It is said that the French scoffer Voltaire, who lived during the period of Frederick the Great and vehemently opposed Christianity, once said, “In less than one hundred years, Christianity will be extinct. Then Bibles will only be found as antiquities in museums.”– Those hundred years are long gone. Voltaire is dead. He died an atheist. The house in which he lived was at one point occupied by the president of the Evangelical Society of Geneva, and some of the rooms in the house were used to store Bibles and gospel tracts. Voltaire is dead, but the Bible lives on.
The Pope in Rome repeatedly condemned Bible societies and prohibited the reading of the Bible. In 1870, when the King of Italy put an end to the Papal States and marched into the city of Rome, a small cart pulled by a large, white dog cut in front of the troops. And inside that cart was – the Bible. Before anyone else could, God’s Word entered the city that had persecuted countless souls for the sake of the Bible.
Many years ago, a revision of the New Testament was released in the United States. When it was completed, the revised copy was offered for sale. What happened? In New York, people offered 500 dollars to receive a copy of this New Testament prior to the general release of the publication. On the morning of the issuance, the streets of New York were literally barricaded with wagons of those awaiting copies of this book. Hundreds of thousands of copies were sold as quickly as they could be distributed. Matthew 1 to the end of the book of Romans, approximately 118,000 words, were telegraphed from New York to Chicago just to get it into the Sunday paper 24 hours earlier than the train could have transported it. This was the longest telegraph transmission ever!
For a book often considered “dead” and frequently condemned, mocked and derided, attacked and refuted, it continues to reveal striking signs of life.
This remarkable Book is alive and outlives all of its foes and critics. All denigrators of the Bible have been ruined, and the Bible lives on. One especially striking observation is that the critics of the Bible nevertheless feel safest where this Book is found.
Years ago, a young man who was not a believer went on a hike with his uncle. One evening, they felt a need to stay overnight in a solitary house, far from the main road. The owner did not appear exactly trustworthy, so they were concerned about their safety and their cash. They decided the young man would keep watch during the first half of the night. Then he was supposed to wake up his uncle to be on guard the rest of the night. The older man was barely lying down when the young man started getting ready for bed.
“I thought you wanted to stay up?” asked the uncle. “It isn’t necessary” was the reply. Through a gap in the doorway, he had seen their host take a large black book, read in it, and fall to his knees in prayer. Then the young man knew they were safe in this house.
A representative of the French Directory, Lépeaux came to the elderly statesman Talleyrand (1754-1838) and complained that his new religion “Theophilanthropy” was finding little acceptance amongst the people. Then Talleyrand said, “The difficulty of your pursuit is not surprising to me. It’s not easy to introduce a new religion. I have one recommendation for you, then perhaps you may succeed.” “And what would that be?” questioned Lépeaux. “Do miracles, raise the dead, heal all sorts of diseases, and drive out demons. Then let yourself be crucified and rise up from the dead. Then you will achieve your goal,” replied Talleyrand. Lépeaux left without another word. He was incapable of that. – But Christ has done it, and His apostles sacrificed life and limb to communicate and substantiate these truths.
We call this amazing book “the Bible.” Actually, it isn’t a single book but a library of 66 books written by 30 to 40 different people. These people came from various walks of life. They included kings, princes, poets, philosophers, statesmen, fishermen, and tax collectors. There were men educated in all the knowledge of the Egyptians, trained in the schools of Babylon, raised among the scribes of Jerusalem, and some with hardly any education. Everything possible is found in this library that we call the Bible, including history, prophecy, poetry, law, ethics, health education, political science, and the list goes on. All manner of written language is represented – how great could be the confusion if it wasn’t for this wonderful Bible!
The Bible is as relevant today as it was centuries ago. It has a remarkable influence like no other book in the world. Many have said, “I was lost. I broke my elderly mother’s heart. I ruined my family with my drinking. I was a slave to passions – until the words of this Book made an impression on me. At that moment, things changed!” Truly, an astounding Book!
Oh, if everyone would use this Book as their guide to life! There would be fewer court cases, fewer fights would interrupt the calm of the night, and the prisons would have fewer occupants if this wonderful Book ruled the hearts of men.
When Columbus saw the Orinoco River, one of his companions said he had found an island. Columbus replied, “No. Such a force cannot be found on an island. This powerful stream must collect the waters of a continent.”
That can be likened to the fountain of living water, which we call the Bible. This Book does not arise from the hearts of humans but springs from the immeasurable depth of godly wisdom, love, and grace.
May we all accept it as the Word of our God and experience the power of God that saves everyone who believes it!