A minister and his family were visiting John Bunyan’s home in Bedford, England. While walking through his house, now a museum, they were overwhelmed by the world-wide impact of his book The Pilgrim’s Progress. Outside of the Bible, no book in history has been translated into so many languages and enjoyed such voluminous sales. As he was leaving the house, he remarked to the woman at the ticket desk how thrilling it was that an ordinary tinker had told a story of salvation in such lucid and imaginary terms. The woman looked up somewhat embarrassed and said, “I suppose it is a great book; I have never read it.” And so it is that even one surrounded wall-to-wall by one of the best-selling books of all time could leave it unread.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy from prison, “Bring me the books.” Paul knew a book could break the mind out beyond the bounds of prison and bring freedom. Everyone should know the joy of reading. Every parent should make it a priority in encouraging his children to read. At present, our family is reading the Bible through individually, and together we are reading through the Book of Virtues, as well as other books of personal interest and edification. Books are important. They are important to God; indeed they are so important that He gave us the “Book of all books.” I am absolutely convinced that the books one reads help mold one’s life more purposely and eternally than we ever realize. History will show not only what good books have done, but what bad books have done in either advancing or ruining not only individuals but nations. It is easy to see what the writings of Voltaire and Karl Marx did to darken the minds and retard the progress of millions while creating a humanistic state. Just what part evil literature has played in the present moral breakdown throughout the world will never be known until men are called forth to answer to a Holy God for their unholy deeds. What we do not know is that thousands of young people had their first doubt about God and the Bible, and their first foray into sin, because of the influence of godless literature.
On the other hand, the reading of a good book can produce quite the opposite effect. Many people are in the Church today because they were brought to Christ by the reading of a good book. Thousands have witnessed the power of a lowly gospel tract to capture the mind and focus the attention on God and salvation.
I am convinced that it is the humiliation of the word in our time that has beggared us more than anything else. When our society laid down its books (not only religious books, but good books of all sorts) and began to listen to the steady dribble of radio and television, our society experienced intellectual meltdown and moral decay.
I believe revival can be aided by the return to reading. This includes not only reading the Word of God, but reading the writings of the early saints. Biographical writings of men and women who have lived godly and noble lives, if read, can once again put the Christian life back in its lofty and noble place in the minds of another generation.