“Preaching is not men teaching from the Bible; it is God teaching from the Bible through men.”
Shepherd’s Conference, March 1, 2017
Attacks on the Word of God
Attacks follows rest.
In February 1954, a student at Durham University: I was having a first hand experience of an attack on the word of God. A Critical History of Free Thought in Reference to the Christian Religion: a Bampton lecture, 1862. It was before the open onslaught of the word of God in English. It was 700 pages of summaries of attacks on the Word of God. What I learned was that attacks on the Word of God are as old as fallen man.
To understand those attacks is to understand history.
Why was Israel so attacked? They have been given revelation from Heaven. He hath not dealt well with any other nation. What advantage has the Jew? To them was given the Word of God. The apostolic age: what was the cause of the persecution? For the word of God (Rev.). Paul, we are delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake. Why? Because of the Word of God. Rev: those who were slain for the Word of God.
The Reformation: William Tyndale burnt to death because he translated the Word of God into the English language. Twenty years later, John Rodgers, had translated Scripture and put on trial, before bishop Gardener. Any example of the Roman church acting contrary to the Scripture: 1 Cor. 14: the Word of God was not given to them in their own language. Bishop returns: You can prove nothing by Scripture; it needs a living exposition. The Church must determine what is to believed; the Scripture is dead.
Rather: all men of any sort must obey the Word of God. In 1554 Rodgers was put to death.
Voltaire’s goal was to attack Scripture. Paine: the rights of man, I have gone through the Bible as a man does go through the wood with an ax in his hand.
More devastating and long lasting than the earlier attacks is the present attack. It did not arise in the form of an attack; it arose in the form of being for the Bible and for Christianity.
During the 19th Century there was much advance: the onward evolutionary advance of mankind. This idea comes to biblical studies and the various higher critical attacks. The Christians responded with, this is mere unbelief.
In the 1880’s: we shouldn’t be too dismayed in the advances of scholarship. The best way to defend Christianity is to fall back on the real substance of the Scriptures. Don’t worry about the incidentals. Let’s us be sure to defend the kernel of Christianity. It was called the “New Apologetic.”
The powerhouse here was in the Free Church of Scotland. The Free Church was born out of an evangelical revival. It was a great missionary church. 1843. The New Apologetic found its home here.
William Roberston-Smith: student at Edinb and in Germany. At the age of 23 was made professor at the Universityy of Aberdeen. denied angels & demons Suspended. Followed by Marcus Dodds. published a sermon in 1877 on inspiration and revelation. We should hang onto the central truth. There are somethings we don’t need to defend. A theory of inspiration has made the Bible an offense to honest men … dishonors God. It is a heresy. Tried and not condemned. George Adam Smith took over Robertson-Smith’s chair.
Why were they permitted in and kept? They came in as absolutely orthodox. They came forward in the name of the Gospel. Secondly, they were able young men. The opposition they encountered was from the older (traditionalist). They understood the “modern mind”.
The heart of their persuasiveness: we are going to bring the people and the churches closer to Christ. We are all travelers and we need signposts; the Bible is a signpost. We not only have signposts, we have Christ-himself. We don’t need a book to stand in the way.
It is amazing the evangelical men who went down before this thinking. William Fullerton who wrote a biography of Spurgeon.
In 1925 Glover became president of the Baptist Union, denied atonement and inspiration. Fullerton said of Glover’s election that Glover was a prophet sent among us.
Error is a very persuasive thing.
Don’t think we will not be tricked. If the Holy Spirit not keep we will all be carried away.
What was the fatal mistake? Let’s keep the heart of the matter, and not be concerned with secondary thing. The Bible is infallible — but not all the Bible is infallible — it is only the heart, the kernel which we are going to defend. But which part is the kernel? Until this time, the only question was What does the Word of God say? Now it was, What is the heart of the Word.
So the Flood, Daniel, Job are incidental. But Jesus authenticated all these things.
So what do we say of the testimony of Jesus Christ? He affirmed these things. Well then what part of Jesus’ testimony receive. So we come to, We don’t accept everything from Christ. My words will not pass away: well only some of the words. To believe all that Moses and the prophets said, “Some of the words.”
So then we must come to the historic Christ; then we will know what Jesus said.
This leads to Strauss: we don’t know the historical Jesus.
Marcus Dodds said, I am willing to give up Scriptures as long as I kept Christ.
Princeton Univ professor: which Christ? Which historical reconstruction.
Marcus Dodds as an old man, 1907: in a private letter to a friend. The Churches won’t know themselves 50 years hence. It is to be hoped that some little rag of faith will left when all is done.
The New Apologetic had brought the faith down to a rag of faith.
Dr. Moody-Stuart: the Word of the Lord is pure. And out of this trial, it will come forth in all its brightness as silver out of the fire. But in the meantime, our children may lose the treasure we were to bequeath them. It may be [many years before they recover]
Horatius Bonar: the extent of the mischief no one can calculate: a church without a faith .. a world without faith. What is to be their future … when faith goes all things go; when unbelief comes in, all things follow.
Ian Murray went to a church preached by George Adam-Smith. Now it is a splendid building with the doors shut on the Lord’s Day. They have taken away the word of the Lord (Jeremiah) oh that my head were fountain of tears.
The Evil One came and this is the result. The disaster hit Britain then spread world-wide. That Free Church of Scotland was a great missionary church. When this unbelief came, it killed the roots of missionary endeavor.
In 1920’s an attempt was made to halt unbelief on the field. In 1922 an appeal was made to the Church Board that no missionary should be sent out who did not commit themselves to the full trustworthiness of the Scripture.
Madchen in 1932 appealed to the missions board of the denomination not to send out missionaries who are not committed to the authority of Scripture. Madchen documented the work in China were they had approved material which denied the resurrection. A book which had a young girl say of the OT, that was before God was a Christian.
Madchen then formed another missionary agency within the Church. He was commanded to disband his other missionary society: they defrocked him.
The Chinese were saying don’t send us any missionaries who are fundamentalist, send us those with this modern knowledge.
The opponents would say that this controversy of verbal inspiration: the traditionalist and new apologetic.
That is false. It was not doctrine of verbal inspiration: they didn’t like what the Bible said. The real objections on the content of the revelation & inspiration — it was not doctrine per se.
The natural man does not want such a revelation: it condemns his sin.
At the heart of this attack was hatred of the Gospel itself.
They were really asking, How can we make the Bible acceptablee to the world at large. Let us cut out everything which humbles man. In the end, there was no real knowledge left.
** These men who introduced these falsehoods, were they planning on doing what they actually did: ruin churches, ruin missionary societies. No.
They were actually being deluded by the god of this world; they were being led by someone whom they did not actually believe existed.
MLJ: One of the main troubles with Church is that we do not believe in the devil’s existence.
Two marks of the Devil’s Work:
First, the Devil always wants us to idolize man.
This is easy to do. The poison of pride. What is the cause of apostasy? Pride. Pride praises men. These were very able men and their friends told them that.
“A good faithful minister doesn’t want to be applauded.”
Second, the devil works by the evasive, devious: he doesn’t come in his own dress.
It is a very serious mistake when we do not divide between those who bow to the Scripture and those who do not. Hold the line, clearly. The only distinction I recognize (MLJ) those who submit to the word of God and those who do not.
Second, we are dealing with the supernatural; therefore, we must respond with supernatural power. We need power from Heaven. The sons of Sceva think they will try their hands at this, and they are thrashed by the devil. Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are you? We must have spiritual power: we must be prayerful, humble men.
Third, it my encouragement to see you young men. Don’t be distracted, don’t be drawn onto secondary things. We will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
Wesley, I am a creature of a day …. I want to know one thing, the way to heaven ….Give me that book, at any price give me that book … let me be the man of one book.