The Encouraging Word of God
Listening to James MacDonald’s radio program “Walk in the Word” tonight, I was encouraged by something he said. In his message he spoke of how the Bible is attacked and maligned with such vengeance on college campuses and elsewhere. We seldom see such attacks against the Book of Mormon, or the Quran, or any other spiritual literature – just the Bible. He said the reason we don’t see such attacks against the others is that they just don’t reflect true realities like the Bible does.
It encouraged me in a strange, but substantive way. The reason the Bible is so attacked and maligned by so many is that it really does matter. It IS the Word of God. It does have the Words of Life. It is a living, breathing, life-giving light in a very dark world. It changes people. It brings peace during chaos. It offers hope amidst utter devastation. And it has withstood such fierce attacks for centuries – and it’s not going away. The darker the world gets, the brighter it shines.
What is really remarkable is how it has won over some of its most dedicated critics. Simon Greenleaf attempted to show by his widely accepted rules of testimony, that the four gospels were either collusion, or the telling of different stories – he wrote “Testimony of the Evangelists”. Josh McDowell set out to prove that the evidence refuted the resurrection of Jesus – he wrote two volumes of “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”. Viggo Olsen set out to prove the Bible to be scientifically inaccurate – he wrote “Daktar, Diplomat in Bangladesh”. Antony Flew spent most of his life lecturing and writing against the Bible and promoting Atheism – he wrote “There is a God.”
The list goes on and on. Time-and-time-again, the Bible wins over those who honestly oppose it and try to refute it by studying it to expose its weaknesses. Instead of weaknesses, they find it to be the powerful word of God. Instead of holes, they find it to be the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead of inaccuracies, they find insights missed by centuries of scientific enquiry. Instead of oppressive legalism, they find life-giving grace. Instead of irrelevance, they find it to more accurately describe the state of mankind and this world than any other work in existence. Instead of a hateful mean-spirited God, they find a God who loves them so much that He sacrificed what was most precious to save them. They find that the Bible really does matter!
And that is the reason it comes under such relentless assault. Something in us chafes when faced with ultimate authority. Part of our fallen nature wants to lash out at anything that claims authority. Every time I see one of those bumper-stickers that read “Question Authority”, I want to reply, “Who says I have to?”
I do not think God feels the least bit threatened when His word comes under attack, and I don’t think I need to lose heart about it either. His word will stand, when all others are proven false. Communism could not blot out God’s Word – there were hundreds of times more Christians in China when it opened up to the west in the 1980s than when it kicked out the missionaries in 1949. Nazism could not overcome the Bible – it only proved the depravity of man and drove many, including Jews to the Bible. Rome could not keep the New Testament from being written – its road system became the Bible’s distribution network to the world. Materialism could not make God’s truth unnecessary – its emptiness highlighted the Bible’s substance. Darwinism could not explain away the creator – it only reveals more of God’s glorious creation. Neither will the “New Atheism” prove the Bible irrelevant or harmful.
So I need not lose sleep when someone with fancy credentials or notoriety lashes out at the Bible. I don’t think God is wringing His hands over it, neither should I. Instead I can sit back and watch the glory of God as He triumphs over the most “formidable” of His detractors. Yet like God, I need not see them as enemies to be eliminated. He has drawn some of His best workers from such stock. I think of the Apostle Paul, at one point committed to the elimination of this troublesome sect from the face of the earth. Even before his conversion, all he accomplished was to spread its followers over the known world by his acts of oppression.
What encourages me about all of this is that I don’t need to “defend” the Bible. It will stand on its own merit. It will defend itself better than I ever will be able. All I need do is present it. God’s Word will sink down into the hearts of people, even the most hardened, and kindle that flame so long smothered. It will inspire even the most lifeless. It will give hope to the most discouraged. It will bring light to the deepest dungeon. It will bring a song to the spiritually deaf and dumb.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (New International Version, ©2011)