The man who respects not his own word, respects not himself; and he who respects not himself, no one will respect. He Who in the beginning spake and it was done—Whose word is like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces—Whose word shall judge the world and never pass away, but stand, like its immutable Author, when the heavens and the earth are no more—will surely respect and honor His own word.
Of the name of the Lord, is said it is a strong tower into which the righteous run and are safe; but of His own word it is said, “Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psa. 138:2). The man who can cavil or trifle with the word of the great Jehovah to avoid a duty it commands, or to defend a doctrine of his own denomination, is a presumptuous and thoughtless man. Little does he realize that he will be confronted by the fearful and insulted Author of that word when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God and the books be opened. “To this man will I look, even to him that is of poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa. 66:2, 5).
A lack of reverence for the word of God is the one great sin of the world. A certain tyrant of Rome used to wish the Roman people had but one neck, that he might dispatch them at a blow. Your sins, reader, have but one neck, namely, disrespect for God’s word. If a man have just reverence for His word, he will commit none of the sins it forbids. Please consider the following scriptures:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…” (Psa. 19:7). “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (Jas. 1:18). “For in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15).
Reader, if you do not believe what these texts assert, namely, that men are begotten through the truth, are clean through the word, are converted by the law of the Lord, you have good reason to doubt whether you have any reverence for the word of God.
The only moral power ordained of God for the conversion of sinners is His word, and the man who has no reverence for that word is beyond recovery. When any people arrive at that kind of extreme wickedness, they may prepare for destruction. When the antediluvians had lost all respect for God’s word, as preached by Noah, he destroyed them with a terrible catastrophe. Again, when the Jews would not regard the word of the Lord spoken by Jesus and His apostles, but made void the law of God by their sectarian doctrines and traditions, they met a similar fate.
Denominationalists reverence many things which the Bible teaches, not because God says so, but because the sectarian party to which they have attached themselves teach and practice so. Indeed, every observing man must have noticed that it is of no more use to quote to a party man the plainest declaration of God’s word against a tradition of his church, than it would be to cite a heathen fable.
A man rejects the doctrine of purgatory (as he thinks) because it is not in the Bible, and at the same time practices infant sprinkling, although that is not in the Bible either! Another rejects infant sprinkling because it is not in the Bible, and still practices “experience telling,” although that is no more to be found in the Bible than infant sprinkling. Another rejects the office of the Pope because it is not found in the Good Book, and yet contends for the office of “Area Bishop,” although the office of Pope can as easily be found in the Bible as the “Area Bishop.”
Thus, these men deceive themselves. They think they respect the Book of God when, in fact, they only respect the doctrines of their own parties. The truth is, they reject these things, not because they are not in God’s word, but because they are not in the creeds of their own churches. It is manifest that the revelation of God is of no more use to such men than it is to the pagan who never heard it. The pagan follows his own feelings, and so do they. Both profess to be taught by the same spirit—the one, idolatry and the other, sectarianism.
If men revered the word of God properly, they would not be giving their support to confessions of faith, articles of faith, books of discipline and other human traditions. They would be content with God’s discipline if they had confidence in the sufficiency of that blessed volume. They would give the inquiring sinner the instructions of the Bible instead of the instructions of their denominations. They would not contemptuously say of the Lord’s commandment, “That is only a commandment of God.” Jesus says, “I know that his commandment is life everlasting,” but they say, “We know His commandment is not a saving ordinance. His commandment is non-essential.”
While the Book asserts that his word, “liveth and abideth forever,” you would not hear men declaring it to be a “dead letter” if they respected the word of the living God. Remember, reader, you are to be judged by that word, whether it be dead or alive. Paul says the gospel is God’s power to save men (Rom. 1:16) and it should be remembered that His word is always adequate to every end for which it was appointed by the Creator, and the following are purposes for which He has appointed it:
Faith comes by the word. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
The sinner is begotten by the word. “For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15).
The sinner is born of the word. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:23).
One is converted by the word.”The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psa. 19:7).
One is made spiritually clean by the word. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
The word frees from sin. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
The word of God sanctifies men. “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
The word shall judge us. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
But the word of God doesn’t work as a “charm.” No one must flatter himself that the word will convert, sanctify, and save him, unless he believes and obeys it. Remember, it is a capital doctrine of the Living Oracles that, “…his servants ye are to whom ye obey…” (Rom. 6:16). Though a man may be in error, if he reveres the word of his Maker there is hope for his salvation. But if he has no regard for God’s word, he is beyond the reach of the converting power of it.
While I write, I am surrounded by religionists who have so little reverence for the word of God, that if I read a truth from it that contradicts a doctrine of theirs, they will reluctantly admit that it says so, but contend that God doesn’t mean what He says! They know it is not as God says, because they have “felt it.” Having rejected the light of God’s word, they are in the dark “feeling after God.”
He who has implicit faith in the word has no necessity for feeling his way in the dark, for he walks “by faith,” not by feeling (2 Cor. 5:7). Neither does he have any occasion to appeal to his own feelings for anything which he believes, for the word of God is the entire rule of his faith. He is too well instructed to attempt to interpret the pure word of God by his impure and erring feelings. Rather, he strives to correct his feelings and bring them into entire subjection to the word of Him who upholds all things by the word of His power.
The Quaker’s “light within” has spread its baneful influence over nearly all religious parties. God says His word is light (Psa. 119:105, 130), but why should the man who believes he has a superior “light within” heed the light of God’s word from without? He consequently learns to despise the light of God’s word. This doctrine has no support in revelation or analogy in nature. The light that enlightens the understanding of fallen man must always come from without. The literal light must always enter through the organ of sight; and he who so far despises God’s arrangements as to turn that organ inside-out to discover the light within, will always go “feeling” his way through the world in spiritual blindness. He will never see the twinkling star, the full moon, or the morning dawn, much less the splendor of the noon day sun.
“Woe unto them that put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isa. 5:20). This doctrine of ultra spiritualism is hanging like an incubus upon the vitals of the public. Multitudes are waiting to be “made fit” to obey the word of the Lord by the discovery of the spirit within. Many, who never doubted the truth of the Gospel, have died in their sins wrapped in this destructive delusion.
The Holy Spirit communicates all His teachings through the word of God. God’s word is the light of the moral universe, and where its benign rays have not penetrated the pagan world, there ignorance sways her dark sceptre. Yet, many are here under the lustre of the glowing luminary of heaven, who close their eyes to the light and feel their ways back into the region and shadow of death! Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and it should be especially noted that the Holy Ghost is never said to be the light of the world.
Men contend for popular error with great warmth, but if you demand Bible proof for their teaching they will take shelter behind their own ignorance, saying, “If I knew as much of the Bible as you, I could put you down.” And so they glory in their own shame! The common sense conclusion that says if they are ignorant of the Bible, they are probably ignorant of the truth it teaches, never seems to have entered their bewildered brains.
The case would be far different if they studied their Bibles as they do temporal interests. If they loved God supremely, they would love His word and treasure it up in their hearts. But the Bible funds of most men are but mere scraps gathered by accident from the pulpit or the fireside, and they are often garbled and generally incorrectly quoted.
No man can say with any confidence what any passage of scripture means unless he knows enough of the connection to get the leading idea in the mind of the sacred Author, and this often requires an acquaintance with an entire letter or book. As the printer tells any story—true or false—by rearranging the same type, so the different sects “prove” any ism they choose by the same scripture scraps, arranged according to the fancy or education of the compositor. Thus they employ the Bible as the printer does his type. I bear my solemn protest against such injustice. Knowledge of, and reverence for, the word of the living God is the only remedy for man’s sins, and his only hope of salvation.