Sunday, April 30, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Why The Bible Is Important ]


WHY THE BIBLE IS IMPORTANT
Lonnie Branam
A few years ago John Clover Monsma edited a book entitled The Evidences Of God in an Expanding Universe. It is a very interesting book in which some forty scientists — biologists, geologists, chemists, and others — showed from their fields of study reasons for believing there is a God. These scientists share with
most of the people in the world a faith that there is a God, although their reasons differ from reasons many other people may have for belief in God. It is interesting to read their chapters, but one thing comes out quite clearly in the book, and that is that we may have compelling reasons to believe there is a God without knowing who that God is or what he is like. It is one thing to believe there is a God; it is another thing to know what he is like, to be able to say, “God is like this or that, and he expects this and that.” So, the question is raised concerning the way we come to know what God is like. Can we figure it out or discover it ourselves, or must God himself speak to us?
In the ancient world the Greeks tried desperately to gain accurate information about God or the gods, but the springs of reason ran dry. Their search was fruitless. One Greek poet concluded, “Except the gods
themselves to thee unveil, search as thou wilt, thou dost seek in vain.” In other words, “We have tried by by our own powers to understand God or the gods, but we failed. They must tell us if we are to know.” “Ah,” you may say,. “so much for the Greeks; but we are wiser now and better equipped to understand God. So we are not as destitute as they for knowledge about God.” But are we better equipped? Can we understand more about God today, on our own resources. than the ancient Greeks? “But,” you may say, “what does it matter anyway? Don't we have something better to do than worry about the gods?” What does belief in God mean to you? Do you believe in God just because that gives you a comfortable starting place? Is it because it gives you some answer about how the world got here and what makes the seeds sprout? If that is all there is to_ it, then it isn't much to live with, is it? If all you can say about God is that He made the universe and caused the flowers to grow, then you still don̓t know whether God cares for you or whether He hears your prayers. If faith in God is just a talking point, a conversation piece, like the politics of some South American tribe, then it doesn't give us much for which to live, does it? We would hardly have the motivation to do what the people of ancient Athens did some 2,000 years ago when they raised an altar “To An Unknown God”(Acts 17:23). Unknown gods are unattractive and unhelpful. To believe God exists, without believing something about Him, is practically atheism. “But I̓m not an atheist,” you say. “I believe there is a God and that He is..” Why do you believe that God is a person? And what were you going to say about God? Where did you get your information about God? Is your information accurate? How do you know? You know, if God is only a kind of blur out there somewhere is space, there isn't much comfort in that. What a contrast when we come to realize that God is a person, an infinite spiritual being, who not only created us in the beginning, but continues to sustain our world, knowing each one of us personally and caring for each one of us with a deep and beautiful father's love. What a difference this kind of God can make in our lives. A fewr years ward Whitman, the reporter, inteiviewed severa1 hundred peoplein theUnited States concerning their views on religion and God. The results of his survey are found in his book, ,A Reporter in Search of God. On reading the book it becomes clear that people who believe in God cannot stop at mere “belief in a superior being.” They must believe something about God. But the way in which they reach their conclusions about God are interesting and, at times, rather disappointing. There is the man on the Connecticut farm who kept a veritable zoo of buffalos, deer, a crow, foxes and other animals, and who said that “God is nature,” and “nature is God.” According to him, since God is something like a principle in the natural world, one may see in nature how man ought to hve, and that “nothing that is natural is sinful.” It all sounds simple and appealing, does it not, and very attractive in a complex and artificial world. But can nature teach us all we need to know about God? What is nature like? What is natural? Do trained and conditioned animals on a quiet Connecticut farm give us a balanced view of what is natural? I am moved to ask the same question A. B. Bruce asked years ago about the Deists (those who believe God is not a person but a vague force found in every one and every thing). He said, “The only question that may fairly be asked is whether they read aright the lesson which the frame of nature teaches.” Other people look differently on nature. For e xample, John Stuart Mill, in his essay on Natura, argued that if following nature means doing what we see see phyical nature doing , then we ought not to follow nature. “In sober truth,” he said, “nearly all all the things men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are nature's every day performances.” Mills was right. Nature is ruled by the law of the claw and the fang. Nature is often ruthless. Man just cannot afford to live by everything he sees in nature. There are others who think they see, but using their reason and emotions, that God is good. They argue that God is not nature, but that nature is the work of God and that by studying nature we can conclude that God is good and kind. There is a good bit of merit in what they say. The sunshine, the rain, the seasons , and the productivity of the soil all suggest the loving concern of God for his children. The beauties of the earth, as seen in the mountains, the valleys, the seas, and the magnificent variety of growing things are further evidence of the goodness of God. But a study of nature leaves man confused, for there are also tornadoes, earthquakes and tidal waves. Are they not natural also? Still another evidence of the inadequacy of nature to reveal God is seen in the wide diversity of views of the various people of the earth. Gordon H. Clark has well pointed out that “the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans looked on the same nature that is seen by the modern Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist. But the messages that they purport to receive are considerably divergent. This, which is so evident when these faraway religions are mentioned, holds true also with Western civilization.”
In other words, if nature does speak with a clear voice about God, why do men hear that voice so very differently? The truth is that what may be known about God from nature is very limited. We can certainly know that God is there by studying his marvelous creation, our universe with all manner of life upon it, but we cannot know much about God himself. Charles Hodge has given a fine summary of the matter in these words, “The experience of ages proves that the world by wisdom knows not God. The heathen nations, ancient and modern, civilized and savage, have without exception, failed by the light of nature to solve any of the great problems of humanity. This is the testimony of history.” Let us face it; if God has not spoken to man, then man cannot know much about God.
Bewildered by his search for God in the natural world about him, man almost instinctively looks up and desires that God speak to him directly. Fortunately, this is exactly what God has done. In guiding the writers of the Bible, God has revealed himself and His will to man in the sacred pages of scripture. It is almost as if God heard man' plaintive cry, “Give me the Bible” and responded by giving his marvelous written revelation of hmself.
Man's great need for a more exact, more complete revelation of God than nature provides is the very thing which the Bible provides. Thus, The Bible is tremendously important. It makes the clear claim that God has spoken to man, and that the Biblical writers have recorded God's message. The prophets of the Old Testament used phrases like “God said,” or “Thus sayeth the Lord,” or “The word of the Lord came to me,” some fifteen hundred times. Similar claims were made by the writers of the New Testament.
According to the Bible, then, God is not what we imagine him to be, but what he reveals himself to be. Throughout the Bible an astounding amount of information is found concerning God. The writers do not write like they are philosophers presenting possibilities, but as men who speak clearly and strongly about God, His nature, and what He has done, is doing and will do in the world. I am not saying that the Bible is from God just because it claims to be from God. That would be. shallow reasoning. I am certainly interested in the truthfulness of those claims, and the solid evidence to support them, but that is not my point at the moment. My concern is this: people who believe in God frequently are not acquainted with this information about God which claims to be from God himself. It is unfortunate when a person gets tangled up on issues like Jonah and the great fish, turning water into wine and Noah's ark before he considers the Biblical information about God's character and actions. I am convinced that the incidents in the lives of Noah and Jonah are important, as are the miracles of Jesus. But it is hard indeed to believe in such things as long as God is just an idea or a guess, or as long as God's nature is unknown. Let's think of the matter from another angle. If we believe in God as the Creator, then it would be easy to see that God could speak to man, wouldn't it? Especially if the power by which God made the universe is stifi available to Him. But is God willing to speak to man? Is there some reliable evidence that would cause us to believe that God has spoken to man? What we have to do is to be open and willing to investigate those messages, whether spoken or written, which claim to be from God. This includes less than you might think since many of the sacred books of the world do not claim to be revelations from God. Many of them are reflections of religious men, collections of wisdom and insight, which do not claim to be revelations from God. But if God has revealed himself we would expect that revelation to be (I) identifiable and (2) to contain that sort of information about himself which enables man to respond properly to Him in life. It is disturbing to believe in God but to be unaware of an appropriate response to Him whether to pray or make sacrifices to Him, whether to love Him or to fear Him. Upon investigation there is evidence for believing the Bible to be a revelation from God. Furthermore, it supplies information about God. In Scripture God is nbt an “oblong blur," o use J. B. Phillips term, but one who speak love. hates and knows. He is the God of the universe, yet He is not very far from any one of us, knowing even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). He is not the “old grandfather” who tolerates anything and everything, but rather is one who is just (or righteous) and true. He cares about what happens in the world and what men do to one another. He is a God who judges, and who will make a fmal sorting out of evil and good. He created us and sustains us. God loves us even when we are ignorant of Him and ungrateful for His gifts.
Time prohibits us from mentioning all that is written in the Bible about God. But the effect of it is for one to bow before Him in worship and adoration. The question thrust upon us is: What can I do to respond properly to this kind of being? What kind of response is appropriate? Do I seek Him in some grove in a forest, do I raise up stones to Him on some mountain top, do I bow before Him in prayer, do I only seek mystical umon with Him? Do I quake before Him in fear or regard Him as a loving father? What should I do? Here, too, the Bible gives us someting solid to tie to.
As I think of the great value of the Bible in our lives, I am reminded of the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, in his poem, “Miriam,”
We search the world for truth,
We cull the good, the pure, and beautiful,
From graven stone arid written scroll,
And all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers for the best,
We come back later from our quest,
To find all the sages said,
Is in the book our mothers read.
While it is true that many people have used the Bible to justify actions which are really contrary to the nature of the Bible, the verdict of history is that when people have devotedly and accurately followed the teachings of the Bible their lives have been raised and ennobled. For example. several years ago an African prince visited England. Without knowing all the issues involved he made this observation: “I observe that all of the best people believe the Bible, and that all of the worst people say they do not believe the Bible. This same kind of beneficial influence of the Bible is reported in a recent book, caught With My Hands Full, by Winnie Christensen. At one point in the book, he wrote. “The American Bible Society recently conducted an experiment in Chicago. They chose a five-block area in the district with the highest crime rate in Chicago, and flooded the area w:th 7000 gospels of John, enclosing an invitation for anyone who wanted more reading material to send for a free copy of Lukez or for twenty-five cents the whole New Testament in modern English. They received 200 requests for New Testaments in response to the mailing. More significant to them was the fact that the district police captain in the district reported that the crime rate had dropped drastically in the one month's time. The same experiment was conducted in another area with a
~_,,,high crime rate, with a similar result.” Truly, the Bible does
have an uplifting influence wherever it is known and read.
I could not leave you without expressing the hope that you do believe in the God who is revealed in the Bible. Further, I hope that you believe in Jesus Christ as His divine son, and the Savior to all mankind. As we read the scriptures we learn that we are sinners, having transgressed God's laws. This means that we are in need of a Savior, who can take away the guilt of our sins. Christ is that Savior. Do you acknowledge Him as the divine Son of God? Have you made that acknowledgment openly before men? I wonder also whether you have taken the other steps that must be taken if.you are to be a child of God. We must repent or turn away from sin, commiting ourselves to follow in the way of righteousness which God reveals in His word. Still further, He asks us to be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). This is a beautiful symbolic act in which we are buried in a grave of water, immediately to be raised into a new kind of life. The old sinful person dies and is buried; the Christian emerges from the grave of water to live a new and happier kind of life. It is importantthat that we ieve in God; it is also important that we respond to God in the way that He directs.


*This message is a reproduction of a message presented by Batsell Barret Baxter
in 1973 on the Herald of Trtuh Television program, sponsored by the Highland Church of Christ, Abilene, texas.




































































from Mill̓s Three Essays on Religion.
8lbid., p. 149.
9Gordon H. Clark, “Special Divine Revelation as Rational,” Revelation and the Bible, ed. Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,1958),pp, 27-28.
10Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1952)1. 37.
Batsell Barrett Baxter, speaker on the Herald of Truth radio and television programs, has been associated with this ministry since 1960.
He is head of the Bible Department at David Lipscomb College, and minister with the Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville. Tennessee
As an author and teacher he has made significant contributions to those who are preparing to be preachers of God̓s Worth He has wide experience in preaching and is it̓ demand as a speaker for evangelistic meetings.
the necessary information. There are places where the writers say pointedly, “This is what God requires of you” or “This is what you must do.” The Bible is not a substitute for God. It is rather the medium through which God reveals himself to man.
It is the means by which we can know who God is, and, if we
\..- choose, how to come into a close relationship with Him.
The Bible is important precisely because it makes known to us both what God is like, and how one comes to know God himself. Further, we learn how to live in the world with the confidence that this is what God, the creator and ruler of the universe, wants us as His creatures to do. This is most important. It gives us something solid to tie to.
In one of the tales of the Arabian Nights, Sinbad the Sailor tied his little boat to what he thought was a small island. But the island proved to be a large whale which swam off with his little boat. In our modern world many men are tying themselves to philosophies of thinking and life styles which will prove to be as unstable as Sinbad̓s whale. The Bible, in contrast, contains God̓s stated purpose and will for man. It lays out before man the way of truth. It is solid and dependable. Without the kind of information which we find in John C. Monsrna (ed.), The Evidences of God in an Expanding
41eBiblejyenijjsjJjyp~jjy~~~ ignosance ofj~od, BjaLwith Universe (New York: G. P. Putnam̓s Sons, 1958), — —
the Bible we can not only know about God; we can also have ~~~Quoted lnThibfforeT~iffie ~ffb~Fffflojbf and CThViiwThBélief
(New York. Charles Scnbner s Sons, n.d.), p. 83.
fellowship with Him and live in peace in the umverse. 3

A few years ago John Clover Monsma edited a book entitled The Evidences Of God in an Expanding Universe.̓ It is a very interesting book in which some forty scientists — biologists, geologists, chemists, and others — showed from their fields of study reasons for believing there is a God. These scientists share with
most of the people in the world a faith that there is a God, although their reasons differ from reasons many other people may have for belief in God. It is interesting to read their chapters, but one thing comes out quite clearly in the book, and that is that we may have compelling reasons to believe there is a God without knowing who that God is or what he is like. It is one thing to believe there is a God; it is another thing to know what he is like, to be able to say, “God is like this or that, and he expects this and that.” So, the question is raised concerning the way we come to know what God is like. Can we figure it out or discover it ourselves, or must God himself speak to us?
In the ancient world the Greeks tried desperately to gain accurate information about God or the gods, but the springs of reason ran dry. Their search was fruitless. One Greek poet concluded, “Except the gods
themselves to thee unveil, search as thou wilt, thou dost seek in vain.” In other words, “We have tried by by our own powers to understand God or the gods, but we failed. They must tell us if we are to know.” “Ah,”
you may say,. “so much for the Greeks; but we are wiser now and better equipped to understand God. So we are not as destitute as they for knowledge about God.” But are we better equipped? Can we understand more about God today, on our own resources. than the ancient Greeks? “But,” you may say, “what does it matter anyway? Don̓t we have something better to do than worry about the gods?” What does belief in God mean to you? Do you believe in God just because that gives you a comfortable starting place? Is it because it gives you some answer about how the world got here and what makes the seeds sprout? If that is all there is to_ it, then it isn̓t much to live with, is it? If all you can say about God is that He made the universe and caused the flowers to grow, then you still don̓t know whether God cares for you or whether He hears your prayers. If faith in God is just a talking point, a conversation piece, like the politics of some South American tribe, then it doesn̓t give us much for which to live, does it? We would hardly have the motivation to do what the people of ancient Athens did some 2,000 years ago when they raised an altar “To An Unknown God”(Acts 17:23). Unknown gods are unattractive and unhelpful. To believe God exists, without believing something about Him, is practically atheism. “But I̓m not an atheist,” you say. “I believe there is a God and that He is..” Why do you believe that God is a person? And what were you going to say about God? Where did you get your information about God? Is your information accurate? How do you know? You know, if God is only a kind of blur out there somewhere is space, there isn̓t much comfort in that. What a contrast when we come to realize that God is a person, an infinite spiritual being, who not only created us in the beginning, but continues to sustain our world, knowing each one of us personally and caring for each one of us with a deep and beautiful father̓s love. What a difference this kind of God can make in our lives. few years ago Howard Whitman, the reporter, inteiviewed severa1 hundred people- in the- United States concerning their views on religion and God. The results of his survey are found in his book, ,A Reporter in Search of God. On reading the book it becomes clear that people who believe in God cannot stop at mere “belief in a superior being.” They must believe something about God. But the way in which they reach their conclusions about God are interesting and, at times, rather disappointing. There is the man on the Connecticut farm who kept a veritable zoo of buffalos, deer, a crow, foxes and other animals, and who said that “God is nature,” and “nature
“nature is God.”4 According to him, since God is something like a principle in the natural world, one may see in nature how man ought to hve, and that “nothing that is natural is sinful.”5 It all sounds simple and appealing, does it not, and very attractive in a complex and artificial world. But can nature teach us all we need to know about God? What is nature like? What is natural? Do trained and conditioned animals on a quiet Connecticut farm give us a balanced view of what is natural?
I am moved to ask the same question A. B. Bruce asked years ago about the Deists (those who believe God is not a person but a vague force found in every one and every thing). He said, “The only question that may fairly be asked is whether they read aright the lesson which the frame of nature teaches.” Other people look differently on nature. For e xample, John Stuart Mill, in his essay on Natura, argued that if following nature means doing what we see see phyical nature doing , then we ought not to follow nature. “In sober truth,” he said, “nearly all all the things men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are nature's every day performances.” Mills was right. Nature is ruled by the law of the claw and the fang. Nature is often ruthless. Man just cannot afford to live by everything he sees in nature. There are others who think they see, but using their reason and emotions, that God is good. They argue that God is not nature, but that nature is the work of God and that by studying nature we can conclude that God is good and kind. There is a good bit of merit in what they say. The sunshine, the rain, the
2
seasons , and the productivity of the soil all suggest the loving concern of God for his children. The beauties of the earth, as seen in the mountains, the valleys, the seas, and the magnificent variety of growing things are further evidence of the goodness of God. But a study of nature leaves man confused, for there are also tornadoes, earthquakes and tidal waves. Are they not natural also? Still another evidence of the inadequacy of nature to reveal God is seen in the wide diversity of views of the various people of the earth. Gordon H. Clark has well pointed out that “the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans looked on the same nature that is seen by the modern Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist. But the messages that they purport to receive are considerably divergent. This, which is so evident when these faraway religions are mentioned, holds true also with Western civilization.”9
In other words, if nature does speak with a clear voice about God, why do men hear that voice so very differently? The truth is that what may be known about God from nature is very limited. We can certainly know that God is there by studying his marvelous creation, our universe with all manner of life upon it, but we cannot know much about God himself. Charles Hodge has given a fine summary of the matter in these words, “The experience of ages proves that the world by wisdom knows not God. The heathen nations, ancient and modern, civilized and savage, have without exception, failed by the light of nature to solve any of the great problems of humanity. This is the testimony of history.” Let us face i; if God has not spoken to man, then man cannot know much about God.
Bewildered by his search for God in the natural world about him, man almost instinctively looks up and desires that God speak to him directly. Fortunately, this is exactly what God has done. In guiding the writers of the Bible, God has revealed himself and His will to man in the sacred pages of scripture. It is almost as if God heard man̓s plaintive cry, “Give me the Bible” and responded by giving his marvelous written revelation of himself.

The Importance of the Bible

Man̓s great need for a more exact, more complete revelation of God than nature provides is the very thing which the Bible provides. Thus, The Bible is tremendously important. It makes the clear claim that God has spoken to man, and that the Biblical writers have recorded God̓s message. The prophets of the Old Testament used phrases like “God said,” or “Thus sayeth the Lord,” or “The word of the Lord came to me,” some fifteen hundred times. Similar claims were
to the Bible, then, God is not what we imagine him to be, but what he reveals himself to be.
Throughout the Bible an astounding amount of information is found concerning God. The writers do not write like they
are philosophers presenting possibilities, but as men who speak “—.1 clearly and strongly about God — His nature, and what He has
done, is doing and will do in the world.
I am not saying that the Bible is from God just because it claims to be from God. That would be. shallow reasoning. I am certainly interested in the truthfulness of those claims, and the solid evidence to support them, but that is not my point at the moment. My concern is this: people who believe in God frequently are not acquainted with this information about God which claims to be from God himself.
It is unfortunate when a person gets tangled up on issues like Jonah and the great fish, turning water into wine and Noah̓s ark before he considers the Biblical information about God̓s character and actions. I am convinced that the incidents in the lives of Noah and Jonah are important, as are the miracles of Jesus. But it is hard indeed to believe in such things as long as God is just an idea or a guess, or as long as God̓s nature is unknown.
Let̓s think of the matter from another angle. If we believe in God as the Creator, then it would be easy to see that God could speak to man, wouldn̓t it? Especially if the power by which God made the universe is stifi available to Him. But is God willing to speak to man? Is there some reliable evidence that would cause us to believe that God has spoken to man? What we have to do is to be open and willing to investigate those messages, whether spoken or written, which claim to be from God. This includes less than you might think since many of the sacred books of the world do not claim to be revelations from God. Many of them are reflections of religious men, collections of wisdom and insight, which do not claim to be revelations from God. But if God has revealed himself we would expect that revelation to be (I) identifiable and (2) to contain that sort of information about himself which enables man to respond properly to Him in life. It is thsturbing to believe in God but to be unaware of an appropriate response to Him whether to pray or make sacrifices to Him, whether to love Him or to fear Him.
Upon investigation there is evidence for believing the Bible to be a revelation from God. Furthermore, it supplies information about God. In Scripture God is nbt an “oblong biur,̓ to use J. B. Phillips term, but one who speak~]nves. hates and knows. He is the God of the universe, yet He is not very far from any one of us, knowing even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). He is not the “old grandfather” who tolerates anything and everything, but rather is one who is just (or righteous) and true. He cares about what happens in the world and what men do to one another. He is a God who judges, and who will make a fmal sorting out of evil and good. He created us and sustains us. God loves us even when we are ignorant of Him and ungrateful for His gifts.
Time prohibits us from mentioning all that is written in the Bible about God. But the effect of it is for one to bow before Him in worship and adoration. The question thrust upon us is:
What can I do to respond properly to this kind of being? What kind of response is appropriate? Do I seek Him in some grove in a forest, do I raise up stones to Him on some mountain top, do I bow before Him in prayer, do I only seek mystical umon with Him? Do I quake before Him in fear or regard Him as a loving father? What should I do? Here, too, the Bible gives us A Closing Won!

As I think of the great value of the Bible in our lives, I am reminded of the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, in his poem, “Miriam,”
We search the world for truth,
We cull the good, the pure, and beautiful,
From graven stone arid written scroll,
And all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers for the best,
We come back later from our quest,
To find all the sages said,
Is in the book our mothers read.
While it is true that many people have used the Bible to justify actions which are really contrary to the nature of the Bible, the verdict of history is that when people have devotedly and accurately followed the teachings of the Bible their lives have been raised and ennobled. For example. several years ago an African prince visited England. Without knowing all the issues involved he made this observation: “I observe that all of the best people believe the Bible, and that all of the

This same kind of beneficial influence of the Bible is reported in a recent book, caught With My Hands Full, by Winnie Christensen. At one point in the book, he wrote. “The American Bible Society recently conducted an experiment in Chicago. They chose a five-block area in the district with the highest crime rate in Chicago, and fi~oded the area w:th ~X̓ gospels of John, enclosirw an invitation for anyone who wanted more reading material to send for a free copy of Lzise. or for twenty-five cents the whole New Testament in modern English. They received 200 requests for New Testaments in response to the mailing. More si~iiñc.ant to them was the fact that the district police captain in the district reported that the crime rate had dropped drastically in the one month̓s time. The same experiment was conducted in another area with a
~_,,,high crime rate, with a similar result.” Truly, the Bible does
have an uplifting influence wherever it is known and read.
I could not leave you without expressing the hope that you do believe in the God who is revealed in the Bible. Further, I hope that you believe in Jesus Christ as His divine son, and the
Savior to all mankind. As we read the scriptures we learn that we are sinners, having transgressed God̓s laws. This means that we are in need of a Savior, who can take away the guilt of our sins. Christ is that Savior. Do you acknowledge Him as the divine Son of God? Have you made that acknowledgment openly before men? I wonder also whether you have taken the other steps that must be taken if.you are to be a child of God. We must repent or turn away from sin, commiting ourselves to follow in the way of righteousness which God reveals in His word. Still further, He asks us to be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). This is a beautiful symbolic act in which we are buried in a grave of water, immediately to be raised into a new kind of life. The old sinful person dies and is buried; the Christian emerges from the grave of water to live a new and happier kind of life. It is importantthat we ieve in God; it is also important that we respond to God in the way that He directs. If I can be of any help to you in carrying out your desire to become a child of God, please let me hear from you immediately.
Acts 17:23.
41-Ioward Whitman, A Reporter in Search of God (Garden City:
Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1953), p. 222.
5lbid.,p 219.
6A. B. Bruce, Apologetics (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1911), p. 124.
7lbid., p. 216, quoting from Mill̓s Three Essays on Religion.
8lbid., p. 149.
9Gordon H. Clark, “Special Divine Revelation as Rational,” Revelation and the Bible, ed. Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,1958),pp, 27-28.
10Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1952)1. 37.
Batsell Barrett Baxter, speaker on the Herald of Truth radio and television programs, has been associated with this ministry since 1960.
He is head of the Bible Department at David Lipscomb College, and minister with the Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville. Tennessee
As an author and teacher he has made significant contributions to those who are preparing to be preachers of God̓s Worth He has wide experience in preaching and is it̓ demand as a speaker for evangelistic meetings.
the necessary information. There are places where the writers say pointedly, “This is what God requires of you” or “This is what you must do.” The Bible is not a substitute for God. It is rather the medium through which God reveals himself to man.
It is the means by which we can know who God is, and, if we
\..- choose, how to come into a close relationship with Him.
The Bible is important precisely because it makes known to us both what God is like, and how one comes to know God himself. Further, we learn how to live in the world with the confidence that this is what God, the creator and ruler of the universe, wants us as His creatures to do. This is most important. It gives us something solid to tie to.
In one of the tales of the Arabian Nights, Sinbad the Sailor tied his little boat to what he thought was a small island. But the island proved to be a large whale which swam off with his little boat. In our modern world many men are tying themselves to philosophies of thinking and life styles which will prove to be as unstable as Sinbad̓s whale. The Bible, in contrast, contains God̓s stated purpose and will for man. It lays out before man the way of truth. It is solid and dependable. Without the kind of information which we find in John C. Monsrna (ed.), The Evidences of God in an Expanding
41eBiblejyenijjsjJjyp~jjy~~~ ignosance ofj~od, BjaLwith Universe (New York: G. P. Putnam̓s Sons, 1958), — —
the Bible we can not only know about God; we can also have ~~~Quoted lnThibfforeT~iffie ~ffb~Fffflojbf and CThViiwThBélief
(New York. Charles Scnbner s Sons, n.d.), p. 83.
fellowship with Him and live in peace in the umverse. 3

WHY THE Bible Is Important
Lonne Branam

A few years ago John Clover Monsma edited a book entitled The Evidences Of God in an Expanding Universe.̓ It is a very interesting book in which some forty scientists — biologists, geologists, chemists, and others — showed from their fields of study reasons for believing there is a God. These scientists share with
most of the people in the world a faith that there is a God, although their reasons differ from reasons many other people may have for belief in God. It is interesting to read their chapters, but one thing comes out quite clearly in the book, and that is that we may have compelling reasons to believe there is a God without knowing who that God is or what he is like. It is one thing to believe there is a God; it is another thing to know what he is like, to be able to say, “God is like this or that, and he expects this and that.” So, the question is raised concerning the way we come to know what God is like. Can we figure it out or discover it ourselves, or must God himself speak to us?
In the ancient world the Greeks tried desperately to gain accurate information about God or the gods, but the springs of reason ran dry. Their search was fruitless. One Greek poet concluded, “Except the gods
themselves to thee unveil, search as thou wilt, thou dost seek in vain.” In other words, “We have tried by by our own powers to understand God or the gods, but we failed. They must tell us if we are to know.” “Ah,”
you may say,. “so much for the Greeks; but we are wiser now and better equipped to understand God. So we are not as destitute as they for knowledge about God.” But are we better equipped? Can we understand more about God today, on our own resources. than the ancient Greeks? “But,” you may say, “what does it matter anyway? Don̓t we have something better to do than worry about the gods?” What does belief in God mean to you? Do you believe in God just because that gives you a comfortable starting place? Is it because it gives you some answer about how the world got here and what makes the seeds sprout? If that is all there is to_ it, then it isn̓t much to live with, is it? If all you can say about God is that He made the universe and caused the flowers to grow, then you still don̓t know whether God cares for you or whether He hears your prayers. If faith in God is just a talking point, a conversation piece, like the politics of some South American tribe, then it doesn̓t give us much for which to live, does it? We would hardly have the motivation to do what the people of ancient Athens did some 2,000 years ago when they raised an altar “To An Unknown God”(Acts 17:23). Unknown gods are unattractive and unhelpful. To believe God exists, without believing something about Him, is practically atheism. “But I̓m not an atheist,” you say. “I believe there is a God and that He is..” Why do you believe that God is a person? And what were you going to say about God? Where did you get your information about God? Is your
2
information accurate? How do you know? You know, if God is only a kind of blur out there somewhere is space, there isn̓t much comfort in that. What a contrast when we come to realize that God is a person, an infinite spiritual being, who not only created us in the beginning, but continues to sustain our world, knowing each one of us personally and caring for each one of us with a deep and beautiful father̓s love. What a difference this kind of God can make in our lives. few years ago Howard Whitman, the reporter, inteiviewed severa1 hundred people- in the- United States concerning their views on religion and God. The results of his survey are found in his book, ,A Reporter in Search of God. On reading the book it becomes clear that people who believe in God cannot stop at mere “belief in a superior being.” They must believe something about God. But the way in which they reach their conclusions about God are interesting and, at times, rather disappointing. There is the man on the Connecticut farm who kept a veritable zoo of buffalos, deer, a crow, foxes and other animals, and who said that “God is nature,” and nature is is God.”4 According to him, since God is something like a principle in the natural world, one may see in nature how man ought to hve, and that “nothing that is natural is sinful.”5 It all sounds simple and appealing, does it not, and very attractive in a complex and artificial world. But can nature teach us all we need to know about God? What is nature like? What is natural? Do trained and conditioned animals on a quiet Connecticut farm give us a balanced view of what is natural?
I am moved to ask the same question A. B. Bruce asked years ago about the Deists (those who believe God is not a person but a vague force found in every one and every thing). He said, “The only question that may fairly be asked is whether they read aright the lesson which the frame of nature teaches.” Other people look differently on nature. For e xample, John Stuart Mill, in his essay on Natura, argued that if following nature means doing what we see see phyical nature doing , then we ought not to follow nature. “In sober truth,” he said, “nearly all all the things men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are nature's every day performances.” Mills was right. Nature is ruled by the law of the claw and the fang. Nature is often ruthless. Man just cannot afford to live by everything he sees in nature. There are others who think they see, but using their reason and emotions, that God is good. They argue that God is not nature, but that nature is the work of God and that by studying nature we can conclude that God is good and kind. There is a good bit of merit in what they say. The sunshine, the rain, the
seasons, and the productivity of the soil all suggest the loving concern of God for his children. The beauties of the earth, as seen in the mountains, the valleys, the seas, and the magnificent variety of growing things are further evidence of the goodness of God. But a study of nature leaves man confused, for there are also tornadoes, earthquakes and tidal waves. Are they not natural also? Still another evidence of the inadequacy of nature to reveal God is seen in the wide diversity of views of the various people of the earth. Gordon H. Clark has well pointed out that “the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans looked on the same nature that is seen by the modern Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist. But the messages that they purport to receive are considerably divergent. This, which is so evident when these faraway religions are mentioned, holds true also with Western civilization.”9
In other words, if nature does speak with a clear voice about God, why do men hear that voice so very differently? The truth is that what may be known about God from nature is very limited. We can certainly know that God is there by studying his marvelous creation, our universe with all manner of life upon it, but we cannot know much about God himself. Charles Hodge has given a fine summary of the matter in these words, “The experience of ages proves that the world by wisdom knows not God. The heathen nations, ancient and modern, civilized and savage, have without exception, failed by the light of nature to solve any of the great problems of humanity. This is the testimony of history.” Let us face it; if God has not spoken to man, then man cannot know much about God.
Bewildered by his search for God in the natural world about him, man almost instinctively looks up and desires that God speak to him directly. Fortunately, this is exactly what God has done. In guiding the writers of the Bible, God has revealed himself and His will to man in the sacred pages of scripture. It is almost as if God heard man̓s plaintive cry, “Give me the Bible” and responded by giving his marvelous written revelation of himself.
Man̓s great need for a more exact, more complete revelation of God than nature provides is the very thing which the Bible provides. Thus, The Bible is tremendously important. It makes the clear claim that God has spoken to man, and that the Biblical writers have recorded God̓s message. The prophets of the Old Testament used phrases like “God said,” or “Thus says the Lord,” or “The word of the Lord came to me,” some fifteen hundred times. Similar claims were made by the writers of the New Testament. According to the Bible then, God is not what we imagine Him to be, but what he reveals himself to be. Throughout the Bible an astounding amount of
information is found concerning God. The writers do not write like they are philosophers presenting possibilities, but as men who speak clearly and strongly about God, — His nature, and what He has done and will do in the
world.. I am not saying that the Bible is from God just because it claims to be from God. That would be. shallow reasoning. I am certainly interested in the truthfulness of those claims, and the solid evidence to support them, but that is not my point at the moment. My concern is this: people who believe in God frequently are not acquainted with this information about God which claims to be from God himself. It is unfortunate when a person gets tangled up on issues like Jonah and the great fish, turning water into wine and Noah̓s ark before he considers the Biblical information about God̓s character and actions. I am convinced that the incidents in the lives of Noah and Jonah are important, as are the miracles of Jesus. But it is hard indeed to believe in such things as long as God is just an idea or a guess, or as long as God̓s nature is unknown. Let̓s think of the matter from another angle. If we believe in God as the Creator, then it would be easy to see that God could speak to man, would it not? Especially if the power by which God made the universe is still available to Him. But is God willing to speak to man? Is there some reliable evidence that would cause us to believe that God has spoken to man? What we have to do is to be open and willing to investigate those messages, whether spoken or written, which claim to be from God. This includes less than you might think since many of the sacred books of the world do not claim to be revelations from God. Many of them are reflections of religious men, collections of wisdom and insight, which do not claim to be revelations from God. But if God has revealed himself we would expect that revelation to be: (I) identifiable and (2) to contain that sort of information about himself which enables man to respond properly to Him in life. It is disturbing to believe in God but to be unaware of an appropriate response to Him, whether to pray or make sacrifices to Him, whether to love Him or to fear Him.
Upon investigation there is evidence for believing the Bible to be a revelation from God. Furthermore, it supplies information about God. In Scripture God is not an “oblong blur,” to use J. B. Phillips term, but one who speaks, loves, . hates and knows. He is the God of the universe, yet He is not very far from any one of us, knowing even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). He is not the “old grandfather” who tolerates anything and everything, but rather is one who is just (or righteous) and true. He cares about what happens in the world and what men do to one another. He is a God who judges, and who will make a fmal sorting out of evil and good. He created us and sustains us. God loves us even when we are ignorant of Him and ungrateful for His gifts. Time prohibits us from mentioning all that is written in the Bible about God. But the effect of it is for one to.
bow before Him in worship and adoration. The question thrust upon us is:, “ What can I do to respond roperly to this kind of b eing? What kind of response is appropriate? Do I seek him in some grove in a
forest, do I raise up stones to Him on some mountain top, do I bow before Him in prayer, do I only seek mystical umon with Him? Do I quake before Him in fear or regard Him as a loving father? What should I do? Here, too, the Bible gives us the necessary infomation. There are places where the writers say pointedly, “This is what God requires of you” or “This is what you must do.” The Bible is note a substitute for God. It is rather the medium through which God reveals himself to man. It is the means by which we can know who God is , and, if we choose, how to come in close relationship with Him. The Bible is important precisely because it m akes known to us both what God is like, and how one comes to know God himself. Further, we learn how to live in the world with the confidence that this what God, the creator and ruler of the universe, wants us as his creatures to do. In one of the tales of the Arabian Nights, Sinbad the Sailor tied his little boat to what he thought was a small island. But island proved to be a large whale which swam off with his little boat. In our modern world many men are tying themselves to philosophies of thinking and life styles which will prove to be as unstable as Sinbad's whale. The Bible, in contrast, contains God's stated purpose and will for man. It lays out before man the way of truth. It is solid and dependable. Without the kind of information which we find in the Bible we must live our lives in ignorance of God. We can also have fellowship with him and live in peace in the universe.
As I think of the great value of the Bible in our lives, I am reminded of the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, in his poem, “Miriam,”
We search the world for truth,
We cull the good, the pure, and beautiful,
From graven stone arid written scroll,
And all old flower fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers for the best,
We come back later from our quest,
To find all the sages said,
Is in the book our mothers read.
While it is true that many people have used the Bible to justify actions which are really contrary to the nature of the Bible, the verdict of history is that when people have devotedly and accurately followed the teachings of the Bible their lives have been raised and ennobled. For example, . several years ago an African prince visited England. Without knowing all the issues involved he made this observation: “I observe that all of the best people believe the Bible, and that all of the worst people say they do not believe the Bible.
This same kind of beneficial influence of the Bible is reported in a recent book, Caught With My Hands Full, by Winnie Christensen. At one point in the book, he wrote. “The American Bible Society recently conducted an experiment in Chicago. They chose a five-block area in the district with the highest crime rate in Chicago, and flooded the area wi:th 7000 gospels of John, enclosing an invitation for anyone who wanted more reading material to send for a free copy of Luke, or for twenty-five cents the whole New Testament in modern English. They received 200 requests for New Testaments in response to the mailing. More significant to them was the fact that the district police captain in the district reported that the crime rate had dropped drastically in the one month̓s time. The same experiment was conducted in another area with a high
high crime rate, with a similar result.” Truly, the Bible does have an uplifting influence wherever it is known and read.
I could not leave you without expressing the hope that you do believe in the God who is revealed in the Bible. Further, I hope that you believe in Jesus Christ as His divine son, and the Savior to all mankind.
. As we read the scriptures we learn that we are sinners, having transgressed God̓s laws. This means that we are in need of a Savior, who can take away the guilt of our sins. Christ is that Savior. Do you acknowledge Him as the divine Son of God? Have you made that acknowledgment openly before men? I wonder also whether you have taken the other steps that must be taken if .you are to be a child of God. We must repent or turn away from sin, commiting ourselves to follow in the way of righteousness which God reveals in His word. Still further, He asks us to be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). This is a beautiful symbolic act in which we are buried in a grave of water, immediately to be raised into a new kind of life. The old sinful person dies and is buried; the Christian emerges from the grave of water to live a new and happier kind of life. It is important that we believei in God; it is also important that we respond to God in the way that He directs. from you immediately.
Acts 17:23.
41-Ioward Whitman, A Reporter in Search of God (Garden City:
Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1953), p. 222.
5lbid.,p 219.
6A. B. Bruce, Apologetics (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1911), p. 124.
7lbid., p. 216, quoting from Mill̓s Three Essays on Religion.
8lbid., p. 149.
9Gordon H. Clark, “Special Divine Revelation as Rational,” Revelation and the Bible, ed. Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,1958),pp, 27-28.
10Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1952)1. 37.
Batsell Barrett Baxter, speaker on the Herald of Truth radio and television programs, has been associated with this ministry since 1960.
He is head of the Bible Department at David Lipscomb College, and minister with the Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville. Tennessee
As an author and teacher he has made significant contributions to those who are preparing to be preachers of God̓s Worth He has wide experience in preaching and is it̓ demand as a speaker for evangelistic meetings.
the necessary information. There are places where the writers say pointedly, “This is what God requires of you” or “This is what you must do.” The Bible is not a substitute for God. It is rather the medium through which God reveals himself to man.
It is the means by which we can know who God is, and, if we
\..- choose, how to come into a close relationship with Him.
The Bible is important precisely because it makes known to us both what God is like, and how one comes to know God himself. Further, we learn how to live in the world with the confidence that this is what God, the creator and ruler of the universe, wants us as His creatures to do. This is most important. It gives us something solid to tie to.
In one of the tales of the Arabian Nights, Sinbad the Sailor tied his little boat to what he thought was a small island. But the island proved to be a large whale which swam off with his little boat. In our modern world many men are tying themselves to philosophies of thinking and life styles which will prove to be as unstable as Sinbad̓s whale. The Bible, in contrast, contains God̓s stated purpose and will for man. It lays out before man the way of truth. It is solid and dependable. Without the kind of information which we find in John C. Monsrna (ed.), The Evidences of God in an Expanding
41eBiblejyenijjsjJjyp~jjy~~~ ignosance ofj~od, BjaLwith Universe (New York: G. P. Putnam̓s Sons, 1958), — —
the Bible we can not only know about God; we can also have ~~~Quoted lnThibfforeT~iffie ~ffb~Fffflojbf and CThViiwThBélief
(New York. Charles Scnbner s Sons, n.d.), p. 83.
fellowship with Him and live in peace in the umverse. 3


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