refuge of the great vessel. So man has departed from the truths of the Bible, using wings of independence to seek distant horizons, but like the weary dove, many have returned to the changeless certainty of God's Word following years of aimless flight. As one generation begins to drift from the Gospel, the following generation find its worth anew, clinging tenaciously to its teachings as though they were first to discover them. The Bible is the world's oldest book, but it never grows old. Its timeless truths never need updating; the Bread of Life never gets stale. Jude said it was once for all time delivered (Jude 3). Ronald Reagan said, "I never had any doubt about it being of divine origin ... point out to me any similar collection of writings that has lasted for as many thousands of years and is still a best-seller, world-wide. It had to be of divine origin." Peter wrote, as had others before him, "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever (I Pet. 1:25; cf. Psa. 119:89; Isa. 40:8).

It is a book for every age of life. The sermon last Sunday was listened to by people from each of the seasons of life-spring (the young), summer (man/womanhood), fall (mature), and winter (old age). Each group was intrigued, enlightened, and informed by it. This same Book is studied in every Sunday school classroom from cradle ro117 to youth group to young professionals to senior citizens. The young adults like its idealism and its challenges to commitment; those in middle age have come to trust its advice and doctrine. The singles, divorced, and widowed find companionship with their eternal Friend who stills "walks" with His loved ones in the cool of the day (cf. Gen. 3:8). The "newly weds" join Solomon in singing his love song; the "married with kids" consult often its timeless wisdom for childrearing; the "empty nesters" lean on its principles to renew their commitment and rekindle their love.

The Bible is a guide to youth; it is a comfort to the old. As the young begin the journey of life, it clearly marks the way: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: 0 let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee... Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in 'faith, in purity" (Psa. 119:9-11; 1 Tim. 4:12; cf. Ecc. 12: 1).

As the old prepare to finish their course here (2 Tim. 4:7), they often conduct their most earnest search of Scripture in preparation for entrance into the eternal kingdom. The Bible gives them assurance aplenty to carry them through the valley and up the holy hill of God (Psa. 23:4; 15: 1). To them it says: "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing ... And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar' hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you" (Psa. 92:14; Isa. 64:4).

Allen Webster
Glad Tidings of Good Things
Vol. 8/June 26, 2003
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