CLOSING THE BOOK
A year ago, many congregations of the Lord’s church shared “reading schedules” that guided the faithful through a complete reading of the Bible within a year. I’ve always pondered how diligent they were in completing the reading. Did they close the book too soon, or did they speed up their reading and finish early, perhaps in favor of starting over and this time seriously studying the blessed word they read?
Then there is the “book of attendance.” Several resolved early on this past year to attend every service of the Lord’s church where they meet. How long did that last? While some were hindered by health issues or other unwelcomed calamities of life, how many otherwise succeeded in their quest? Now that the book is closed in the past year, what have we determined to do in the new?
We could list countless illustrations of kindred concerns, but you get the point. We cannot reopen the past for time has eternally closed both the existence of that time and its opportunities. We can but repent of the errors, beg God’s forgiveness, and increase our faithfulness by diligently adding to our increased faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (2 Peter 1: 1 – 11). In fact, we cannot righteously close our book of life without completing these works!
No one knows what this new year holds for us! While we may gaze mystically into the wonderment of tomorrow, we do so without a moment of assurance of its arrival. If we think about it, God was extremely wise in keeping us from knowing what shall be on the morrow other than His promised and certain Judgment Day (Acts 17:31). Of that Day, God has kept it silent from our ears, thus demanding we live our lives each moment in fantastic expectation of His Son’s glorious return (Philippians 2:1 – 16). Recognition of this fact will certainly increase our diligence in keeping His book opened in our minds, i.e., realizing we must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and that this faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). One cannot accomplish this necessity if they’ve closed God’s book!
There is another aspect of closing the book. Many preachers use a word near the conclusion of their sermons that signifies they are about to end their preaching. That word is “finally …” As one brother used to quip, “That usually means he’s got another ten minutes before he quits!” Well, perhaps, but the aspect of which I write is the closing of their MIND to what has been preached or taught! So many not only close their books (their Bibles) when the lesson is nearing its end, but they too soon forget the content of the lesson! One of the reasons they so soon forget is the fact they were NOT soon to hear and retain what they heard! (James 1:19) Just how interested in learning God’s truth are we? If we were to list the subjects that interest us most, how high on that list would be God’s word and the lessons it holds for our eternal souls? Some would close the book quite quickly while others would seemingly refuse to close them, lest they miss another morsel of truth to stifle their hunger, or another drop of its life-giving water to quench their thirst (cf. Matthew 5:6) While not so many years ago, “all day meetings” were commonplace among brethren, it seems we’re now in a hurry to hear “Amen” and close the book on another brief service. Why? Is it not more important to tarry one for another, and only close the book when our hearts have been made full of His truth?
A third manner of closing the book is when we finalize the records of the past year. Various transactions are filed under 2022 and tax books are permitted no more entries for a year now passed. While the IRS gives us a few months for finalization of those matters, we can neither add to nor deplete from the records as they must stand unaltered. Most understand this when it comes to the law of the land regarding such important matters, but all too many discard that same law regarding God’s word! For them, there is a “re-opening” of the law of Moses as they profess they can keep the ten commandments and please Christ. Not so! Hebrews 10: 1 – 10 plainly informs the reader Christ took away that law to make way for His new law. Therefore, He “closed the book” on the law of Moses and it is not to be “reopened” as law for us! Likewise, many either add to or deplete from the law of Christ, determined by their fancies of lustful pleasures (1 John 2:15 – 17). They refuse to acknowledge Christ closed His book regarding any manipulations (Revelation 22:18 – 19). We either accept His word or we don’t – but in terms of changing it, the book is closed!
Last, there is the book of opportunity (cf. Galatians 6:10). This is not a book read every day, nor a book that is greatly appreciated when its pages are opened for easy reading. Opportunity usually comes unexpectedly, so we must be keen enough in our awareness to notice when it arrives and utilize it immediately. Once ignored or neglected, that book of opportunity closes and cannot be reopened. Only through experience does one learn how to accept an opportunity and develop it into a profitable endeavor. The more we practice using opportunities, the more we find their availability. The more opportunity is ignored and forsaken, the less we find them, and eventually, all opportunity is lost, and the book is permanently closed! Souls are lost just as permanently when an opportunity is ignored! These souls could include our own (2 Corinthians 4:3).
Let 2023 remain an open book for you in every righteous way. Let no one see us closing it with a lack of righteous use for His name’s sake!