Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall, pass away, hut my word shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35). Concerning the enduring power of the Word of God, the apostle Peter declared:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof fall- eth away; but the word of the Lord endureth forever (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
How did Peter know the word of the Lord would live forever? It is not reasonable to suppose that he was able to make such an accurate guess. The greatest human wisdom was not capable of apprehending the contingencies of approximately 2,000 years and making such an exact prediction concerning the word of God. And aside from this, Peter enjoyed no distinction as a wise man. It is true as the apostle says, that “the word of the Lord liveth and abideth forever.” The fact that it has lived so long, and has survived so much opposition, is satisfactory evidence that it will continue to live on and on. But how did Peter know it would live and make the indefatigable progress which the succeeding ages have witnessed? Since it is unreasonable to suppose that Peter made an accurate guess, and since human wisdom was unable to determine such a thing, we are able to reach only one satisfactory conclusion. This conclusion is stated by Peter when he says: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’’
Peter was writing a prophecy when he said, “But the word of the Lord endureth forever.” This prophecy no scoffer can dispute, because the Bible stands as its fulfillment before their eyes. A prophecy is a thing foretold, but the thing foretold is not of a character to be discerned by human sagacity. Men may prophesy with reasonable safety respecting logical events, but the events of Bible prophecy are not of a logical character. Men may tell what is going to transpire when adequate causes are already apparent, but the events of Bible prophecy were indicated before the causes had commenced to act. Peter did not only say, “The word of the Lord endureth forever;” but he also said, “The word of God liveth and abideth forever.” His statements concerning the Scriptures would not seem so remarkable if he had not declared them of an indestructible character. The Bible is a living book. Other old writings are extant, but they are dead; they wield no influence on the lives of men. The Bible is wielding a deeper and more universal influence now than it ever has. It is published in more languages and is read by more people than any other book.
All human books are of extremely short duration when compared with the Bible. Some of them die because the things they state as facts are discovered to be untrue, and others because their students fail to hold the interest of the people; but the Bible is not discredited in any new discovery, and interest in it is increased by repeated readings. The Bible lives and maintains its hold on all classes of people. It has a fascination for the most brilliant intellect as well as for the unlearned. All human works are perishable. Peter said, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of the grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” All the works of man do wither and fade as the grass. “All the glory of man”—all his achievements in literature, arts, and sciences—pale away into utter insignificance “as the flower of the grass.” “But the word of the Lord endureth forever.” In my memory lives a scene of my childhood days. There was an old house where two old people lived. The situation was beautiful. The house was surrounded by a large orchard of splendid fruits. I have a distinct recollection of that house as it was then. Last summer I was in that state and was preaching in that vicinity. I went to see that house, but it was with difficulty that I located the place where it stood. It had fallen down and was in a state of ruin. A huge wild grape vine entirely covered the place where the house once stood, and under this vine I could see a few pieces of the old house. That vine was very small when I first knew the house, but it had in it the principle of life which caused it to grow. Man made the house, but God made the vine; man’s work perishes, while God’s work abides.
Will the world outgrow the Bible? This question is one of frequent repetition. It has been propounded because the world has outgrown so many other things. But any one is able to observe that the world has never outgrown anything of which God is the author. A boy may outgrow the clothing he wears, but he does not outgrow the need of his hands and feet. Man outgrows his own works but he never outgrows the works of God.
Man supersedes his own work in almost everything He does. In human invention one thing is constantly supplementing another. While man outgrows nearly all of his own works, and discards them when they become obsolete, we are unable to find one work of God that man can outgrow and set aside. Do you think there is any probability of man’s outgrowing the earth on which he lives? Will the world outgrow the need of sunlight? God made the earth and sun, and while time shall last they will not become obsolete. Is there any probability of a time when man will not need food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe? It is impossible to discard a single thing God has adapted to human need. When the human family has reached the point where it can do without the things that satisfy physical needs the question of discarding the Bible may then be discussed with propriety. Remember this, the Bible meets a human need that is as definite as hunger for food or thirst for water.
The criticism of the Bible at the present time is no new thing; it has been bitterly assailed from the time of its birth. One who was statistician of Bible things compiled a list of than a thousand books that had been written in opposition to the Bible. The most of these books are dead, but the Bible still lives. If men are anxious to produce proof that the Bible is a human production, the most convincing way will be to produce one like it. The fact that there is only one Bible is strong evidence in itself that it is not of human origin. Those who have carefully read the books of the other religions of the earth know that they are not to be classed with the Bible. The critics of the Bible are usually ignorant of its contents. The objections urged against the Holy Book do not exist in fact; they are only apparent. A thorough study of any difficulty in the Bible will clear up the difficulty.
At the present time three recognized influences are converging on the Bible in an adverse way. Science is being diverted from its useful channel in an attempt to discredit the word of God. I do not wish to make the impression that those who defend the Bible try to evade any reliable conclusion reached by scientific investigation. There can be no opposition between a true science and the Bible. Science has brought many things to light that should increase man’s faith in the integrity and reliability of the word of God. Scientific discovery of truth is good; but scientific speculation is evil. Some men of science declare the Bible incorrect on the ground of its untenable theory of the beginning of life; but when their own process of reasoning is applied to their speculations, they are left in a quandary. It is difficult to determine just what scientists themselves recognize as science. What is scientific with one is unscientific with another. But they are in agreement respecting a few things. If the whole body of scientists would reject as truth all theories, excepting those that are common to all, I think, then, the defenders of the Bible would agree with them. That three entities constitute the beginning of all things is almost universally accepted. These are matter, life, and mind. Science does not know what matter, life, and mind are. They may trace matter to atoms, but what caused atoms to exist? How did matter commence to live? What are the properties that entered into matter, and caused it to live, and where did these properties originate? Then how did mind commence to exist? Can matter think? Can life think? Many things composed of matter and life can not think. The public is deluded on the question of the ability of science to overthrow the Bible. Real science does not contradict the Bible.
Natural philosophy is being diverted from its useful sphere with a view to destroying the miraculous element of the Bible. One philosophic assumption is that there is nothing supernatural. No effort is put forth to prove this as a necessary deduction; it is only an assumption. But what is a supernatural thing? Is it anything above what is natural? When a man builds a house he performs a supernatural act, for nature does not build houses. Speculative philosophy asserts that miracles suspend natural law. This is not a logical conclusion, for a boy may throw a stone into the space above, which is contrary to the law of gravitation; but in this act the law of gravity is not suspended; it is only momentarily overcome by another law. This plainly shows that a force greater than natural law may come in and operate for a short time; but no violence is done to the natural law. The Old Testament account of God’s causing an ax to swim and the New Testament narrative of Jesus walking on the water are said to be violations of the law of specific gravity. A child can cause a steel needle to float on the surface of still water. One law causes the needle to sink and another law causes it to float. Does one law violate the other? The floating of the needle only shows that another law different from the law that causes it to sink comes in and operates for a little while. The swimming of the ax and Christ’s walking on the water were not necessarily suspensions of natural law.
However, if God wished to set aside one of his laws and replace it with another, it would he easy for him to do so. A clock maker makes a clock subject to a definite law. The hand is to rotate over the face once in twelve hours. This is the law of the clock; and a complex mechanism is adjusted to this law. Each piece of the clock is con-structed with this definite action in view. If the maker of the clock wishes, he can turn the hand over the face of the clock in five seconds. Or if he wishes, he may stop the clock at twelve noon, and at twelve o ’clock midnight it is only twelve noon so far as the normal action of the clock is concerned. In neither of these instances does the clockmaker do violence to the clock. The clock does not go to pieces because its maker treats it this way. So if God should want to stop his great time piece, which consists of earth and sun, it would be an easy matter for him to do so. But students of natural philosophy tell us if the earth were to stand still in order to create the Old Testament phenomenon of the sun’s not going down till the battle was over, the universe would be disrupted. This is merely an assumption, and is predicated upon no established premises.
Higher criticism has joined hands with speculative science and false philosophy in an effort against the Bible. The chief objection to higher criticism is its unreasonable hypothesis. It puts forth unsubstantiated claims with reference to some portions of the Bible. The history and literary style of certain books of the Bible are out of harmony with their claims. If the methods of higher criticism were employed against literature generally, there would be little or no literature left. A test was made on Burns’ poem entitled “To a Mountain Daisy.” There was nothing left of a genuine character after the test was made. The vocabulary of the first part of the poem could not be identified with Burns. The literary style of the last part was that of another man. But Burns was the author of the poem.
The Bible will continue to live for several reasons. Those who endeavor to destroy it know not what they do. Are men ignorant of the fact that if the Bible should be destroyed other things of great value would he destroyed with it? The Bible has been the inspiration of the best literature. Do men prize the writings of Dante, Milton, and Bunyan? Without the Bible, these productions would be without meaning or value. Eliminate the religious element from poetry, and there is little left. The Bible has inspired the greatest music. Destroy the Bible, and the best musical compositions are destroyed with it. The Bible has been an inspiration to art. Some of the world’s most classic paintings are Bible scenes. The Bible has affected much of the great architecture of the world. The greatest laws, the best governments, and the highest civilization of the earth are founded upon the Bible. The constitution of the United States would have to be revised if the Bible were destroyed. The Bible is so woven into the fabric of the world that men will not let it be destroyed. Men of wisdom will not tear the world to pieces and make it over just to get rid of the Bible. Because of this hold the Bible has upon the world it will live and abide forever.
Religion has its foundation in the nature of man. You can take away the Bible, but you cannot take away that in man which calls for the Bible. Man is like the morning glory; he has a nature that must be expressed. The morning glory has a nature that causes it to vine. If it cannot express this nature in one way, it will in another. It reaches out for something to which it can cling, and by which it can rise up and unfold its beauty. If it finds nothing to which it can cling and lift itself up, it will entwine itself about a stone or a clod, and even may vine around itself. It has a nature to and tills nature cannot be coerced or destroyed. Man has a religious nature that cannot be destroyed. He cannot be restrained from expressing this nature. If he has not the opportunity to express it in the right way, he will express it in some wrong way. The Bible enables man to rise high. It is the means of lifting humanity up. Take away the Bible and man will make one of his own. Destroy man’s knowledge of God, and he will worship idols. The history of all past ages is a demonstration of man’s weakness without God and his strength with God.