Ivan Shackleton - The Bible - Mudgee, New South Wales Convention - 1985

The Bible is something I have handled most years of my life - from when I was very young. It is only in recent years I have come to appreciate the Bible more and more. Sometimes I have seen a book around called, "The Handbook of Good Living." For every child of God, the Bible is our "Handbook of Good Living," because not only does it teach us the way to eternal life, it also teaches us how to have healthy spirits, souls, bodies, and minds.

In Timothy, we read that it is good for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. We learn to appreciate these things more as we realize how much we need the Word of God. There are just two words of the Bible that are not right. After the Revelation there are two words:  THE END. Those words were not put there by the inspiration of God, but by man. The first words and chapters of the Bible talk about the beginning. The last chapters of the Bible are still talking about the beginning. When we are in eternity, even if we are in His home for several millions of years, it is still only the beginning, because God doesn't know an end. There is no such thing as an end. We are glad that thru His Word and thru the gospel, we have been able to know the beginning of God's way. When we were young we used to sing, "The best book to read is the Bible! If you read it every day it will help you on your way." As experiences mount up, we have found those words to be very true. No matter what question we have, there should never be any doubt in our mind as to what course of action to take. It is all in the Bible. I was very pleased recently that we have a Bible.

At Glen Innes, I was asked to speak to a group of year 12 students who were looking at different religions. Those young people had very active minds. For 11 hours, they asked me questions about our people. In every question I was able to say this, "The Bible says this...." There is no doubt about our belief because the Bible says it, there can be no other way. Two or three questions the young people asked - I never expected them. They said, "First of all, give us a little outline about what is the doctrine of your faith," and "What do you believe in?" I started by telling them about the first and great commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength and thy neighbour as thyself. If we just love those that love us, where is your reward? I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." It is not humanly possible for us to fulfill those words. We need a new life, a new spirit, a new heart. When we receive this new spirit, we are able to love God and also our enemy. That is why the gospel has been sent through Jesus:  it gives us a new spirit, a new heart.

Another question was, "What do you people believe when it comes to training of children?" and "What do you teach your people?”  The Bible says, "If we spare the rod, he that spareth the rod hateth his child, but he that chasteneth him loves him." That is what the Bible teaches us. It talks about love, that same principle, the man that loves his child chastens him, but the one who doesn't chasten his child hates him. We couldn't get words more clear then that. In Japan, most of our new contacts are young mothers with their children. They are looking for guidance as to how to bring up their children. They look out on the world and see what a place it is and that out in the world there are no guidelines. There is a book written by Dr. Spock about bringing up children. In that book, he says you should not chasten children, they are too young to know what is right and wrong. Instead of chastening them, you should teach them what is right and what is wrong. Recently, Dr. Spock has made the public announcement that his theories about bringing up children are wrong, because of the results that he sees. A child should be chastened. What a child wants to know about what is right and what is wrong is, what is the limit? Where is the boundary? They just see how far they can go before their parents stop them. When their parents chastise them, a boundary is set. Once the boundary is set, that child grows up knowing there is a boundary. Without a boundary, we find young people going to extremes. Their whole life is ruined just because they knew no boundary. That is why Dr. Spock was wrong in his theory. Children don't only need chastisement, they also need love and praise; there needs to be a balance in the way that they are reared. The Bible teaches us these things. If we abide by what the Bible says - these words have been proved for thousands of years. We find that modern theories - the thoughts of man - man's wisdom leads into a maze. The Bible gives us a direction. There are no mistakes if we follow the counsel there. 

Another question asked was, "What do you think about divorce?" It says in the Bible, "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Love God; love your neighbour as yourself. Those principles should make any marriage work. I told them the story about a lady in Japan who had come to our meetings. She had been separated from her husband for 6 years and divorce proceedings were going through. She said, "After some meetings, I can see it is impossible for me to divorce my husband and get saved too because you have said we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbour as oneself. I tried and I believe I have loved God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, but I have not fulfilled the next part - my husband is my neighbour. 'Love your enemy' - my enemy is my husband and I should learn to love him." That woman, as she listened to the word of God, was able to understand what God's mind and thoughts were about these things. One man was talking to me about his married life. If we get along well together it is wonderful, but no reward. If we find it is difficult to get along and we persevere and we allow this love of God to overcome all the difficulties, this is where there is great reward in the sight of God. Perhaps you would say I am married, so how would I know! But you just choose a partner you like and you get used to their ways. My companion changes every year. Not all of us have the same personality.  We all have different ways about us that we have to learn to blend one with the other. That is where we are able to manifest this right spirit. When adversity comes, that is a wonderful opportunity to bring out these scriptures we have been talking about - loving one another, going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, when we have been smitten on the one cheek. These are wonderful opportunities to put these words into practice. They are not only written in the Bible, they become our own. 

Another question was, "What about hair?" I said the Bible says that long hair on a woman is her glory, but on a man it is his shame. Paul said, "Does not nature teach you this?" In Paris every three years, they choose the woman believed to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Every time this woman is chosen, I notice she has long hair and three quarter sleeves on her dress and has balance in every part of her make up. The men who choose this are thinking about beauty and art, not fashion. Some fashions can be very hideous. These men who choose are the world's best artists, men who are finely tuned to nature. The world's best conductors of orchestras all have short hair; artists of the highest quality in the world know that short hair on a man is becoming. That is just what men think. There is no wonder that God moved upon the heart of Paul to write these things. Some of the young people, when they heard that, were silent. I was glad that no matter what question they asked me, I was able to say, "In the Bible, it says ......"

The last question asked was, "Who is your founder? In what year was this church founded?” Before I could answer that question, the teacher said, "You don't have a founder, do you? Your church has been handed down from generation to generation since Christ." After she had heard all I said, she had concluded this. That is why people in every country in the world accept the gospel. There has never been a more prosperous time in the history of the world for the gospel than there is now. We realize that it is that people are looking for something that doesn't change in a world that is ever changing. We are glad that we have this never changing way in an ever changing world. Man's wisdom leads into a maze but God's way leads us to Heaven and home. This way that Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago has been handed to us with no changes.