My family and I went to one of the local county fairs last week. My daughter got a big kick out of the lights and out of a couple of the kiddie rides that her mom took her on…I’m glad mom was there because rides that go round and round and round aren’t for me or my equilibrium.
Along with the rides the fair also provides agricultural events (including the animals that my daughter also got a kick out of seeing) and the ability for local civic and commercial booths to be set up in various buildings. We decided to walk through these areas to see what was being offered. There was everything from vitamins and supplements that “heal and prevent” ailments (I guess the fair will always have its snake oil people) to air conditioning companies to local photographers and vendors of other crafts.
The booths of particular interest to me were the ones that were religious in nature. And there were plenty of them with one major exception (I think I may say more on that next time after I get a little more clarification). One of the booths in particular was set up by the members of the Gideons International group. I can honestly say that I appreciate their efforts. As usual they were giving out free New Testaments with the addition of the Psalms and Proverbs located in the back. I eagerly took one and told the man handing them out thank you; it’ll make a good addition to my desk at work.
As you open the book, other than the scriptures themselves, you’ll see the usual things. There’s place to put your name and date. Contact info for the Gideons. After that there’s a good reminder about how “righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:3), and then you can read some info about the Gideon’s themselves. After that there’s a quick intro to the Bible, a good quick-reference-guide about various topics and a neat section that has John 3:16 translated into a lot of different languages including Portuguese…but the only one I can vouch for is English.
I can appreciate all of these things that can be found on the front pages of the booklet form of the Bible, but something I cannot appreciate is the back page. On the back page you’ll find “instructions” on how to be saved that simply comes down to signing your name and placing a date under some simplified version of the sinner’s prayer. It really is a shame that an organization that is so diligent in getting the word of God out into the hands of the masses fails to rightly divide the same exact word when it comes to salvation (2 Timothy 2:15). Not one time in the New Testament can anyone be found reciting any form of the so-called “sinner’s prayer” to find his or her salvation in Jesus, but yet people, and organizations such as the Gideons, continue to promote it as a legitimate way to be saved.
What people need to keep in mind is that a back page that has been inserted may rest between the covers of the book, but that’s not where one’s salvation is found. Salvation is found in the heart of God’s word! It’s found in believing the gospel, and submitting to the grace of God in the same way that you find those whom you read about in the book of Acts. People who believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 18:8). People who repented of their sins (Acts 2:38). People who were willing to confess Jesus (Acts 8:36-37). People who were baptized for the remission of sins by the blood of Jesus (Acts 22:16). And people who desired to live out their life in a way that glorifies God (Acts 26:28-29).
Many things may be found on the back page of the Bible, but remember, more often than not the back page isn’t a part of the Bible, the word of God which is able purify the soul through the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-25).