That is the Bible

by W. A. Criswell

You have to read the following. I love W. A. Criswell. This message will sure excite you. It will make you love God and the Bible even more.

Now I want to point out something to you that to me is just unbelievable.  There’s no need for you to turn to it, though I’m going to turn to it.  I hold in my hand here an open Bible at Ezra, at Ezra.  And here is the sixth chapter of Ezra, there, there, there, down to there.  And this is the beginning of the seventh chapter of Ezra, and it goes on without a break, without any notation of a hiatus at all.

It just starts up here, “Then Darius, the king, made a decree,” and that’s 6 [Ezra 6:1].  Then now after these things, in the reign of order Artaxerxes the king [Ezra 7:1], and then it goes on.

I want to use that as an illustration of how God has written the Bible and its purpose.  There are fifty-eight years between the end of chapter 6 in Ezra [Ezra 6:22], and the beginning of chapter 7 [Ezra 7]; 516 BC at the end of Ezra [Ezra 6:22] and 458 BC at the beginning of chapter 7 [Ezra 7:1].

This shows you, as I’m going to demonstrate here in a moment, this shows you in poignant illustration and vivid example the selective purposes of the Bible.  The Holy Scriptures are not a record of world events, to present the story of the development of civilization or culture or society or of mankind, but the Holy Scriptures have one great purpose, namely, to present the progress of God’s unfolding, redeeming purpose.

Now, you look at the event that took place in these fifty-eight years of silence.  Now listen to it.  Between chapter 6 [Ezra 6:22] and chapter 7 [Ezra 7:1], in the Book of Ezra [Ezra 6:22], in those fifty-eight silent years, these things came to pass.  Listen to them.

In China, Confucius lived and died.

In India, Buddha, Gautama Buddha, lived and died.

In Greece, the nation reaps her golden age.  Herodotus, the father of history, began to write.  Thucydides, the first great philosophical historian, began to write.  Socrates and Anaxagoras were the great philosophers, with their pupils, Plato and Aristotle.  Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles were writing their tragedies.  Pindar was penning his beautiful lyrics.  Aristophanes was writing his comedies.  Pericles and Themistocles and Aristides were swaying the Athenian public with their political judgments and oratory.

And Marathon and Thermopylae and Salamis were the battles fought on land and sea in that little period of time between the sixth and the seventh chapters of the Book of Ezra [Ezra 6:22-7:1].

You would think the quintessence of all civilization and cultural advancement of the whole human race is represented in that list that I have just presented to you.

There is no hint of it.  There is no reference to it in the Bible.  It is passed over in absolute silence.

The Scriptures have a very definite purpose.  God wants us to be saved, and that’s why the Bible.  He wants all men to come to repentance and find in Christ their personal Savior [2 Peter 3:9].

That is the Bible.

And when a man preaches in the power and the Spirit of the Lord, that’s what he preaches.

He preaches, “Ho, ho, all that thirst come, come to the waters and drink.  Come without money and without price” [Isaiah 55:1].

Why do you spend time and effort in life for that which satisfieth not?  Hear, and your soul shall live [Isaiah 55:2-3].

“Let the wicked man forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord . . . and He will abundantly pardon” [Isaiah 55:7].

That is the gospel.

That is the Bible.

That is what the man in the pulpit ought to preach.  “Come, come, come.”

And all of these other things, what you might say about Confucius or not, about Buddha or not, your references to history or not, all of those things are just incidental.

The great, main burden of the Scriptures, of the message of the church, if it’s true to its faithful mandate from heaven, and of the God-called preacher is always one of redemption.

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
[“Are You Washed in the Blood?” Elisha A. Hoffman]

That is the Bible.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

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