Christ And The Bible
“The scripture cannot be broken.”—John 10:35
We are all aware of the fact that during the last twenty-five years and more, especially the last fifteen years, there has been a very widespread and determined effort put forth to set aside the authenticity of the Bible. Just why intelligent men, who are interested in the welfare of humanity, should be engaged in this destructive work is a question that I will not attempt to answer. They surely know that the Bible has not been the enemy of civilization. The foundations of our best American institutions were laid by men who were firm believers in the inspiration of God’s book. Indeed, the early fathers of this country never thought of doubting the sacred Scriptures and I have sometimes thought that to be one hundred percent American would mean to be a one hundred percent believer in the Bible. It would be a very sad day for this country if the destructive critics could succeed in destroying faith in the inspired revelation. I am convinced that the last great barrier between society and a condition of absolute lawlessness is the Word of the living God, and when that barrier is broken down, the floodgates of iniquity will be wide open. If you want a concrete example of the fact, you might study the history of some of the countries where the Bible is no longer the word of authority. A brother said to me a little time ago, “I do not think that this criticism is hurting the true Church,” but I was obliged to disagree with him and remark at the time, “Did not the ten false spies hurt the two true witnesses, Joshua and Caleb, by the evil report they brought to Israel?” Of course they did. Not only did they keep themselves out of “the land” for forty years, but these two servants of God were compelled to share their shame and sorrow. As a matter of fact, the mischief of higher criticism today is more manifest in the church than it is in the world. Everyone who thinks must know that the church has very largely lost her influence with the masses, and we do not have far to go to find the reason for it. If she has lost faith in her own message, if “the creed” is no longer believed, if the blood of the tens of thousands of martyrs was spilt for fables and not for faith, why should any intelligent person be interested in her message or ministry? If the Bible is not God’s book then man has no authority to speak for God.
Seeking Bread—Given A Stone
A short time ago, a mechanic who was not in the habit of attending church, said to a church worker who had frequently urged him to do so, “I went to hear a sermon last night.” “Oh,” said the worker, “I am glad you did. How did you like it?” To his surprise the mechanic replied, “It was humbug and I will never go again.” He said, “What do you think that preacher did?” “I don’t know,” said the worker. “He spent forty minutes in trying to prove that a great deal of the Bible was forgery and fables. Does he think that men are fools? We don’t want his doubts, we have enough of our own. Men like me, who are meeting the world and taking its hard knocks, want something positive from a man who professes to speak for God. That negative stuff gets one nowhere.” Now that is just the trouble with much that is being preached from our pulpits today. It is “negative stuff.”
We read “the common people heard Him gladly.” Why did they listen to Jesus? It was because “He spake as one having authority and not as the Scribes.” “He preached the word unto them.” He said on one occasion, “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” I believe the ordinary man today is ready to hear a message from God and the world never needed to hear that message more than at this present hour. When one considers the political condition of things one thinks of the prophecy of Jesus “…men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Surely these conditions marks the day in which we live, and it is the hour of the Christian’s opportunity; but alas! Alas! Instead of being at her best she, too, is covered with shame and perplexity. The air is filled with discord; many voices, each calling a different way, yet Jesus prayed “that they might be one, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Unity would be a great testimony to His deity and the world would know, but oh, the shame of it. Men are left groping in the dark with the old heart-cry, “how can we know the way?” I have made a great many mistakes during my ministry, but I pray that God will save me from ever undermining the faith of a boy or girl, man or woman in the one and only foundation. I would hate to bear that responsibility of such treachery.
The Teaching Of Jesus
How frequently we hear the critics say, “We have the teachings of Christ, that is all we need,” and one might infer from that statement that the teachings of Jesus were in conflict with the Old Testament Scriptures or that he did not confirm those teachings or conform to them. Now if you are prepared to accept the teachings of Jesus regarding the Scriptures, I will not dissent. I recognize that He is the highest court of authority. “…and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.’” “To this end was I born,” said Jesus, “for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice,” yes we accept all that He places His seal upon.
His Attitude To The Scriptures
We find Him constantly referring to the Old Testament. Matthew 21:42—“Did ye never read in the Scriptures;” Matthew 22:29—“Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures;” Luke 24:27—“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” He opened their understanding that they might know the Scriptures and admonished them to “search the Scriptures.” What did He mean by the Scriptures? Exactly what Paul meant when he said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Our Lord referred to the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi just as you have it in your Bible: Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. He did not refer to the Apocrypha. It is a remarkable thing that He did not refer to those books, nor neither did the evangelists in their writings, but we do find that Jesus or some of the New Testament writers either quoted from or referred to every one of the thirty-nine books in the Old Testament. From the “Companion Bible,” we learn that the Pentateuch is referred to fifteen hundred and thirty-one times, Genesis is referred to in the Old Testament one hundred and forty-nine times and in the New Testament sixty times. Now these are the Scriptures to which Jesus submitted and which He taught, the prophecies which He fulfilled. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
An Eloquent Silence
But more significant than anything He ever said about the Old Testament Scriptures, is the silence of the Christ regarding any error, misstatement or forgery in connection with them. You will know that it was just before His death on the Cross that He said some wonderful things about the Eternal Home with the Heavenly Father. “If it were not so I would have told you.” Oh, how eloquent is that silence. You speak of Him as being a “great teacher” and a “good man,” if the Old Testament was what some critics would have us believe then Jesus was in duty bound, as a “good man,” to point out to His disciples those errors, but we never at any time find Him even suggesting that these records were not all that they professed to be. The disciples, to whom He was speaking, believed the story of Creation in the first two chapters of Genesis, the story of the Fall, of Adam, the Flood in the days of Noah, the Tower of Babel on the Plains of Shinar, of the crossing of the Red Sea, and of Jonah and the whale; and yet Jesus said at the close of His ministry, in that solemn hour, “If it were not so, I would have told you,” yet some young fellow, fresh from college, filled with a conceit that surely equals his intelligence, bravely declares that these things are “myths,” “fables, and “allegories.” Oh, the shame of it, in the face of the teachings of our precious Lord. No wonder the apostle Paul, in referring to this class, says “Traitors, heady, high-minded…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:4–8).
He Fulfilled The Prophecies
From the different prophets, the history of His birth, life and ministry were prewritten. One tells where He would be born, another of whom He would be born, another the character of His ministry, how He would suffer, how He would die and where He would be buried, and not one jot or tittle of all those prophecies in any wise failed. He fulfilled them all. Micah foretold that He should be born in Bethlehem of Judah, but when the time of His birth drew nigh, Mary, His mother, was residing at Nazareth of Galilee, and God set in motion the machinery of the whole Roman Empire to bring this peasant woman to the town where He should be born. In Luke 2 we read that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all the world should be taxed and “every one should come to his own city.” This brought Mary to Bethlehem, but you may learn, if you care to, that the taxation did not take place at that time. For some reason it was left to a later date, but the decree brought Mary to the place where the Messiah would be born, for “the Scripture cannot be broken.” Another example: His first public utterance was a Nazareth, where He was brought up (Luke 4:16), and He deliberately turned to a prophecy which told of the anointing of the Messiah and the purpose of His ministry; preaching to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, preaching deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and when He had finished He said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Matthew tells us that He healed the sick, not simply because His great heart of compassion went out to sick ones, but “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet.”
In Luke 19 we find Him standing on the Mount of Olives, waiting for a colt that was tied to a post over against a certain village, and when it was brought to Him, they placed Him upon its back, while the children and others shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest,” for many years before the prophet Zachariah had said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O, daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).
In the mode of His death, we have another striking fulfillment of prophecy. It was not customary for the Jews to have an offender against their law crucified—they stoned [them] to death, but Jesus was put to death according to the Roman custom, because it was predicted in Psalm 22 that they would pierce His hands and His feet. Isaiah says, “He was numbered with the transgressors,” hence the thief on the right and another on the left. “I thirst,” He cried in that dying hour and they gave Him vinegar to drink, because it was predicted in Psalm 69:21, “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
Another remarkable prophecy was fulfilled in the fact that when the soldiers came to break the legs of the crucified men, which was always the custom in crucifixion, they did not break the legs of Jesus, for in Exodus 12:46 it was declared “neither shall ye break a bone thereof.” Then we read, “He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.” That is to say He was to have been buried in a grave beside the two thieves. Three crosses had been made and three graves had been dug, but just before the burial a secret disciple of our Lord Jesus, who for fear of the Jews had not confessed Him, possessed with a new courage, came boldly to the Roman governor and begged the body of Jesus. It was Joseph of Arimathea, who carried Him away to his own garden and placed Him in a new tomb wherein never man before was laid, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
We might continue along this line showing that not one jot or tittle of all that has been written will fail until all has been fulfilled. So you see, my dear friends, if you accept the teaching of Jesus, you must take the entire Bible, for Christ and the Scriptures stand or fall together—“the Scripture cannot be broken.”
“Should all the schemes that men devise
Assail my faith with treacherous art,
I’ll call them vanity and lies
And bind the Scripture to my heart.”