Note from the Editor: D.L. Moody answers three objections to the Bible that he believes have kept people at a distance from the Bible. His writing is full of illustrations and very conversational. We pray that he answers your objections to the Bible and inspires you to pick it up and read.
We do not ask men and women to believe in the Bible without inquiry. It is not natural to man to accept the things of God without question. If you are to be ready to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15), you must first be an inquirer yourself.
But do not be a dishonest doubter, with your heart and mind proof against evidence. Do not be a doubter because you think it is “intellectual;” do not ventilate your doubts.
“Give us your convictions,” said a German writer, “we have enough doubts of our own.”
If you are filled with the Word of God, there will not be any doubts. A lady said to me once, “Don’t you have any doubts?” No, I don’t have time—too much work to be done. Some people live on doubt. It is their stock in trade. I believe the reason there are so many Christians who are without the full evidence of the relationship, with whom you only see the Christian graces cropping out every now and then, is that the Bible is not taken for doctrine, reproof, and instruction (2 Timothy 3:16).
Prove the Bible Is True
Now the request comes: “I wish you would prove to me that the Bible is true.” The Book will prove itself if you will let it; there is living power in it.
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV). The Bible does not need defense so much as it needs studying. It can defend itself. It is not a sickly child that needs nursing.
A Christian man was once talking to a skeptic who said he did not believe the Bible. The man read certain passages, but the skeptic said again, “I don’t believe a word of it.” The man kept on reading until finally the skeptic was convicted; and the other added: “When I have proved a good sword, I keep using it.” That is what we want today. It is not our work to make men believe: that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible does not need defense so much as it needs studying. It can defend itself.
A man once sat down to read the Bible an hour each evening with his wife. In a few evenings he stopped in the midst of his reading and said: “Wife, if this Book is true, we are wrong.” He read on, and before long, stopped again and said: “Wife, if this Book is true, we are lost.” Riveted to the Book and deeply anxious, he still read on, and soon exclaimed: “Wife, if this Book is true, we may be saved.” It was not many days before they were both converted. This is the one great end of the Book, to tell man of God’s great salvation. Think of a book that can lift up our drooping spirits, and recreate us in God’s image!
It is an awful responsibility to have such a book and to neglect its warnings, to reject its teachings. It is either the savor of death unto death, or of life unto life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). What if God should withdraw it, and say: “I will not trouble you with it anymore?”
The Bible Is Hard to Understand
You ask what you are going to do when you come to a thing you cannot understand. I thank God there is a height in that Book I do not know anything about, a depth I have never been able to fathom, and it makes the Book all the more fascinating. If I could take that Book up and read it as I can any other book and understand it at one reading, I should have lost faith in it years ago. It is one of the strongest proofs that that Book must have come from God, that the acutest men who have dug for fifty years have laid down their pens and said, “There is a depth we know nothing of.”
“No scripture,” said Spurgeon, “is exhausted by a single explanation. The flowers of God’s garden bloom, not only double, but seven-fold: they are continually pouring forth fresh fragrance.”
A man came to me with a difficult passage some time ago and said,
“Moody, what do you do with that?”
“I do not do anything with it.”
“How do you understand it?”
“I do not understand it.”
“How do you explain it?”
“I do not explain it.”
“What do you do with it?”
“I do not do anything.”
“You do not believe it, do you?”
“Oh, yes, I believe it.”
There are lots of things I do not understand, but I believe them. I do not know anything about higher mathematics, but I believe in them. I do not understand astronomy, but I believe in astronomy. Can you tell me why the same kind of food turns into flesh, fish, hair, feathers, hoofs, finger-nails—according as it is eaten by one animal or another? A man told me a while ago he could not believe a thing he had never seen. I said, “Man, did you ever see your brain?”
Dr. Talmage tells the story that one day while he was bothering his theological professor with questions about the mysteries of the Bible, the latter turned on him and said: “Mr. Talmage, you will have to let God know some things you don’t.”
A man once said to an infidel: “The mysteries of the Bible don’t bother me. I read the Bible as I eat fish. When I am eating fish and come across a bone. I don’t try to swallow it, I lay it aside. And when I am reading the Bible and come across something I can’t understand, I say, ‘There is a bone,’ and I pass it by. But I don’t throw the fish away because of the bones in it; and I don’t throw my Bible away because of a few passages I can’t explain.”
Pascal said, “Human knowledge must be understood in order to be loved; but Divine knowledge must be loved to be understood.” That marks the point of failure of most critics of the Bible. They do not make their brain the servant of their heart.
That marks the point of failure of most critics of the Bible. They do not make their brain the servant of their heart.
The Bible Isn’t Historical
Did you ever notice that the things that people cavil most about are the very things to which Christ has set his seal? People say, “You don’t believe in the story of Noah and the flood, do you?” (Genesis 6). Well, if I give it up, I must give up the Gospel, I must give up the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christ believed in the story of Noah, and connected that with his return to earth. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37 NIV).
People say, “You don’t believe in the story of Lot and Sodom, do you?” (Genesis 19). Just as much as I believe the teachings of Jesus Christ. “It was the same in the days of Lot. … It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30 NIV). People say, “You don’t believe in the story of Lot’s wife, do you?” Christ believed it. “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32 NIV).
“You don’t believe the story of Israel looking to a brass serpent for deliverance, do you?” (Numbers 21:9). Christ believed it and connected it with his own cross. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14, 15 NIV).
People say, “You don’t believe the children of Israel were fed with manna in the desert, do you?” (Deuteronomy 8). “Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness… Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:31, 32 NIV).
People say, “You don’t believe they drank water that came out of a rock?” (Exodus 17). Christ believed it and taught it (1 Corinthians 10:4).
People say, “You don’t believe in the story of Elijah being fed by the widow, do you?” (1 Kings 17). Certainly. Christ said there were many widows in the days of Elijah, but Elijah was fed by only one widow (Luke 4:26). Christ referred to it himself, he set his seal to it. The Son of God believed it, and shall the servant be above his master? (Matthew 10:24).
Do You Really Believe the Bible Is Inspired?
When Paul wrote to Timothy that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God and was profitable (2 Timothy 3:16), he meant what he said. “Well,” some say, “do you believe all Scripture is given by inspiration?” Yes, every word of it; but I don’t believe all the actions and incidents it tells of were inspired. For instance, when the devil told a lie he was not inspired to tell a lie, and when a wicked man like Ahab said anything, he was not inspired; but someone was inspired to write it, and so all was given by inspiration and is profitable.
Inspiration must have been verbal in many, if not in all, cases. Peter tells us, regarding salvation through the sufferings of Christ:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12 NIV)
So that the prophets themselves had to inquire and search diligently regarding the words they uttered under the inspiration of the Spirit.
A man said to a young convert: “How can you prove that the Bible is inspired?” He replied, “Because it inspires me.” I think that is pretty good proof. Let the Word of God into your soul, and it will inspire you, it cannot help it.