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The Enduring Word

By Henlee Barnette
Isaiah 40:8

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever." (Isaiah 40:8 and 1 Peter 1:24-25)

Isaiah, the prophet, spoke to a world similar to ours. Crime was rampant; despair and fear prevailed; angst and a longing for certainty filled the hearts of the people; moral confusion blinded the political and spiritual leadership to reality. They called "evil good and good evil," put darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20). They were unable to make clear moral judgments. Wars with neighboring nations were frequent and the invasion of surrounding nations finally resulted in the fall of Israel and exile.

In the midst of this crisis came God with the good news of comfort, forgiveness and restoration. God's promises are true and enduring. Above all the change, confusion and chaos stands God's Word. Because we have an "unchanging Word of God in a changing world."

Through the centuries critics have chipped away at the Bible to little avail. Voltaire, atheist French philosopher who died in 1778, declared: "If we would destroy the Christian religion, we must first destroy the Bible." He declared that the Bible would soon become obsolete and forgotten.

Since Voltaire's dire prediction more than two hundred years ago the Bible has had an incredible career. Why does the Word of God survive?

1. It is God-Breathed. Paul, the Apostle, declares that "Every Scripture (Old Testament, later applied to New Testament) God-breathed is useful for teaching, for discipline and correcting error" (2 Timothy 3:16). Some translators use the term "inspired" which is the Latin and is not the Greek (Theopneustos) "God-breathed" in Scripture. As God breathed life into humankind (Genesis 2:7) so He breathed life into Scripture by His Spirit. This concept distinguishes the Scriptures ordained by God's authority from secular works.

As to the method of God-breathing Scripture there is much debate among theologians. According to Peter "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:20) This makes Scripture, the written word, unique.

2. The Bible endures because lives are transformed by reading its witness to Christ. Reading just the book of Romans, some of the great persons of the church experienced the amazing and transforming grace of God. Augustine (354-430) heard a voice, "Take up and read. Take up and read." So he took up the book of Romans, opened it and read the first chapter. He saw: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its concupiscences." Then Augustine describes his transforming experience: "instantly with the end of the sentence, as by a clear and constant light infused into my heart, the darkness of all former doubts was driven away." (The Confessions of St. Augustine, p. 216-17.)

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