Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone

Ernst Kraft

It is normal for everyone, whether or not they do a lot of work, that they take nourishment every day. No one forgets to eat. If we are healthy, our stomachs soon start to rumble and we do everything to still our hunger. We need food to grow and to survive. It would not occur to anyone to stop eating because we have too much to do. Eating is vital for young and old alike.

The Word of God is the spiritual nourishment we need to grow and get strong. It says in 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

The Word of God contains all the vitamins we need to grow in our spiritual lives. It is impossible for a believer to grow if he does not concern himself with the Bible and take in God’s Word as his food. We have so many undernourished Christians today, who sing a lot and outwardly speak about joy, but inwardly are not nourished by the Word of God.

How much do you read daily in the Bible? How richly do you nourish yourself with this wonderful food, which increases your faith and teaches you to live a life that pleases God? You need the Bible so that you do not take a wrong path. The Word is the truth and leads us in the way we should go. Because the Word of God is so wonderful and unique, we may not neglect it but should nourish ourselves with it and meditate on it day and night.

Hudson Taylor was once asked, “How can you believe every word in the Bible?” He answered, “If you want to take a train to another city, you open the timetable and look at when the train is leaving. And if it says that the first train is leaving at seven in the morning, you do not question the reliability of the timetable, but go to the station shortly before 7 o’clock, and there you find the train. Just as you do with the timetable, for fifty years now I have been doing this with the Bible and its commandments and promises, and I have found it correct in a long life, even in hundreds of mortal dangers. When the Bible says, for instance, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God…and all these things shall be added unto you,’ I have done this and in all critical situations I have never been disappointed.”

Do the same and you will have the same experience!

How can it be otherwise when we nourish ourselves with the Word of God and make it our standard in all situations of life? The Word of God will lead us in paths of victory and to a life of satisfaction.

We must at all costs become “men and women of the Bible.” D. L. Moody explained, “Either sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin.” We can observe that the majority of Christians are mentally lazy and therefore do not put much faith in memorizing and studying the Word of God. In absolute contrast to this, thousands of Muslims, after finishing their academic studies, have the whole Koran in their hearts. Christians, on the other hand, find it difficult to memorize one chapter. Actors have to learn many thousands of sentences to receive human honor and material riches, and we Christians hardly have the energy to become familiar with the unchanging Word of God—or to memorize it. That is why the Church of Jesus Christ is comprised mostly of people living on a small spiritual pension; many church members have been believers for ten or twenty years. In some cases, such Christians are even made leaders. And then we are surprised that the Bible-believing church of today is so far from the spiritual reality of the early church. If someone ventures to orient himself strictly according to the New Testament, he is soon called a fanatic, extremist or troublemaker.

On the other hand, there are more and more Christians all over the world who are tired of living on breadcrumbs and have the desire to change their lives completely through the Word of God. Ultimately, it does not depend on our mastering the Word of God, but that the Word of God rules over us. It is not enough just to read the Bible. We must meditate on the Word of God, like David, who said, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (Psalm 119:9-10).     

We should make an effort to study the Bible as impartially as possible. We must in no way study it with preconceived ideas to prove our own opinion. We must read the Holy Scriptures with a humble attitude and strive, trusting in God’s help, to live in obedience to Him. A well-known evangelist once said, “We have used the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, to fight one another instead of uniting to make an attack in the name of Jesus.” It is a lot easier to defend our preferred doctrine and favorite verses to the end of our lives, than to penetrate the whole counsel of God.

We must declare ourselves prepared to accept, not only the verses which we like, which are important for our opinion or which promise a blessing, but also the verses that go against the grain and speak of suffering.

Why do you no longer desire the divine nourishment? When children are healthy, they come to the table with a good appetite. When they come home from school and their favorite food is on the table, it is normal for them to waste no time in devouring it. If they only push their food around their plates and have long faces, then something is wrong. Either the child is sick, or he has eaten too many sweets before the meal.

The world offers many sweets which spoil our appetite for the Bread of Life. No one can live on candy. We need nourishment that contains all the vitamins necessary to build and keep our bodies healthy. We need the whole of the Word of God to grow spiritually and to lead a life in accordance with God’s will.

Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). We go without so much joy of heart and comfort when we do not concern ourselves with God’s Word. People who read the Bible and act according to it are happy and go their way rejoicing. When Elijah was discouraged, he received through an angel the following directions, “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee” (1 Kings 19:7). You need the Word of God! It will help you to get up again, and in the power of this food to go your way. If you neglect to nourish yourself with the Word, you will soon lie flat on your face and lament over your failure. It is impossible to lead a true life of faith without reading the Word of God daily and keeping His commandments.

The Word of God equips us to be children of God, perfectly fit for every good work. Why are we often not fit for the work of the Lord? A Christian without the Word is like a car that is no longer steered by a driver.

If you do not understand the Word of God, it may be as Wilhelm Busch once related in a story:

The train rattled through the night in the mountains. In the crowds, I sit next to my mother and wonder if I should tell her what is worrying me. She met me in Tübingen (Germany), where I am studying theology. And now we are traveling together in the direction of home.

Finally, I pluck up courage and say, “You know, mother, I do not enjoy reading the Bible any more. I find so many things I don’t understand and difficult things in it that make this book unenjoyable.”

My mother laughed out loud, “That is because you are reading the Bible the wrong way.” A little insulted, I say, “How should I read it, then? I read it in the Hebrew and Greek original text. I read commentaries; I hear lectures.”           

My mother laid her hand reassuringly on my arm. “I will tell you an example. Do you remember when you were in the army for almost two years without having any break? I wrote you at that time regularly about the events at home. And then one day a letter arrived from you, which I have never forgotten. You wrote: ‘I hear in your letters of ration books and lining up. I don’t understand that. Has everything changed so much?’ And then came the sentence which so moved me: ‘How long and how far have I been away from you that I can no longer understand letters from home!’”

I nodded. “Yes, I remember that. But what does it have to do with the Bible?”

My mother said, “You see? You did not say at that time: ‘My mother’s letters are unpalatable for me as a modern person.’ You did not say either: ‘In my mother’s letters there are contradictions and nonsensical things.’ You simply said: ‘How long and how far I am from home that I no longer understand the letters from home!’”

I begin to understand. Attentively, I listen to my mother. “The Bible is also a letter, my son. It is a letter by the living God from the eternal homeland—written to you. If you do not understand this letter, you must not seek fault in the letter. It is your own fault. You must say: ‘How terribly far I am from my heavenly Father that I cannot understand His letter! Now I will ask the Holy Spirit so that I can understand this letter from the homeland.’”

This conversation with his mother showed the young man the way to understand the Bible. Let nothing keep you from a blessed life that is based on the Word of God. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mightest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Everything depends on whether you nourish yourself with the Word and have fellowship with the Lord.

Midnight Call - 08/2017

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