“Things Which Are Surely Believed Among Us” --Part 1

“Things Which Are Surely Believed Among Us”
Part 1

E. W. Rogers

The phrase, “Things which are most surely believed among us” is to be interpreted in no sectarian sense. “Food for the Flock” does not foster sectarianism. The phrase has been extracted from Luke 1:1, and, in using it is a caption for a series of articles touching our Faith, we wish to imply that those responsible for the production of the magazine unreservedly believe all that is contained in “the Scriptures of Truth,” and they write for that large body of Christians who share their like faith. All over the world, and at all times, God has those who, like Paul, say, “I believe God.”

Seeing that our beliefs are based on Holy Scripture, it follows that we should first consider the nature of those Scriptures, in order to satisfy ourselves that our faith is well-founded. Our first paper, therefore, will relate to …

The Authority and Sufficiency of the Holy Scripture

The writer well recalls a conversation he had with a Mohammedan and his positive refusal to admit into the discussion the statements of the Bible. Said he, “You refuse to admit my holy book, and I, therefore, refuse to admit yours.” Yet, apart from the Sacred Writings of Holy Scripture, we can say nothing with assurance touching things which cannot otherwise be verified. We must, therefore, be satisfied as to the reliability of the “Holy Bible.”

The subject is immense, and in such an article as this we can but barely skim the surface. In the first place, we must make it plain that, in claiming that the Scriptures are inspired of God, and are in every way inerrant, we are referring to the original autographs and not to subsequent copies. None of the original documents are extant today: God, for wise purposes, has allowed them to disappear. But there are many copies of these originals available, some of greater antiquity than others, and some more accurate than others. As was almost inevitable, errors crept into the copies, but it is admitted by all who are competent to speak that the number of these is so small relative to the whole that they do not affect in the slightest degree one doctrine of Scripture. We are greatly in the debt of textual critics by whose hard labours we have had restored to us with the barest minimum of “copyists’ errors,” the text as it was originally written.

We must further make it plain that we are not claiming inspiration for the translations of Scripture into various languages. The King James’ Authorized Version is but a revision of former translations, and since it, there have been other revisions. Indeed, in our day we have a spare of translations and alleged translations, many of which are but paraphrases. The writer is not unaware of the necessity of using paraphrases when translating: the two things are almost inseparable where idioms are involved, but for all practical purposes the English reader cannot do better than use the Authorized Version of King James, alongside the Revised Version of 1881.

We firmly believe the Scriptures to be verbally inspired of God. By this is meant that God took up, from time to time, certain persons, and used them in given circumstances to convey His message to those of their day and in so doing, while He employed their own personality and individuality, He safeguarded them from all error in verbal expression so that they infallibly communicated His mind. He did not dictate the message to them, but in a way that is as mysterious as are all the other works of God, He made these penmen, who were fallible in themselves, convey in infallible words His own message. The Book itself makes claims to this effect. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (1 Tim. 3:16). “Men from God spake as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1, 21). “Which things we speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13). The penmen were but channels: God was the source, hence we read, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet” (Matt. 1:22). Note the prepositions: “of” denotes source: “by” denotes channel. It was so in Old Testament times when frequently the prophets said: “Thus saith the Lord:” “The word of the Lord came to me,” and such like expressions.

Moreover, the Scriptures are literally inspired, that is the very letters are “sacred letters” (2 Tim. 3.16), not one “jot” (the tiniest Hebrew letter) nor one “tittle” (the tiny curve on one Hebrew letter to distinguish it from another) will pass away. Paul remarks that the word “seed” was in the singular and not the plural, because it pointed to one special Person, Christ (Gal. 3:16).

It is not merely the tenor of Scripture which is inspired, but the very words are, which is evidenced by the fact that the writer to the Hebrews comments on such words as “yet once,” and “new,” and so on (see Heb. 8:13; 12:27).

So utterly were the writers of Scripture under the control of the Holy Spirit that, in some instances, the prophets had to read, search and examine their own writings for they failed to understand their significance (see 1 Peter 1:10). Other authors are expected to understand what they have written, even though their readers may fail to grasp the meaning, but it was not always so with the prophets of old. The reason for this was that they did not write of their own volition. “The prophecy came not at any time by the will of man” (2 Pet. 1:20). Doubtless they felt the burden of their message, grieved at the state of the people, and longed for their recovery, but they were impelled by a power other than their own to inscribe the “words of the Lord.” They knew they were communicating His word.

The men were fallible; their writings were infallible. The men were inspired, their writings are inspired, and they are therefore ‘living oracles’ (Acts 7:38). “The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). “The Word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). They are living and life-giving in themselves, and therefore when spoken to those who are “dead,” they become a means of imparting life (see Ez. 37:4). They do not become living only when the hearer has life; they are living before ever he lives.

Seeing it is the “Word of God” it partakes of the nature of God: it is faithful, true, authoritative; its foreshadowings “must come to pass.” Nothing must be added to it and nothing taken from it (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19).

We cannot here discuss the settlement of the canon of Scripture. Suffice it to say that in the days of the Lord Jesus “the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets” constituted the sacred volume which He used. It is so today in the Hebrew Bible. As in the New Testament canon, that was settled, not by the decision of a human tribunal, but by the over-ruling providence of God who used the merits of the various writings to win their way into the volume which we now know as the New Testament. There have, of course, been claimants for entry into the Sacred Canon, but we do not stay to discuss the alleged merits and the actual demerits of such writings. At so late a date in human history, we need not raise any question in this direction, though we may add that the interested and curious reader can, should he have the time, browse through the findings of those who have specialized in such a research. We are satisfied that the canon is complete, and that not one book has been wrongly excluded, nor has one book been wrongly admitted. Peter acknowledges Paul’s letters to be “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:16).

The harmony of Scripture is amazing. Suppose one were to collate in one volume the writings of various medical men who lived during the last two millenniums, and resided in different countries and had totally different backgrounds, what appearance of harmony would be there? Yet, men from all walks of life, such as statesmen, shepherds, fishermen, scholars, herdsmen and the like,, living at different eras, in different countries, and all unknown to the others, wrote that which when put together forms one complete, harmonious whole, each part throwing light on the other, and the whole being as a body, each part being mutually interdependent on the other. Does this not demonstrate that one pervading and controlling Spirit was actuating each writer to the same end? If it be alleged that there are inaccuracies and contradictions, it must be borne in mind that we are not given all the facts, but a divinely selected record of what is relevant, and did we know all, there is no doubt that all such difficulties would be resolved. Besides, as old Matthew Henry used to say, “If there were two blind men, there certainly was one.”

The fulfilment of many prophecies of Scripture is a demonstration of its inspiration. Who, unaided, can forecast with so many specific details, and at so remote a period of time from the accomplishments, events which came to pass in every detail as foreshadowed? This thing is of God and could be of none other. To recount the fulfilment of every prophecy of Scripture thus far up-to date would make a large volume, and space here forbids our entering such a subject. It is well-known that the multiplication of details in a prophecy renders its fulfilment the more unlikely, but not so when God is the Forecaster. The archeologists’ spade has shown how ancient history fulfilled entirely what God had foreannounced. He knows the end from the beginning.

What is called “Science” has attempted to discredit the Bible, but it is such a fickle and changing thing that we are not surprised that the Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture stands unmoved. Any theory may appear to show Scripture to be faulty; but facts are not theories, and as yet no scientific fact has successfully falsified Scripture. If it be objected that the Bible does not speak in scientific terms, and is, therefore, not true to fact, the objector should enquire whether, with all his knowledge, he stills speaks of a rising and setting sun, or is he so pedantic that he speaks differently of these (and other) matters from all his fellow men? To write in language understood by the unlearned, and in accordance with the appearance of things, is not to be untrue to nature.

But there is more, for the survival of the Scriptures, despite the relentless attempts to destroy it, shows that it has an indestructible vitality. “The Word of the Lord abideth for ever.” Jehoiakim’s penknife may cut it up, and his fire may burn it, but even so God was not thwarted. He had more to say and the last word withal.

It is not merely active opposition that is calculated to destroy a thing, but apathy can be far more effective. How few there are who read and study God’s Word! We speak of “few” among the people of God. Strange as it is, most are apathetic to it. They may read it as a matter of religious duty, but few there be who “delight in the law of the Lord and meditate in it day and night.” It might be supposed that such apathy would reduce the demand for the Scriptures, but notwithstanding, it is still the “best seller.” No inquisitor’s fire can destroy it; no indifference to it can nullify it.

Its effects are amazing: lives have been reformed by reading it; light has entered and life has been imparted by it. Nations have been changed by it, and institutions have arisen which are the practical manifestation of “good works” which the Scriptures call for from those who have first received the “benefit” of God’s grace. Ask yourself, what would life have been like for you had there been no Bible in the land in which you were born and in the home where you were reared?

It is mere gullibility to believe anything one is told without personal investigation to assure one’s self of its truth. Everyone of us should be like the noble Bereans, and search the Scriptures daily in order to get to know the truth. “To the law and to the testimony:” if in these articles touching “Things most surely believed among us” there should be found anything that is not supported by and gleaned from Holy Scripture, it should be promptly rejected.

It is confidently believed that we shall be found to have stated what is indubitably taught in God’s Word. We shall not be able to explain everything: could we do that, faith would be unnecessary, and the Book itself would be discredited. It is not to be supposed that a finite book would emanate from an Infinite God. No other so-called holy book can compare with the Bible. It stands supreme in solitary grandeur, towering above all else. Of it someone has said:

“The Bible alone, of all books in the world, addresses itself to the whole man; it exercises his memory, strengthens his reason, controls his passions, informs his judgment, regulates his conscience, sanctifies his will, stimulates his practice, quickens his hope, and animates his faith.”