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May God bless you in your reading!
The Salt Shakers Committee
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Welcome to the 48th issue of Salt Shakers!
What a blessing it is to read! It is taken as a given today that nearly all of us are by God’s grace, able to read and read widely. However, this was certainly not always the case. It could even be described as a fairly recent development. For one, education was not always so widespread and thorough, and still remains patchy in some lands. Even if one was able to read, however, not everything was permitted. Infamously, Roman Catholic councils (for example, Toulouse in AD1229, Tarragona in AD1234) made owning the Bible or translations of it a serious crime for the laity. William Tyn- dale was burned to death in AD 1536 for translating the Bible into English. Today, however, we enjoy few prohibitions – and we may read the Scriptures and good, edifying literature without the fear of soldiers and policemen at the door. As the time of the antichrist comes daily nearer, will this freedom continue? We do not know. But do we thank God often enough for the gift of reading today? Let us encourage each other to be good stewards of this precious privilege!
More than just a good practice, reading is vital for us as a church. If one were to rely solely on the minister to bring us two chapters of the Bible a week, even if the preaching systematically covered each of its 1189 chapters, it would take nearly twelve years to go through Scripture just once. That is not nearly enough for the Christian to know God’s Word. We must be people of the Word, who know our Scriptures – much of it by heart – people who are able to discuss and delve deeply into it. With us spending a good amount of time throughout the week in the Word and in good Christian literature, our church is protected from ignorance of the counsel of God, and ignorance of how He wants us to live our lives. Today, it is common to have a conversation with other professing Christians on the most basic tenets of Christi- anity, only to hear them declare, “We cannot know these things; they are too difficult, too complex, too controversial” – even though they are so clearly revealed in Scripture that even the children can understand!
So let us pray for grace, and be active in avoiding the problem of Hosea 4:6: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee… The word “deceive” appears no less than thirty-eight times in the New Testament. We are easy prey to be deceived, when we love not the truth and when we are wilfully ignorant. Reading! It is more than merely a good thing – it is a matter of our spiritual survival. If you are reading this magazine – you are, by the grace of God, contributing to the strength of the church. Keep it up! Fervently encourage your friends and family to do the same. Do not overlook the importance of mutual encouragement and ac- countability, for it takes spiritual discipline to put away our busyness and our smartphones and make time for reading.
In this issue as always, the committee has worked hard to bring us many edifying articles that dig deeply into the Word and the precious Reformed truths. Some are written by ministers, but many also by our own members who have taken great care to meditate on Scripture and bring you its insights. The issue also includes not just one, but two excellent book reviews! I believe this demonstrates that our members care about reading, and are reading. Salt Shakers today can only be sustained (humanly speaking) in a church that has a positive reading culture. By the grace of God, may this reading culture be strengthened, and long continue! Let us not take it for granted that it will, however. Satan hates a reading church, for a church that is informed of the truth is one that is difficult to deceive. He will use all the tools at his disposal to undermine reading, and then the time will swiftly come when they will no longer endure sound doctrine.
Therefore, dear readers – be readers! – And remember to pass the salt!