I would like to consider the relevance of
the Bible to the age in which we live. The preservation of the Bible down
through the centuries is nothing short of a miracle. Many have been the attempts
to destroy this Book. Not only has it been the best loved Book but also the most
bitterly hated. Man's hostility to it has been persistent and relentless.
Imperial edicts have been issued to destroy it. Political and ecclesiastical
powers have united in an attempt to obliterate it. Numerous have been the
efforts to undermine faith in its Divine inspiration and veracity. But all
efforts have failed. Man's philosophy, wit, satire, science and force have been
brought to bear against this Book in vain. The Bible still stands. It is the
inspired Word of God. The Apostle Paul wrote "All
scripture is given by inspiration of God", while the apostle Peter
stated, "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by
the Holy Spirit". The Bible remains as Mr Gladstone called it, "the
impregnable rock of Holy Scripture", and it continues to speak vital truth to
each succeeding generation of mankind.
Moreover, the message of the Bible has
never grown stale. Although many of the ablest men of the strongest intellectual
powers, have given a life-time to its study and exposition, they have never
exhausted its contents nor discovered all that was to be gleaned from it. And
it come to us in our day with a message which is living and highly pertinent to
our times. It has a message for all ages. That is one reason why it has always
been a best seller and continues to be from one generation to another. It has a
universal appeal and has been translated into more languages and dialects than
any other Book. Its message is vital. It deals with questions and problems
common to all nations and generations of people. It is concerned with such
subjects as God, the universe, man, life, death and the life after death. It
answers important questions such as: is there a God? can He be known? what is
the meaning of life? where is it leading to? what lies beyond it and so on.
Nor does its message require to be
modernised. Many have sought so to do this, afraid lest science and modern
knowledge should discredit the Scriptures. They have nothing to fear. The
theories of men change, but God's Word abides. The Psalmist wrote,
"For ever oh Lord Thy Word is settled in heaven".
Our Lord said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My
Word will not pass away". The Word of God lives and abides for ever.
There are those who reject the message of the Bible simply in terms of its
antiquity. They regard it almost as an insult to be told that man, with all his
advanced knowledge in the latter half of the 20th century, needs a message from
a book offered to mankind for so long; surely it is argued, anything so ancient
must be totally irrelevant today. When we have advanced so much in every other
realm, why should we be asked to turn to an ancient book and a centuries old
message in the matter of spiritual problems? It has been said that to accept
this message is like asking a patient to go to a witch doctor, instead of a
modern physician. It is equivalent to committing intellectual suicide. It is
Now it is because of this situation that
some have tried to give the Bible a new look to make it more palatable to the
human mind. They have endeavoured to modernise the Book in the light of present
knowledge and discovery.
But though the message
of the Bible is an old one, it is an up-to-date one. Although its last chapters
were written 1900 years ago and its early chapters about 3,500 year
ago, the Book is not outdated but is
still suited to the varying circumstances of life in our day. Men may repudiate
its relevance to the needs of the present time but we believe its message is the
one which is still desperately needed in this modern world and that for several
The first one is that man hasnít
changed. Although he has made progress in every realm of science, although
he can travel into space, land on the moon, split the atom, perform heart
transplants, and so on, yet these are merely changes in his environment and
activities. Man himself has not changed morally, and the Bibleís message is to
man as man. Man is still the same sinful being that he was in the days of Noah
and of Sodom & Gomorrah. The sins he commits today are just the same as were
committed then. He may be more clever and civilised but his basic spiritual
needs are unaltered.
The second reason is that man has
found no new solution to the problem of his sin. Man has devised many new
contrivances for reducing manual labour, but he is unable to provide rest for
the soul burdened by sin or for the conscience tormented by guilt. We have new
and faster ways of travel and we can go by land, air or sea, or even under the
sea, but there is no new way back to God from the dark paths of sin. The only
way is by the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who said,
ďI am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by
meĒ. The message of the Bible is needed today.
Thirdly, God has not changed. He
is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Lord, He changes not. All
the progress man has made has not affected Godís being and character. His hatred
of sin, His just and holy laws, is the standard He requires of His creatures.
Man may try and change Godís moral laws. Man brings in what is called a new
morality which is nothing but a new label for the old immorality, but Godís laws
are abiding, and to transgress His laws is sin for which we are accountable.
Another reason why the Bibleís message is
needed today is because Godís answer to the problem of sin has not changed.
That answer is contained in the Gospel of which the Apostle Paul said he was
not ashamed, for it is the power of God unto salvation
to everyone that believeth, and he was prepared to preach this Gospel
without fear. He did not try to embellish it, or mix it with human philosophy,
to make it more acceptable to the intellectual Greeks at Athens and Corinth. He
preached it in all its purity and simplicity, even though they criticised him
and described his speech as contemptible. And there is no need to modify the
Gospel today to make it more palatable to the modern mind.
What then is the
message of the Bible for this modern world of ours? First of all we have in it a
revelation of manís moral ruin and sinful condition in the sight of God. Man has
failed to meet the requirements of Godís law. He has fallen short of the
standard God demands. Nor is that merely true of a few of us but of all of us Ė
for all have sinned and come short of Godís glory.
The whole world is guilty before God. Godís
law demanded flawless and continuous obedience to its precepts, in motive as
well as in performance, and none of us have succeeded in meeting those just
requirements. Morally, man is a failure. Now such a message as this will not be
popular. Never has man been so proud of his achievements, his understanding, his
progress and advancement. But though the message of the Bible does not flatter
man nor pander to his pride, it is nevertheless vital and true.
Far better is it to know
the truth about ourselves as God sees us rather than perish under a delusion.
For this message also
confronts us with the fact that not only are we sinful beings, but we are also
accountable beings who one day must stand before God and give an account of the
deeds done in the body. A day of reckoning lies ahead. What we sow we shall
The message of the Bible
also declares that our state is such that we must be born anew. ďYou
must be born againĒ
were the word of our Lord to a religious teacher of old. Our trouble is not
superficial but deep-seated. If it were superficial, reformation or turning over
a new leaf might be adequate. It is not due to ignorance for which education
might be the cure. It is not due to any previous ancestry for which only time is
required to shed our former propensities. The trouble is one for which we are
responsible and only a new birth and a new nature are the answer. It is not a
new leaf we need but a new life.
But that is not the end of
the message, for were we only to be told of our deep need without the means of
how it could be met, we might be driven to despair. But this message also
includes the doctrines of Godís intervention in grace in the Person of His Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. When manís case was hopeless, when it was clearly
demonstrated that man could not be saved by the deeds of the law, or by his own
efforts, or works, God in mercy intervened and sent His Son our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the world. He was miraculously born of a
Virgin at Bethlehem. He lived a perfect life rendering flawless obedience to the
law of God; He died upon a cross at Calvary taking the sinnerís place, bearing
the penalty, which was our due. As it has been expressed in the well-known hymn:
ďHe died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good that we might go
at last to heaven. Saved by His precious bloodĒ. But that was not the end,
for Christianity is not about a dead person but about One who died and Who rose
from the dead. If Christ did not rise, then that new tomb in which He was laid
is the grave, not only of Christ Himself but of the whole of Christianity and
the hopes of all who are trusting Him. But now is Christ risen from the dead. He
rose on the third day as He said He would and now He lives. This message is
about a living Saviour.
The Bibleís message goes on
to say, however, that although Christ came to be the Saviour of the world, it is
only through repentance, i.e. turning from our sin to God, and a simple personal
faith in the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, that salvation and forgiveness
can be obtained. There is salvation in none other, no other Person and no other
thing, for there is no
other Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.
The greatest of all blessings,
forgiveness of sins, peace with God, membership of His family, eternal security
for the future, are alone to be had through personal acceptance and
appropriation of the Son of God as our Lord and Saviour. We read in John 1 verse
12 ďTo as many as receive Him, Christ, to the God gives
the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe on His NameĒ
On the other hand, to reject Christ, to refuse
to own Him as Lord and Saviour, is to reject the only way of salvation and is to
incur the righteous judgement of God eternally
John 3:36 states ďHe
that believeth no the Son hath everlasting life, but He that believeth not the
Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on HimĒ.
This then is the
message of the Bible for the human race. In a world of strife, it is a message
of peace, peace with God through the knowledge of sins forgiven. While people
long for peace while they talk about it, the Bible says,
ďTherefore being justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ".
In a hopeless world, the message of the
Bible is one of hope. While people continually hope for better things, as they
face the future and hope for the best, ever waiting for something to turn up,
the Bible gives us the only message of hope in the word of truth of the Gospel,
hope in life, hope in death and a certain hope after death. Christ is the only
hope for the individual and for the world.
Is the Gospel still relevant today? Is
its ancient message still adequate for the present situation? The answer is that
it alone is adequate. It tells of the only One who can deal with and
solve the problems of man, his sin, his soul, his eternal destiny; of One who
has promised never to leave nor forsake those who trust Him but to be with them
amid all the changing circumstances of life, in joy and sorrow, in prosperity
and adversity, in sunshine and storm. That One is Christ. Do you know Him as
your Lord and Saviour, your Master and Friend? Are you trusting in Him for your
eternal salvation? If not, why not do so now? He alone can meet your need,
forgive your sins and give you peace of heart and mind and a sure hope for
eternity. He has done this for others, He can do it for You.
This was a sermon broadcast by Dr W.
E. F. Naismith on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday, January 25th, 1970, from
Bethany Church, Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham.