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PREFACE I HAVE received urgent requests, especially from evangelists and ministers, to publish another volume of sermons. I am putting forth this volume in response to this request. Quite a number of requests have come for the publication of different sermons preached in The Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, the past winter. Almost all the sermons found in this volume were preached to this congregation in the autumn of 1916 and winter and spring of 1917. The sermons, of course, bear the marks of their having been preached in the midst of the anxieties and perplexities that are in many hearts because of present war conditions in this and other lands. It is the hope and prayer of the writer that they will not only be blessed to those who read them, but also that the material found in them may be used by others in preaching and teaching the truth of God. It has been a great joy to the writer that so many evangelists and preachers have used so generously material found in his previous volumes of sermons. Sometimes such use has not been acknowledged; but it frequently has been acknowledged and, even when not acknowledged, I have reason to think that great good has been accomplished by the truth thus given. Indeed, I have reason to know that some have used the material found in my sermons with an effectiveness far beyond that with which I used it myself, and it has been a great joy to me to have it thus used. As the purpose of the publication of these sermons is the convincing of unbelievers, the salvation of sinners, and the confirmation and guidance of God’s people, it does not matter at all to me whether there is any acknowledgment on the part of those who use the material or not. If good is done, and I know much good is done, I therein greatly rejoice. (Phil. 1:18.) CrossReach Publications
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THE VOICE OF GOD
THE PRESENT HOUR
R. A. Torrey, D. D.
“What the Bible Teaches,” “How to Work for Christ,” “Revival Addresses,” etc., etc.
Fleming H. Revell Company
Copyright, 1917, by FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY
This edition © 2018 CrossReach Publications,
Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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I. NOT A WORD OF CHRIST SHALL EVER FAIL
II. WHEREIN THE BIBLE DIFFERS FROM ALL OTHER BOOKS—Sermon to the graduating class of Bible Institute of Los Angeles, June 25, 1916.
I. In Its Depth
II. In the Absolute Accuracy of its Statements
III. In Its Power
IV. In Its Universal Adaptability
V. In Its History
VI. In Its Authorship
III. IS THE BIBLE IN DANGER?
I. Because the Bible Has Already Survived the Attacks of More than 1800 Years
II.The Bible is not in Danger Because It Meets and Satisfies the Deepest Needs of Man in Every Generation
III. The Bible is not in Danger Because There is Nothing Else to Take the Place of the Bible
IV.The Bible is Not in Danger Because It Has a Hold that Cannot Be Shaken, on the Confidence and Affection of the Wisest and Best Men and Women
V. The Bible is Not in Danger Because It is the Word of God
VI.The Bible is Not in Danger Because Any Honest and Earnest Seeker After Truth Can Find Out for Himself that the Bible is God’s Word
IV. WHY I BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS GOD IN HUMAN FORM
I.I Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in an Altogether Unique Sense, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Son of God in Such a Sense that God the Father Dwelt in Him in All the Fulness of His Attributes and Glory, Because of His Own Claim to be the Son of God and the Way in Which He Substantiated that Claim
Christ’s Claim to be Divine is Substantiated
II.I Believe Jesus Christ to be Divine Because of the Other Teachings of the Bible Beside His Own
III.I Believe that Jesus Christ is Divine, God Manifest in Human Form, Because of the Divine Power He Possesses and Exercises To-day
IV.I Believe that Jesus Christ is Divine, God Manifest in Human Form, Because of the Character of Those Who Accept Him as Divine
V. I Believe Jesus Christ to be Divine Because of the Results of Accepting His Deity
V. JESUS THE WONDERFUL
I. Jesus is Wonderful in His Nature
II. Jesus is Wonderful in His Character
III. Jesus is Wonderful in His Work
VI. THE FOOL’S CREED
I. The Man who Says There is no God is a Fool, Because There is a God
II.The Man Who Says There is No God is a Fool Because Not Only is There a God, But it is Well that There is
VII. NO HOPE
I. Who Have No Hope?
II. In What Sense Have These Three Classes No Hope?
III. The Believer in Christ Has Hope
VIII. WHERE WILL YOU SPEND ETERNITY?
IX. WHICH SHALL WE BELIEVE, GOD OR MAN?
I. God’s Word Better Than Man’s Word
II. Some Points on Which Men Differ From God
X. THE NEW BIRTH AS SET FORTH IN JOHN 3:2–21
I. The Necessity of the New Birth
II. The Nature of the New Birth
III. The Method of the New Birth, or How Men Are Born Again
XI. GOD’S GUIDANCE AND HOW TO GET IT
I. The Possibility and Blessedness of Being Guided by God
II. How To Get Guidance
XII. HOW GOD GUIDES
I. God Guides by His Word
II. God Leads by His Spirit
III. God Guides Us by Enlightening Our Judgment
IV. God May Guide by Visions and Dreams
V. God Does Not Guide by Casting Lots in This Dispensation
VI. God Guides by His Providence
XIII. GOD’S KEEPING AND HOW TO MAKE SURE OF IT
I. Whom God Keeps
II. What God Keeps
III. From What God Keeps
IV. How God Keeps
V. Unto What God Keeps
XIV. THE COMPLETE AND SYMMETRICAL LIFE, AND HOW TO ATTAIN TO IT
I. The Complete and Symmetrical Life Described
II. How to Obtain the Complete and Symmetrical Life
XV. THE SECRET OF BLESSEDNESS IN HEART, BEAUTY IN CHARACTER, FRUITFULNESS IN SERVICE, AND PROSPERITY IN EVERYTHING
I. The Three Things We Must Not Do
II. The Two Things Which We Must Do
III. The Result
XVI. LOVE CONTRASTED, DESCRIBED, EXALTED
I. Love Contrasted or the Absolute Indispensability of Love
II. Love Described or the Everyday Manifestations of Love
III. Love Exalted, or the Peerless Pre-eminence of Love
XVII. A CHRIST-LIKE MAN
I. Stephen’s Character
II. The Outcome of Stephen’s Character
XVIII. WALKING AS JESUS WALKED
I. How Jesus Walked
II. How Can We Walk as Jesus Walked?
XIX. THE SECRET OF ABIDING PEACE, ABOUNDING JOY, AND ABUNDANT VICTORY IN WAR TIMES AND AT ALL TIMES
I. What Is It to Walk With God?
II. The Results of Walking With God
III. How to Enter into a Walk with God
About CrossReach Publications
More R. A. Torrey Titles from CrossReach Publications
I HAVE received urgent requests, especially from evangelists and ministers, to publish another volume of sermons. I am putting forth this volume in response to this request. Quite a number of requests have come for the publication of different sermons preached in The Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, the past winter. Almost all the sermons found in this volume were preached to this congregation in the autumn of 1916 and winter and spring of 1917. The sermons, of course, bear the marks of their having been preached in the midst of the anxieties and perplexities that are in many hearts because of present war conditions in this and other lands. It is the hope and prayer of the writer that they will not only be blessed to those who read them, but also that the material found in them may be used by others in preaching and teaching the truth of God. It has been a great joy to the writer that so many evangelists and preachers have used so generously material found in his previous volumes of sermons. Sometimes such use has not been acknowledged; but it frequently has been acknowledged and, even when not acknowledged, I have reason to think that great good has been accomplished by the truth thus given. Indeed, I have reason to know that some have used the material found in my sermons with an effectiveness far beyond that with which I used it myself, and it has been a great joy to me to have it thus used. As the purpose of the publication of these sermons is the convincing of unbelievers, the salvation of sinners, and the confirmation and guidance of God’s people, it does not matter at all to me whether there is any acknowledgment on the part of those who use the material or not. If good is done, and I know much good is done, I therein greatly rejoice. (Phil. 1:18.)
R. A. Torrey.
Los Angeles, Cal.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.”—Matt. 24:35.
JESUS CHRIST here asserts that His words are more stable and enduring than heaven or earth: that while heaven and earth shall pass away, His word shall not pass away. When we consider the position that Jesus Christ occupied when He made this extraordinary claim, it appears absurd in the extreme. He was an uneducated artisan of an obscure and despised people. Furthermore, it was only a few days before His crucifixion. The man who uttered these words in less than a week was to be the butt of the scorn and ridicule of jeering mobs as He ended His life as a condemned malefactor on a gibbet, only a short walk from where He was now speaking. If these words spoken by such a man, at such a time, prove true, then He must be more than appears at first sight. Indeed, He must be as He claimed to be, Divine. Heaven and earth are God’s own handiwork, and if Christ’s words prove more stable than they, then He Himself must be Divine.
I. Christ’s Words are Sure
But these remarkable words of Christ after the lapse of more than eighteen centuries are proven to be true. This stupendous claim of Christ that not a word of His shall ever fail has been substantiated. That the words of Jesus Christ shall never pass away is proven by the tests that they have already stood.
1. First of all, the words of Jesus have stood the test of bitterest opposition. No sooner had Christ’s words fallen from His lips than they were hated. They have been hated through the nearly nineteen centuries that have elapsed since they were spoken. This hatred has been most bitter, most relentless, most energetic, most skilful, most wily, most powerful, but it has been utterly ineffective. This hatred manifested itself in literary attacks upon the words of Christ, like that of Lucian the great master of satire in his day, in philosophical attacks like that of the great philosopher Porphyry, in learned attacks like that of the scholar Celsus, in physical attacks like that of the great Roman Emperor Diocletian, in which he summoned all the political and military forces of the empire with torch, and stake, and prison, and wild beast to obliterate from the pages of history the memory of Jesus Christ and His words. From those early days to this, this opposition has gone on, more than eighteen centuries of it. All the artillery of science, literature, philosophy, political intrigue, sarcasm, ridicule, worldly ambition, force, all the artillery of earth and hell, have been trained upon the words of Christ, and for centuries at a time an almost incessant cannonade has been kept up. Sometimes weak hearts have been shaken by the roar of battle, but the words of Christ have remained absolutely unshaken. There has not been one single stone dislodged from these fortifications. Words that can come out of eighteen centuries of such experience as that unscathed, unscarred, unmarred, will stand forever. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of Christ shall not pass away.
2. In the next place, Christ’s words have not only stood the test of bitter opposition, but they have also stood the test of time. The test of time is a severe test of men’s utterances. What seemed like wisdom when uttered a few years ago is seen to-day to be consummate folly. Ptolemy was by far the greatest astronomer of antiquity, and his utterances were considered the sum of all wisdom, but they have not stood the test of time, and his theories are to-day the laughing-stock of the schoolroom. What is true of the words of Ptolemy is true of all other books of the past but one; they are outgrown, but the utterances of Jesus Christ are not outgrown, they are as precious to-day as in that long-ago time when they were first spoken. They are as perfectly applicable to present-day needs as to the needs of that day. They contain the solution of all modern individual and social problems; they have perpetual youth. There is not one single point at which the teachings of Jesus Christ have been outgrown or become antiquated. The human mind has been expanding for more than eighteen centuries since Jesus Christ spoke here on earth, but it has not outgrown Him. Words that can endure eighteen centuries of growth and still prove as thoroughly adequate to meet the needs of the race and each member of it as when first given will stand forever. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of Jesus Christ shall not pass away.
Let me say in passing that in the light of history it is nothing short of preposterous, and even ludicrous, to hear men put forward the claims of the newly hatched philosophies of a day against the utterances of Jesus Christ that have stood the test of more than eighteen centuries, especially in view of the well-known fact that just such philosophies, full of self-confidence, have appeared by the thousands in the past, and after a brief day of notoriety have flashed out again into the darkness from which they had so recently emerged. The history of eighteen centuries of human thought is largely a history of men who counted themselves wiser than Christ, but whom it took only a few years to prove utter fools.
3. The words of Christ have stood a third test, the test of rigid scrutiny. No other words have ever been so examined, scrutinized, analyzed, pulled to pieces, subjected to the most minute, microscopic and unsparing examination, as have the words of Christ. They have undergone eighteen centuries of scrutiny, and what is the result?
a. The first result is, not one single flaw has been discovered. What would not men give to find one real flaw in the words of Jesus? What would not Ingersoll have given in his day? What would not some of our liberal teachers who would like to set themselves up by putting Jesus Christ down, give? What would not some of our professedly orthodox preachers, who care far more for a petty reputation for originality and advanced scholarship than they do for the untarnished splendour of the Son of God, give? They have searched for a flaw—generation after generation of the enemies of Christ. One generation failing to find such a flaw has bequeathed the search to another, and this search has gone on for more than eighteen centuries with the best microscopes that could be devised, and the search has failed, utterly failed. The words of Jesus stand out absolutely flawless. The words that have stood eighteen centuries of such scrutiny will stand forever. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the words of Jesus Christ shall not pass away.
b. But there is a second result of this scrutiny: the words of Christ have not only proven themselves flawless, but inexhaustible. These eighteen centuries have not only been centuries of scrutiny, they have also been centuries of profound, earnest, and honest study as well. Men have dug and dug for eighteen centuries into this mine of precious metal that they have found in the words of Christ. Thousands and tens of thousands have dug and the mine has proven absolutely inexhaustible. There is more for the new miner that comes to-day than there was for the first digger. Eighteen centuries of digging and discovery and no hint of touching the bottom of the mine. The bottom is farther off than ever. The mine that has endured eighteen centuries of such digging and not given out never will give out. With the confidence born of eighteen centuries of experience, we can shout, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of Jesus shall not pass away.”
4. The words of Jesus Christ have stood another test, the test of history, measuring the accuracy of His prophecies. Jesus Christ was a prophet. He undertook to tell the things that were to be. History is the touchstone of prophecy. The prophet who is not of God falls before the test of history, but Jesus Christ stands. Jesus Christ, while Jerusalem and the temple were still standing in their pride, magnificence and seeming security, foretold that the armies of Rome would come and besiege the city, that there would be a siege of such horror as was absolutely unparalleled in history; that not one stone should be left upon another, and that for long periods of time to come Jerusalem would be trodden under foot of the Gentiles. So it has come to pass to the letter, and so it is being fulfilled even to our day. Jesus foretold that the Jew, though crushed, scattered throughout the earth, subjected to unparalleled tyranny, would preserve his race identity until the Christ should come again. Centuries have rolled on, nations have arisen, fallen, been obliterated and forgotten, the Jew has not had a foothold anywhere for centuries, yet the Jew retains his race identity to this day as perfectly as he possessed it in the first century. It is the miracle of history, and the words of Christ stand. Jesus Christ predicted furthermore that the little church He was founding of obscure men in that obscure corner of the earth would spread throughout the earth until the nations of the earth took shelter under the branches thereof. The prediction seemed utterly wild and preposterous, but it has come true. The words of Christ have stood the test of history. He predicted furthermore that His church having spread thus outwardly, corruption would begin inwardly and that this corruption would spread “until all was leavened.” It was a passing strange prediction to make about one’s own kingdom, but it has been fulfilled to the letter. The apparently preposterous and impossible words of Christ have stood the test of more than eighteen centuries of history. The words of prophecy that can stand the rigid test of eighteen centuries of history will stand forever. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but Christ’s words shall not pass away.
5. The words of Christ have stood the test of more than eighteen centuries of practical application. Through these more than eighteen centuries men and women have had these words of Christ before them to live by if they would, and thousands and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, have decided that they would. Men and women have tested the words of Christ, His promises, His moral precepts, His commandments, His warnings, in all the relations of life. They have tested His promises and His precepts in the home, they have tested them in the church life, in the place of business; they have tested them in prosperity and in adversity; they have tested them in sickness and in health; they have tested them in the joys of peace, and in the horrors of war; they have tested them in life, and when face to face with death; they have tested them in the sweet fullness of the unbroken family circle, and in the desolation when every earthly friend has been taken away. For eighteen centuries men have tested these words of Christ from the cradle to the grave, and the words of Christ have stood the test. They never fail, they never will fail. In all, these words of Christ have stood millions upon millions of tests and not one single case of failure. What may we say then without the shadow of the shade of a doubt? Not one word of Christ shall ever fail. Heaven and earth shall pass away but the words of Jesus Christ shall not pass away.
If there is anything absolutely sure it is the words of Jesus Christ. Heaven and earth may pass away, they are material and subject to the changes and decay that are always going on in matter. They have stood for ages, but they will not always stand. There was a time, as both the Bible and science tell us, when the heavens and earth did not exist, and there will be a time when they do not continue to exist in their present form; but Christ’s words are spiritual not material, unchanging not changing, eternal not temporal, and while the endless ages of eternity roll on they will still endure. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of Jesus Christ shall not pass away.
II. Some Other Things that are Sure Also
We see that Christ’s words are absolutely sure. Not one word of His shall ever fail. But, if Jesus Christ’s words are sure, some other things are sure also.
1. It is sure that there is a future eternal heaven and eternal hell. This, Jesus Christ plainly declares. The doctrines of an eternal heaven and an eternal hell are not speculations of the theologians, but proclamations of the Son of God. Jesus says that at His coming again all nations then living on the earth shall be gathered before Him and He shall separate them one from the other as a shepherd separateth his sheep from the goats, and that He shall set the sheep on His right hand and the goats to the left, and of those on the left hand He says, “These shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:31–34, 41, 46.) Remember that these are not the words of some “antiquated, mediæval, bigoted theologian,” they are the words of the Son of God, the words of Him not one word of whom shall ever fail.
2. It is sure again that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ shall receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, no matter how greatly nor how long he may have sinned. Jesus says that He “has power on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10). He says again, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14, 15). These words seem incredible. They seem too good to be true, but Jesus Christ is the speaker and not one word of His shall ever fail. The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but His words shall not pass away. This statement that there is pardon and eternal life for anyone who will believe in Jesus Christ is absolutely sure. Is there anyone here to-night who is heartily sick of sin, and heartily tired of death? Come, believe on Jesus Christ and be saved and get pardon and eternal life to-night.
3. It is sure again that no one who rejects Jesus Christ shall see life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him. Men do not like that doctrine. They like to think they can reject Jesus Christ and yet be saved by their imagined morality, or in some other way. There is absolutely no foundation for such a hope. It is not the doctrine of “fierce old John Calvin” nor of “bigoted Jonathan Edwards,” it is the declaration of Jesus Christ, who says in John 3:18, 19, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned. But he that believeth not, is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” He says again in the 14th and 15th verses of the same chapter, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness: even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” the unmistakable implication of which is that the one who does not believe shall perish, no matter what else he may do, and John sums up the teaching of the Lord Jesus on this point by saying, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him.” Before you dare question the statement to your own eternal ruin, remember who makes it, the One not one of whose words shall ever fail.
4. There is another thing that is absolutely sure, it is sure that if a man is not born again he shall not enter into the kingdom of God. This is the word of Jesus Christ who says in John 3:3, 5, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And again, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” It becomes a matter of tremendous importance to each one of us that we know whether we have been born again. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but Christ’s words shall not pass away, and Jesus Christ says that no one who has not been born again shall enter His Kingdom. Oh man, oh woman, have you been born again?
5. Still another thing is sure: it is sure if one seeks to be a Christian without letting the world know it, seeks to be a Christian in the privacy of his own heart, it is sure that Jesus Christ will not acknowledge such a disciple when He comes. His words on this point are very plain. He says in Mark 8:38, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels.” And again He says in Matt. 10:32, 33, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Your own deceitful heart may seek to make you think that you can be a Christian and not tell it. False friends may try to persuade you of the same thing, but He, not one word of whose shall ever fail, says, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His father with the holy angels.” Your opinion will pass away; your friends’ false arguments shall pass away, heaven and earth shall pass away, but Christ’s words shall not pass away.
“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the straw to the wheat? saith the LORD.”—Jer. 23:28 R.V.
THE Bible stands absolutely alone. It is an entirely unique book. All other messages compared with the message of the Bible are as chaff as compared with wheat. The attempt to compare the Bible with other books as if it were one of a class, possibly the best of the class, arises either from ignorance or thoughtlessness, or else from the fixed determination to do the Bible an injustice. We shall see this morning that there is none like it. The Bible is not a book, it is the Book. It is an often repeated incident that Sir Walter Scott, when he was dying asked his son-in-law Lockhart to read to him, and that Lockhart asked, “What book shall I read?” to which Sir Walter Scott replied, “There is but one book.” Beyond a question Sir Walter Scott was right. But some one may challenge that statement that the Bible stands absolutely alone as an entirely unique book. Anyone has a perfect right to challenge the statement and demand wherein the Bible differs from all other books, and this morning I propose to take up the challenge and answer the question.
First of all the Bible differs from all other books in its depth. The Bible is unfathomable and inexhaustible. It is unfathomable not because of the obscurity of its style, but because of the profundity of its teaching. No other book is more simple in its style than the Bible. Its style is so simple and clear that a child can understand it, but its truth is so profound that we explore the Book from childhood to old age and can never say we have reached the bottom. However deep we may go there are always deeper depths beneath. For eighteen centuries many of the greatest minds the world has ever known have been sounding its depths, but the bottom is not yet reached. Men of the greatest possible intellectual reach and power have devoted a lifetime to the study of this book, but what man has ever dared to say or dreamed of saying, “I know now all that the Bible contains.” If any man should say that he would be unanimously voted a sublime egotist or an egregious simpleton. Whole generations of scholars have devoted their lives to the study of this book, each generation having the advantage of the labours and researches and discoveries of preceding generations, but can even the latest generation say, “we have discovered it all now, there is nothing left in the Bible for the next generation to discover”? The whole human race has been unable not only to exhaust, but even to fathom this book. Well may we exclaim with the Psalmist, “Thy judgments are a great deep” (Ps. 36:6). The judgments of God, God’s thoughts as revealed in this book, are beyond any man and beyond any generation of men. They are beyond the whole race. This Book, like God’s other book, the book of nature, and unlike any book of man, is unfathomable and inexhaustible by men. This fact, if it stood alone would be sufficient proof of its Divine origin.
1. There are whole volumes of meaning in a single and apparently simple verse. A single verse of Scripture has often formed the basis upon which a literature of many volumes, both of prose and poetry, has been erected. This is true, for example, of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It is true of 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” It is true of Ps. 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” What single utterance of any other book could be the foundation of so much thought and expression as these utterances of the Bible. Who but God could pack so many volumes into one little verse, or part of a verse?
2. The Bible is always ahead of man. The world is certainly making progress in its thinking. It is constantly leaving behind the scientists, philosophers, and sages of the past. But the world never leaves the Bible behind. It has never caught up with it. Show me a man who says he has outgrown the Bible and I will show you a man every time who is ignorant of the Bible and is talking of what he knows nothing about. Whence comes this Book which is always ahead of the age?
What other book ought to command the attention, the time, and the study that this book does, which is deeper than all other books, ahead of all other books, and ahead of every age. You study to-day the latest things in science and it will be out of date in less than ten years, but the Bible is never out of date. It is not only up to date, but ahead of date. If you wish to be not only abreast of the times, but ahead of the times, study the Bible. Jesus was ahead of His times because He studied so much of the Bible as then existed. Paul was ahead of his times for the same reason. Huss, and Wycliff, and Luther, and John Knox, and Wesley, and Finney, and Moody were ahead of their times simply because they sought their wisdom from this book.
The Bible differs from other books in the second place in the absolute accuracy of its statements. The Bible is the only book that always says all that it means to say and never says anything more than it means to say. The more rigidly one examines the Bible and the more closely he studies it, the more will he be filled with admiration for the accuracy with which it expresses the truth. It never overstates, it never understates the truth. There is not one word too many and not one word too few. It is the model witness: it tells “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” A very large part of man’s difficulties with the Bible comes from not noting exactly what it says. Time and time again men have come to me and said, “I cannot believe this which the Bible says,” and then have quoted something which they supposed the Bible said. But I have replied, “the Bible does not say that,” and when we have looked it up, lo, it is some minute modification of what the Bible really says that has given rise to the difficulty. The Bible is always so absolutely exact, that I have found the best solution for very many apparent difficulties in the Bible to be to take the difficult verses precisely as they read.
In the third place the Bible differs from all other books in its power. There is perhaps no other place where the supremacy and solitariness of the Bible shines out as in its power. Col. Ingersoll once said in Chicago that the money expended in teaching the supernatural religion of the Bible was wasted, and advised the ministers to “take for a series of sermons the history of the philosophy, of the art, and the genius of the Greeks. Let him tell,” he continued, “of the wondrous metaphysics, myths, and religions of India and Egypt. Let him make his congregation conversant with the philosophies of the world, with the great thinkers, the great poets, the great artists, the great inventors, the captains of industry, and the soldiers of progress.” This suggested scheme of Col. Ingersoll’s was no new scheme, it has been tried over and over again, and I challenge any man who has eyes and is honest to say that the pulpits that have tried it have the power to elevate, save and gladden, that the pulpits have that preach the supernatural religion of the old Bible. The man who thus talks is either talking about something of which he has made no thorough and candid study, or else he is deliberately shutting his eyes to very evident facts. In either case he is playing the hypocrite in posing as a teacher.
In what directions does the Bible show a power that no other book or books possess?
1. First of all, in its saving power. Does it need any proof that the Bible has a saving power that no other book possesses, and that all other books together do not possess?
a. The Bible has a unique saving power in individual lives. What book or books can match the Bible’s record of men and women saved from sin and vice in all their forms, saved from drunkenness, drugs, lust, greed, ruffianism, barbarism, meanness, selfishness, by the power of this Book? Worthless sots transformed into honest citizens and fathers; degraded prostitutes transformed into holy women of God; savages who drank blood from human skulls transformed into noble lovers of friends and foes; murderers transformed into ministering angels. Single verses of this book have more saving power than all other books put together. John 3:16 has saved more men from sin to holiness, from degradation to honour, from bondage to the Devil to sonship of God, than all books outside of the Bible. Try and account for it as you may, the fact stands and does not admit of a moment’s honest denial or question.
b. But the saving power of the Bible is not limited to the lives of individuals. It has saving power in national life. Try to obscure the fact as you may, all that is best in America, Germany, and England is due to this Book, and in our own day nations have been lifted out of savagery into Christian civilization by this book. If this Book had been heeded the awful cataclysm of war that is devastating Germany, France and England to-day would have been avoided. The undermining of faith in this Book is the real cause of the present murderous war with all its unspeakable and immeasurable calamities, atrocities and horrors.
2. But the Bible has not only a saving power that no other book possesses, it has also a comforting power that no other book possesses. What book like this can stay the human heart in sickness and adversity, and comfort it in the bereavement that takes from us the light of our eyes and the joy of our homes. There is no heart wound for which the Bible has not a balsam. I hold in my hand a New Testament that is very precious to me because it was the gift of my mother to my grandmother, my father’s mother, which was the stay of her life in her closing years. On the title-page of his Bible is written in my mother’s hand, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” This is true, but thank God something better is true, and that is, earth has no sorrows that the Bible cannot heal even in the life that now is.
3. Furthermore, the Bible has a joy-giving power no other book possesses. There is no other joy so great, so exceeding, so overflowing, and so enduring as those know who study and discover the truth contained in this Book. This is a fact that any of you can discover by observation, and better yet, that all of you can know if you will by blessed experience. There are many who have sought joy wherever it was to be found, in pleasure, in study, and in sin, and have at last found a joy in the Bible they found nowhere else. There is a countless multitude who have been lifted out of awful depths of despair into lofty heights of unutterable joy by the truths this Book contains, and the speaker of this morning is one of them.
4. The Bible has a wisdom-giving power that no other book possesses. “The entrance of thy words giveth light.” (Ps. 119:130.) I have known people of very meagre educational advantages but who have studied the Bible, who have more wisdom in the things of greatest practical and eternal import than many very learned men who have neglected this Book of matchless wisdom.
5. The Bible has a courage-giving power no other book possesses. No other book has made so many and such peerless heroes, it has made them too out of most unpromising stuff. It has transformed beardless boys and tender maidens into heroes.
6. The Bible has a power to inspire activity that no other book possesses. It makes lazy men industrious; half alive men fully alive. There are said to be but two things of which a professional tramp is afraid, water and work, but I have seen the very tramp from whom I got this information transformed into a man of untiring industry by the matchless teaching of this Book.
The Bible differs from all other books in its universal adaptability. Other books fit certain classes or certain types, or certain races of men, but the Bible fits men universally.
1. It fits all nations. No nation has ever been discovered that the Bible does not fit. Charles Darwin, the greatest naturalist of his day, thought he had discovered in the Terra del Fuegans a people the Bible would not fit, and frankly stated that missionary work among them would be in vain. His exact words written after his visit to Patagonia were, “Nothing can be done by mission work; all the pains bestowed upon the natives will be thrown away, they never can be civilized.” But more humble believers in the universal adaptation of the Bible and the gospel it contains thought differently, and proved their faith and so thoroughly convinced Charles Darwin by facts of his mistake, that he became a regular subscriber to the funds of the society they represented.
2. The Bible not only fits all nations, but it fits all ages. It is the child’s book, the young man’s book, the book of the middle-aged, and the book of the old.
3. The Bible fits all classes. It fits the poor and it fits the rich. It fits the palace and it fits the garret. It fits the learned and it fits the ignorant. It fits the nobleman and it fits the peasant. It fits Gladstone, and James D. Dana, and Romanes, and Neander, and it fits the man so illiterate that he can scarce spell out its words.
4. The Bible fits all experiences. It is the book for the hour of gladness, and the book for the hour of sadness; the book for the day of victory, and the book for the day of defeat; the book for the day in which we have achieved the greatest moral triumph, and for the day when we have fallen deepest into sin; the book for the day of clearest faith, and the book for the day of darkest doubt; the book for the wedding day and the book for the day of funerals. There is not an experience in life wherein the Bible does not have the message which we most need. To that fact there are tens of thousands of people of all classes in many nations ready to testify. The testimony is from such a host of witnesses and such competent witnesses that the only one who can doubt it is the man who is bound he won’t believe.
The Bible differs from every other book in its history.
1. The Bible has been hated as no other book. No book has ever aroused the animosity of men of all classes as the Bible has. The Bible has been hated by rich men and it has been hated by poor men. It has been hated by the scholar and it has been hated by the fool. It has been hated by common people and it has been hated by rulers, governors, and kings. No other book has so aroused the bitterest antagonism. Men of seeming moderation and kindness of heart have been aroused to such a pitch of hatred by the Bible that they became murderers and torturers of men, women, and children; for example, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Even in our own day kind fathers and tender husbands have been moved by hatred of this Book to brutal treatment of children and of wives who have been led to accept the truth it contains.
2. It has been loved as no other book. If it has been intensely hated it has still more been intensely loved, loved by all classes, loved by the rich and loved by the poor; loved by the illiterate and loved by the greatest scholars the world has ever known; loved by men digging in the ditch, and loved by men ruling on a throne. Men, women and tender children have gladly laid down their lives for this Book.
3. It has been victorious as no other book. Though the Bible has been so bitterly hated and so vigorously assaulted, it has come off a complete victor. Centuries of assault have served only to prove its indestructibility and confirm its power. Celsus, Porphyry, Lucian, Diocletian, Voltaire, Volney, Hume, Tom Paine, Wellhausen, Graf, Kühnen, Cheyne, and an innumerable host have trained their mighty guns against this Book. They have brought to bear against it all the powers of science, philosophy, literary criticism, ridicule, force, political and military power, and every other form of power that they possessed, and all their assaults have come to nothing. The Bible has come off a complete victor in every conflict. Anyone who will take the pains to consult history will have no doubts as to the outcome of the present attacks upon the Bible. Individuals of the past have talked just as boastingly of what they would do with the Bible in a few years as do the individuals of to-day, and with far more show of reason. But their confident boasts proved empty and futile and as we recall them now in the light of the established facts of subsequent history they only move us to a pitying smile. Voltaire is dead and forgotten, but the Bible is still alive and marching on. Attacks on the Bible may do injury to a few weak individuals, principally callow young men and romantic young maidens in high schools, colleges and universities, who allow themselves to be thus robbed of the saving, comforting, joy-giving, ennobling power there is in the Bible, but they do not hurt the cause of truth, for they but prove anew the Divine indestructibility of the imperishable Book of God.
Finally, the Book differs from every other book in its authorship. Other books are men’s books. This is God’s Book. Much that has already been said proves this. Its inexhaustible depth proves it. Only an infinitely wise God can be the author of an inexhaustible book. Its absolute accuracy proves it. Men understate or overstate: God alone always states things just as they are. Its Divine power proves it. Only a book that comes down from God can lift men up to God as this Book does. Its universal adaptability proves it. Only the Creator of all men can make a book that is fitted to all men and every need of these men. Its history proves it. Only God can make a book so indestructible against assault, against human reasoning, and human philosophy as this. An omnipotent book must have an omnipotent author. There are many other facts about this Book that prove its Divine authorship, but these are enough. There is evidently a certain Infinite character about this Book that points unmistakably to the Infinite character of its author. What this Book says God says, and whoever speaks according to this Book speaks the message of God and God speaks through him. He is God’s mouthpiece.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”—Matt. 24:35.
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