Whether it’s ancient manuscripts, a paperback or the finest genuine leather bound, reference edition, the text in it contains the most valuable information man can ever possess. It chronicles the generation and degeneration of man and reveals God’s plan of regeneration through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now grab your Bible, but don’t open it. Just hold it there in your hands. Nothing in all of literary history, whether secular or religious, has had such an impact on mankind. Nothing else even comes close in comparison. The Bible was written over a 1500-year span. It was written by 40 generations, by over 40 human authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, and scholars. It was written in different places, including in the wilderness, in palaces, in prisons, while traveling, and on lonely islands. It was written at different times—times of peace, and times of war. It was written from the mountain tops of joy as well as from the valleys of sorrow. It was written in three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was written in three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Its subject matter includes controversial topics. Yet, throughout the entire sixty-six books of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—there is one unfolding story of the redemption of man through Jesus Christ.
Throughout history, the Bible has evoked extreme reactions. There have been those who have hated it, and those have been hated for it; those who have denied it and those who have denied themselves for it; those who have banned it and those who have been banned for it; those who have burned it and those who have been burned for it; those who have torn it to pieces and those who have been torn to pieces for it.
In 600 B.C. King Jehoiakim is seen cutting up the Word of the Lord, page by page with a scribe’s knife and throwing it into the fire. He also imprisoned all the prophets and priests. In 90 A.D., John is banished to the Isle of Patmos. In the early 1380s, John Wycliffe instigated two English translations of the Bible, at that time everyone who was found with a copy in English was killed by the Roman Catholic church. As these martyrs in England were burned, they held the scriptures close to their chest. Over 40 years later, in 1428, the Catholic Church is still so upset with John Wycliffe that they declared him a heretic and dug up and removed his remains from sacred ground. In 1536, William Tyndale, who has again translated the New Testament, is strangled and burned at the stake. Thousands of people who have either written, translated or distributed the Bible have suffered persecution or died horrible deaths for doing so. In spite of persecution and death the Word of God still stands.
In the late 1700s, a French atheist traveled the world speaking against the Bible. He predicted that 100 years after his death, the Bible would no longer be in existence. He died in 1778. Fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society bought his home. The Geneva Bible Society then used the same printing presses that he used to produce his atheistic propaganda, to produce Bibles and has been doing so ever since. Few remember his name—it was Voltaire—but despite criticism, the Word of God still stands.
In America, we are now facing one of the greatest attacks on the Bible. I am not referring to the criticism and persecution done by those outside of the church, but rather the apathy that is present within the church and those that claim to be Christians. Chuck Colson, in one of his books, mentioned the fact that so many of us have Bibles, yet the Bible doesn’t seem to change us as it should. Out of 1382 people that were surveyed, 81% of the people surveyed in a recent poll said that they were evangelical. However, only 42% of them knew that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount and only 48% of them could name the first four books of the New Testament. Even more tragic, less than 1% of them said that their lives were directed and truly changed by what the Word of God said. In other words, many people read it, but it doesn’t always change them.
Although these statistics are bleak, I do not fear the collapse of Christianity—?not because of any faith I might have in mankind, but because of the faith I have in God. You see, when Jesus says in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” I believe it. And when I read in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” I believe it. The question is not will the Word of God stand, the question is will you stand with it?