By Mrs. D. Gibson
Recently we received this flier in the mail from the First Baptist Church of Byron.
Will You Come Back to Church If We Promise
Not to Throw the Book at You?
Under the caption it reads, “In our church we believe in a loving and forgiving God. Come and join us this Sunday when we open up the Good Book and worship.”
“Throwing the book” is generally a legal expression that applies to someone who must appear in court to answer for every minor/major infraction or violation of the law to which they are accused. This usually does not come as good news.
I’m not exactly sure what the author of this flier is promising, but if it is meant that you can come to church with a guarantee of no criticism and only sermons that make you feel good, then there is a problem. Being a member of a religious group and never hearing any of the negative things about responsibility or transgression is what the world wants. It is just not politically correct to “throw the book” at the members.
But what does the Bible say?
Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth (Acts 7:51-54).
Stephen “threw the book” at the High Priest and the Jewish leaders. He knew it wasn’t the popular thing to do. It wasn’t the politically correct philosophy of the day. It was not well received and as a result, Stephen lost his life.
And when their masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they caught Paul and Silas and drew them into the market place unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates saying, These men being Jews do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them and the magistrates rent off their clothes and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks (Acts 16:19-24).
Well, Paul and Silas “threw the book” at the Macedonians. But it wasn’t so much the doctrine they taught but the greed that upset them. The doctrine became a legal loop-hole to accomplish their purpose. Again these preachers of righteousness suffered greatly for their dedication to the truth.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the re-mission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:36-38, 41).
On the day of Pentecost, Peter and the apostles told their audience that they had put to death the Son of God. They really “threw the book” at them. But this time it had a positive result. They repented and responded to the message.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers, Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matt.23:27-33).
This public discourse by Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees fills the entire chapter of Matthew 23. It is probably the strongest condemnation of any group by anyone in the Bible. Jesus calls them fools, hypocrites, blind guides, children of hell, sepulchers full of dead men’s bones, serpents and vipers. Yes, I would say that he was really “throwing the book” at them. That kind of preaching would surely not be politically correct today. These Jewish leaders were instrumental in putting Christ to death for this was his last day of public teaching and in less than a week he was dead. “Throwing the Book” or rather preaching the truth is not always the popular thing to do. It may be a good thing to consider when we might hear a lesson that we particularly do not like. It may be a chance to self-evaluate.
And I saw the dead small and great stand before God and the books were opened and another book which is the book of life and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Rev.20:12).
Yes, some day we will all get the “book thrown at us” and this time it will be God doing the throwing. That day is already circled on the calendar. It’s a date we won’t miss. Until then we have the time to prepare. Do we respond to the messages we hear like the ones who heard Stephen and stopped their ears, or like the ones on the day of Pentecost who repented and made the necessary changes in their lives while opportunity was still available? The clock is ticking.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 23 p. 16-17
December 4, 1997