I affectionately inscribe this book to
Christianity is the religion of a Book. Christianity is based upon the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture. The starting point of all doctrinal discussion must be the Bible. Upon the foundation of the Divine inspiration of the Bible stands or falls the entire edifice of Christian truth. - ”If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). Surrender the dogma of verbal inspiration and you are left like a rudderless ship on a stormy sea-at the mercy of every wind that blows. Deny that the Bible is, without any qualifications, the very Word of God, and you are left without any ultimate standard of measurement and without any supreme authority. It is useless to discuss any doctrine taught by the Bible until you are prepared to acknowledge, unreservedly, that the Bible is the final court of appeal. Grant that the Bible is a Divine revelation and communication of God’s own mind and will to men, and you have a fixed starting point from which advance can be made into the domain of truth. Grant that the Bible is (in its original manuscripts) inerrant and infallible and you reach the place where study of its contents is both practicable and profitable.
It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the doctrine of the Divine inspiration of Scripture. This is the strategic center of Christian theology, and must be defended at all costs. It is the point at which our satanic enemy is constantly hurling his hellish battalions. Here it was he made his first attack. In Eden he asked, “Yea, hath God said?” and today he is pursuing the same tactics. Throughout the ages the Bible has been the central object of his assaults. Every available weapon in the devil’s arsenal has been employed in his determined and ceaseless efforts to destroy the temple of God’s truth. In the first days of the Christian era the attack of the enemy was made openly - the bonfire being the chief instrument of destruction - but, in these “last days” the assault is made in a more subtle manner and comes from a more unexpected quarter. The Divine origin of the Scriptures is now disputed in the name of “Scholarship” and “Science,” and that, too, by those who profess to be friends and champions of the Bible. Much of the learning and theological activity of the hour, are concentrated in the attempt to discredit and destroy the authenticity and authority of God’s Word, the result being that thousands of nominal Christians are plunged into a sea of doubt. Many of those who are paid to stand in our pulpits and defend the Truth of God are now the very ones who are engaged in sowing the seeds of unbelief and destroying the faith of those to whom they minister. But these modern methods will prove no more successful in their efforts to destroy the Bible than did those employed in the opening centuries of the Christian era. As well might the birds attempt to demolish the granite rock of Gibraltar by pecking at it with their beaks - “For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).
Now the Bible does not fear investigation. Instead of fearing it, the Bible courts and challenges consideration and examination. The more widely it is known, the more closely it is read, the more carefully it is studied, the more unreservedly will it be received as the Word of God. Christians are not a company of enthusiastic fanatics. They are not lovers of myths. They are not anxious to believe a delusion. They do not desire their lives to be molded by an empty superstition. They do not wish to mistake hallucination for inspiration. If they are wrong, they wish to be set right. If they are deceived, they want to be disillusioned. If they are mistaken, they desire to be corrected.
The first question which the thoughtful reader of the Bible has to answer is, What importance and value am I to attach to the contents of the Scriptures? Were the writers of the Bible so many fanatics moved by oracular frenzy? Were they merely poetically inspired and intellectually elevated? or, were they, as they claimed to be, and as the Scriptures affirm they were, moved by the Holy Spirit to act as the voice of God to a sinful world? Were the writers of the Bible inspired by God in a manner no other men were in any other age of the world? Were they invested and endowed with the power to disclose mysteries and point men upward and onward to that which otherwise would have been an impenetrable future? One can readily appreciate the fact that the answer to these questions is of supreme importance. If the Bible is not inspired in the strictest sense of the word then it is worthless, for it claims to be God’s Word, and if its claims are spurious then its statements are unreliable and its contents are untrustworthy. If, on the other hand, it can be shown to the satisfaction of every impartial inquirer that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant and infallible, then we have a starting point from which we can advance to the conquest of all truth.
A book that claims to be a Divine revelation - a claim which, as we shall see, is substantiated by the most convincing credentials - cannot be rejected or even neglected without grave peril to the soul. True wisdom cannot refuse to examine it with care and impartiality. If the claims of the Bible be well founded then the prayerful and diligent study of the Scriptures becomes of paramount importance: they have a claim upon our notice and time which nothing else has, and beside them everything in this world loses its luster and sinks into utter insignificance. If the Bible be the Word of God then it infinitely transcends in value all the writings of men, and in exact ratio to its immeasurable superiority to human productions such is our responsibility and duty to give it the most reverent and serious consideration. As a Divine revelation the Bible ought to be studied, yet, this is the only subject on which human curiosity does not desire information. Into every other sphere man pushes his investigations, but the Book of books is neglected, and this, not only by the ignorant, and illiterate, but by the wise of this world as well. The cultured dilettante will boast of his acquaintance with the sages of Greece and Rome, yet, will know little or nothing of Moses and the prophets, Christ and His Apostles. But the general neglect of the Bible verifies the Scriptures and affords additional proof of their authenticity. The contempt with which the Bible is treated demonstrates that human nature is exactly what God’s Word represents it to be - fallen and depraved - and is unmistakable evidence that the carnal mind is enmity against God.
If the Bible is the Word of God; if it stands on an infinitely exalted plane, all alone; if it immeasurable transcends all the greatest productions of human genius; then, we should naturally expect to find that it has unique credentials, that there are internal marks which prove it to be the handiwork of God, that there is conclusive evidence to show that its Author is superhuman, Divine. That these expectations are realized we shall now endeavor to show; that there is no reason whatever for any one to doubt the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures is the purpose of this book to demonstrate. As we examine the natural world we find innumerable proofs of the existence of a Personal Creator, and the same God who has manifested Himself thro’ His works has also revealed His wisdom and will thro’ His Word. The God of creation and the God of written revelation are One, and there are irrefutable arguments to show that the Almighty who made the heavens and the earth is also the Author of the Bible.
We shall now submit to the critical attention of the reader a few of the lines of demonstration which argue for the Divine inspiration of the Bible.
This argument may be simply and tersely stated thus - Man needed a Divine revelation couched in human language. God had previously given man a revelation of Himself in His created works - which men please to term “nature” - but bears unmistakable testimony to the existence of its Creator, and though sufficient is revealed of God thro’ it to render all men “without excuse,” yet creation does not present a complete unveiling of God’s character. Creation reveals God’s wisdom and power, but it gives us a very imperfect presentation of His mercy and love. Creation is now under the curse; it is imperfect, because it has been marred by sin; therefore, an imperfect creation cannot be a perfect medium for revealing God; and hence, also, the testimony of creation is contradictory.
In the spring of the year, when nature puts on her loveliest robes and we see the beautiful foliage of the countryside and listen to the happy songs of the birds, we have no difficulty in inferring that a gracious God is ruling over our world. But what of the winter-time, when the countryside is desolate and the trees are leafless and forlorn, when a pall of death seems to be resting on everything? When we stood by the seashore and watched the setting sun crimsoning the placid waters on a quiet eve, we had no hesitation in ascribing the picture to the hand of the Divine Artist. But when we stand upon the same seashore on a stormy night, hear the roaring of the breakers and the howling wind, see the boats battling with the angry waves and listen to the heart-rending cries of the seamen as they go down into a watery grave, then, we are tempted to wonder if, after all, a merciful God is at the helm. As one walks thro’ the Grand Canyon or stands before the Niagara Falls, the hand and power of God seem very evident; but, as one witnesses the desolations of the San Francisco earthquake or the death-dealing effects of the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, he is again perplexed and puzzled. In a word then, the testimony of nature is conflicting, and, as we have said, this is due to the fact that sin has come in and marred God’s handiwork. Creation displays God’s natural attributes but it tells us little or nothing of His moral perfections. Nature knows no forgiveness and shows no mercy, and if we had no other source of information we should never discover the fact that God pardons sinners. Man then needs a written revelation from God.
Our limitations and our ignorance reveal our need. Man is in darkness concerning God. Blot the Bible out of existence and what should we know about His character, His moral attributes, His attitude toward us, or His demands upon us? As we have seen, nature is but an imperfect medium for revealing God. The ancients had the same nature before them as we have, but what did they discover of His character? Unto what knowledge of the one true God did they attain? The seventeenth chapter of the Acts answers that question. When the Apostle Paul was in the famous city of Athens, famous for its learning and philosophical culture, he discovered an altar, on which were inscribed the words, “To the unknown God”. The same condition prevails today. Visit those lands which have not been illumined by the light of the Holy Scriptures and it will be found that their peoples know no more about the character of the living God than did the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians.
Man is in darkness concerning himself. From whence am I? What am I? Am I anything more than a reasoning animal? Have I an immortal soul, or, am I nothing more than a sentient being? What is the purpose of my existence? Why am I here in this world at all? What is the end and aim of life? How shall I employ my time and talents? Shall I live only for today, eat, drink, and be merry? What after death? Do I perish like the beasts of the field, or is the grave the portal into another world? If so, whither am I bound? Do these questions appear senseless and irrelevant? Annihilate the Scriptures, eliminate all the light they have shed upon these problems, and whither shall we turn for a solution? If the Bible had never been written how many of these questions could have been satisfactorily answered? A very striking testimony to man’s need of a Divine revelation was given by the celebrated but skeptical historian Gibbon. He remarked - “Since, therefore, the most sublime efforts of philosophy can extend no farther than feebly to point out the desire, the hope, or, at most, the probability, of a future state, there is nothing except a Divine revelation that can ascertain the existence and describe the condition of the invisible country which is destine to receive the souls of men after their separation from the body.”
Our experiences reveal our need. There are problems to be faced which our wisdom is incapable of solving; there are obstacles in our path which we have no means of surmounting; there are enemies to be met which we are unable to vanquish. We are in dire need of counsel, strength, and courage. There are trials and tribulations which come to us, testing the hearts of the bravest and stoutest, and we need comfort and cheer. There are sorrows and bereavements which crush our spirits and we need the hope of immortality and resurrection.
Our corporate life reveals our need. What is to govern and regulate our dealings one with the other? Shall each do that which is right in his own eyes? That would destroy all law and order. Shall we draw up some moral code, some ethical standard? But who shall fix it? Opinions vary. We need some final court of appeal: if we had no Bible, where should we find it?
Man then needs a Divine revelation; God is able to supply that need; therefore, is it not reasonable to suppose He will do so? Surely God will not mock our ignorance and leave us to grope in the dark! If it is harder to believe that the universe had no creator, than it is to believe that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;” if it is a greater tax upon our faith to suppose that Christianity with all its glorious triumphs is without a Divine Founder, than it is to believe that it rests upon the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ; then, does it not also make a greater demand upon human credulity to imagine that God would leave mankind without an intelligible communication from Himself, than it does to believe that the Bible is a revelation from the Creator to His fallen and erring creatures?
If there is a personal God (and none but a “fool” will deny His existence), and if we are the works of His hands He surely would not leave us in doubt concerning the great problems which have to do with our temporal, spiritual, and eternal welfare. If an earthly parent advises his sons and daughters in their problems and perplexities, warns them of the perils and pitfalls of life which menace their well-being; counsels them with regard to their daily welfare and makes known to them his plans and purposes concerning their future, surely it is incredible to suppose that our Heavenly Father would do less for His children!
We are often uncertain as to which is the right course to pursue; we are frequently in doubt as to the real path of duty; we are constantly surrounded by the hosts of wickedness which seek to accomplish our downfall; and, we are daily confronted with experiences which make us sad and sorrowful. The wisest among us need guidance which our own wisdom fails to supply; the best of humanity need grace which the human heart is powerless to bestow; the most refined among the sons of men need deliverance from temptations which they cannot overcome. Will God mock us then in our need? Will God leave us alone in the hour of our weakness? Will God refuse to provide for us a Refuge from our enemies? Man needs a Counselor, a Comforter, a Deliverer. The very fact that God has a Father’s regard for His children necessitates that He should give them a written revelation which communicates His mind and will concerning them and which points them to the One who is willing and able to supply all their need.
To sum up this argument. Man needs a Divine revelation; God is able to supply one; is it not, therefore, reasonable to suppose He will do so? There is then, a presumption in favor of the Bible. Is it not more reasonable to believe that He whose name and nature is Love shall provide us with a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, than to leave us to grope our way amid the darkness of a fallen and ruined world?
The full force of the present argument will appeal only to those who are intimately acquainted with the Bible, and the more familiar the reader is with the Sacred Canon the more heartily will he endorse the following statements. Just as a knowledge of Latin is necessary in order to understand the technique of a treatise on pathology or physiology, or just as a certain amount of culture and academic learning is an indispensable adjunct to intelligently follow the arguments and apprehend the illustrations in a dissertation on philosophy or psychology, so a first-hand acquaintance with the Bible is necessary to appreciate the fact that its contents never become commonplace.
One of the first facts which arrests the attention of the student of God’s Word is that, like the widow’s oil and meal which nourished Elijah, the contents of the Bible are never exhausted. Unlike all other books, the Bible never acquires a sameness, and never diminishes in its power of response to the needy soul which comes to it. Just as a fresh supply of manna was given each day to the Israelites in the wilderness, so the Spirit of God ever breaks anew the Bread of Life to them who hunger after righteousness; or, just as the loaves and fishes in the hands of our Lord were more than enough to feed the famished multitude - a surplus still remaining - so the honey and milk of the Word are more than sufficient to satisfy the hunger of every human soul - the supply still remaining undiminished for new generations.
Although one may know, word for word, the entire contents of some chapter of Scripture, and although he may have taken the time to ponder thoughtfully every sentence therein, yet, on every subsequent occasion, provided one comes to it again in the spirit of humble inquiry, each fresh reading will reveal new gems never seen there before and new delights will be experienced never met with previously. The most familiar passages will yield as much refreshment at the thousandth perusal as they did at the first. The Bible has been likened to a fountain of living water: the fountain is ever the same, but the water is always fresh.
Herein the Bible differs from all other books, sacred or secular. What man has to say can be gathered from his writings at the first reading: failure to do so indicates that the writer has not succeeded in expressing himself clearly, or else the reader has failed to apprehend his meaning. Man is only able to deal with surface things, hence he cares only about surface appearances; consequently, whatever man has to say lies upon the surface of his writings, and the capable reader can exhaust them by a single perusal. Not so with the Bible. Although the Bible has been studied more microscopically than any other book (even its very letters have been counted and registered) by many of the keenest intellects for the past two thousand years, although whole libraries of works have been written as commentaries upon its teachings, and although literally millions of sermons have been preached and printed in the attempt to expound every part of Holy Writ, yet its contents have not been exhausted, and in this twentieth century new discoveries are being made in it every day!
The Bible is an inexhaustible mine of wealth: it is the El Dorado of heavenly treasure. It has veins of ore which never “give out” and pockets of gold which no pick can empty; yet, like earthly treasures, the gems of God must be diligently sought if they are to be found. Potatoes lie near the surface of the ground, but diamonds require much laborious digging, so also the precious things of the Word are only revealed to the prayerful, patient and diligent student.
The Bible is like a spring of water which never runs dry. No matter how many may drink from its life-giving stream, and no matter how often they may quench their thirst at its refreshing waters, its flow continues and never fails to satisfy the needs of all who come and take of its perennial springs. The Bible has a whole continent of Truth yet to be explored. A learned scholar who died during the present year of grace had read through the Bible no fewer than five hundred times! What other book, ancient or modern, Oriental or Occidental, would repay even a fiftieth reading?
How can we account for this marvelous characteristic of the Bible? What explanation can we offer for this startling phenomenon? It is only stating a commonplace axiom when we affirm that what is finite is fathomable. What the mind of man has produced the mind of man can exhaust. If human mortals had written the Bible its contents would have been “mastered” ages ago. In view of the fact that the contents of the Scriptures cannot be exhausted, that they never acquire sameness or staleness to the devout student, and that they always speak with fresh force to the quickened soul that comes to them, is it not apparent that none other than the infinite mind of God could have created such a wonderful Book as the Bible?
The title of this chapter suggests a wide field of study the limits of which we can now only skirt here and there. To begin with the writers of the Old Testament.
Had the historical parts of the Old Testament been a forgery, or the production of uninspired men, their contents would have been very different to what they are. Each of its Books was written by a descendant of Abraham, yet nowhere do we find the bravery of the Israelites extolled and never once are their victories regarded as the outcome of their courage or military genius; on the contrary, success is attributed to the presence of Jehovah the God of Israel. To this it might be replied, Heathen writers have often ascribed the victories of their peoples to the intervention of their gods. This is true, yet there is no parallel at all between the two cases. Comparison is impossible. Heathen writers invariably represent their gods as being blindly partial to their friends and whenever their favorites failed to come out victorious their defeat is attributed to the opposition of other gods or to a blind and unyielding fate. In contradistinction to this, the defeats of Israel, as much as their victories, are regarded as coming from Jehovah. Their successes were not due to mere partiality in God, but are uniformly viewed as connected with a careful observance of His commands; and, in like manner, their defeats are portrayed as the outcome of their disobedience and waywardness. If they transgressed His laws they were defeated and put to shame, even though their God was the Almighty. But we have digressed somewhat. That to which we desire to direct attention is the fact that men who were their own countrymen have chronicled the history of the Israelites, and therein have faithfully recorded their defeats not to an inexorable fate, nor to bad generalship and military failures, but to the sins of the people and their wickedness against God. Such a God is not the creation of the human mind, and such historians were not actuated by the common principles of human nature.
Not only have the Jewish historians recounted the military defeats of their people, but they have also faithfully recorded their many moral backslidings and spiritual declinations. One of the outstanding truths of the Old Testament is that the Unity of God, that God is One, that beside Him there is none else, that all other gods are false gods and that to pay them homage is to be guilty of the sin of idolatry. Against the sin of idolatry these Jewish writers cry out repeatedly. They uniformly declare that it is a sin most abhorrent in the sight of heaven. Yet, these same Jewish writers record how again and again their ancestors (contrary to the universal leaning towards ancestral adoration and worship), and their contemporaries, were guilty of this great wickedness. Not only so, but they have pointed out how some of their most famous heroes sinned in this very particular. Aaron and the golden calf, Solomon and the later kings being notable examples - “Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods” (Kings 11:7,8). Moreover, there is no attempt made to excuse their wrongdoing; instead, their acts are openly censured and uncompromisingly condemned. As is well known, human historians are inclined to conceal or extenuate the faults of their favorites. A forged history would have clothed friends with every virtue, and would not have ventured to mar the effect designed to be produced by uncovering the vices of its most distinguished personages. Here then, is displayed the uniqueness of Scripture history. Its characters are painted in the colors of truth and nature. But such characters were never sketched by a human pencil. Moses and the other writers must have written by Divine inspiration.
The sin of idolatry, while it is the worst of which Israel was guilty, is not the only evil recorded against them - their whole history is one long story of repeated apostasy from Jehovah their God. After they had been emancipated from the bondage of Egypt and had been miraculously delivered from their cruel masters at the Red Sea, they commenced their journey towards the Promised Land. Between them and their goal lay a march across the wilderness, and here the depravity of their hearts was fully manifested. In spite of the fact that Jehovah, by overthrowing their enemies, had plainly demonstrated that He was their God, yet no sooner was the faith of the Israelites put to the test than their hearts failed them. First, their stores of food began to give out and they feared they would perish from hunger. Trying circumstances had banished the Living God from their thoughts. They complained of their lot and murmured against Moses. Yet God did not deal with them after their sins nor reward them according to their iniquities: in mercy, He gave them bread from heaven and furnished them a daily supply of manna. But they soon became dissatisfied with the manna and lusted after the flesh pots of Egypt. Still God dealt with them in grace.
Shortly after God’s intervention in giving the Israelites food to eat, which ought for ever to have closed their murmuring mouths, they pitched in Rephidim where “there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.” What was God’s response? Did His anger consume them? Did He refuse to bear longer with such a stiff-necked people? No: “The Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (Exod. 17).
The above incidents were but sadly typical and illustrative of Israel’s general conduct. When the spies were sent out to view the Promised Land and returned and reported, ten of them magnified the difficulties which confronted them and advised the people not to attempt an occupation of Canaan; and though the remaining two faithfully reminded the Israelites that the mighty Jehovah could easily overcome all their difficulties, nevertheless, the nation listened not but heeded the word of their skeptical advisers. Time after time they provoked Jehovah, and in consequence the whole of that generation perished in the wilderness. When the succeeding generation was grown, under the leadership of Joshua they entered the Promised Land and by the aid of God overthrew many of their enemies and occupied much of their territory. But after the death of Joshua we read, “There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth” (Judge. 2:10-13). There is no need for us to follow further the fluctuating fortunes of Israel: as is well known, under the period of the judges their history was a series of returns to the Lord and subsequent departures from Him; repeated deliverances from the hands of their enemies, and then returning unfaithfulness on their part, followed by being again delivered unto their foes. Under the kings it was no better. The very first of their kings perished thro’ his willful disobedience and apostasy; the third king, Solomon, violated God’s law and married heathen women who turned his heart unto false gods. Solomon, in turn, was followed by a number of idolatrous rulers, and the path of Israel ran farther and farther away from the Lord, until He delivered them over unto Nebuchadnezzar who captured their beloved Jerusalem, destroyed their Temple, and carried away the people into captivity.
In the repeated mention which we have in the Old Testament of Israel’s sins, we discover, in light as clear as day, the absolute honesty and candor of those who recorded Israel’s history. No attempt whatever is made to conceal their folly, their unbelief, and their wickedness; instead, the corrupt condition of their hearts is made fully manifest, and this, by writers who belonged to, and were born of the same nation. In the whole realm of literature there is no parallel. The record of Israel’s history is absolutely unique. The careful reader would at first conclude that Israel as a nation was more depraved than any other, yet further reflection will show that the inference is a false one and that the real fact is that the history of Israel has been more faithfully transmitted than that of any other nation. We mean the history of Israel as it is recorded in the Holy Scriptures, for in striking contrast thereto and in exemplification of all that we have written above, it is noteworthy that Josephus passes over in silence whatever appeared unfavorable to his nation!!
Coming now to the New Testament we begin with the character of John the Baptist and the position that he occupied. John the Baptist is presented as a most eminent personage. We are told that his birth was due to the miraculous intervention of God. We learn that he was “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). John the Baptist was himself the subject of Old Testament prediction. The office that he filled was the most honorable which ever fell to the lot of any member of Adam’s race. He was the harbinger of the Messiah. He was the one who went before our Lord to prepare His way. He had the honor of baptizing the blessed Redeemer. Now where would human wisdom have placed him among the attendants of the Lord Jesus? What position would it have ascribed to him? Surely he would have been set forth as the most distinguished among our Lord’s followers; surely, human wisdom would have set him at the right hand of the Saviour! Yet what do we find? Instead of this, we discover that he had no familiar discourse with the Saviour; instead, we find he was treated with apparent neglect; instead, we find him represented as occupying the position of a doubter who, as the result of his imprisonment, was constrained to send a message to his Master to enquire whether or not He were the promised Messiah. Had his character been the invention of forgery, nothing would have been heard of his lapse of faith. Indeed, this is so opposed to the dictates of human wisdom, that many have been shocked at the thought of ascribing doubts to the eminent forerunner of Christ, and have taxed their ingenuity to the utmost to force from the obvious meaning of the record some other and some different signification. But all these ingenuities of human sophistry are dissipated by the reply which our Lord made on the occasion of John’s inquiry (Matt. 11), a reply which shows very plainly that the question was asked not for the benefit of his disciples, but because the Baptist’s own heart was harassed with doubts. Again, we say that no human mind could have invented the character of John the Baptist, and the faithfulness of his biographers is another proof that the writers of the Bible were actuated by something more and something higher than the principles of human nature.
Another striking illustration of our chapter heading - one which many writers have pointed out - is the treatment the Son of God received while He tabernacled among men. For two thousand years Israel’s hopes had all centered in the advent of their Messiah. The height of every Jewish woman’s ambition was that she might be selected of God to have the honor of being the mother of the promised Seed. For centuries, every pious Hebrew had looked and longed for the day when He should appear who was to occupy David’s throne and rule and reign in righteousness. Yet, when He did appear how was the Promised One received? “He was despised and rejected of men.” “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” Those who were His brethren according to the flesh “hated” Him “without a cause.” The very nation which gave Him birth and to which He ministered in infinite grace and blessing demanded that He should be crucified. The startling thing which we desire to particularly emphasize is, that the narrators of this awful tragedy are fellow countrymen of those upon whose heads rested the guilt of its perpetration. It was Jewish writers who recorded the fearful crime of the Jewish nation against their Messiah! And, we say again, that in the recording of that crime no attempt whatever is made to palliate or extenuate their wickedness; instead, it is denounced and condemned in the most uncompromising terms. Israel is openly charged with having taken and with “wicked hands” slain the “Lord of Glory.” Such an honest and impartial recital of Israel’s crowning sin can only be explained on the ground that what these men wrote was inspired of God.
One more illustration must suffice. After our Lord’s death and resurrection, He commissioned His disciples to go forth carrying from Him a message first to His own nation and later to “every creature.” This message, be it noted, was not a malediction called down upon the heads of His heartless murderers, but a proclamation of grace. It was a message of good news, of glad tidings - forgiveness was to be preached in His name to all men. How then would human wisdom suppose such a message will be received? It is further to be observed that those who were thus commissioned to carry the Gospel to the lost, were vested with power to heal the sick and to cast out demons. Surely such a beneficent ministry will meet with a universal welcome! Yet, incredible as it may appear, the Apostles of Christ met with no more appreciation than did their Master. They, too, were despised and rejected. They, too, were hated and persecuted. They, too, were ill treated, imprisoned, and put to a shameful death. And this, not merely from the hands of the bigoted Jews, but from the cultured Greeks and from the democratic and freedom loving Romans as well. Though these Apostles brought blessing, they themselves were cursed; though they sought to emancipate men from the thraldom of sin and Satan, yet they were themselves captured and thrown into prison; though they healed the sick and raised the dead, they suffered martyrdom. Surely it is apparent to every impartial mind that the New Testament is no mere human invention; and surely it is evident from the honesty of its writers in so faithfully portraying the enmity of the carnal mind against God, that their productions can only be accounted for on the ground that they spake and wrote “not of themselves,” but “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21).