the Bible to make us effective, proficient people.

Many of you entered the church building today through the Piney Branch Road door; Over it, in the stone work on the outside, there is an open Bible. A good symbol, as far as it goes. It is a reminder that all that is preached here, all that is taught here, comes from the Scriptures. Let no message ever come from this pulpit that is not saturated in the Bible.

But I want you to notice something disturbing about that open Bible up and over the church door. Its pages are blank. The masons carved nothing on them. No words, not even a reference to some verse. Just an open, blank, book.

To me that is a picture of where we are. We revere the Bible, but we do not see its content. We pronounce our allegiance to the Scriptures, but they are empty, they are a hidden mystery, because we have not studied them and let them equip us. But, I tell you, with the great apostle, that the Bible can train us, it can equip us. And if we use it, we can make a difference in this world.

Suppose you want to make a difference in somebodyís life. Then you have to know what the Bible means when it insists that one "must be born again". And you have to know how to help someone find that new birth.

Suppose you want to make a difference in this community, in this city. Then you had better have a grasp of the God who requires that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. When all else fails, read the instructions, and they will equip you for every good work!

Suppose we want to be a great church; suppose we want to be faithful to our Lordís commission; suppose we want to deserve the right to continue here on this corner. Then let us get serious about the Bible. Then let us expand our Sunday School and let adults enroll in it and bring their children. Suppose we want to prosper as a church; then let us study that word that teaches us to "go and make disciples of all nations", all the people of this community, red and yellow, black and white -- for how else would we know they were all precious in His sight, if it were not for this book?

Let us do Sunday School and Prayer meeting and Seekers and Experiencing God and outreach Bible studies and support groups. Let us do it all! Because this word is able to equip us for every good work. And without it we will be flimsy reeds, blowing in the wind. When all else fails, before all else fails, read, know, study these instructions. They are able to make us proficient, equipped for every good work.
III
For, after all, the bottom line is this: something eternal is at stake, and without the Scriptures we will miss it. Something of overwhelming importance is at the very heart of human life, and without the Bible we will not grasp it. There is something you just canít get unless you read and follow the instructions.

Says Paul, "The sacred writings are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." The issue is salvation. What does it mean