All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and 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. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
When it says “all Scripture,” there is a reference back to the preceding verse: “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures.” And nothing on earth is more clearly understood than that the Holy Scriptures that boy studied from the time he could learn at all, was that Book, or twenty-two books, called now the Old Testament. Every Jewish child in the land had access in some way to that volume.
There are twenty-two divisions of the entire Old Testament. I mean to say that the Jews thus divided it for convenience to themselves in its use, and they made just as many divisions as there were letters in the Hebrew alphabet, as you will find by reading the one hundred nineteenth Psalm, where that Psalm is divided into twenty-two parts, each part for convenience being named so as to correspond to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And so the Jewish division of the Old Testament into twenty-two parts, as set forth by Josephus, includes the thirty-nine books as we now have them.
Anybody who will give five minutes’ attention to it can receive a perfect demonstration of the historical correctness of the fact that our thirty-nine books of the Old Testament correspond to the twenty-two Jewish books. For instance, they put all the twelve Minor Prophets into one book, and they counted First and Second Kings one book. Their twenty-two and our thirty-nine correspond in text, and that volume of twenty-two books was translated into the Greek language and the translation completed at least one hundred and fifty years before Christ came into the world. That translation is the Septuagint.
Now that Book, subdivided into twenty-two books, was, by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and by His apostles and by uninspired Jewish rabbis, called in a body the Holy Scriptures. It is the declaration of this text that every one of these sacred writings is – now here, just one word – God-inspired, i.e., in the Greek it is just one word. Every one of these books is God-inspired, and it means God-inspired in every part of every one of them. And it means much more that it is inspired in its words than it means inspired in the thoughts of the men who wrote it. Often the thought in the mind of the man who wrote it was not the right thought, but the words he wrote were from God, and it is verbal inspiration.?Take the case of one of the prophets included in that list of twenty-two books.
When the revelation came to him, he was not expecting it at all. It was as much a surprise to him as it was to anybody else in the world. Take another case – the man who was inspired didn’t in any sense understand what he said and what he wrote. His thoughts did not enter into it at all. Very many of the ancient prophets recorded under divine direction and proclaimed under divine authority things that were as mysterious to them as they were to anybody else in the world. So, to make it an inspiration at all, it is absolutely essential that the words should have been inspired. Not only is this true, but in the case of some of them they were not themselves conscious that they were under inspiration at all at the time, as when Caiaphas made a prophecy concerning Christ, so that the thought of the human writer had nothing to do with the inspiration.
This inspiration may be mentioned under three parts: First, its revelation; second, its record; and third, the authentication of the record. God may reveal His will to a man; or He may reveal to that man some event that will happen in the future and so far it is known only to that man. The record is made up either by that man or by somebody else, and it makes no difference whatever who does the recording. It makes no difference whatever whether the one who recorded it had himself any inspiration at all, if you can get inspired authentication of the accuracy of the record afterward. The whole question of the Old Testament practically comes before us upon a simple question of authentication. Is it authenticated to us? And does this authentication declare that it is God’s revealed will, and that the record is accurate, as God had it recorded? Do the proofs that authenticate it to us cover the question? With the rest of it we need have nothing to do. Indeed, it is wholly unnecessary for the average man to consider it. Therefore, we take the Book itself. We find the Book in use at that time. We find that it was completed many years before Christ. We find that every little Hebrew boy in the land had access in some way to a copy of that Book. And it makes no difference who wrote any particular part of this Book.
As a whole, is it by a proper authority authenticated as the Word of God, as the standard, the supreme and infallible standard, of human conduct? If one is disposed to study the subject twenty-five minutes, he can see that the entire authority of Jesus Christ is pledged to the fidelity and accuracy and sufficiency of that Book (I am so far discussing the Old Testament), and to reject any part of the Old Testament is to reject the authentication of the Son of God. As for myself, it is a small matter with me to go back and pick up any part of it in detail and verify any particular part of it. “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures.” and I take it that every one of these holy writings is God-inspired – every one of them.?Now, with reference to the New Testament, our Savior declares that He is the Word of God to men; that He comes to make known the way of life, and again His Word, so far as we are concerned, depends upon its authentication. Is it authenticated? He rested the authenticity of all of it on one single fact, on one single sign.
He put the standing or falling of both the Old Testament and the New Testament upon one solitary issue – His own resurrection from the dead; that there should no sign be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah; that as Jonah was three days and nights in the body of the great fish, so the Son of Man should be three days and three nights in the earth; and that if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain and we are yet in our sins. But if Christ be risen, and if He has ascended into heaven, and is at the right hand of the majesty of God, and from that standpoint of absolute and universal sovereignty and power, if He has given a proof that authenticates the Book, that covers the question of the whole of it without going into any of the details of it. Every one of the objections to Biblical inspiration rests on sinking sand, whether presented from the standpoint of science, or translation, or variations in texts, or certain expressions used in the Book itself that would seem to imply that its human authors were not at all times inspired. But I am not on that subject now. Just now I stand on the authentication of the entire Book; that it is sacred writing; that it comes to us accredited in such a way that we are criminal if we do not receive it in its entirety.
Now, I want to make the application. There were men, and there are some millions of them living now, who have practically set aside that Book as authority and substituted in the place of it mere traditions and reference to it. I could cite here for one-half hour declarations of distinguished Jews, some of them when dying, telling those about them not to look to the law, but to look to the Talmud, to look to the comment on the law, to look to the tradition as better than the law. Then there are two hundred million professing Christians in the world today who are averse to putting the Book itself in the hands of the people. And I could cite you authentic and official so-called infallible declarations from different popes, to the effect that the Bible societies, when they put the Word of God in circulation among the peoples of Italy and Spain and France, were committing a great sin, and that the people must look to the traditions and interpretations of the church and not to the Book itself.
I now come to press home upon your hearts one or two thoughts. First, there is a God. Then, touching His character, a good God would reveal to His immortal creatures a standard of right and wrong. He would not leave them to grope in darkness. There is bound to be, wherever there is moral accountability, a standard that measures right and wrong and that standard must be, if it comes from God, an infallible standard. You cannot conceive of right and wrong without a law that makes?one thing right and another thing wrong. You cannot even think of a good God – the thought is inconceivable – who would leave His moral and accountable creatures without a standard of human conduct.
Now, here is the historical fact that I want to impress upon you. Where men have turned aside from this Bible standard, they have been utterly at sea as to what is the standard. There has been no agreement among them. There have been just as many standards as individuals. It is a people without a king, each man following the bent of his own inclination.
Take the case of our text. Here was a little boy with that Book before him – that authenticated Book. His mother loved him, his grandmother loved him, and they believed that it could make him wise unto salvation by faith in the Redeemer it discloses. And they taught this boy this Book as the Word of God. He grew up in the knowledge of it, and when he got to be a man, he went out into the world and he found people who said, “Look here, and look there. I would not go by that Book. You take this. Here is something better than that.” Paul said to him: “You remember that from a child you studied this Book. You remember from whom it came. You remember why it came. Turn away from these men who would call your attention to any other standard.”
I know of one man who said to souls under conviction of sin. “Here, leave that; that is old. Come to modern Spiritualism. Let us turn away from the love and oracles of God and look to the spirits to tell us what is right.” A man, intelligent upon other subjects, said, “When I die, that is the last of me. I go out like a candle, and I do not live again.” And he is living as if this life were all, as if after death there was no judgment. He has turned away his heart from the supreme standard of right and wrong – the Word of God.
Why do men turn away? This Book tells us. They become lovers of self. They become lovers of money. They become haters of God. They become implacable to men. They become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Their deeds being evil, they hated the light of the Bible that shone on those deeds and called them sin, and they turned away from the Book, from the standard of right and wrong. Now, look at the declaration in that text. Because that Book is God-inspired, every bit of it is profitable. There is not a word in it that is not profitable. For what? For instruction. You want to know your relations to God and to your fellowmen in this world and in the world to come.
A steady and unwavering light shines from that Book on the human heart and on the human life, that will give every man instruction as to what he should do, that will?show him what is right and what is wrong, and here is the proof of it – that within himself a witness rises up and affirms it. His conscience speaks in attestation of the truth of God’s Word, turns away from the lies that have been whispered into his ear as a substitute for that Book.
It is profitable for conviction. You have seen illustrations of that during this meeting. Men have been going along through this city attending to their business or pleasure perfectly unconcerned, absolutely thoughtless with regard to the trend of their driftings and of their tendencies and of their moral bearings, and they hear the Word of God preached, and all at once they become thoughtful: “Where am I? Where am I?” And that Book becomes a discerner of the thoughts and intents of their hearts; that Word becomes sharper than a two-edged sword; that Word unjoints their bones and cuts into their marrow and penetrates to the very secrets of their souls, and they are convicted. And they say, “We are sinners.” They show that they are convicted. They tremble under its revelations and by their actions they testify that those revelations are from God.
It is profitable for rectification. “How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.” That Word is a straight-edge, laid by the side of his crooked conduct to show that it is out of plumb, out of line. That Word, laid parallel with his life, reveals the moral discrepancies in his conduct and shows him what will conform his life to truth and to righteousness.
That Word is profitable in training, in discipline. Here are feet new to the path of righteousness. They have not walked in it much. They are not strong in God and in the power of His might. Their spiritual limbs are not yet sturdy, and their muscles supple and pliant with power. They do not yet know how to endure, and that Word takes them and trains them until they become spiritual athletes in the sight of God. But the main point and the last point that I want to bring in on it is this: If you close that Book; if you tear out its pages; if you shut out its light, in all the whole universe of God there is not revealed a way by which a sinner can be saved, not one in the world. To me that is a stupendous fact.
Since being a sinner myself, since my friends are sinners, since my neighbors are sinners, and all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, it is to me of supreme consideration, where shall there be found a God-inspired and God-authenticated method of saving a sinner? Outside of that Book there is none, and there is not a man living, who has intelligently studied the subject, who will say so. In all the literature of this world, sacred or profane, civilized or barbaric, coming from white men, or brown or black men, take away the Bible, and there is not in all the?literature of this world even a glow-worm light on the subject of how a sinner can be saved, not a bit of it.
Take away that Book and there is not even a glow-worm light on the condition of the dead – on their eternal destiny. After a profound investigation of the subject, I do not hesitate to say that everything in the two or three thousand books that are published upon the subject of Spiritualism as a revelation is no more than the clatter of apes in a coconut tree on this point.
How shall a sinner be saved? How shall a man whose conscience condemns him and who feels that he is under the condemnation of God be justified before God? You go to that Book or none. And what does it say? What are its directions? I want to come to that in a few words. I want, to put before you the way of life, and I shall take a single case – the case of the publican. Here was a man perfectly conscious that he was a sinner. He knew it. There were some things that he didn’t know, but upon that question he didn’t have the least shadow of a doubt. The question that came to this sinner’s heart was: “How can I be justified before God?”
There was a way appointed, and he came to the Temple, and that Temple spoke of a propitiation, of a sacrifice, of the slain, of blood shed on account of the penalty for sins, and he came there and he beat upon his heart and he said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Or, to put his language into English, “God, be propitious to me through a sacrifice. God, let Thy mercy reach me through an atonement made by another.” That is a fair rendering of the Greek expression that he used, “God be merciful to me”; be propitious to me through a sacrifice. And Jesus said that man went down that very day justified. He went down acquitted. He went down absolved from his sin, freed from its penalty, a man against whom the law had no charge at all.
Today there rush into my mind the memories of men whose faces I have seen when they first began to be interested, the first steps that they took, the eagerness with which they pressed forward, finally the depths of conviction that came upon them when they felt they were lost; and then that sweet and happy transition from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God. And they are today witnesses of the truth and power of this Book of God as revealing a way of life and of salvation.
I have seen the wife, the jewels of tears in her eyes, steal over softly and sit down by her husband and look up appealingly into his sin-scarred face, as if she would say, “Thou art dearer to me than life, and thou art lost. Oh, come to the fountain of cleansing.” And I have seen him start, take her hand, and come up and fall down before God, and say, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” And I have seen the light of heaven shine in his eyes when the glorious redemption came to him and he stood?up before all men present and said, “God Almighty, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven my sins.”
I have seen fair maidens, against the propriety of whose conduct from a worldly standpoint nothing could be said, and who, in worldly parlance, would he called innocent, and who were not guilty according to the world’s standards of right and wrong, but whose hearts, in the sight of God, were alienated from Him, who did not love Him, who loved pleasure more than they loved God; who did not worship Him; who, if they worshiped Him at all, worshiped Him only in an empty form and denied the power, the vital and eternal and spiritual power, of religion. And I have seen them, under sharp conviction of sin, seek for mercy and find peace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have seen Christians who, with this perfect standard of life and conduct as their guide, had deflected from it; went away from it into irregularities; went into dissipation; departed from the true and the living God, and lived by day and by night contrary to His expressed precepts. And I have seen this Word, under the power of the Spirit who inspired it, reconvict them and bring them with tears to confess their sins and to forsake their sins, and to turn back to the fountain of truth and righteousness, to light, and peace, and holiness.
What more do you want? What kind of a standard do you ask? By what standard of right and wrong will you regulate your life? By what forecast of the future will you outline your own destiny? Unto what oracle will you go to receive the truth concerning the realms that lie in the outskirts of darkness beyond the grave? What will they tell you? What have they to offer you? O Book of God – God-inspired Book – precious volume! All thy words are power, those infallible oracles, those living oracles of God to men! It makes my soul shudder within me when I hear any man speak slightingly of God’s revealed will.
There are some here today upon whose hearts and consciences I want to impress repentance or impending doom. I have always, throughout my life, even in the days of my dark rebellion against God, had an admiration for men of decision, for men who were not reeds shaken by the wind; for men of action; for men who would not be influenced in vital concerns by that most trifling of all shifting clouds, the influence of other people; but upon personal conviction, when the individual soul is confronted with a question of right or wrong, under responsibility to God, and under the ‘ light of His eye, and under the determination to be the arbiter, the sole person who should settle the question that pertained to self, would take the step, and take it regardless of time and circumstances and people.?I would always rather preach to people in the daytime than at night.
I would rather preach to them when there is the least suspicion of undue influence operating upon their minds; when you can look right into their eyes and they can look right into yours; and when the question presented is one whose important bearings they can recognize, and in the light of God’s bright day stand up and say, “Here I am. I take my stand. I follow that Book. You show me in that Book what I am to do and I will do it. I am no child. I am no straw, taken up by the west wind and carried east, and by the east wind and carried west. But with full purpose of heart, and because it is right in the sight of God and eternity, I say I want to be saved. I want to be reconciled to God. I know I am a sinner. I don’t need any argument on that point, but how shall I get right? How shall I realize in my own lost soul that God loves me and that my soul is precious in His sight?”
Well, I shall tell you the way. It is to come directly to the Lord Jesus Christ. Come to Him face to face. I do not pretend to put Him before you here in the flesh, but I do say to you today that He is here in the Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and that He is sensibly here, and that His power is here, and that if you will come to Him as your mind sees Him, as your soul recognizes Him, and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, I am here according to thy Word, a lost sinner. I come on Your invitation. I come on Your promise that if I would come You would not cast me out; I come right to You, and I say, ‘Help, help, Lord, for I perish.’” He will save your soul this day.
O sinner, sinner, if you would know the things that make for you great peace; if you will, today, make one earnest, straightforward, honest effort to come to the Son of God for light, I pledge you my honor you will find it. Will you come? Sinner, turn; why will you die? Separate yourselves from the throng that shuts you in. MOVE! The law of motion is the law of life. Stir up your minds. Stagnation is death. Rouse your energies and exert your powers to overcome the inertia of long rest in sin. Break away from restraints. Throw off the stupor of irresolution. Convert inaction into movement. It is thy salvation; seek it. It is thy promise; claim it. It is thy door of escape; knock, knock, now; knock loudly and escape for thy life. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”