It is Written
Rom. 10:15 — “It is written.”
I have very little regard for that method of using the Bible that will permit one to open it at random, put the finger on the verse, and then take it as a message from God. It lacks common sense. One might as well go in a drug store, shut your eyes and reach out your hand and place it on a bottle, and then take it as a remedy from God, and expect to get well. God says in the Word, “Search the Scriptures … for they are they which testify for Me.” The disciples at Berea were more noble than those at Thessalonica, because they searched the Word as to whether these things were so. A knowledge of the Word can be obtained only by a faithful, systematic study of the Book. Suppose you lived in that age and state of the world in which human nature is found unenlightened by the revelation made in the Word. Just fancy yourself back there in the darkness of heathenism; the paths of virtue and safety obscured; your Maker hidden from your view; your origin, your future, your destination, unknown; the way to the tomb, your inevitable course, haunted with specters of doubt and dismay; your heart turning hither and thither, asking for light and direction, but finding only darkness and uncertainty. In the midst of this gloom, suppose the heavens opened and there descended to you a messenger bringing to you a book which informed you of your origin and destiny, which revealed to you the true God, and told you that He loved you, — a book which made the path of every virtuous excellence plain before you, and disclosed to you a title, an eternal title to immortality. With what transportation you would receive it! The book which he gives you, you would press to your lips, hold to your heart, you would drop on it tears of excessive joy. As the messenger returns to the skies, you would follow him with benedictions until he vanished from your view, and the precious volume you would carry to your home with joy and exultation. You would call in your friends, your neighbors, all your loved ones, and you would tell them of the gift God had sent to you; and were the wealth of the world offered to you in exchange for it, you would clasp it to your heart and declare it to be above all price. Take away the Scriptures and what is your condition but that of unenlightened nature? Think of the inspiration of the Scriptures, and their important contents; and what is their value less than if brought to you immediately and directly from the skies? All the Scriptures are of God, and to you is the Word of this salvation sent. Yet who today regards them at their value? For the love and kindness of God in giving us the Word, no gratitude is too much, nor too excessive. But because we have always been in the enjoyment of it, its light and comfort are familiar to our minds; we be hold it as we do the sun in the heavens, unmindful of the majesty and benignity of its Author, and almost unconscious of the importance of its beams. When one thinks of the inspiration of the Scriptures, of their completeness, and of their end and uses, unless you are ungrateful to your Maker and unjust to yourselves, you would be like the Psalmist, — as glad of God’s Word as one that findeth great spoils. Hear him as he says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Oh, how men professing to be called of God do miss it when they resort to hymn books, and literature, to get a text or a subject, when they are to preach!
Preaching is not a profession, — it is a calling, and men are to preach for eternal results. This morning, while in prayer at the family altar, I asked God, when I was no longer a blessing, to take me out of the world and home to heaven. The ministry is to preach the Word, and win souls; and the preacher who does not do it, no matter how many letters are with his name in his weekly advertisements and bulletins, he is missing the teaching of the Word, and the call of God; and had better go to judgment from a land of darkness, than from a pulpit where he has been a miserable failure before God, the angels and the host of the redeemed. Would to God that every preacher would feel with Paul the burden of the ministry, and the value of souls, and could get a vision of the eternal results that follow! All men need this Book in life; they need it in the dying hour. They need the Christ it tells of, the One whom; men are to preach, if they meet the thought of God. A Southern Christian woman was dying, and in her delirium she imagined that she was riding in her carriage with her faithful servant in the carriage seat. “Is David driving?” she asked. “There is no danger if David is driving.” “No, no, Missus,” replied the weeping Negro at her side, “Poor Dave can’t drive now, de Lord has hold on de lines.” And he spoke the truth for all ages. The Lord of life holds the lines, and guides the saints through the gate of death into the Paradise of God. Rabelais, when dying, said, “I am going to meet the great Perhaps.” Poor fellow, when the child of God comes to the end, taught by the Word, he exclaims with the dying Horace Bushnell, “Well, now we are all going home together, and I say the Lord be with you — and in grace — and peace — and love — and that is the way I have come along home.” Thank God for a faith built on the Word — thank God for the word, “It is written.”
The exhortations of the Spirit are here for our admonition, exhortation, and instruction in righteousness. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” — and that is just as appropriate to the church and the world today as it was when first uttered. Jesus is not only the Savior of men, but He is the great Example; not example merely, and yet His life is teaching us the way to God, heaven, and victory. When He was assailed in the wilderness He was well equipped for the conflict. He was acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures, the Old Testament, that you and I have today; and to each suggestion of the tempter He never offered an argument, — He merely replied with a portion of the Word of God. He was able to say at once to the enemy, “It is written,” because He knew what was written. He knew what was in the Word, and by it He repelled effectively every assault of Satan. When Paul wanted to enforce an argument he would write, “For the Scripture saith,” and to the old prophets, “Thus saith the Lord,” was the rock from which they could not be moved. Paul writes to his son in the Gospel, “Give thyself to reading,” knowing well that no one was equipped for the Christian life unless acquainted with the Word. During the late war, and also over in the Philippines, some of our men were armed with the old Springfield rifle, while others had the Krag Jorgensen. The Springfield was effective at half a mile while the Krag Jorgensen was effective at a mile or two miles. The Spaniards were armed with the Mowzer, and had a decided advantage over our men who were armed with Springfields. Our Government, knowing this, made a decided effort to arm all our soldiers with the K. J. rifle. They wanted them at their best and able to contend with any foe. The Bible is the best weapon for the Christian. It is an arsenal full of weapons. It has the Sword of the Spirit, — the weapon that Jesus used in the wilderness, the dynamite of the Holy Ghost; and it is the duty of every child of God to be well acquainted with the Word. It fits him for any battlefield, any enemy that hell may inspire. It comforts in every hour of trial, and strengthens in moments of weakness. When we have such a book at our command, I do not wonder that the late Oswald Chambers said, “It is a crime to be weak.” It enables the believer to say in the confidence born of the Word, when hell assails; “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; for though I fall yet shall I rise again.” The Word of God was the weapon of Jesus Christ. He might have called on His Father for a legion of angels, and they would have been given to Him but, instead, for your encouragement and mine, He used the Word. It was the weapon of the Apostles. They preached Jesus. The great Apostle to the Gentiles said, “For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified, to the Greeks foolishness and to the Jews a stumbling block, but to them which are saved Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Such were the victories they achieved that their enemies said, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” An illiterate man who was called of God to preach one time went among his fellows and used this for a text, and his divisions were something like this, “The world is wrong side up. It needs to be turned upside down. Third. We are the fellows to do it.” God blessed him? Of course He did. He takes the weak things to confound the mighty. There was a man whom some folks said did not have good sense, but he was impressed that since God had saved him he ought to work for God and get others saved. A lawyer attended the same church to which this man belonged. The pastor was very desirous of saving the lawyer and winning him for the church, so he prepared a sermon to meet the lawyer’s case. One night he preached this sermon when the lawyer was present. Shortly after, the lawyer gave his heart to God and joined the church. The pastor felt that his sermon under God had done the work. But get the truth now, and see how God works: The brother who had not much sense went to the lawyer in meeting one night. He was interested in his salvation. The pastor saw him and wished he would stay away from the lawyer, for he knew he would drive him away. The brother said to the lawyer, “Don’t you want to go to heaven?” “No,” was the reply. “Then go to hell,” was the rejoinder, and the brother left him. The lawyer was asked by the pastor, “What part of my sermon was it that convinced you?” “Oh,” said the lawyer, “It was not your sermon. I could have answered every part of that, every point you made. It was that dunderhead who came to me and asked me if I wanted to go to heaven, and I told him, ‘No.’ He told me, ‘Then go to hell.’ And I got to thinking, ‘That is where I am going, if I do not repent.’ And I began to pray and asked God to save me. That is why I am here.” God can bless any small effort even of the weakest when it is for His glory. He does do it. I have heard many sermons as unctionless as a last year’s bird’s nest, fine, some folks called them; and then I have heard others that were apparently without point, but God blessed them and souls were saved. Preach the Word. It holds good today, and is owned of God.
There are promises in the Word of God for every condition of life, and an acquaintance with them inspires the soul with confidence. Peter says, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” And that man called of God to preach the Word says, “Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Let us use them, avail ourselves of them. Do you know what is here for you already provided? Is it not a wonderful provision of God that you can turn at any time to the Word and find there something that will defeat the enemy?
When David was without a sword they told him there was none except the sword of Goliath; and, as he remembered how he had hewed off the head of the giant when he was but a stripling he said, “Give me that, there is none like it.” So there are no weapons for you, my brethren, like these that have been proved and tried in the days gone by. When tried, ask the Holy Ghost to guide you in the selection, and then use it to the glory of God. By so doing you are in the Scriptural, Apostolic Holy Ghost line, and you will always find that victory is sure and yours. The Lord did it three times in the wilderness. The enemy charged on Him three times, but He received each assault on the point of the Sword, and the devil was glad to retreat. IT IS WRITTEN, it is written, it is written; you need no other; follow the example of the. Lord, and with Him have the victory. Look, here is a weapon for a storm — tossed soul — one who has taken his mind and his trust off the Lord. Look at him. He wakes in the morning and thinks of his cares; thinks of his troubles; dwells on them; regale’s his friends with them; takes them to work with him; brings them home with him, and goes to bed with them. You have met him; you know him. Troubles assail him on every side, — a whole phalanx of cares — but there is a weapon in the Word of God that will put them all to flight. Use it. It is written, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.” Here is another, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” Peter walked bravely on the waters until he looked on the waves, then he began to sink. Look to Jesus, and walk anywhere the providences of God call you.
But here is another person. Cares? No. Sickness? No, never was sick a day in his life. But the devil assails him; casts his fiery darts at him day after day. The enemy comes in like a flood; temptations are sore; intense smell of the pit. What is there in the Word of God for such a time? Listen, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him,” and the margin reads, “and put him to flight.” Claim that at once. God still lives and the promise is true, true for you. Claim it and sing,
“Should earth against my soul engage,
And fiery darts be hurled,
Then I can smile at Satan’s rage
And face a frowning world.
Let cares like a wild deluge come;
Let storms of sorrow fall;
So I but safely reach my home,
My God, my heaven, my all.”
You may have the victory by taking the Word. Simple? To be sure it is; but so many want another way, forgetting that God works by simple processes, that He may bring to naught the wisdom of the mighty. If some folks had been at Jericho they would have rejected rams’ horns, and the marching six days, and, on the seventh day, marching seven times, and then worst of all, “shouting.” They would have said, “No shouting, please.” They would have silver trumpets, and dress parades, — but God’s way brought the victory. The heroes, of whom we have an account in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, put to flight the armies of the aliens by faith in God’s Word. Cares, and trials, and afflictions, and temptations, and demons, stand in mortal dread of “it is written.” O church of the living God, O ye men and women, ordained before the foundations of the world were laid to be holy and victorious, use the Word, and put to flight all that opposes. Oh, that the prophets of the land were sounding forth that which is written, instead of sermonettes on agnosticism, and evolution, and the state of affairs in Europe. “Go preach my Gospel,” saith the Lord. “Bid the whole world my grace receive. He shall be saved who trusts my Word. He shall be damned who won’t believe.”
Prepare yourself beforehand for time and eternity, for life and for death.
Listen to this: “Perfect love casteth out fear;” all fear; fear of men and devils; fear of judgment. I surely am an admirer of Paul, — he would walk in every path that God opened up to him. The Holy Ghost testified to him that bonds and afflictions awaited him in every city. Friends implored him with prayers and tears not to go. They dreaded the power of Rome, but lions and perils and demons and threatened death, all failed to stop him. He declared, “I am not only ready to be bound at Rome; I am ready to die for the Lord Jesus’ sake also.” Fear casts a shadow, — brings gloom and dread into the heart; but just as when you open the shutters, and let in the sunlight, you drive out all the darkness, so the love of God perfected in the heart, drives out all fear and timidity, and makes the weakest one to say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
With a full assurance of the value of the Word you can look adversity, and afflictions, and cross purposes, all in the face, and in advance shout the victory, saying, “I know whom I have believed;” and He has it written in the Word, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself.” You can bunch them all and say, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come … shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.” For it is written, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Look at Joseph in his dying hour: He gathers his brethren and kinsmen around him and in dependence on the Word of God he says, “God will surely visit you, as He swore unto Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” He believed God’s Word, and I have thought, as I read the last verse in the Book of Genesis, “And Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt,” that unburied coffin was standing evidence of their dependence on the Word: He will visit us as He said, and we shall go up out of this land. Victory and freedom are certain because, “It is written.” Do you know what that WORD meant? Let me illustrate. Here is an acorn, a bushel of them. What do you see? “Oh,” you say, “acorns, just acorns.” Why, bless you, beloved, I see oak trees, and timber and bridges and ships and navies and conquests and victories, all right there in those acorns. So in that promise I see Red Seas crossed, rivers divided, walled cities taken, enemies defeated, Israel in Canaan, — complete victories. So in “it is written” I see victory for every child of God over everything that may arise, — victory in the midst of the darkness; victory when friends do not know what to make of you; victory when death comes into the home; victory, till in the very presence of death you may shout defiance to the grim monster and say:
“Knowest thou not when my Master died,
Thy sting was lost in His wounded side;
And the gates of steel and the bars of brass
Gave way that the King of kings might pass?”
“It is written,” “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms shall destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eves shall behold, and not another.” Amen!