1. Quick and Powerful
A father once gave his boy a jigsaw-puzzle map of the world. He was surprised at how quickly the boy assembled it. "How did you do it so fast?" asked the father. The boy explained, "There is a picture of a man on the back, and I just put together the man and turned it over."
There is a picture of the Man Jesus Christ throughout the Bible, and He is the eternal Son of God. Jesus said, "Search the scriptures" for they "testify of me" (John 5:39), and Jesus, of course, was referring to the Old Testament.
All the way through the Old Testament we find that the events, persons, places, and sacrifices, are types or foreshadowings of Christ. The Messianic cord can easily be traced from Eve to Mary. He is the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15. Later we see that He must come as the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). A little later we learn that Messiah must come through the line of Isaac, not Ishmael (Gen. 17:18,19). Then He must come through Jacob not Esau (Gen. 26:1-4). Jacob had twelve sons, who founded the twelve tribes of Israel. Messiah must come through Judah, one of the twelve (Gen. 49:10). Of the thousands of families in the tribe of Judah, one was selected, that of King David, and Messiah must come through that family (2 Sam. 7:16). Messiah had to be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), in a certain city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and He must come at a set time (Daniel 9:25).
We can know Christ personally as He is revealed in the New Testament. From these pages we hear His voice of authority. We see Him lifted up on Calvary's Cross. We behold Him risen from the dead. We look up and see Him today as our High Priest at the right hand of the Father. How precious indeed is the living Word of God to the heart of a believer.
Charles Spurgeon tells of his grandfather who was visited one day by a neighbour. The elderly Spurgeon was reading his Bible and after he had welcomed his guest, he dropped into his big chair and picked up his Bible again to read. So engrossed was he in the Word that he seemed to have forgotten that his neighbour had come. The neighbour sat and looked upon the old man's face, and saw his lips frequently move and pronounce the word, "Wonderful!"
"Oh, wonderful, wonderful Word of the Lord!
True wisdom its pages unfold.
And though we may read them a thousand times o'er,
They never, no never grow old!
Each line is a treasure; each promise a pearl,
That all, if they will, may secure.
And though time and earth pass away,
God's Word shall forever endure."
Will you turn with me to Hebrews 4:12-13: "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. 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."
Paul says here by inspiration that, "the word of God is quick." The word "quick" comes from a Greek word "zao" meaning "life". Zao is the word from which we get our word "zoology" which is the study of living things. This verse claims that the Word of God is living. It is life itself. It imparts life. It maintains life. The Word of God is alive in itself and cannot be destroyed.
Think of the many efforts that have been made throughout history to destroy the Word of God! I am reminded of a self-important college student who said to his eldest brother, "What would you think if I told you that in ten minutes I could produce arguments that would utterly annihilate the Bible?" The brother replied, "About the same thing I would think if a gnat crawled up the side of Mount Everest and said, 'Watch me pulverize this thing with my left hind foot!'"
In our own time we have seen many who have tried to destroy the Bible—the communists, the atheists, the humanists, and the liberals. It is ridiculed and torn apart in our universities, and now we have the new versions which also are arrayed against the true Word of God. But the Bible lives on because it is life itself.
Yes, and the Bible is "powerful." The Greek word here is energy. It is active, alive, dynamic, and has eternal energy. Paul says: "the word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:9). It goes anywhere. It has the energy to get the Devil out of people. It has the energy to convict others of sin and draw them by the Holy Spirit unto the Saviour.
Again, the word of God is "sharp." The word sharp here means to cut. It is the word from which we get the word atom for the Greeks thought the atom was the smallest uncut thing in the world.
The Bible can cut like a "twoedged sword." This word is found only one other place in the New Testament. "Out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword" (Rev. 1:16). The Word of God is able to cut both ways. It cuts in pieces that which should be cut in pieces. It brings to life what ought to be brought to life.
Perhaps some of you remember the humorous poem with the continual refrain, "And the barber kept on shaving." This poem describes the visit of a young fellow to a barber's shop in which there were evidently some stuffed birds, among them an owl. The youth, priding himself in his knowledge of ornithology, began a tirade on the work of the taxidermist who had stuffed the owl, pointing out the faults in its wings, legs, and the angle of its head. He continued for a minute or two in this strain, until the owl surprised its critic by turning its head and winking, making him feel more of an owl than he had perhaps felt before. It was a live owl! How like that critic are Bible critics today. Like him, they mistakenly reckon that which is living as on a par with the dead all around it, imagining it to be merely man's handiwork when it is God's all the time.
"Piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." The sword piercing means to pass through and through. It is like a dagger as it goes through the whole human body, dividing asunder soul and spirit and joints and marrow.
It is for lack of the Word of God that the lives of people are being destroyed by sin. Take gambling, for example. Gambling has always been a problem for some people, but now with the widespread establishment of lotteries, it is not only on the increase, it is out of hand! The lives of more and more people are being ruined as they spend their hard earned wages on these crafty schemes, and families are deprived of life's necessities. Yet—even while losing—they go back again and again as they grasp at the possibility of getting some easy money. Then there is the sin of booze and people keep on drinking and drinking until their home life is destroyed, their health is broken, and they find themselves without friends, money or reputation. The sin of immorality is everywhere today with divorces, common law marriages, and illicit sex which so often leads to the murderous act of abortion. Drugs are out of control as young and old alike are taken captive by them. What was once wrong, now is right. Then there is the sin of stealing. This occurs on every hand from the petty theft to the executive who must satisfy his sinful life by wrong doing.
If you should ask these people why they are going on and on and on in their sinful life, they will say, "Something within me compels me." That is true for the Devil energizes them to serve him. But the Word of God when preached in all its power is able to pierce the conscience and bring to repentance. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
Finally, the Word of God DIVIDES. All we hear about today are "union" movements. "Let's all get together for everybody's there." We have Week of Prayer meetings, ecumenical meetings, charismatic meetings, great crusade meetings—all are included. Everybody is a Christian who worships and attends these meetings. But the living Word of God teaches that Christians are not to unite where there is no Biblical foundation.
God's living Word says in 1 John 4:1: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
God's living Word says in Romans 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
God's living Word says in Ephesians 5:11: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
God's living Word says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
2. The Books and the Book
Paul's second epistle to Timothy was written from prison just before he was beheaded for Jesus' sake. It is written to his son in the faith, Timothy, who was now pastor of the church at Ephesus. The purpose of the Epistle is to inform young Timothy of the dangers threatening Paul and to fortify his courage. He encourages Timothy to come to see him and in Chapter 4:13 Paul writes: "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments."
The books that Paul requested were probably the commentaries and discussions of the rabbi teachers. Solomon writes about books in Ecclesiastes 12:12: "Of making of many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." Today thousands and thousands of books are being printed and sold in so-called Christian Bookstores. Most of them deal with psychology, philosophy, the charismatic and ecumenical movements of the day, and new-evangelicalism.
Books are a real blessing when they teach the Bible in truth. There are books on missionaries and Christian leaders who have served God faithfully down through the years. It is important to have Bible study books to use along with the Word of God in order to obtain helps and encouragement. Paul, however, especially wanted the parchments. These were the manuscripts of the Bible. There is no book like the Bible.
A young man, an architect of great promise, was brought to the knowledge of God and possession of eternal life in Christ through the words of this wonderful Book. He began to study the Bible as he had never done before. He likened it to a magnificent temple, the Temple of Truth, ancient and impregnable. Its basement, he noted, consisted of 39 blocks of granite, while its upper story consisted of 27 blocks of smooth, polished alabaster. Entering, he found himself in the portico—the Book of Genesis—through which he proceeded into the art gallery—the historical books—where he saw magnificent portraits of Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Solomon, and many other leaders of God's people. Thence it was but a step to the music room, where his Guide, the Holy Spirit, produced some of the most delightful music he had ever heard (the Psalms). After the music room, came the business office—Proverbs—where he learnt that "a false weight is an abomination unto the Lord;" and went on further into the delectable conservatory—Song of Solomon—where he feasted his eyes on the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys. The observatory, with its array of telescopes, came next. Some stars seemed near, others distant, but each revealed one star of outstanding brilliance, the star of Bethlehem (the Prophets).
In the second portion of the Temple he was ushered into the audience chamber—the Gospels—where he listened to the most wonderful messages he had ever heard, from the lips of the most wonderful of men. The speaker sometimes addressed His audience with kingly dignity, sometimes with the lowly words of a servant, sometimes with the sympathy of a fellow-man who fully understood man's trials and sorrows, and sometimes with the authority and majesty of the glorious Son of God.
In the next chamber his Guide was busy as the Executive of the Godhead (Acts). Next he got a glimpse into the correspondence room and read with interest and understanding the messages of Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude in their letters. But the most magnificent room of all was the throne room—the Book of Revelation—where he beheld in the midst of the throne a Lamb as it had been slain, the object of adoration of a mighty host of worshippers and servants.
Proceeding again to the outside, he noticed that the wonderful Temple of Truth which he had just visited was the object of many attacks organized and sustained by the hosts of Hell. The fires of intolerance had been kindled against it, yet it stood. A great army assailed it with the pickaxes of human speculation but could make no impression on it whatever. The gunpowder of evolution, though again and again applied, was powerless to move or harm even a single stone. Another army of assailants rushed up against its walls the battering-rams of rationalism and free-thought, and they were reinforced by the treacherous hammer-blows of Higher Criticism: yet in spite of all, the citadel stood firm and impregnable. Many of its adversaries fell, worn out by their efforts; others stepped into their places and they, too, in turn expired beside the Temple; but still it stood throughout the ages, the marvel of the universe. "The Word of the Lord endureth for ever."
"Last eve I passed beside the blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking down, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with use in former time.
"'How many anvils have you used?' said I,
'To wear and batter all these hammers so?'
'Just one!' said he, and then, with twinkling eye,
'The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.'
"Just so! I thought, the anvil of God's Word
For ages sceptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone!"
The Bible Is Unique Among All the Books of the World
First, its authority comes from God Himself. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 we read: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, 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."
Secondly, the Bible is infallible. Jesus said in John 10:35: "The Scripture cannot be broken." There are no mistakes in the Bible. All it says, in the sense in which it says it, is absolutely true.
Thirdly, the Bible is verbally inspired. It is the authoritative revelation to us from God in which God's thoughts are conveyed to us with infallible accuracy. The words we read are God's Words. When C. H. Spurgeon separated from the modernistic Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, and a little time before he went to Heaven, he and six other like-minded brethren, drew up a statement on the Scriptures. Here is what they said and this is what we believe today:
"We the undersigned, banded together in fraternal union, observing with growing pain and sorrow the loosening hold of many upon the truths of Revelation, are constrained to avow our firmest belief in the verbal inspiration of all Holy Scripture as originally given. To us, the Bible does not merely contain the Word of God, but it is the Word of God. From beginning to end, we accept it, believe it, and continue to preach it. To us, the Old Testament is no less inspired than the New, the Book is an organic whole. Reverence for the New Testament accompanied by scepticism as to the Old appears to us absurd. The two must stand or fall together. We accept Christ's own verdict concerning 'Moses and all the prophets' in preference to any of the supposed discoveries of so called higher criticism."
Fourthly, the Bible is indestructible. Men for centuries have tried to do away with the Bible and have failed. Today we have the Communists who have shown great determination to destroy the Bible, but they have failed. Liberal and new-evangelical Colleges and Seminaries, like Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 36:22,23, have sought to cut out its pages.
Dr. R. A. Torrey said this:
"Man's hatred of the Bible has been of a most persistent, determined, relentless and bitter character. It has led to eighteen centuries of repeated attempts to undermine faith in the Bible, and to consign the Bible itself to oblivion. These attempts have utterly failed. Celsus tried it with the brilliancy of his genius, and he failed. Porphyry tried it with the depth of subtlety of his philosophy, and he failed. Lucien tried it with the keenness of his satire, and he failed. Then other weapons were used. Diocletian, the mightiest ruler of the mightiest empire of the world brought to bear against the Bible all the power of Rome. He issued edicts that every Bible should be burned, but that failed. Then he issued an edict that all who possessed a Bible should be put to death. But even that failed.
"So for centuries the assault upon the Bible was continued. Every engine of destruction that human philosophy, human science, human reason, human art, human cunning, human force, and human brutality could bring to bear against a book has been brought to bear against this Book, and yet the Bible stands absolutely unshaken today. At times almost all the wise and great of the earth have been pitted against the Bible, and only an obscure few for it. Yet it has stood. At times men have fancied the Bible had gone down, but when the smoke has cleared away from the field of battle, there it stood—not one stone shaken, and the fierceness of the assault only serving to illustrate again the impregnability of the citadel."
Will the Old Book Stand
Will the Old Book stand, when the "higher critics" state
That grave errors are discovered on its page?
Will it save the sinful soul? Will it make the wounded whole?
Will its glorious truth abide from age to age?
Will its message still abide, when the scientists decide
That its record of Creation is untrue?
Tell us the ascent of man is by evolution's plan;
Will its principles the sinful heart renew?
When in language wondrous fair, "Christian Scientists" declare
That there is no evil, only mortal mind.
When mental treatment fails, and seeming death prevails,
May we in the Bible consolation find?
When infidels parade the mistakes which Moses made,
When the truth of Revelation they deny,
Will the Ten Commandments still the demands of justice fill?
Will its word support us when we come to die?
Yes, the Word of God shall stand, though assailed on every hand,
Its foundations are eternally secure;
It will bear the critic's test, and the idle scoffer's jest,
Its saving truth forever shall endure.
3. The Bible Is Unique
There are many people today who ignore the Word of God. Some do so because they have no Christian background. Others do so because of the wicked teaching of humanism in colleges and universities. But there is one reason why the Bible ought to be read and received by every person, that is, that the Bible is able to bring spiritual life out of spiritual death.
We all remember the story of Mutiny on the Bounty. In 1888 a group of English sailors who had spent six months on a South Sea island decided to remain there. They mutinied against their captain and set him adrift in an open boat. A punitive expedition from England captured 14 of the mutineers, and banished nine of them to another island where they formed a new colony. These people degenerated so rapidly and became so fierce that life there turned into what was called a hell on earth. Having learned to distill whiskey from a native plant, they soon became involved in quarrels, drunken orgies, and violence. Finally, all the men except Alexander Smith were dead, and he was left alone with a group of native women and half-breed children. Then a wonderful thing happened. Finding a Bible in an old sea chest, Smith read it and believed it. He gathered the women and children around him and taught them the Word of God. Twenty years later, an American ship visited the island and found a Christian community. There was no disease, no crime, no insanity, no illiteracy, and no strong drink. The moral standards of the people were so high that no law enforcement agency was necessary. The island seemed to be a small paradise.
How can we account for the tremendous change in the people? The answer is, the inspired Word of God! As they read it and believed it and applied it to their lives, they were transformed by the power of God. This is one of the reasons why we know the Bible is unique among all the books of the world.
The late Dean Burgon said, "The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth on the throne. Every book in it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High."
Isn't it strange that despite the efforts of men of all generations to destroy the Bible that the Bible has been preserved to this day? It has become, in our day, the jest of infidels and the joke of sceptics. It has been assailed constantly by the so-called scholars in the classrooms. Like the three Hebrew children it has been in the fire, and like them, it has been wonderfully preserved so that there is not a smell of burning upon it.
Someone has said: "The fire has yet to be lit that can destroy the Bible. The steel has yet to be forged that can scar it. The weapon has yet to be devised that can overthrow it. The scholarship has yet to be developed that can discredit it. The science has yet to be created that can demolish it. The plan has yet to be devised that can annihilate it."
'Mid the storms of doubt and unbelief, we fear,
Stands a Book eternal that the world holds dear;
Thro' the restless ages it remains the same,
'Tis the Book of God, and the Bible is its name!
The Old Book and the Old Faith
Are the Rock on which I stand!
The Old Book and the Old Faith
Are the bulwark of the land!
Thro' storm and stress they stand the test,
In ev'ry clime and nation blest;
The Old Book and the Old Faith
Are the hope of ev'ry land.
Again, the supernatural origin of the Bible can be seen in its unity. It consists of 66 books, written by some 40 different authors, over a period of 1500 years. All of their teachings are in accord because the Holy Spirit, the Author, gave them the words to write.
Let us consider for a moment the various backgrounds of these writers. Some were sovereigns and others were subjects. Some were lawyers and others were labourers. Some were conquerors and others were captives. Some were farmers and others were fishermen. Among them were scholars, shepherds, priests, physicians, prophets, and poets. Yet they combined their writings into one grand Book whose center is Christ because they had one Author, the Holy Spirit.
The Bible is primarily a Book concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ said: "In the volume of the book it is written of me" (Psalm 40:7). He said: "Search the scriptures; for... they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39).
The late Dr. M. R. DeHaan has shown how Christ is central to the whole Bible in these words:
"Even in the driest historical passages, in the commonly avoided genealogies, you will find the Lord Jesus Christ. Those difficult names usually skipped over so rapidly very often contain the most superb and sublime revelations of the Altogether Lovely One. From the beginning to the end of the Bible, the Holy Spirit reveals Christ, the Son of God. Our Lord is so lovely and superlatively beautiful, and so infinitely perfect, that all His virtues, attributes, and graces cannot be fully expressed in ordinary human language. The Holy Spirit ransacks every realm of creation for figures, types, and illustrations of Christ's loveliness. Hundreds of names are applied to the Saviour, each a descriptive title, serving as a window through which to behold new and different views of His infinite beauty.
"The Holy Spirit refers to Jesus Christ as the Second `Man, the Last Adam, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Firstborn from the Dead, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Captain of our Salvation, the Head of the Church, the Messiah of Israel, the King of the Jews. Isaiah declared that His name is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. In metaphorical terms, the Holy Spirit refers to Christ as the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Drawing from the field of architecture, He says the Lord Jesus is the More Perfect Tabernacle, God's Altar, and the Tabernacle not made with Hands. The field of engineering is utilized to call Christ the Chief Cornerstone, the Rock of Ages, Head of the Corner, and the Foundation Stone. In astronomy He is the Sun of Righteousness and the Bright and Morning Star. He is called the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Angel of the Lord, the Bread of Life, the Door, the Water of Life, the Word of God, and the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd. Where shall we stop? He is the Alpha, and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, yea, He is the Altogether Lovely One.
"From this I trust you will see that everything in the Bible and every figure in the Book directly or indirectly points to Christ. When this truth takes hold of you, your entire life will become Christ-centered, and you will see Him everywhere all day long—His face ever before you at work, at play, at worship, and at rest."
The Bible is a book of great power. Paul said in Romans 1:16 (which is my own life verse): "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power (dunamis, dynamite) of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
The Bible has power: (1) To convict of sin. Acts 2:37: "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (2) To regenerate the heart. 1 Peter 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (3) To produce faith. Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (4) To cleanse the life. John 15:3: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." (5) To edify the believer. Acts 20:32: "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." (6) To impart eternal life. 1 John 5:13: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (7) To perfect the whole man. 2 Timothy 3:17: "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
The power of the inspired, preserved Word of God can be seen in the lives of those who were willing to suffer for Christ. Ignatius, the venerable bishop of Antioch, was sent to Rome to be devoured of beasts, on the way writing seven of his epistles. Justin was scourged and beheaded because he refused to sacrifice to the gods. When the aged Polycarp was bidden, "Swear by Caesar's fortune and revile Christ," he replied, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me wrong: how then can I revile my King and my Saviour?" The infuriated crowd demanded that he should be burned. The demand was complied with, and the populace in their rage soon collected from the baths and workships logs and faggots for the pile. The old man ungirded himself, laid aside his garments, and took his place in the midst of the fuel, and when they would have secured him with nails to the stake, said, "Let me remain as I am, for He that has enabled me to brave the fire will so strengthen me that, without your fastening me with nails, I shall, unmoved, endure its fierceness." After he had offered a short but beautiful prayer, the fire was kindled, but a high wind drove the flames to one side, so that he was roasted rather than burned, and the executioner was ordered to dispatch him with a sword. On his striking him with it so great a quantity of blood flowed from the wound as to quench the flames, which were, however, resuscitated, in order to consume his lifeless body.
4. How to Interpret the Bible
It is important in any study of the Bible to recognize that the Bible is God's inspired Word and not just another human book (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16; Psalm 119; 1 Thess. 2:13).
The Bible can only be understood by believers who have been born again by the Spirit of God. Paul says: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). When Peter said to Jesus: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16); our Lord replied that this truth came to him by divine revelation. It is the Holy Spirit alone who guides the believer into all truth (John 16:13-15). Therefore the real message of the Bible can only be revealed to those who are saved.
Secondly, it is necessary for the Bible student to obey the truth he has learned in order to receive further truth. We must do the will of God (John 7:17) before we shall know of the doctrine. God is not interested in us having only a head knowledge of His Word. He wants us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, we must accept the Bible in its literal meaning. There is a golden rule of interpretation that I would like to keep before you. It is this: "When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word in its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise."
For example, when the Bible speaks of 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel in Revelation 7:4 and context, it means exactly that. It is wrong for people today to claim that they are the 144,000 when the Bible says these people will be of the tribes of Israel.
The plain sense of words along with the context will certainly guide us into the truth. When Christ said, "I am the door," He did not mean that He was a wooden door. He clearly meant He was the way into Heaven.
The correct meaning of any passage of scripture must be seen in the light of its context, both immediate and remote. It is impossible for one passage of scripture to contradict another passage. No scripture is by "private interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20) which means it cannot be interpreted by itself apart from its context and the rest of the Bible. One part of the Bible will explain another part. Daniel, for example, will help us to understand Revelation.
I want to point out a real danger today to the understanding of God's Word. This danger is found in the neo-evangelical interpretation of the Bible which is based on human reasoning rather than on the revelation and illumination of the Holy Spirit.
Let me illustrate: A radio friend wrote a well-known Bible College because of his concern for some of the students who were using translations that deny the virgin birth of Christ. The reply was that this College is committed to a biblical and evangelical theology. Now let me quote from the letter he received from this Bible College regarding the matter of the virgin birth:
"Most evangelical scholars who know the Hebrew language agree that the word in Isaiah 7:14 has a more general meaning such as young woman or maiden. However, a young woman or maiden may also be a virgin."
Let me stop here and read Isaiah 7:14; not from their new biased interpretations, but from the King James Version: "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
Now the letter goes on: "The doctrinal support of the virgin birth of Christ is based upon the following particulars: (1) The Greek word used in the New Testament to translate the word in Isaiah 7:14 is a more specific word which can only mean 'virgin' as in Matthew 1:23."
Now let me read to you Matthew 1:22,23: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
We who believe the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible, do not have to rely on a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek to enable us to understand what the Bible says.
Here in Matthew we are told that Jesus' birth was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 which said (vs. 23) "a virgin shall be with child." Now if the word in Isaiah 7:14 does not primarily and basically and fundamentally and foundationally mean a virgin, then what is happening in Matthew is not the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 and therefore the Bible is not telling the truth. Either Isaiah 7:14 means a virgin (and Matthew 1:22,23 says it does) so that Christ's birth is the direct fulfillment of it, or it does not mean a virgin as modern scholars would tell us. Now who are we to believe—the modern scholars who depend upon human wisdom for their conclusions or the testimony of the Holy Spirit Himself as given to us in the Word of God?
Let us stand upon the Bible as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. Let us study the Bible so that we might find Christ first as personal Saviour, and then as the Lord of our lives.
The greatest and most serious influence of new-evangelicalism upon this generation is their promotion and support of the many new versions and perversions of the Bible. The question is this, "Do we really have the Word of God today? Is the Bible you read and hear read from the pulpit God's Word? "Oh," you answer, "we did have God's Word in the original texts but we do not have those texts today." Let me ask you, "how then can we know whether or not the Bible we hold in our hands is indeed the very Word of God?" Surely God not only gave His Word in the original text but He has also preserved His Word to this day!
It has been estimated that there are now nearly one hundred versions of the Bible available in the English language. These many versions, however, do not altar the fact that God has inspired and safeguarded ONE BIBLE. This ONE BIBLE was written in the Greek language in the New Testament and is called the Textus Receptus or Received Text. The Old Testament has been preserved in the Masoretic Text and was written in Hebrew.
Modern translators of the Bible are true successors of Jehoiakim, King of Jerusalem, whose mutilation of the Scripture is given in Jeremiah 36:22,23. A message from the Lord was dictated by Jeremiah to Barach, son of Neriah, who carefully wrote it in a roll. Jehoiakim came to know of this divine oracle and sent Jehudi to get it and read it to him. As Jehudi read, whatever did not please the king he would cut out with his penknife and cast it into the fire. Jehoiakim continued with his mutilation of the written Word of God until nothing was left but a heap of smouldering ashes.
Let us notice how God dealt with the penknife king. He had the burial of an ass (Jeremiah 22:18,19). Surely such a record constitutes a warning not to tamper with the Word of God. Yet many modern translators in both the liberal and new evangelical ranks have used the penknife to tamper with the Word of God. They have cut out, rearranged, and chanted Scripture to produce versions that have fooled even the believers of our day. God says in Jeremiah 23:30: "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour."
Used with permission of The Peoples Gospel Hour, P.O. Box 1660, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3A1 Canada.