It must be evident to all who pay close attention to the spiritual conditions of our day that there is being made a very determined and widespread effort to discredit and set aside entirely the authority of the Bible. Let us note that one of the unique characteristics of the Bible is that it claims the right to control the actions of men.
The Bible speaks “as one having authority.” It assumes, and in the most peremptory and uncompromising way, to rebuke men for misconduct, and tell them what they shall do and what they shall not do. It speaks to men, not as from the human plane, or even from a standpoint of superior human wisdom and morality; but from a plane far above the highest human level, and as a wisdom which admits no question or dispute from men. The Bible demands throughout unqualified submission.
This assumption of control over man is a direct obstacle to the spirit of the times, which will endure no authority higher than that of “the people,” that is to say, of man himself. If only the authority of the Scriptures be gotten rid of, mankind will have attained the long-coveted state of absolute independence, which is equivalent to utter lawlessness.
The ideal state “of the people” would be accurately described as “lawlessness,” since it is manifest that an individual or society which is under no constraint except such as is self-imposed, is under no restraint at all.
To attain this ideal state is the end and purpose of present day movements; and, in order to promote these movements, that mighty spiritual intelligence who is designated “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2) very wisely, and with compelling subtlety, directs the attack, from many different quarters, against the authority of the Bible.
The great mass of men, including the majority of the leaders of the age, is already completely absorbed in the activities of “the world” and utterly indifferent to the claims of the Bible.
The Bible nevertheless, by reason of its hold upon the consciences of the few, exerts, upon society as a whole, a mighty restraining influence, against which the assaults of the enemies of truth are now being directed. It would be an impossible task to present all the unique characteristics of the Bible, whereby it is so distinguished from other books that it occupies a class by itself. We have, therefore, singled out for consideration one special attribute or characteristic of the Holy Scriptures; namely, that signified by the word “Living.”
It is with this thought in mind that we have written this study to show one of the many reasons why the Word Of God has withstood the onslaught of the forces which have come against it through the centuries, and will stand “until He be taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7b.)
THE INCARNATE (GOD MADE FLESH) WORD AND THE WRITTEN WORD:
BOTH ARE “LIVING”
In Philippians 2:16 we have the expression, “The Word of Life.” The same expression occurs in 1 John 1:1. In the latter Scripture it is used of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, whereas in Philippians it is referring to the Written Word.
The Written Word and the Incarnate Word are so identical in Scripture that it is not always clear which is referred to. The same things are said of each, and the same characteristics attributed to each. Each is the revealer, or tangible, expression of the invisible God. Both express and communicate knowledge of the invisible and inaccessible God.
Again 1 Peter 1:23 declares that these people were “… “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” This quotation seems to be taken from Isaiah 40:6-8 which confirms the idea that God’s Word is a Living Word.
This is a very remarkable statement, and is worthy of our closest examination and most earnest consideration. Why is the word of God thus spoken of? Why is the extraordinary characteristic of Life, or vitality, attributed to it? In what respects can it be said to be a Living Word?
The expression “living,” as applied to the Word of God, obviously means something more than partaking of the kind of life with which we are acquainted with.
God speaks of Himself as the “Living God” (Jeremiah 10:10).
The Lord Jesus is the “Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15).
He announced Himself to John as “He that Liveth,” Revelation 1:18.
Eternal life is in Him (1 John 5:11).
It is clear that when we read, “The Word of God is Living,” we are to understand thereby that it lives with a spiritual, an inexhaustible, an inextinguishable, in a word, a divine, life. If the Word of God be indeed living in this sense, we have here a fact of the most tremendous significance.
THE WORLD AND ALL THAT IS IN IT IS DYING:
In the world around us the beings and things which we call “living” might better be spoken of as “dying.” What we call “the land of the living” might better be described as “the land of the dying.” Wherever we look we see that death is in possession, and is working according to its invariable method of corruption and decay.
Death is the real monarch of this world, and we meet at every turn the gruesome evidence and results of the universal sway of him who has “the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:12).
“Death reigned” (Romans 5:14), and still reigns over everything. The mighty and awful power of death has made this earth of ours a great burying ground—a gigantic cemetery.
THE WORD OF GOD DEFIES CORRUPTION:
But there is an exception to this apparently universal rule. There is, indeed, in this world of dying beings, where forces of corruption fasten immediately upon everything into which life has entered, and upon all works of so-called living creatures, one object which is really LIVING, an object upon which corruption cannot fasten itself, and which resists and defies all the power of death, God’s Word.
First, let us note the many points of resemblance between the Incarnate Word and the Written Word. When “the Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us (John 1:14), there was nothing in his appearance to manifest His Deity, or show “that in Him was life” (John 1:4).
That fact was demonstrated, not by His blameless and unselfish behavior, nor by His incomparable teachings and discourses, but by His resurrection from the dead. The only power which is greater than that of death is the power of life. He had, and exercised, that power, and holds now “the keys of death and hell.” (Revelation 1:18)
In like manner, there is nothing in the appearance and behavior (so to speak) of the Bible to show that is has a characteristic, even divine life, which other books have not. It bears the same resemblance to other writing that Jesus, the son of Mary, bore to other men.
It is given in human language just as he came in human flesh. Yet there is between it and all other books the same difference as between Him and all other men, namely, the difference between the living and the dead. THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING.
THE BIBLE HAS PERENNIAL FRESHNESS:
The Bible differs radically from all other books in its perpetual freshness. This characteristic will be recognized only by those who know the Book in that intimate way which comes from living with it, as with a member of one’s family.
It is a very remarkable fact that the Bible never becomes exhausted, never acquires sameness, and never diminishes in its power of responsiveness to the quickened soul who comes to it. The most familiar passages yield as much (if not more) refreshment at the thousandth perusal (To read or examine, with great care), as at the first. It is indeed a fountain of living water. The fountain is the same, but the water is always fresh, and always refreshing.
We can compare this to what we find in a living companion, whom we love and to whom we go for help and fellowship. This person is always the same, and yet without sameness. New conditions evoke new responses; and so is the Bible. As a Living Book it adopts itself to the new phase of our experience and the new conditions in which we find ourselves. From the most familiar passages there comes again and again a new message; just as our most familiar friend or companion will have something new to say, as changed conditions and new situations require it from time to time.
This is true of no other book. What man’s book has to say we can get the first time; and the exceptions arise merely from lack of clearness on the writer’s part, or lack of apprehension on the part of the reader. Man can only touch the surface of things, and he cares only about surface appearances. So, in all his writings, whatever substance they contain lies on the surface, and can be gathered by a capable reader at once. However beautiful or artistically executed, a single view may exhaust the works of man, and a second and a third look will be mere repetitious. The difference is that between the living and the dead. The WORD OF GOD IS LIVING.
But while the Bible resembles in this important respect a living person, who is our familiar, sympathetic, and responsive friend, it differs from such a human companion in that the counsel, comfort, and support the Bible furnishes are far above and beyond what any human being can supply. And the only explanation of this is that the source of it’s (the Bible) life and powers is not human but divine.
THE BIBLE DOES NOT BECOME OBSOLETE:
One of the most prominent characteristics of books written by men for the purpose of conveying information and instruction is that they very quickly become obsolete, and must be cast aside and replaced by others. This is particularly true of books on science, text-books, school-books and the like. Progress is so rapid in all departments of learning as to render the scientific books of one generation almost worthless to the next.
Changes in human knowledge, thought and opinion occur so swiftly, that books, which were the standards yesterday, are set aside today for others, which in turn will be discarded for yet other “authorities” tomorrow. In fact, every book which is written for a serious purpose begins to become obsolete before the ink is dry on the page. The true significance of this is that man’s books are all, like himself, dying creatures.
The Bible on the other hand, although it treats of the greatest and most serious of all subjects, such as God, Christ, eternity, life, death, sin, righteousness, judgment, redemption—is always the latest, best, and only authority on all these and other weighty matters whereof it speaks. Centuries of “progress” and “advancements” have added absolutely nothing to the sum of knowledge on any of these subjects.
The Bible is always fresh and thoroughly “up to date.” In fact it is far, far ahead of human science. Progress cannot overtake it, or get beyond it. Generation succeeds generation, but each finds the Bible waiting for it with its ever fresh and never failing stores of information touching matters of the highest concern, touching everything that affects the welfare of human beings.
The Bible is the only book in the world that is truly scientific; for it is the only book which gives precise and accurate absolutely reliable information upon every subject whereof it treats. It is the only book in the world upon every statement of which one may safely put implicit confidence. Countless millions have believed the statements of the Word of God, every one of them to his unspeakable advantage, not one of them to his hurt.
Unlike other books of instruction THE BIBLE DOES NOT BECOME OBSOLETE. This is a fact of great significance; the only explanation is that the BIBLE IS A LIVING BOOK, the Word of the Living God. All other books partake of the infirmities of their authors, and are either dying or dead. On the other hand, “THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING.”
THE BIBLE IS INDESTRUCTABLE:
The Bible manifests the possession of inherent and imperishable life in that it survives all the attempts that have been made to destroy it. The Bible is the only book in the world that is truly hated. The hatred it arouses is bitter, persistent, and murderous. From generation to generation this hatred has been kept alive.
There is without a doubt a supernatural explanation for this continuous display of hostility towards the Word of God, for that Word has a supernatural enemy who has personally experienced its power. (Matthew 4:1-10)
THE BIBLE IS HATED BECAUSE IT TESTIFIES AGAINST MAN:
The natural explanation for this hatred is that the Bible gives no flattering picture of man and his world, but just the reverse. The Bible does not say that man is a noble being, ever aspiring towards lofty goals and ideals, and will finally win victory over the evils of his environment. But, the Bible declares quite the contrary.
The Bible describes man’s disobedience and departure from God, and preference for darkness rather than light, “because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). It does not represent man as having come, without any fault of his own, into adverse circumstances, and as being engaged in gradually overcoming these by the development and exercise of his own power.
Quite the opposite. The Bible records how, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Man’s heart is inherently evil. It speaks of man as “being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31).
Bible declares that “They are all under sin, there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Romans 3:9b-12). It describes man’s condition by nature as “dead in trespasses and sins,” “children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1b-3)
The Bible has nothing to say in praise of men or his natural endowments, nor does the Bible predict the ultimate triumph of “civilization.” It does not say that human nature shall improve under the influence of education and self-culture, even with the influence of Christianity added. On the contrary, the Bible declares that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).
Even though the world has enormous benefit resulting from the Church of God and the light of an open Bible, it is not predicted that man and his world would undergo any improvements, or that the developments of the age would be in the direction of better conditions on earth.
On the contrary the Bible declares that “that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Because of these sayings, and others like them, the Bible is vehemently detested.
How astonishing it is that any intelligent person should suppose that man drew this picture of himself.
It is no wonder the Bible is hated, and for the simple reason that it declares the truth about man and his world. And because the Bible accurately describes man’s conditions it is hated above all books. Jesus said to his own brethren, “the world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” (John 7:7)
THE BIBLE IS HATED BECAUSE IT EXERCISES AUTHORITY OVER MAN:
Another reason that the Bible is hated is because it claims the right to exercise, and assumes to exercise, authority over man. It speaks as “one having authority” (Matthew 7:29). It issues commands to all. It says, “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt Not.” It does not simply advise or commend one course of action rather than another, as one would address an equal, but directs men imperatively what they shall do, and what they shall not do.
In this manner it addresses all ranks and conditions of men—kings and governors, parents and children, rich and poor, high and low, free and bond. In this too, we have a characteristic of the Bible which distinguishes it from all other books. The Bible is no respecter of persons. But for this cause it is hated; for men want no external authority.
They say that man has been shackled through the ages by narrow theological ideas whereof the Bible is the source, and that it is time for him to arise and throw off this bondage, and to rise in his own true might and do great things for himself. They want to break down the authority of scriptures. It is a fact that in the entire universe, there is nothing that assumes authority over man, or that imposes laws upon him, except the Bible.
Once thoroughly rid of that troublesome book, and man will have arrived at that state of lawlessness predicted in the New Testament prophecies, wherein society will be ready to accept the leadership of that “lawless one,” “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7-10).
Other books arouse no such hatred. There may be books which men dislike, and such they simply let alone. But the Bible is, and always has been, hated to death. It is the one book that has been pursued from century to century, as men pursue a mortal foe.
At first its destruction has been sought by violence. All human powers, political and ecclesiastical, have combined to put it out of existence. Death has been the penalty for possessing or reading a copy. And such copies as were found have been turned over to the executioner to be treated as was the Incarnate Word.
Nothing that human ingenuity could devise, or human cruelty put into effect, has been omitted in the desperate attempt to put this detested book out of existence. But the concentrated power of man has utterly failed in the attempt.
Why does the world’s system hate the Bible so much? Has its influence upon man been corrupting or otherwise evil? Does it teach doctrines dangerous to individuals or communities? Does it promote violence, disorder, vice or crime?
On the contrary, without question it is noted that its influence, wherever it has gone, has been beneficial beyond that of all other books combined, and that the most fruitful human lives are those which have been molded by its teachings.
BOOKS AGAINST “THE BOOK”:
The Bible has been assailed from every side by men of the highest intelligence, culture and scholarship. There are many books against THE BOOK-- Man’s books against God’s Book. Its authority has been denied, and its reliability and even its morality has been called into question, its claims upon the consciences of men have been ridiculed; all to no purpose, except to bring out more conspicuously the fact that the “WORD OF GOD IS LIVING,” and with an indestructible life.
Should any other book incur the hatred of men it would not be necessary to take such measures for its destruction. A book produced by dying men need only be let alone to die of its own accord. The seeds of death are in it from the beginning. The Bible is the only thing in the whole world that is hostile to the whole world. It is the only book that man has employed all his means to attempt to destroy. And yet in this attempt, he has most conspicuously and ignominiously failed. There must be a reason why.
About two centuries ago a book made its appearance which attracted wide attention, particularly in the upper circles of intellect and culture. It was egotistically entitled “The Age Of Reason,” and its author, Thomas Pain, was probably without equal in intelligence among his contemporaries. So confident was the author of this book that his reasoning proved the untrustworthiness of Scripture, and destroyed the its claim upon the consciences of men as the revelation of the living God, that he predicted that in fifty years the Bible would be practically out of print.
More that four times fifty years have passed since this idle boast was uttered. The boaster and his book have passed away; and their names are well nigh forgotten. But the WORD OF GOD has maintained its place as the most read book of all time, and not by human power.
They who believe and cherish it are a feeble folk. ‘Not many wise, not many mighty,” not many high-born are among them. They have no might of their own to stand against the enemies of the Bible.
The situation resembles a scene in 1 Kings 20:27, where the Israelites went out against the Syrians, and we read that “The children of Israel pitched before them like two little flock of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.” But notwithstanding such odds, the victory is certain. Just read the rest of that story of 1 Kings 20:28-30.
The enemies of the Bible have indeed filled the country. Yet, they shall all pass away; but THE WORD OF THE LORD SHALL NOT PASS AWAY. How can these facts be explained except by the statement that “THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING,” and that the source of its life is beyond the reach of man—in the very BEING OF THE LIVING GOD.
THE BIBLE IS A DISCERNER OF HEART:
Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
1. “Quick”-- Living. It is “the breath of his lips” — God-breathed; and so it is never “a dead letter,” but always quick with spiritual life, and ready to quicken (give life). What Luther said of Paul’s writings is true of all Scripture: its words “are not dead words; they are living creatures, and have hands and feet.”
2. “Powerful”-- Energetic. The actual power of the Word is as great as the authority which it claims. It is, indeed, the supreme power among men. In the moral sphere it dominates the thought of the world. To the individual soul it is like “a fire “and “a hammer.” It is “sharper than any two-edged sword” — two-edged, because it both punishes as a sword and heals as a surgeon’s knife.
3. “Piercing”-- Heart-dissecting. The Word pierces into the deepest recesses of man’s being. It pricks men in their hearts. It parts “soul and spirit,” “joints and marrow;” i.e. it separates the animal soul from the angel-spirit in human nature. It gives sensibility and power to the heavenward side of our being; and enables us to distinguish what in us is carnal and must be subdued. It marks off to the believer’s consciousness “the works of the flesh” from “the fruit of the Spirit.”
4. “Discerning” -- So Searching and Judicial is the power of the Word of God that it reaches and discloses the inmost depths of a man’s consciousness — discloses it to himself, and, though he should resist, leaves him without escape, exposed and judged. The power of discernment belongs to an intelligent being; and the power of discernment possessed by man does not go beneath the surface, and can be better described as intuition, or perception. Man’s mental picture is not true science and is not always right in its judgment. Yet the Scripture in Hebrews 4:13 asserts that the WORD OF GOD is a “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
This is the only thing in the world that can true fully lay claim to this. Millions of men and women have felt the searching and discerning power of the WORD OF GOD. We go to it not so much to learn the thoughts of other men, as to learn our own thoughts. We go to other books to find what was in the hearts and minds of their authors; but we go to the Bible to find what is in our own hearts and mind.
There are those among us who claim to be mind readers, but they have to ask you many questions before they come to their conclusion. Not so the WORD OF GOD. To one who reads it with the ever so little spiritual intelligence, there comes a perception of the fact that this Book understands and knows all about him. It lays bare the deepest secrets of his heart, and brings to the surface of his consciousness, out of the deepest depths, and unexplored recesses of his own being, “thoughts and intents” whose existence was unsuspected.
THE BIBLE reveals man to himself in a way difficult to describe and absolutely peculiar to itself. It is a faithful mirror which reflects us exactly as we are. It detects our motives, discerns our needs; and having discovered to us our true selves, it counsels, reproves, exhorts, guides, refreshes, strengthens, and illuminates our mind. It will discover to men the variety of their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of them, the bad principles they are actuated by, the sinister and sinful ends they act to. The word will turn the inside of a sinner out, and let him see all that is in his heart.
James 1:21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word (The Bible), which is able to save your souls.
22. But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty (The Bible), and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
THE SECRET OF ITS POWER: (Hebrews 4:13)
Holy Scripture is thus energetic and effective because it is the Word of the Omniscient. It derives from him “who knows what is in man” its subtle insight into character, and its deep hold upon the world’s life. The all-seeing Judge, “with whom we have to do,” has invested his Word with its marvelous magisterial power.
As the teachings of Scripture are an exact transcript of the nature and will of God, even the bare Word itself exercises as a Book transcendent moral influence over men. But, when accompanied with the supernatural energy of the Holy Spirit, upon which it depends for its effectiveness as a means of grace, Holy Scripture becomes the very omnipotence of the Omnipotent, to arouse, convict, and condemn, as well as to comfort, sanctify, and save.
In going to the Bible we never think of ourselves going back to a book of the distant past to a thing of antiquity: but we go to it as a book of the present—a living book. And so indeed it is, living in the power of an endless life, and able to build us up and to give us an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)
THE TRANSLATABLE SCRIPTURE:
The Word Of God manifests itself as a Living Word in the very unique property it has of adapting itself and its message to all peoples, and of speaking in all languages, tongues and dialects. The adoptability of Scripture, as manifested in this way, is comparable only to the power which a living being has of making himself at home in different countries from that in which he was born.
This is one of the characteristics which distinguishes the Bible from all other books. It is a universal rule that a book does not thrive except in the language in which it was written. Men’s books will not bear translation; and the greater the literary value of a book the more it is likely to suffer loss in being translated from one language to another. Change of locality is, to the great majority of books, absolutely destructive.
But in the foregoing rule the Bible is a marvelous exception. The Bible flows freely into every language, and adopts itself perfectly therein, and speaks with equal directness, clearness and authority to all peoples and tribes and nationalities, in their mother tongue. It does not occur to us that, reading our common English Bible, we are reading a translation of an Oriental book. When an example of purest and best English is desired, men go with one accord to the Bible.
When considered merely as a poem, there is nothing more exquisite in the English language than the Twenty-third Psalm. It has been said that in other languages besides English this Shepherd Psalm is a model of poetical excellence. It never occurs to the one reading it that he is reading a translation from another and very different language.
The Bible is composed of specimens of every kind of literature, historical, poetical, biographical, didactic, prophetic, epistolary, and Etc. The Bible is not the production of a single human being with a uniform literary style. On the contrary, its several parts were penned by men in widely varying positions in life, from herdsmen and unlettered fishermen, to kings and statesmen; and styles as divergent as its writers.
Nor was the Bible the product of one era or period of time, which would tend to present some common characteristic, and to prevent wide divergencies. As much as fifteen hundred years elapsed between the writing of its first and last pages. Yet all parts and styles accommodate themselves to the change of language far more readily and perfectly than any human being is able to do when acquiring another language.
THE BIBLE IS THE PRODUCT OF A NON-LITERARY PEOPLE:
The Jews were anything but a literary people. They were not at all remarkable for culture, learning, art, or philosophy. They were quite cut off by their peculiar customs, traditions, and religious institutions, from the progressive nations around them. Moses, the author of five books of the Old Testament, acquired his education in Egypt (Acts 7:22). There is no other Jewish literature that is worth talking about.
Yet, from such a people has come a volume of sixty-six parts which constitutes one complete book, cooperate in design, yet which was fifteen centuries in attaining its completed state. This Book has entered into the place of supremacy in every nation which has attained any degree of civilization, and has held that place without rival for nineteen centuries, during which period of time every human institution has been overturned, not once only, but again and again.
The Bible did not have its origin in the literature of ancient Greece, or of ancient Rome, or in the Elizabethan epoch of English literature. Why is it that nations which have been famed for their culture and literary genius have produced nothing comparable to the Bible? It is certain that if the Bible had a natural, instead of a supernatural origin, it would be far surpassed by the literary product of the literary nations of the earth.
Already the Bible, or portions of it, has been translated into upwards of a thousand languages or dialects; so that it is revealing the Grace of God in the death of Jesus Christ, to practically every nation, kindred, tongue and tribe, throughout the whole world, and is speaking to all peoples in their own native tongue.
Like a living person, the Bible has made its way into all lands, has adapted itself to all environments, entered into relations of the most intimate kind with all peoples, and has exerted upon them its own unique influence. The Bible makes itself perfectly at home, and takes its own place in any land. Can this, or any thing remotely approaching it, be said of any other book?
And if not, are we not compelled to fall back upon the statement that the “Word Of God Is A Living Book? No other explanation will account for any of the facts we have been considering. The Bible among the peoples of the earth, is, indeed a stupendous and continuing miracle.
The Bible is far and away the best selling, and most widely read, book of all time, and continues to out-sell all competitors year after year. Note the “best seller, so to speak,” fiction or non fiction, today, and tomorrow is half-priced and replaced by another, and will be forgotten in a very short a time, but the Bible continues to stay at the top of the list year after year.
THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT BOUND:
The Apostle Paul in his last writings said, “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.” (2 Timothy 2:8-9)
The human keeper, or trustee, of the Word of God may be bound, and be treated as a malefactor for merely being the bearer of the message; but the Living Word Of The Living God, is not, and cannot be, bound. God himself has said, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
THE BIBLE SPEAKS TO ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY:
Missionaries from every part of the world have reported how the most depraved, ignorant and vicious people will listen at once to the words of scripture as to no other book, and will recognize them as “good words.” Like God Himself His Word is “no respecter of persons.” Its sternest denunciations are addressed to persons of rank and of social, ecclesiastical, or political prominence (Matthew 3:7; 14:3-4;). Its best promises are for the meek and lowly.
It has a message for all men, and to the highest as well as the lowest it speaks “with authority,” never exhorting from the standpoint merely of superior human wisdom, but always as delivering the message of God.
The Bible adapts itself, and thus speaks to every successive generation of men, exhibiting to each individual human being an intimate knowledge of his characteristics, trials and needs. The Bible seems to be waiting for an opportunity to become acquainted with each child of Adam, to direct the steps of his life-long journey “through this great and terrible wilderness,” to warn him of dangers and pitfalls, and to be the counsel to every one who will not reject its offer of fellowship.Does not this warrant us in saying that “the WORD Of GOD Is LIVING?
THE WORD OF GOD EXHIBITS THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GROWTH:
Growth is one of the characteristics of a living thing. The Word of God lodges and grows in human hearts, for there is its real lodgment, rather than in the printed page. The Psalmist says, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin Against Thee” (Psalms 119:11). The book of Deuteronomy 30:14 declares that “The Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart.” The Apostle Paul repeats this verse in Romans 10:8. Also in that same chapter Paul says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (v.17).
The Apostle Paul says to the Thessalonians, “when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The lodging place for The Word of God is in the heart, and there it works to bring about some definite results. In Colossians 3:16 we have the admonition, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; …” It is in the believing heart that the Word dwell richly.
The Lord Jesus in explaining the parable of the sower, said, “The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11); and again, “The sower soweth the word” (Mark 4:14). A seed, of course, is worthless except it have life in it. The Lord Jesus further explained that the seed which fell “on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15).
To the unbelieving Jews the Lord said, “And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not” (John 5:38). In Colossians 1:5-6, Paul speaks of “the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, …”
In these passages we have presented to us the thought of the Word as a living seed or germ, first finding lodging in the heart of man, and then abiding and growing there. The growth of the Word of God is specifically mentioned in several passages in The Acts of the Apostles.
THE WORD OF GOD GREW:
Growth In Jerusalem:
Acts 6:7 “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly;”
Here we are told specifically that the Word of God increased. We learn from this that the mere multiplication of copies of the Scriptures is in itself of no importance. It is of no avail to have the Book in the house, and on the shelf or table, if it be not taken into the heart. But when received into the heart, the Word of God grows and increases. It is assimilated into the life of him who receives it, and henceforth is a part of himself.
The growth of the Word in Acts, accompanied by a great multiplication of the number of disciples, was the result of faithful ministry of the Word—a ministry which was sustained by prayer (Acts 6:4). This method of promoting the growth of the Word of God is highly important.
Every believer who has the Word in his heart and in his mouth is the means of its reproduction in the hearts and lives of others. There are great multitudes who would never get the Word from the printed page, or from the spoken sermon or address.
Hence the importance of these “epistles of Christ written not with ink, but with the SPIRIT of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3). May our lives, as believers, be so transparent that the Word written in our hearts may be distinctly seen; and thus, as sons of God we shall shine “as lights in the world holding forth the Word of life.” (Philippians 2:15, 16).
Growth In Caesarea:
In Acts 12 we have recorded the last episodes in the life of King Herod Antipas. In the first episode he killed the Apostle James with the sword. In the second episode he apprehended Peter and put him in prison. Peter was delivered by an angel of the Lord who was sent for that purpose. In the last episode in his life Herod put on his royal apparel, sat upon his throne “and made an oration unto the people.
This oration was received with extravagant demonstrations. “The people gave a shout, saying, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Herod accepted this tribute, and no doubt was highly pleased therewith. It is a dangerous thing for mortal and sinful man, however high his station, to accept glory which belongs to God alone.
Immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the Glory; he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost. “But the Word of God grew and multiplied.” (Acts 12:24)
There is a tremendous lesson here for all who are participating in the various movements which have as their common object of putting man in the place of God, and the word of man in the place of the Word of God. Herod was not stricken down for persecuting the Church, for imprisoning Peter or for putting James to death, nor yet for his previous murder of John the Baptist. He was smitten for permitting his word to be acclaimed as the word of God.
The angel of the Lord had two ministries in that chapter. One was to deliver Peter, who, according to the word of his Lord, was to serve Him to old age (John 21:18). The other was to declare, by smiting the King, the difference between the Word of God and that of the most important man of the country.
No doubt that was a great oration which Herod delivered on that day. It contained great striking utterances, sprinkled with wisdom and flowered with the attractions of human eloquence. It was, however, the King on his throne who spoke, and we all know how the throngs gather to listen and applaud on such occasions.
On the other hand, in great contrast, the Word of God was being preached by “unlearned and ignorant men,” a despised and persecuted company. What then has become of the words of King Herod? All have utterly perished, centuries ago, from the memory of men.
King Herod himself was eaten by worms; “But the Word of God grew and multiplied,” and has continued to do so from that time to the present.
Not long ago, at the convening of the American Congress, a message from the President was addressed to that body. Much comment was made on that message because of its great length; some industrious person counted the words, and found them to be upwards of thirty-thousand. They were serious words, too, and weighty, as human utterances go.
They dealt with the most important affairs and interests of the nation that regards itself as the greatest on earth. But they were not “the words of eternal life.” And for all that the occasion was so recent, and the subject matter so important, it is doubtful if any person can recall a single sentence of that great message. Few, indeed, would care to do so, or would receive the slightest benefit there from, if they could.
On the other hand, Jesus gave an oration, almost two thousand years ago, to a far smaller and seemingly insignificant crowd, that we call “The Sermon On The Mount,” that has enlightened, affected, and changed, the lives of millions upon millions of people every day since that day. In fact it is being read, studied, and preached at this moment, somewhere, as you read this.
The words of kings and emperors, and presidents, are dying words. From the moment they are uttered they begin to perish; but the Word Of God is living, and will stand till the end of time.
Growth In Ephesus:
Men turn to books to find an answer to the perplexities of their life, searching for answers among the enlightenment and knowledge of men, only to be disappointed and wait for the next edition of some other author to arrive. Though disappointed again and again, the inquiring mind, which has felt the need of a source of light external to itself, are still searching for it in books.
We have told of the growth of the Word Of God in Jerusalem and Caesarea, now to signify that the Word Of God was not limited by territorial boundary, but was to spread and grow in every part of the earth, we will mention howthe Word Of God grew in Ephesus.
The Apostle Paul spent two years in Ephesus preaching to such extent that “all they which dwell in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” And God, moreover, “wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul” Acts 19:10-11. One of the results of this ministry was that “many of them which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men; and they counted the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed” Acts 19:19-20.
This is a very notable event—a grand demonstration of the power and sufficiency of the Word of God. These books, worth so great a sum as fifty thousand pieces of silver, became worthless in the hands of their owners after the latter had received the Word of God.
The books that were destroyed had been held in the highest estimation, because they were manuals of black magic and sorcery. But when their owners “believed the word of God,” they could no longer practice the “curious arts,” or even retain the books that described them.
It is easy to destroy the books of men. Great and mighty were the powers of darkness which were back of the books burned at Ephesus, those evil powers are not comparable to that which has directed the career of the Word of God. Many have been the attempts to consume it in the flames, but in vain; for the Word of God is living.
THE WORD OF GOD BROUGHT LIFE INTO THE WORLD:
In the era of great scientific activity which marked the last century, many and persistent efforts were made to bring about spontaneous generation, or to demonstrate that life could be caused by human manipulation to spring up out of non-living matter and apart from living organisms. Great was the desire of unbelieving men of science to find a support for this theory, for if this could be accomplished it would flatly contradict the first chapter of the Bible, and thus discredit the statements of the Bible upon a subject of highest importance.
In that chapter, Genesis 1:21-25, the first law of biology was pronounced in the words “after his kind:” and this law is applied both to the animal and vegetation kingdom. It was applied to grass, and herb, and fruit trees, to fowl and fishes, and creeping things, to wild beast and tame beast. Each was commanded to bring forth “after his kind;” and it is needless to say that each has strictly obeyed this Divine command.
God in creating the numerous species of living creatures, vegetable and animal, put a permanent difference between them, rigidly confining each species to the reproduction of its own kind. So important was this law in the mind of the Creator, and so careful was He to impress it upon the mind of man, that the formula is stated nine times in the first chapter of Genesis.
I have yet to see proof of a single fact showing, or tending to show, the operation of the so-called “law” or “principal” of evolution in the world of nature. No instance has ever been found of a living thing of one species coming from ancestors of another species; and there is not the slightest ground for the belief that such a thing ever happened.
On the other hand, every one of the countless billions of reproductions of living creatures—the grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit—which occur every year, are in accordance with the divine command recorded in the first chapter of Genesis.
THE WORD OF GOD BRINGS SPIRITUAL LIFE:
This brings us to the great subject of spiritual conception and generation, concerning which the Scripture gives a great deal of information. The beginning and perpetuation of physical life in plants and animals (including man) are great and inscrutable mysteries. This is true in all stages of the process, particularly in the initial stage of germination, which is the beginning of a new individual existence by the quickening of a seed derived from a previously existing individual of the same species.
How much more mysterious, then, must be the process of spiritual generation. The Lord Jesus, in his conversation with the learned Pharisee, Nicodemus, said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canest not tell whence it came, and whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born (or begotten) of the Spirit.” Nicodemus, indicated that the subject was a very mysterious one, by the words, “How can theses things be” (John 3:8-9)?
The fact of natural generation cannot be questioned, though the process be involved in unfathomable mystery. The fact of spiritual generation is equally sure to all who believe the Word of God. The Bible plainly declares it, and millions who have believed on the Jesus Christ, and followed his teachings, know also by experience the beginnings of a kind of life in their souls.
This new life also begins with a seed planted in a prepared place, and is quickened (made alive) by the Spirit of God, and becomes itself “spirit,”—that is to say a new nature which is spiritual by character; for “that which is born (or begotten) by the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).
The fact of spiritual conception, and the nature of the seed whereby it is effected, are plainly declared in 1 Peter 1:23; “Being born (or having been begotten) again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by THE WORD OF GOD, WHICH LIVETH and abideth for ever.
There is an immense amount of truth of the highest importance contained in the passage above; but the statement which especially concerns us is that the seed of the new birth is from the living Word (the Word which LIVETH). This statement plainly teaches that the Word of God possesses the highest endowment of a living being, namely, that of imparting life. And with this agrees the teaching of the Lord Jesus in the parable of the sower, in the explanation of which He said, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11).
The result of the transgression and fall of Adam, who was the depository of the life of humanity (Genesis 2:7), the life in him, being “corruptible,” became depraved and perverted. Hence, by unalterable law, the seed of his generations also became corrupted.
1. Let ministers “preach the Word.” The faithful exhibition of the truth will lay bare the hearts of those who hear, and sometimes so thoroughly that individuals will conclude that their experiences must have been reported beforehand to the preacher. And without solid spiritual instruction no Church will receive blessing or power.
2. Let all hearers of the gospel “tremble at the Word.” Every human heart should submit with holy awe to its inspection, and allow its teachings to determine belief, mould character, and control conduct.
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By James L. Thornton