The sole purpose of this editorial is to offer to you, Protestant Reformed youth, a suggestion for consideration. The suggestion is intimately associated with the fact that you, as the youth of the Church of Christ, are naturally a learning youth and, by His grace, are constantly in quest of increasing your understanding of that which He has revealed unto us in His Word. That, in itself, is a beautiful thought.
We believe that it would be beneficial for you to consider establishing, for your personal use, a private library of a type that would aid you in your study activities in the spheres of your home and your church. Eliminated, therefore, from the discussion are all other types of books. We speak solely now of STUDY books; tools, if you please, with which you may more quickly or more accurately come to a clearer understanding of the Truth. We hope that the results of this suggestion: (1) may assist you in your understanding of that Truth, as you from week to week make preparation for your part in the spiritual activities that are yours to enjoy and (2) may stimulate a positive reaction on your part to the end that even in your day to day walk there may be these tools available to you, with which you will more intelligently be able to seek out answers to questions and problems that arise.
Now we realize, of course, that presently you are living at home and therefore you may already have available for your use some of this type of books, which your parents own and which they are happy to let you use. Then it would appear somewhat nonsensical for you to go out and obtain them for yourself. This is, in a sense, true. However, we must realize that when we do “leave the nest” it is done in a twinkling. Generally speaking, anyway, it is not a gradual process. And we feel that it is a desired thing to make close associations, with this type of books, which are lasting, provided that we can be led to select them aright. Then we will be happy to be able to take with us these tools, which, in a very trite manner of speaking, may be considered as “old friends”. And those books which have through experience proven to be beneficial tools in the study of God’s Word certainly may be thought of as such.
As to what titles should be considered for your library, we will make just a few comments. First, we assume that, as a book to be obtained, the Bible itself need not enter into this discussion. Do not be alarmed at this, for we mean thereby that it is assumed that we all cherish it dearly and so already have one; thus we need only to add to the library those things (books) that we feel will be of benefit to us in the study of THAT WORD, which is and must remain central in the entire library, not only, but also in the studies in which we engage. We might say on this point, that there are Bibles and there are Bibles. There are those with or without concordances, maps, encyclopedia, diagrams, etc., each with greater or lesser desirability. You will decide, if you are to purchase a new Bible, just which type it will be for you.
Then should you desire to begin gradually, in the direction which we suggest, with what should you start? We feel that this will be determined by you, in your own peculiar circumstances, your manner of study, the type of discussion that you hold in your particular society. We further hope that this will be done upon the advice of and consultation with your parents and your pastor. They may suggest a Bible concordance or a Bible dictionary or a reputable commentary on the book which you are presently discussing (if there is a “good” commentary available on it). This set of aids would be a cherished possession, as you use it and as you are able to add to it over the years. And the fact that it is there is in itself a great help. Aren’t we all inclined to make use of such things much more readily if we have them there immediately at our disposal?
Consider these things, too, in light of the fact that they will continue to be of service to you as you grow older and you become members of the adult societies of your church. This brings us to an interesting matter. Commonly in the after-recess hour in many of the societies, one of the Three Forms is discussed. Let us say that the Heidelberg Catechism is being studied and that all of the members in turn are called upon to introduce the various Lord’s Days. Please understand me well. I am not selling books. In fact, I am not really sure that these are available in their entirety, but there are members in situations as described above who have the complete exposition of that confession, written by our own Rev. H. Hoeksema. They have these in their homes to assist them to adequately prepare for their own turn for introducing the lesson and also to follow in the entire series of the discussion. Is this getting a bit too idealistic? Even to the point of impracticality? Yes, it is, unless you have experienced and realized that the benefits of the society life of the church are in a large measure directly proportional to the time and the effort which you yourself are able and willing to spend in preparation.
Concerning the cost, we will only say that you will also determine what you should spend on this library at any given time. It need not, in fact, it perhaps should not be done in any other way than a gradual manner, always attempting to fill the need as it arises. Likely, then, if you see the need for a certain addition, the finances (they really aren’t so great) will be there, too.
Think it over. If you feel that it would be of benefit to you, what will you do? In closing, there is one thought that I want to make very clear. Remember that any other books which you may desire to obtain, though helpful, are yet only aids. Your studies must always begin with the Word. Your studies must always end with the Word, too. Remember that IT is always the final and only authority, in the last analysis. These other books are but servants to your study.
No worthy commentator has ever earned a greater status for his commentary than that. Reading the opinions of man may assist us, i.e., of Godly men who have been given to see, in a special way, the Truth. But comparing Scripture with Scripture (though other books can and may assist us to that end) is the only way to arrive at the Truth.