WEDNESDAY is WORD DAY: "Salvation" (2) -R.A.Torrey

"Salvation"

6 Studies in the Salvation Weekly

(2 of 6)

(currently)

-Lewis Sperry Chafer-

Lewis Sperry Chafer

Chapter Two

The Divine Estimate of the Lost

AT NO point is faith more tested than in receiving the divine estimate of the present estate and destiny of all who are not saved; yet the record stands on the sacred page and is as much a part of God's revelation of truth as is the more winsome disclosure concerning the saved and heaven. In vain does man struggle to deliver himself from the dread and shadow of the former while still attempting to retain the comfort and light of the latter. Even a blinded, unregenerate mind must be convinced of the unreasonableness of selecting only desirable elements out of the unitive whole of divine revelation. If man can dispose of the dark picture which describes the estate of the lost, he has, by that process, surrendered all claim to authority and all ground of assurance in those Scriptures which describe the estate of the saved.

Man is prone to disregard the plain boundary lines of distinction between the saved and the unsaved as indicated in the Bible. He is naturally occupied with the temporal things that are seen, and is by nature blind to the eternal things (1 Cr 2:142Cr 4:34Jhn 3:3) which are not seen. He is inclined to conceive of salvation as resulting from a manner of daily life, both moral and religious, rather than a state wrought by the creative power of God. An appeal for a reformed manner of life is to him "practical" and "reasonable," and he sees little value in the Biblical appeal for personal faith in the saving power and grace of God. A saved person, by his new life from God, may live on a higher plane, and certainly will; but to attempt to live on a higher plain will not, and cannot, impart the new life, or save a lost soul. The unsaved, according to the Bible, include all who have not been accepted by God through a personal trust in the crucified and risen Saviour. All moral and religious people are not, therefore, according to the divine conditions, to be counted among the saved. Paul prayed for Israel "that they might be saved" (Rom 10:12), and those for whom he prayed, it should be remembered, were the very ones of whom he wrote in this same passage that they had "a zeal for God" and went about "to establish their own righteousness." We know, also, that they fasted, and prayed, and gave a tithe of all they possessed; yet, in spite of all this, the faithful, inspired Apostle prays that they might be saved. To be saved was evidently, in the Apostle's mind, more than the diligent effort along the lines of moral and religious practices.

The Bible sharply distinguishes between the saved and the unsaved, and in its classification, of necessity, wholly ignores what may seem reasonable or unreasonable in the sphere of human life. It bases its distinctions on the eternal necessities and provisions within the larger sphere of the kingdom of God. Here the important issues of conduct and service are not first to be considered. The deeper reality of an entire new nature is rather the primary objective, and no good works can take its place. It is as terrible for a church member, or minister, to be lost as for anyone else. Certainly there is nothing in the fact of church membership, ordinances, or the preaching profession that can take the place of the Biblical requirement for' salvation, or mitigate the final doom that is assured to those who reject the Saviour. The five virgins who possessed every outward appearance and profession were, nevertheless, without the oil which is the symbol of the divine life. In spite of all their religious externals they heard it said, "I know you not." "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mat 7:21-23). "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (Jhn 6:29).

The estate of the unsaved is described in the Bible by positive terms: "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luk 19:10); "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"; "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath 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 loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (Jhn 3:16, 18-20). "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" (Jhn 3:36). "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (Jhn 8:44); "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph 2:2); "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mar 7:21-23).

In Eph 2:1-2 the contrast between the saved and the unsaved is first drawn at the point of possessing or not possessing the divine life: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." This death is not physical, for the dead ones are said to be "walking according to the course of this world," the aspirations of which walk are centered in the things of the world system. They are also said to be "walking according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit that now worketh in (energizeth) the children of disobedience." This classification, "the children of disobedience," includes all who have not been "made alive" by the power of God. Disobedience here is a state of being and is federal rather than personal. "By one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners." So, also, "by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous." Thus the acceptableness of the saved one is also a state and is federal rather than personal. He being in Christ is a child of obedience; the unsaved one being in Adam is a child of disobedience. In Adam disobedient and lost; in Christ obedient, righteous and acceptable to God (Rom 5:19Eph 1:6). "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Before the infinite holiness of God no person, saved or unsaved, can rightfully claim, within his own merit, to be obedient and righteous in the sight of God; yet the weakest person who stands in Christ is, by virtue of that position, a child of obedience in the sight of God.

In all the children of disobedience, regardless of professions or conduct, Satan is here said to be the energizing power. The energy of this mighty being may inspire refinement, education, culture, and the externals of religion, for it is not against these external virtues that Satan is opposed. His enmity is intelligently directed against the saving grace of God, which is a widely differing issue from that which the problems of personal conduct present.

Satan is said to be energizing the unsaved within all the spheres of their present activity. In like manner, the saved are said to be energized by God: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phl 2:13). The testimony of these two passages is to the effect that there is now no such thing as an independent human life. Men are either energized by God or by Satan, and accordingly as they are saved or unsaved.

The estate of the unsaved is revealed again in Col 1:13: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Until this divine transformation is wrought, man must be considered as yet in the "powers of darkness." This revelation is given in other passages: "Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Jhn 3:3); "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" (1Cr 2:14); "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2Cr 4:3,4); "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1Jo 5:19, R. V.); "At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph 2:12); "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: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom 1:29-32); "As it is written, 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. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom 3:10-18); "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal 5:19-21); "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" (Gen 6:5); "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psa 51:5); "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9); "From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness" (Mar 7:21,22); "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (Jhn 3:6); "Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be" (Rom 8:7, R. V.); "And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins, * * * and were by nature the children of wrath even as others" (Eph 2:13); "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecc 7:20); "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isa 64:6).

After this manner the Bible reveals the present estate of the unsaved, and upon the above lines of distinction which are outside the sphere of this world. Every condition presented in these passages demands a superhuman power for its cure. Men are not said to be lost in the eyes of their fellow-men, or as measured by the standards of the institutions of the world. They are lost in the sight of a Holy God, with Whom they finally have to do, and under the conditions that exist and are effective in a larger sphere. In like manner, men are not saved by an adjustment to the estimates and conclusions of the limited world of fallen humanity, or by what may seem to them to be reasonable or unreasonable. Salvation is not a human undertaking. It did not originate in this sin-cursed world. It is of God and unto God, and hence moves along lines and under conditions and necessities which are of a higher realm. To be saved one must see himself as God sees him, and adapt himself to the divine principles of another world, which principles have been faithfully revealed in the written Word. A man of faith is one who thus adapts himself to the revelation of God; one who is instructed by and acts on the unfolding of facts revealed by God which would otherwise be unknown through human understanding.

It was this divine estimate of humanity, described by the words "lost," "perish," "condemned," "under the wrath of God," "blind," "in the powers of darkness," "dead in trespasses and sins," which brought the Saviour from heaven to earth. It was this dark picture that impelled Him to give His life a ransom for many. His saving work was a practical accomplishment. It has provided every needed cure that could be demanded by the infinite purity and holiness of God

 

 

 

Yes! Jesus is Coming!


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WEDNESDAY is WORD DAY: "Salvation" (1) -R.A.Torrey

"Salvation"

6 Studies in the Salvation Weekly

(1 of 12)

(currently)

-Lewis Sperry Chafer-

Lewis Sperry Chafer
Chapter One

The Word Salvation

THE word salvation is used in the Bible to indicate a work of God in behalf of man. In the present dispensation its use is limited to His work for individuals only, and is vouchsafed to them upon one definite condition. Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the fact that now, according to the Bible, salvation is the result of the work of God for the individual, rather than the work of the individual for God, or even the work of the individual for himself. Eventually the one who is saved by the power of God may, after that divine work is accomplished, do "good works" for God; for salvation is said to be "unto good works" (Eph 2:10) and those who "believed" are to be "careful to maintain good works" (Tts 3:8). Good works are evidently made possible by salvation; but these good works, which follow salvation, do not add anything to the all-sufficient and perfect saving work of God.

As used in the New Testament, the word salvation may indicate all or a part of the divine undertaking. When the reference is to all of the work of God, the whole transformation is in view from the estate wherein one is lost and condemned to the final appearance of that one in the image of Christ in glory. This larger use of the word, therefore, combines in it many separate works of God for the individual, such as Atonement, Grace, Propitiation, Forgiveness, Justification, Imputation, Regeneration, Adoption, Sanctification, Redemption and Glorification. The two following passages describe the estate from which and the estate into which the individual is saved: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph 2:1112). "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1Jo 3:1-2). There could be no greater contrast of possible estates for man than those described in these passages.

This transformation, it must be conceded, rather than representing the greatest thing impotent man can do for God, represents the greatest thing the infinite God can do for man; for there is nothing to be conceived of beyond the estate to which this salvation brings one, namely, "like Christ" and "conformed to the image of his Son."

Much of the whole divine undertaking in salvation is accomplished in the saved one at the moment he exercises saving faith. So, also, some portions of this work are in the form of a process of transformation after the first work is wholly accomplished. And, again, there is a phase of the divine undertaking which is revealed as consumating the whole work of God at the moment of its completion. This last aspect of salvation is wholly future.

Salvation, then, in the present dispensation, may be considered in three tenses as it is revealed in the Scriptures: the past, or that part of the work which already is wholly accomplished in and for the one who has believed; the present, or that which is now being accomplished in and for the one who has believed; and the future, or that which will be accomplished to complete the work of God in and for the one who has believed.

The following passages are clear statements of these various aspects of the one divine undertaking:

I. The child of God was saved from the guilt and penalty of sin when he believed: "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Luk 7:50); "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house" (Act 16:3031); "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1Cr 1:18); "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved; and in them that perish"(2Cr 2:15); "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8); "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2Ti 1:9).

II. The child of God, constituted such through belief, is being saved from the power and domination of sin on the same principle of faith: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (Jhn 17:17); "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Rom 6:14); "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phl 2:1213); "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:2); "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal 5:16).

III. The child of God, begotten as such through belief, is yet to be saved from the presence of sin into the presence of God: "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom 13:11); "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resur rection of Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1Pe 1:3-5); "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1Jo 3:1-2).

So, again, there are passages in which these various time aspects in salvation are all combined: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phl 1:6); "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1Cr 1:30); "Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:25-27).

 

 

Yes! Jesus is Coming!


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WEDNESDAY is WORD DAY: " A Study in Fundamentals" (5) -R.A.Torrey


"Fundamentals"

6 Studies in the Fundamentals Weekly

(5 of 6)

(currently)

-R.A. TORREY-

 

R.A.Torrey

 

The Fundamentals

(Studies in Fundamentals)

R. A. Torrey
Holy Scripture and Modern Negations

By Professor James Orr, D.D., United Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland

Is there today in the midst of criticism and unsettlement a tenable doctrine of Holy Scripture for the Christian Church and for the world; and if there is, what is that doctrine? That is unquestionably a very pressing question at  the present time. "Is there a book which we can regard as the repository of a true revelation of God and an infallible guide in the way of life, and as to our duties to God and man?" is a question of immense importance to us all. Fifty years ago, perhaps less than that, the question hardly needed to be asked among Christian people. It was universally conceded, taken for granted, that there is such a book, the book which we call the Bible. Here, it was believed, is a volume which is an inspired record of the whole will of God for man's salvation; accept as true and inspired the teaching of that book, follow its guidance, and you cannot stumble, you cannot err in attaining the supreme end of existence, in finding salvation, in grasping the prize of a glorious immortality.

Now, a change has come. There is no disguising the fact that we live in an age when, even within the Church, there is much uneasy and distrustful feeling about the Holy Scriptures—a hesitancy to lean upon them as an authority and to use them as the weapons of precision they once were; with a corresponding anxiety to find some surer basis in external Church authority, or with others, in Christ Himself, or again in a Christian consciousness, as it is named,—a surer basis for Christian belief and life. We often hear in these days reference to the substitution, in Protestantism, of an "INFALLIBLE BIBLE FOR AN INFALLIBLE CHURCH", and the implication is that the one idea is just as baseless as the other. Sometimes the idea is taken up, quite commonly perhaps, that the thought of an authority external to ourselves—to our own reason or conscience or spiritual nature—must be wholly given up; that only that can be accepted which carries its authority within itself by the appeal it makes to reason or to our spiritual being, and therein lies the judge for us of what is true and what is false.

That proposition has an element of truth in it; it may be true or may be false according as we interpret it. However, as it is frequently interpreted it leaves the Scriptures—but more than that, it leaves Jesus Christ Himself—without any authority for us save that with which our own minds see fit to clothe Him. But in regard to the INFALLIBLE BIBLE AND THE INFALLIBLE CHURCH, it is proper to point out that there is a considerable difference between these two things—between the idea of an authoritative Scripture and the idea of an infallible Church or an infallible Pope, in the Roman sense of that word. It may be a clever antithesis to say that Protestantism substituted the idea of an infallible Book for the older Romish dogma of an infallible Church; but the antithesis, the contrast, unfortunately has one fatal inaccuracy about it. The idea of the authority of Scripture is not younger, but older than Romanism. It is not a late invention of Protestantism. It is not something that Protestants invented and substituted for the Roman conception of the infallible Church; but it is the original conception that lies in the Scriptures themselves. There is a great difference there. It is a belief—this belief in the Holy Scripture—which was accepted and acted upon by the Church of Christ from the first. The Bible itself claims to be an authoritative Book, and an infallible guide to the true knowledge of God and of the way of salvation. This view is implied in every reference made to it, so far as it then existed, by Christ and His Apostles. That the New Testament, the work of the Apostles and of apostolic men, does not stand on a lower level of inspiration and authority than the Old Testament, is, I think, hardly worth arguing. And in that sense, as a body of writings of Divine authority, the books of the Old and the New Testament were accepted by the Apostles and by the Church of the post-apostolic age.

Take the writings of any of the early Church fathers—I have waded through them wearily as teacher of Church History—take Tertullian or Origen, or others, and you will find their words saturated with references to Scripture. You will find the Scriptures treated in precisely the same way as they are used in the Biblical literature of today; namely, as the ultimate authority on the matters of which they speak. I really do the fathers an injustice in this comparison, for I find things said and written about the Holy Scriptures by teachers of the Church today which those early fathers would never have permitted themselves to utter. It has now become fashionable among a class of religious teachers to speak disparagingly of or belittle the Holy Scriptures as an authoritative rule of faith for the Church. The leading cause of this has undoubtedly been the trend which the criticism of the Holy Scriptures has assumed during the last half century or more.

By all means, let criticism have its rights. Let purely literary questions about the Bible receive full and fair discussion. Let the structure of books be impartially examined. If a reverent science has light to throw on the composition or authority or age of these books, let its voice be heard. If this thing is of God we cannot overthrow it; if it be of man, or so far as it is of man, or so far as it comes in conflict with the reality of things in the Bible, it will come to naught—as in my opinion a great deal of it is fast coming today through its own excesses. No fright, therefore, need be taken at the mere word, "Criticism."

On the other hand, we are not bound to accept every wild critical theory that any critic may choose to put forward and assert, as the final word on this matter. We are entitled, nay, we are bound, to look at the presuppositions on which each, criticism proceeds, and to ask, How far is the criticism controlled by those presuppositions? We are bound to look at the evidence by which the theory is supported, and to ask, Is it really borne out by that evidence? And when theories are put forward with every confidence as fixed results, and we find them, as we observe them, still in constant process of evolution and change, constantly becoming more complicated, more extreme, more fanciful, we are entitled to inquire, Is this the certainty that it was alleged to be? Now that is my complaint against much of the current criticism of the Bible—not that it is criticism, but that it starts from the wrong basis, that it proceeds by arbitrary methods, and that it arrives at results which I think are demonstrably false results. That is a great deal to say, no doubt, but perhaps I shall have some justification to offer for it before I am done.

I am not going to enter into any general tirade against criticism; but it is useless to deny that a great deal of what is called criticism is responsible for the uncertainty and unsettlement of feeling existing at the present time about the Holy Scriptures. I do not speak especially of those whose philosophical standpoint compels them to take up an attitude of negation to supernatural revelation, or to books which profess to convey such a revelation. Criticism of this kind, criticism that starts from the basis of the denial of the supernatural, has of course, to be reckoned with. In its hands everything is engineered from that basis. There is the denial to begin with, that God ever has entered into human history, in word and deed, in any supernatural way. The necessary result is that whatever in the Bible affirms or flows from such interposition of God is expounded or explained away. The Scriptures on this showing, instead of being, the living oracles of God, become simply the fragmentary remains of an ancient Hebrew literature, the chief value of which would seem to be the employment it affords to the critic to dissect it into its various parts, to overthrow the tradition of the past in regard to it, and to frame ever new, ever changing, ever more wonderful theories of the origin of the books and the so-called legends they contain. Leaving, however, such futile, rationalistic criticism out of account—because that is not the kind of criticism with which we as Christian people have chiefly to deal in our own circles—there is certainly an immense change of attitude on the part of many who still sincerely hold faith in the supernatural revelation of God. I find it difficult to describe this tendency, for I am desirous not to describe it in any way which would do injustice to any Christian thinker, and it is attended by so many signs of an ambiguous character. Jesus is recognized by the majority of those who represent it as "the Incarnate Son of God," though with shadings off into more or less indefinite assertions even on that fundamental article, which make it sometimes doubtful where the writers exactly stand. The process of thought in regard to Scripture is easily traced. First, there is an ostentatious throwing overboard, joined with some expression of contempt, of what is called the verbal inspiration of Scripture—a very much abused term. Jesus is still spoken of as the highest revealer, and it is allowed that His words, if only we could get at them—and on the whole it is thought we can—furnish the highest rule of guidance for time and for eternity. But even criticism, we are told, must have its rights. Even in the New Testament the Gospels go into the crucible, and in the name of synoptical criticism, historical criticism; they are subject to wonderful processes, in the course of which much of the history gets melted out or is peeled off as Christian characteristics. Jesus, we are reminded, was still a man of His generation, liable to error in His human knowledge, and allowance must be made for the limitations in His conceptions and judgments. Paul is alleged to be still largely dominated by his inheritance of Rabbinical and Pharisaic ideas. He had been brought up a Pharisee, brought up with the rabbis, and when he became a Christian, he carried a great deal of that into his Christian thought, and we have to strip off that thought when we come to the study of his Epistles. He is therefore a teacher not to be followed further than our own judgment of Christian truth leads us. That gets rid of a great deal that is inconvenient about Paul's teaching.

The Old Testament and the Critics

If these things are done in the "green tree" of the New Testament, it is easy to see what will be done in the "dry tree" of the Old. The conclusions of the more advanced school of critics are here generally accepted as once for all settled, with the result—in my judgment, at any rate—that the Old Testament is immeasurably lowered from the place it once held in our reverence. Its earlier history, down to about the age of the kings, is largely resolved into myths and legends and fictions. It is ruled out of the category of history proper. No doubt we are told that the legends are just as good as the history, and perhaps a little better, and that the ideas which they convey to us are just as good, coming in the form of legends, as if they came in the form of fact.

But behold, its laws, when we come to deal with them in this manner, lack  Divine authority. They are the products of human minds at various ages. Its prophecies are the utterances of men who possessed indeed the Spirit of God, which is only in fuller degree what other good men, religious teachers in all countries, have possessed—not a spirit qualifying, for example, to give real predictions, or to bear authoritative messages of the truth to men. And so, in this whirl and confusion of theories—you will find them in our magazines, you will find them in our encyclopedias, you will find them in our reviews, you will find them in many books which have appeared to annihilate the conservative believers—in this whirl and confusion of theories, is it any wonder that many should be disquieted and unsettled, and feel as if the ground on which they have been wont to rest was giving way beneath their feet? And so the question comes back with fresh urgency. What is to be said of the place and value of Holy Scripture?

Is There a Tenable Doctrine for the Christian Church of Today?

One of the urgent needs of our time, and a prime need of the Church, is just a replacement of Holy Scripture, with due regard, I grant, to any really ascertained facts in regard to its literary history, in the faith and lives of men, as the truly inspired and divinely sealed record of God's revealed will for men in great things of the soul. But then, is such a position tenable? In the fierce light of criticism that beats upon the documents and upon the revelation of God's grace they profess to contain, can this position be maintained? I venture to think, indeed, I am very sure, it can. Let me try to indicate—for I can do hardly any more—the lines along which I would answer the question, Have we or can we have a tenable doctrine of Holy Scripture?

For a satisfactory doctrine of Holy Scripture—and by that I mean a doctrine which is satisfactory for the needs of the Christian Church, a doctrine which answers to the claim the Scripture makes for itself, to the place it holds in Christian life and Christian experience, to the needs of the Christian Church for edification and evangelization, and in other ways—I say, for a satisfactory doctrine of Holy Scripture it seems to me that three things are indispensably necessary. There is necessary, first, a more positive view of the structure of the Bible than at present obtains in many circles. There is necessary, second, the acknowledgment of a true supernatural revelation of God in the history and religion of the Bible. There is necessary, third, the recognition of a true supernatural inspiration in the record of that revelation. These three things, to my mind, go together—a more positive view of the structure of the Bible; the recognition of the supernatural revelation embodied in the Bible; and a recognition in accordance with the Bible's own claim of a supernatural inspiration in the record of the Bible. Can we affirm these three things? Will they bear the test? I think they will.

The Structure of the Bible

First as to the structure of the Bible, there is needed a more positive idea of that structure than is at present prevalent. You take much of the criticism and you find the Bible being disintegrated in many ways, and everything like structure falling away from it. You are told, for example, that these books—say the Books of Moses are made up of many documents, which are very late in origin and cannot claim historical value. You are told that the laws they contain are also, for the most part, of tolerably late origin, and the Levitical laws especially are of post-exilian construction; they were not given by Moses; they were unknown when the Children of Israel were carried into captivity. Their temple usage perhaps is embodied in the Levitical law, but most of the contents of that Levitical law were wholly unknown. They were the construction—the invention, to use a term lately employed of priests and scribes in the post-exilian period. They were put into shape, brought before the Jewish community returned from Babylon, and accepted by it as the law of life. Thus you have the history of the Bible turned pretty much upside down, and things take on a new aspect altogether.

Must I then, in deference to criticism, accept these theories, and give up the structure which the Bible presents? Taking the Bible as it stands, I find and you will find if you look there also, without any particular critical learning you will find it—what seems to be evidence of a very definite internal structure, part fitting into part and leading on to part, making up a unity of the whole in that Bible. The Bible has undeniably a structure as it stands. It is distinguished from all other books of the kind, from all sacred books in the world, from Koran and Buddhist scriptures and Indian scriptures and every other kind of religious books. It is distinguished just by this fact, that it is the embodiment of a great plan or scheme or purpose of Divine grace extending from the beginning of time through successive ages and dispensations down to its culmination in Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal outpourings of the Spirit. The history of the Bible is the history of that development of God's redemptive purpose. The promises of the Bible mark the stages of its progress and its hope. The covenants of the Bible stand before us in the order of its unfolding. You begin with Genesis. Genesis lays the foundation and leads up to the Book of Exodus; and the Book of Exodus, with its introduction of the law-giving, leads up to what follows. Deuteronomy looks back upon the history of the rebellions and the laws given to the people, and leads up to the conquest. I need not follow the later developments, coming away down through the monarchy and the prophecy and the rest, but you find it all gathered up and fulfilled in the New Testament. The Bible, as we have it, closes in Gospel and Epistle and Apocalypse, fulfilling all the ideas of the Old Testament. There the circle completes itself with the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Here is a structure; here is the fact; here is a structure, a connected story, a unity of purpose extending through this Book and binding all its parts together. Is that structure an illusion? Do we only, and many with us, dream that it is there? Do our eyes deceive us when we think we see it? Or has somebody of a later date invented it, and put it all, inwrought it all, in these earlier records, legends and stories, or whatever you like to call it—skillfully woven into the story until it presents there the appearance of naturalness and truth? I would like to find the mind capable of inventing it, and then the mind capable of putting it in and working it into a history once they got the idea itself. But if not invented, it belongs to the reality and the substance of the history; it belongs to the facts; and therefore to the Book that records the facts. And there are internal attestations in that structure of the Bible to the genuineness of its contents that protest against the efforts that are so often made to reduce it to fragments and shiver up that unity and turn it upside down. "Walk about Zion ... tell the towers thereof; mark ye well her bulwarks;" you will find there's something there which the art of man will not avail to overthrow.

"Now, that is all very well," I hear some one say, "but there are facts on the other side; there are those manifold proofs which our critical friends adduce that the Bible is really a collection of fragments and documents of much later date, and that the history is really quite a different thing from what the Bible represents it to be." Well, are we to sit down and accept their dictum on that subject without evidence? When I turn to the evidence I do not find them to have that convincing power which our critical friends assign to them.

I am not rejecting this kind of critical theory because it goes against my prejudices or traditions; I reject it simply because it seems to me the evidence does not sustain it, and that the stronger evidence is against it. I cannot go into details; but take just the one point that I have mentioned—this post-exilian origin of the Levitical law. I have stated what is said about that matter—that those laws and institutions that you find in the middle of the Books of the Pentateuch—those laws and institutions about priests and Levites and sacrifices and all that—had really no existence, had no authoritative form, and to a large extent had not existence of any kind until after the Jews returned from Babylon, and then they were given out as a code of laws which the Jews accepted. That is the theory which is stated once and again. But let the reader put himself in the position of that returned community, and see what the thing means. These exiles had returned from Babylon. They had been organized into a new community. They had rebuilt their Temple, and then long years after that, when things had got into confusion, those two great men, Ezra and Nehemiah, came among them, and by and by Ezra produced and publicly proclaimed this law of Moses—what he called the law of Moses, the law of God by the hand of Moses—which he had brought from Babylon. A full description of what happened is given in the eighth chapter of the Book of Nehemiah. Ezra reads that law from his pulpit of wood day after day to the people, and the interpreter gives the sense. Now, mind you, most of the things in this law, in this book that he is reading to the people, had never been heard of before—never had existed, in fact; priests and Levites such as are there described had never existed. The law itself was long and complicated and burdensome, but the marvelous thing is that the people meekly accept it all as true—meekly accept it as law, at any rate—and submit to it, and take upon themselves its burdens without a murmur of dissent.

That is a very remarkable thing to start with. But remember, further, what that community was. It was not a community with oneness of mind, but it was a community keenly divided in itself. If you read the narrative you will find that there were strong opposing factions in that community; there were parties strongly opposed to Ezra and Nehemiah and their reforms; there were many, as you see in the Book of Malachi, who were religiously faithless in that community. But marvelous to say, they all join in accepting this new and burdensome and hitherto unheard of law as the law of Moses, the law coming down to them from hoary antiquity. There were priests and Levites in that community who knew something about their own origin; they had genealogies and knew something about their own past. According to the new theory, these Levites were quite a new order; they had never existed at all before the time of the exile, and they had come into existence through the sentence of degradation that the prophet Ezekiel had passed upon them in the 44th chapter of his book. History is quite silent about this degradation. If anyone asks who carried out the degradation, or why was it carried out, or when was it done, and how came the priests to submit to the degradation, there is no answer to be given at all. But it came about somehow, so we are told.

And so these priests and Levites are there, and they stand and listen without astonishment as they learn from Ezra how the Levites had been set apart long centuries before in the wilderness by the hand of God, and had an ample tithe provision made for their support, and cities, and what not, set apart for them to live in. People know a little about their past. These cities never had existed except on paper; but they took it all in. They are told about these cities, which they must have known had never existed as Levitical cities. They not only hear but they accept the heavy tithe Burdens without a word of remonstrance, and they make a covenant with God pledging themselves to faithful obedience to all those commands. Those tithes laws, as we discover, had no actual relation to their situation at all. They were drawn up for a totally different case. They were drawn up for a state of things in which there were few priests and many Levites. The priests were only to get the tithe of a tenth, But in this restored community there were a great many priests and few Levites. The tithe laws did not apply at all, but they accepted these as laws of Moses.

And so I might go over the provisions of the law one by one—tabernacle and priests and ritual and sacrifices and Day of Atonement—these things, in their post-exilian form, had never existed; they were spun out of the inventive brains of scribes; and yet the people accepted them all as the genuine handiwork of the ancient law-giver. Was ever such a thing heard of before? Try it in any city. Try to get the people to take upon themselves a series of heavy burdens of taxation or tithes or whatever you like, on the ground that it had been handed down from the middle ages to the present time. Try to get them to believe it; try to get them to obey it, and you will find the difficulty. Is it credible to anyone who leaves books and theories in the study and takes a broad view of human nature with open eyes? I aver that for me, at any rate, it is not; and it will be a marvel to me as long as I am spared to live, how such a theory has ever gained the acceptance it has done among unquestionably able and sound-minded men. I am convinced that the structure of the Bible vindicates itself, and that these counter theories break down.

A Supernatural Revelation

I think it is an essential element in a tenable doctrine of Scripture, in fact the core of the matter, that it contains a record of a true supernatural revelation; and that is what the Bible claims to be not a development of man's thoughts about God, and not what this man and that one came to think about God, how they came to have the ideas of a Jehovah or Yahveh, who was originally the storm-god of Sinai, and how they manufactured out of this the great universal God of the prophets—but a supernatural revelation of what God revealed Himself in word and deed to men in history. And if that claim to a supernatural revelation from God falls, the Bible falls, because it is bound up with it from beginning to end. Now, it is just here that a great deal of our modern thought parts company with the Bible. I am quite well aware that many of our friends who accept these newer critical theories, claim to be just as firm believers in Divine revelation as I am myself, and in Jesus Christ and all that concerns Him. I rejoice in the fact, and I believe that they are warranted in saying that there is that in the religion of Israel which you cannot expunge, or explain on any other hypothesis but Divine revelation.

But what I maintain is that this theory of the religion of the Bible which has been evolved, which has peculiarly come to be known as the critical view, had a very different origin in men who did not believe in the supernatural revelation of God in the Bible. This school as a whole, as a wide-spread school, holds the fundamental position—the position which its adherents call that of the modern mind that miracles did not happen and cannot happen. It takes the ground that they are impossible; therefore its followers have to rule everything of that kind out of the Bible record.

I have never been able to see how that position is tenable to a believer in a living personal God who really loves His creatures and has a sincere desire to bless them. Who dare to venture to assert that the power and will of such a Being as we must believe God to be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—is exhausted in the natural creation? That there are no higher things to be attained in God's providence than can be attained through the medium of natural law? That there is in such a Being no capability of revealing Himself in words and deeds beyond nature? If there is a dogmatism in the world, it is that of the man who claims to limit the Author of the universe by this finite bound. We are told sometimes that it is a far higher thing to see God in the natural than to see Him in something that transcends the natural; a far higher thing to see God in the orderly regular working of nature than to suppose that there has ever been anything transcending that ordinary natural working. I think we all do see God, and try to see Him more and more, in the ordinary and regular working of nature. I hope all try every day to see God there. But the question is, Has this natural working not its limits? Is there not something that nature and natural workings cannot reach, cannot do for men, that we need to have done for us? And are we so to bind God that He cannot enter into communion with man in a supernatural economy of grace, an economy of revelation, an economy of salvation? Are we to deny that He has done so? That is really the dividing line both in Old Testament and New between the different theories. Revelation, surely, all must admit if man is to attain the clear knowledge of God that is needed; and the question is one of fact, Has God so revealed Himself? And I believe that it is an essential part of the answer, the true doctrine of Scripture, to say, "Yes, God has so revealed Himself, and the Bible is the record of that revelation, and that revelation shines in its light from the beginning to the end of it." And unless there is a whole-hearted acceptance of the fact that God has entered, in word and deed, into human history for man's salvation, for man's renovation, for the deliverance of this world, a revelation culminating in the great Revealer Himself—unless we accept that, we do not get the foundation for the true doctrine of Holy Scripture.

The Inspired Book

Now, just a word in closing, on Inspiration. I do not think that anyone will weigh the evidence of the Bible itself very carefully without saying that at least it claims to be in a peculiar and especial manner an inspired book. There is hardly anyone, I think, who will doubt that Jesus Christ treats the Old Testament in that way. Christ treats it as an imperfect stage of revelation, no doubt. Christ, as the Son of Man, takes up a lordly, discretionary attitude towards that revelation, and He supersedes very much what is in, it by something higher, but Christ recognizes that there was true Divine revelation there, that He was the goal of it all; He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. The Scriptures are the last word with Him—"Have ye not read" "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures." And it is just as certain that the Apostles treated the Old Testament in that way, and that they claimed in a peculiar sense the Spirit of God themselves. They claimed that in them and in their word was laid "the foundation on which the Church was built," Jesus Christ Himself, as the substance of their testimony, being the chief corner-stone; "built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets." And if you say, "Well, are these New Testament Apostles and Prophets?" That is in Ephesians, 2nd chapter. You go to the fifth verse of the third chapter and you find this mystery of Christ which God had revealed to His holy Apostles and Prophets by His Spirit; and it is on that the Church was built. And when you come to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-17) to that classical passage, you find the marks there by which inspired Scripture is distinguished.

Take the book of Scripture and ask just this question: Does it answer to the claim of this inspired volume? How are we to test this? I do not enter here into the question that has divided good men as to theories of inspiration—questions about inerrancy in detail, and other matters. I want to get away from these things at the circumference to the center. But take the broader test.

The Bible's Own Test of Inspiration

What does the Bible itself give us as the test of its inspiration? What does the Bible itself name as the qualities that inspiration imparts to it? Paul speaks in Timothy of the Sacred Writings that were able to make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. He goes on to tell us that ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, in order that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. When you go back to the Old Testament and its praise of the Word of God you will find the qualities of inspiration are just the same. "The law of the Lord is perfect", etc. Those are the qualifies which the inspired Book is alleged to sustain—qualities which only a true inspiration of God's Spirit could give; qualities beyond which we surely do not need anything more.

Does anyone doubt that the Bible possesses these qualities? Look at its structure; look at its completeness; look at it in the clearness and fullness and holiness of its teachings; look at it in its sufficiency to guide every soul that truly seeks light unto the saving knowledge of God. Take the Book as a whole, in its whole purpose, its whole spirit, its whole aim and tendency, and the whole setting of it, and ask, Is there not manifest the power which you can only trace back, as it traces back itself, to God's Holy Spirit really in the men who wrote it?

 

Yes! Jesus is Coming!


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WEDNESDAY is WORD DAY: " A Study in Fundamentals" (4) -R.A.Torrey


"Fundamentals"

6 Studies in the Fundamentals Weekly

(4 of 6)

(currently)

-R.A. TORREY-

 

R.A.Torrey

 

The Fundamentals

(Studies in Fundamentals)

R. A. Torrey
The Bible and Modern Criticism

By F. Bettex, D.D., Professor Emeritus, Stuttgart, Germany. Translated from the original German by David Heagle, D.D.

It is undeniable that the universe, including ourselves, exists. Whence comes it all? For any clear-thinking mind there are only three possibilities. Either the universe has existed always, it produced itself, or it was created by a Divine, a Supreme Being.

THE UNIVERSE NOT ETERNAL

The eternity of the universe is most clearly disproved by its evolution. From a scientific point of view that hypothesis is now discredited and virtually abandoned. Astronomers, physicists, biologists, philosophers, are beginning to recognize more and more, and men like Secchi, Dubois-Reymond, Lord Kelvin, Dr. Klein and others, unanimously affirm that creation has had a beginning. It always tends towards an entropy, that is, toward a perfect equilibrium of its forces, a complete standstill; and the fact that it has not yet reached such a condition is proof that it has not always existed. Should creation, however, ever come to a standstill, it could never again put itself in motion. It has had a beginning, and it will have an end. That is demonstrated most clearly by its still unfinished evolution. Should anyone say to us, of a growing tree or of a young child, that either of these forms of life has existed forever, we would at once reply, Why has it not then long ago, in the past eternity, grown up so as to reach the heaven of heavens? In like manner, reasons that great astronomer, William Herschel, with regard to the Milky-Way, that just as its breaking up into different parts shows that it cannot always endure, so we have, in this same fact, proof that it has not eternally existed.

God the Author of All Things

There remains, therefore, only this alternative: either the world produced itself, or it was created. That all things came into existence spontaneously, and therefore that we must suppose an origination of immeasurably great effects without any cause, or believe that at some time a nothing, without either willing or knowing it, and without the use of means, became a something-this is the most unreasonable assumption that could possibly be attributed to a human being. How could anything act before it existed? or a thing not yet created produce something? There is nothing more unreasonable than the creed of the. unbeliever, notwithstanding all his prating about the excellence of reason.

But if this world did not produce itself, then it must have been created by some Higher Power, some Cause of all causes, such as was that First Principle upon which the dying Cicero called. Or, to use the words of Dr. Klein, that originating cause must have been a "Supreme Intelligence that has at its command unlimited creative power" (Kosmologische Briefe, p. 27). Hence what that Intelligence does is both illimitable ante anfathomable, and it can at any time either change this world or make a new one. It is therefore prima facie silly for us, with our prodigiously narrow experience, to set any kind of bounds to the Supreme Being; and a God who works no miracles and is the slave of his own laws implanted in nature; such a God as the New Theology preaches, is as much lacking in being a true Divinity as is the unconscious, but all-wise "cosmic ether" of Spiller, or the "eternal stuff" of other materialists.

We conclude, then, that the universe was created, or that God is the author of all things.

Revelation in Nature

But now the question arises whether God, who is both the Creator of all things and the Father of spirits, has revealed Himself to his creatures, or to His own children, the work of His hands. Such a question might surely provoke one's laughter. For what is the entire universe? what is this created nature of which we form a part? what is air? and water? and fire? what are all organized beings, my body with its many parts put together in such a highly artistic and inscrutable fashion; my soul with its infinite capabilities so little understood by myself? What are all these matters but a progressive revelation of God, given to us, as it were, in a series of concentric circles rising one above another toward their Source? For this purpose it was that God created the visible, so that through it we might perceive the invisible, and for this purpose the whole creation was made, so that through it might be manifested the invisible things of God, even his eternal power and godhead (Rom. 1:20). Creation-is only the language of "the Word that was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God, and by Whom all things were made" (John 1:1-3). What does this Word declare? What else but the great infinite name of God the Father, the primal source of all things, the name that must be hallowed? There was a time, however, even before the world was, when there existed nothing but God and his name. All the different works of creation are only letters in this great name.

Revelation in the Bible

But there is another revelation which God has given of Himself to men-a more definite and personal one. Thus, e. g., he declared Himself to Adam, and through Enoch and Noah to the antediluvians, and again after the flood to other generations through Noah and his sons. But because at the building of the tower of Babel men turned stubbornly away from God, He gave them up to the thoughts of their own heart, and selected one man, Abraham, to go out from his friends and kindred, so that in his seed all the nations of the world might be blessed. Then, first, out of Abraham came the people of Israel, to whom were committed the oracles of God; and from this period began the history of the written Word. Moses narrates the beginning of things, also records the law, and holy men of God speak and write as they are moved by the Holy Spirit. That is inspiration—a divine in-breathing.

But here a distinction must be made. The Bible reports matters of history, and in doing so includes many genealogies which were composed, first of all, not for us, but for those most immediately concerned, and for the angels (1 Cor. 4:9). Also it reports many sins and shameful deeds; for just as the sun first illuminates himself and then sheds his radiance upon the ocean and the puddle, the eagle and the worm, so the Bible undertakes to represent to us not only God, but also man just as he is. In giving us these narratives it may be said, moreover, that God, who numbers the very hairs of our head, exercised a providential control, so that what was reported by His chosen men should be the real facts, and nothing else. To what extent He inspired those men with the very words used by them, it is not for us to know, but probably more fully than we suspect.

But when God, after having communicated the law to Moses on Mount Sinai and in the Tabernacle, communes with him as a friend with friend, and Moses writes "all the words of this law in a book" (Dent. 28:58; 31 :24), then Moses really becomes the pen of God. When God speaks to the prophets, "Behold, I put my words in thy mouth," and "a?1 the words that thou hearest thou shalt say to this people," then these prophets become the very mouth of God. When Christ appears to John on Patmos, and says, "To the angel of the church write these things," this is an instance of verbal dictation.

But just here we are amused at those weak-minded critics who, with hackneyed phrases, talk so glibly about "mechanical instruments" and "mere verbal dictation." Does then a self-revelation of the Almighty and a making known of His counsels, a gracious act which exalts the human agent to be a co-worker with Jehovah, annihilate personal freedom? Or does it not rather enlarge that freedom, and lift it up to a higher and more joyous activity? Am I then a "mechanical instrument" when with deep devotion and with enthusiasm I repeat after Christ, word for word, the prayer which He taught his disciples? The Bible is, consequently, a book which originated according to the will and with the co-operation of God; and as such it is our guide to eternity, conducting man, seemingly without a plan and yet with absolute certainty, all the way from the first creation and from Paradise on to the second or higher creation and to the New Jerusalem (Comp. Gen. 2:8-10 with Rev. 21 :1, 2).

PROOF OF THE BIBLE'S INSPIRATION

How does the Bible prove itself to be a divinely inspired, heaven-given book, a communication from a Father to His children, and thus a revelation?

First, by the fact that, as does no other sacred book in the world, it condemns man and all his works. It does not praise either his wisdom, his reason, his art, or any progress that he has made; but it represents him as being in the sight of God, a miserable sinner, incapable of doing anything good, and deserving only death and endless perdition. Truly, a book which is able thus to speak, and in consequence causes millions of men, troubled in conscience, to prostrate themselves in the dust, crying, "God be merciful to me a sinner," must contain more than mere ordinary truth.

Secondly, the Bible exalts itself far above all merely human books by its announcement of the great incomprehensible mystery that, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosover believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Where is there a god among all the heathen nations, be he Osiris, Brahma, Baal, Jupiter or Odin, that would have promised those people that, by taking upon himself the sin of the world and suffering its punishment, he would thus become a savior and redeemer to them?

Thirdly, the Bible sets the seal of its divine origin upon itself by means of the prophecies. Very appropriately does God inquire, through the prophet Isaiah, "Who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for Me since I established the ancient people? and the things that are coming and shall come to pass, let them declare" (Isa Ch. 44:7). Or says again, "I am God, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure; calling a ravenous bird from the east, and the man of My counsel from afar country. Yea, I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it" ( Isa Ch. 46 :10, 11) . Or, addressing Pharaoh, "Where are thy wise men, and let them tell thee, and let them know what the Lord of Hosts hath purposed upon Egypt" (Isa Ch. 19:12). Again we say, where is there a god, or gods, a founder of religion, such as Confucius, Buddha, or Mohammed, who could, with such cer, tainty, have predicted the future of even his own people? Or where is there a statesman who in these times can foretell what will be the condition of things in Europe one hundred or even ten years from now? Nevertheless the prophecies of Moses and his threatened judgments upon the Israelites have been literally fulfilled. Literally also have been fulfilled, (although who at the time would have believed it?) the prophecies respecting the destruction of those great ancient cities, Babylon, Nineveh and Memphis. Who in these times would believe a like prophecy respecting London, Paris, or New York? Moreover, in a literal way has been fulfilled what the prophets David and Isaiah foresaw concerning the last sufferings of Christ-His death on the cross, His drinking of vinegar, and the casting of lots for His garments. And there are other prophecies which will still be most literally fulfilled, such as the promises made to Israel, the final judgment, and the end of the world. "For," as Habakkuk says, "the vision is yet for an appointed time, and will not lie. Though it tarry, wait for it; it will surely come" (Isa Ch. 2:3).

Furthermore, the Bible has demonstrated its peculiar power by its influence with the martyrs. Think of the hundreds of thousands who, at different times and among different peoples, have sacrificed their all, their wives, their children, all their possessions, and finally life itself, on account of this book. Think of how they have, on the rack and at the stake, confessed the truth of the Bible, and borne testimony to its power. However, O ye critics and despisers of God's Word, if you will only write such a book and then die for it, we will believe you.

Lastly, the Bible shows itself every day to be a divinely given book by its beneficent influence among all kinds o£ people. It converts to a better life the ignorant and the learned, the beggar on the street and the king upon his throne, yonder poor woman dwelling in an attic, the greatest poet and the profoundest thinker, civilized Europeans and uncultured savages. Despite all the scoffing and derision of its enemies, it has been translated into hundreds of languages, and has been preached by thousands of missionaries to millions of people. It makes the proud humble and the dissolute virtuous; it consoles the unfortunate, and teaches man how to live patiently and die triumphantly. No other book or collection of books accomplishes for man the exceeding great benefits accomplished by this book of truth.

Modern Criticism and Its Rationalistic Method

In these times there has appeared a criticism which, constantly growing bolder in its attacks upon this sacred book, now decrees, with all self-assurance and confidence, that it is simply a human production. Besides other faults found with it, it is declared to be full of errors, many of its books to be spurious, written by unknown men at later dates than those assigned, etc., etc. But we ask, upon what fundamental principle, what axiom, is this verdict of the critics based? It is upon the idea that, as Renan expressed it, reason is capable of judging all things, but is itself judged by nothing. That is surely a proud dictum, but an empty one if its character is really noticed. To be sure, God has given reason to man, so that, in his customary way of planting and building, buying and selling, he may make a practical use of created nature by which he is surrounded. But is reason, even as respects matters of this life, in accord with itself? By no means. For, if that were so, whence comes all the strife and contention of men at home and abroad, in their places of business and their public assemblies, in art and science, in legislation, religion and philosophy? Does it not all proceed from the conflicts of reason? The entire history of our race is the history of millions of men gifted with reason who have been in perpetual conflict one with another. Is it with such reason, then, that sentence is to be pronounced upon a divinely given book? A purely rational revelation would certainly be a contradiction of terms; besides, it would be wholly superfluous. But when reason undertakes to speak of things entirely supernatural, invisible and eternal, it talks as a blind man .does about colors, discoursing of matters concerning which it neither knows nor can know anything; and thus it makes itself ridiculous. It has not ascended up to heaven, neither has it descended into the deep; and therefore a purely rational religion is no religion at all.

Incompetency of Reason for Spiritual Truth

Reason alone has never inspired men with great sublime conceptions of spiritual truth, whether in the way of discovery or invention; but usually it has at first rejected and ridiculed such matters. And just so it is with these rationalistic critics, they have no appreciation or understanding of the high and sublime in God's Word. They understand neither the majesty of Isaiah, the pathos of David's repentance, the audacity of Moses' prayers, the philosophic depth of Ecclesiastes , nor the wisdom of Solomon which "uttereth her voice in the streets." According to them ambitious priests, at a later date than is commonly assigned, compiled all those books to which we have alluded; also they wrote the Sinaitic law, and invented the whole story of Moses' life. ("A magnificent fiction"-so one of the critics calls that story.) But if all this is so, then we must believe that cunning falsifiers, who were, however, so the critics say, devout men, genuine products of their day (although it calls for notice that the age in which those devout menlived, should, as was done to Christ, have persecuted and killed them, when usually an age loves its own children) ; that is to say, we must believe not only that shallow-minded men have uncovered for us eternal truths and the most distant future, but also that vulgar, interested liars, have declared to us the inexorable righteousness of a holy God! Of course, all that is nonsense; no one can believe it.

But if these critics discourse, as sometimes they do, with great self-assurance upon topics such as the history of Israel, the peculiar work of the prophets, revelation, inspiration, the essence of Christianity, the difference between the teachings of Christ and those of Paul, anyone who intelligently reads what they say is impressed with the idea that, although they display much ingenuity in their efforts, after all they do not really understand the matters concerning which they speak. In like manner they talk with much ingenuity and show of learning about men with whom they have only a far-off acquaintance; and they discuss events in the realm of the Spirit where they have had no personal experience. Thus they both illustrate and prove the truth of the Scripture teaching that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." These critics say that God, not being a man, cannot speak; consequently there is no word of God! Also, God cannot manifest Himself in visible form; therefore all the accounts of such epiphanies are mythical tales! Inspiration, they tell us, is unthinkable; hence all representations of such acts are diseased imagination! Of prophecy there is none; what purports to be such was written after the events! Miracles are impossible; therefore all the reports of them, as given in the Bible, are mere fictions! Men always seek, thus it is explained, their own advantage and personal glory, and just so it was with those "prophets of Israel."

Such is what they call "impartial science," "unprejudiced research," "objective demonstration."

Nothing New in These "New" Views

Moreover, these critics claim for their peculiar views that they are "new theology," and the "latest investigation." But that also is untrue. Even in the times of Christ the famous rabbi Hillel and his disciple Gamaliel substituted for the Mosaic law all manner of "traditions" (Matt. 15:2-9; 23:16-22). Since then other learned rabbis, such as Ben Akiba, Maimonides and others, have engaged in Bible criticism; not only casting doubts upon the genuineness of various books of the Old Testament, but also denying the miracles and talking learnedly about "myths." Even eighteen hundred years ago Celsus brought forward the same objections as those now raised by modern criticism; and in his weak and bungling production, the "Life of Jesus," David Strauss has in part repeated them. Also there have been other noted heretics, such as Arius (317 A. D.), who denied the divinity of Christ, and Pelagius in the fifth century, who rejected the doctrine of original sin. Indeed this exceedingly new theology adopts even the unbelief of those old Sadducees who said "there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit" (Acts 23:8), and whom Christ reproved with the words, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Matt. 22:29). It certainly does not argue for the spiritual progress of our race, that such a threadbare and outworn unbelieving kind of science should again, in these days, deceive and even stultify thousands of people.

No Agreement Among the Critics

Do these critics then, to ask the least of them, agree with one another? Far from it. To be sure, they unanimously deny the inspiration of the Bible, the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, the fall of man and the forgiveness of sins through Christ; also prophecy and miracles, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, heaven and hell. But when it comes to their pretendedly sure results, not any two of them affirm the same things; and their numerous publications create a flood of disputable, self-contradictory and mutually destructive hypotheses. For example, the Jehovah of the Old Testament is made to be some heathen god, either a nomadic or steppe god, the weather-god Jahu, or the god of West-Semitism. It was David who first introduced this divinity; and according to some authors the peculiar worship of this god was, with its human sacrifices ( !), only a continuation of the Baal-Moloch worship! Of Abraham it is sometimes affirmed that he never existed, but at other times that he was a Canaanite chief, dwelling at Hebron. No! he is the myth of the Aurora; and Sarah, or Scharratu, is the wife of the moon-god Sin, and so on. The twelve sons of Jacob are very probably the twelve months of the year. As to Moses, some teach there never was such a man, also that the ten commandments were composed in the time of Manasseh. No! the more moderate writers say that Moses is a historical character. It was in Midian that he learned about Jah, the tribal god of the Kenites; and he determined with this divinity to liberate his people. Elijah is simply a myth; or he was some unfortunate prophet who had perhaps been struck by lightning. And so, too, this modern criticism knows for sure that it was not Solomon, but a wholly unknown king, living after the time of Ezra, who wrote Ecclesiastes; also that there never was a Daniel, but that again some unknown author wrote the book bearing that name. Moreover, Kautsch tells us that this book first made its appearance in January, 164 B. C., while other critics are positive that it was in 165. Query: Why could not that unknown author have been named Daniel?

So also Wellhausen knows of twenty-two different authors—all of them, to be sure, unknown—for the books of Moses, while Kuenen is satisfied with sixteen. The noted English critic, Canon Cheyne, is said to have taken great pains to tear the book of Isaiah's prophecies into one hundred and sixty pieces, all by unknown writers; which pieces were scattered through ten different epochs including four and a half centuries ("Modern Puritan," 1907, p. 400). Likewise this critic knows that the first chapter of 1 Samuel originated with an unknown writer living some five hundred years after the time of that prophet; also that Hannah's glory-song, as found in 2 Kings, was written by some other "unknown." That Eli ruled over Israel for forty years is, "in all likelihood," the unauthentic statement of a later day (Hastings' Bible Dictionary). Why so? we may ask.—The book of Deuteronomy was written, we are told, in 561 B. C., and Ecclesiastes in 264 B.C.; and a German critic, Budde, is certain that the book of job has somehow lost its last chapter, and that fifty-nine verses of this book should be wholly expunged.

Such are a few illustrations of the way in which Holy Scripture is treated by the criticism we are considering.

But, surely, it would not require much sagacity and intelligence for one, by applying such peculiar methods, say, to Goethe's works, to demonstrate critically that a good share of those productions, such as Erlkönig, Iphigenia, Götz von Berlichingen, the Wahlverwandschaften, Faust (Parts I. and II.), belong, if judged of by their style of composition and their historical and philosophical views, to wholly different epochs, and that they originated with many different authors. Moreover, it could easily be shown that none of those authors lived in the times when Napoleon Bonaparte revolutionized Europe, since his name is not mentioned in any of the productions specified.

Criticism as Applied to the New Testament

Of course this modern criticism does not stop short of the New Testament. This part of the Bible, Harnack says, narrates for us incredible stories respecting the birth and childhood of Christ. "Nevermore," he goes on to assert, "shall we believe that he walked upon the sea and commanded the storm." It stands to reason that He did not rise from the dead. The Fourth Gospel is spurious, and so also is (according to late critical authority) the Epistle to the Romans. The Book of Revelation is only the occasion for derisive laughter on the part of these skeptical critics; and because it is so, the curse mentioned in its last chapter is made applicable to them (vs. 18, 19).Nevertheless, these men sin most seriously against Christ. In their view the very Son of God, the Word that was in the beginning with God, and that was God, and without Whom nothing exists, is only a fanatical young rabbi; entangled in the peculiar views and superstitions of his people; and he died upon the cross only because he misconceived of the character of his own mission and the nature of his times. Jesus "is not indispensable to the Gospel," so writes Harnack.

Now all this is what is denominated Biblical criticism. It is a jumble of mere hypotheses, imaginings and assertions, brought forward often without even the shadow of proof, and with no real certainty. Still, in these times it represents itself to thousands of nominal Christians and to hundreds of miserably deceived theological students who are to become preachers of God's word, as being the "assured results of the latest scientific research." May God have mercy, if such is the case!

What Are the Fruits of this Criticism?

Now, if these people were of the truth, and if they would only believe Him who says, "I am the way, the truth and the life," they would not be under the necessity of tediously working their way through the numerous publications (statistics show that there appear in Europe and America annually some eight hundred of these works) ; but they would find in His teaching a simple and sure means for testing the character of these critical doctrines. "Ye shall know them by their fruits," is what Christ says of the false teachers who came in His name. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matt. 7:16). Are the fruits of modern criticism good? Where are the grapes or figs that grow on this thornbush? Has not this criticism already robbed, and perhaps forever, thousands of people of their first love, their undoubting faith, and their joyous hope? Has it not sowed dissension, fostered pride and self-conceit, and injured before all the world the authority of both the church and its ministers? Has it not offended Christ's "little ones?" (Matt. 18:6, 7). And does it not every day furnish the enemies of God with opportunities for deriding and scorning the truth? Where are the souls that it has led to God-comforting, strengthening, purifying and sanctifying them? Where are the individuals who even in the hour of death have continued to rejoice in the benefits of this criticism?

In the study-room it ensnares, in lecture-halls it makes great pretenses, for mere popular lectures it is still serviceable; but when the thunders of God's power break in upon the soul, when despair at the loss of all one has loved takes possession of the mind, when remembrance of a miserable lost life or of past misdeeds is felt and realized, when one is on a sick-bed and death approaches, and the soul, appreciating that it is now on the brink of eternity, calls for a Saviorjust at this time when its help is most needed, this modern religion utterly fails. In the year 1864, in Geneva, one of those modern theologians was summoned to prepare for execution a young man who had committed murder and robbery. But he candidly exclaimed, "Call some one else, I have nothing to say to him." This incompetent criticism did not know of any consolation for the sin-burdened soul; therefore an orthodox clergyman was obtained. and the wretched man, murderer though he was, died reconciled to God through the blood of Christ.

But suppose that all the teachings of this criticism were true, what would it avail us? It would put us in a sad condition indeed. For then, sitting beside ruined temples and broken-down altars, with no joy as respects the hereafter, no hope of everlasting life, no God to help us, no forgiveness of sins, feeling miserable, all desolate in our hearts and chaotic in our minds, we should be utterly unable either to know or believe anything more. Can such a view of the world, such a religion, which, as was said of Professor Harnack's lectures in America, only destroys, removes and tears down, be true? No! If this modern criticism is true, then away with all so-called Christianity, which only deceives us with idle tales! Away with a religion which has nothing to offer us but the commonplace teachings of morality! Away with faith! Away with hope! Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!

These Teachings in the Light of Scripture

But let us hear what God's word has to say regarding this topic:

2 Pet. 1:21—"For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

2 Tim. 3:16, 17—"All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

Gal. 1:11, 12—"I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not after man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Rom. 1:16.—"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."

Acts 20:30.—But "of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."

2 Pet. 2:1.—"There were false prophets also among the people, * * * who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them."

1 Cor. 1:20, 21.—"Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

Col. 2:4-8.—"This I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words," or "spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

1 Cor. 3:19.—"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."

1 Cor. 2:5.—"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

1 Cor. 2:4.—"And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

1 Cor. 2:12, 13.—"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

Col. 1:21 and 2 Cor. 10:5.—Therefore "you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works," now "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

Gal. 1:9.—"As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

1 Cor. 15:17.—"Whosoever says that Christ is not risen, his faith is vain, he is yet in his sins."

2 John, vs. 7, 9, 10, 11.—"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. * * * Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

Luke 11:52.—"Woe unto you lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."

Conclusion

Let us then, by repudiating this modern criticism, show our condemnation of it. What does it offer us? Nothing. What does it take away? Everything. Do we have any use for it? No! It neither helps us in life nor comforts us in death; it will not judge us in the world to come. For our Biblical faith we do not need either the encomiums of men, nor the approbation of a few poor sinners. We will not attempt to improve the Scriptures and adapt them to our liking, but we will believe them. We will not criticize them, but we will ourselves be directed by them. We will not exercise authority over them, but we will obey them. We will trust Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. His word shall make us free.

Respice finem, "consider the end"—that is what even the old Romans said. True rationalism adjudges all things from the standpoint of eternity; and it asks of every religion, What can you do for me with regard to the great beyond? What does this Biblical criticism offer us here? Only fog and mist, or, at best, an endless state of indecision, something impersonal and inactive, just like its god, whose very nature is inconceivable. "Eternal life," writes one of these modernists, "is only the infinitely weak vestige of the present life." (!) Here also the maxim proves itself true, "By their fruits ye shall know them." Just as for our present life this criticism offers us no consolation, no forgiveness of sins, no deliverance from "the fear of death, through which we are all our lifetime subject to bondage," so also it knows nothing respecting the great beyond-nothing with regard to that new heaven and new earth wherein righteousness shall dwell, nothing with regard to that golden city which shines with eternal light, nothing with regard to a God who wipes away all tears from our eyes. It is utterly ignorant of the glory of God, and on that account it stands condemned.

"Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:68, 69). And He answered, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast; that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:11).

 

 

Yes! Jesus is Coming!


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