Chapter 1: Time Trip!
Imagine for a moment that we are in a different time period. We have gone back thousands of years. There are no cars. There are no airplanes. There are no modern conveniences. We are in primitive times.
We take a look around us. There is no Bible. We know nothing about the universe around us. We have no knowledge of God. We don't know how mankind got here.
Then we look again. We see a seed fall from a tree and from the top of the soil, plant itself, tend to its self, raise itself up into a seedling and mature into a tree, only to repeat the cycle all over again. And we wonder.
Then we go to the ocean. We study the tides and discover that they are used to clean the waters, making it impossible to support life without them. We look and ask ourselves, "Was this planned?"
We look beneath the surface of the water, to the depths below. We find life. Strange creatures! Some which breathe water and some which breathe air like us. Some that spawn eggs. Some that give birth to living young. We see creatures of all different shapes and sizes. Some are very small. Some are so huge that they weigh many tons. Some go fishing with a worm attached to their own fishing pole. Some have no eyes. Some have their eyes out on stalks. Some carry lights with them. Some move very slowly. Some dart about almost too fast for our eyes to follow. Again, we wonder. How did this come into being?
Then we look overhead. We see the birds. They fly yet are never taught. They move through the air with grace and precision. Their bones are hollow to give them the light weight suitable for flight. Their feathers all grow in the right places. They migrate to the same place every year. They possess innate abilities and characteristics required for their survival. And again we wonder. Could this "just happen?"
Then we look at ourselves, at our bodies. We study the intricacies of the eye and how it works. We examine the complex mechanisms of the ear. We marvel at our ability to keep our balance; to speak; to walk. We look at the heart, that marvelous muscle whose valves know when to open and when to close. It starts functioning without our help and stops itself in spite of all we can do to prevent it. We look to the nervous system and the brain. How did all of this come about? Was it created by accidents?
We put forth our questions to our contemporaries. They have no satisfactory answers.
Where is God?
IS there a being greater than we are? One who made all of these marvelous things that we have looked at? If there were a being greater than we, where would He be? We look to the ground. No, He is not there. We scan the ocean. He is not there either, for both of these are limited, and they could not contain so great a Being. Anything that could create the marvelous works that we find all around us could only come (and we look upward) from the seemingly unlimited sky!
We look to the sky. Is there Something up there? Something that is watching us even now? Something that created this whole universe and set it in motion?
But wait. If there is Something up there, if there is a Supreme Being, He must know us! He must know what is happening on this earth. He must know our problems and have the answers for them. And if this is so, and He sees our helpless state, He is indebted to us, His creatures. As our Creator, He must help us with our troubles, assist us through this life, and see to it that we find a way to reach Him. He must communicate.
We can call to the heavens. We can climb the mountains in an attempt to be nearer. We can pray. But in all of this, we can only send words in one direction. He must communicate with us! He must send words to us. He must establish reliable communications with us. But how? Suddenly it happens. As we walk down the road toward home, far down in the distance we see a figure. That figure is shouting and causing a stir. He has an air of excitement about him. As we draw nearer we can hear him shouting, and as we get closer still we can make out what he is saying.
"Make straight the way of the Lord!" We stop him. "What did you say?"
"Make straight the way of the Lord!"
"Who is the Lord?" we ask.
"The Lord, the Lord God of heaven..."
Of Heaven! Quickly we glance up. He has sent someone! We must find out more!
"Tell us more about this 'Lord'," we ask.
"The Lord God of Heaven! The Creator of the Universe!"
We look to the heavens again. We fall on our knees. God has communicated! We grasp this figure!
"Tell me! Tell me of this God! Tell me of this Creator!"
"Tell you? You have no need that I tell you, for it is written right here in this Book. For if all you ever knew about God was what I said, there would be no way to verify it. But if God is God, He must put His Word in writing, so that we may have it long after His prophets are gone."
Then he pulls from his belongings a volume of a book. We look at it. Writing! Our God writes!
"How did these things come to be?" we ask.
"Holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," he replies.
Now we hold in our hands communication from our Creator. He has spanned time and space and worked through men. He has communicated! He had a message for us but did not keep it locked in heaven, for He sent it to earth. He has sent that message in plain black and white so that we could keep it and study it. His obligation was to communicate. Our obligation is to accept that communication; to read that communication; to obey that communication. Without that communication, we have no connection to this God Who is the Creator of the universe. If these are not His words, we have no hope.
We have known that He existed for so long. But now we hold in our hand His Word. He has communicated!
But wait! No sooner do we acquire this precious communication than a shadowy figure arrives on the scene.
"Yea, hath God said? That isn't the Word of God. That only contains the words of God. That only holds His thoughts, not His very words. Oh there may be a few fundamental doctrines that you can pretend to believe. But surely you don't believe that these are God's very words? Don't be a fanatic. Settle for just a few accurate passages."
We find ourselves shocked. Our new found faith assailed! Our confidence shaken! Then our true prophet explains.
"He is an unbeliever. He does not believe that God has the power to write this Book perfectly. And, even worse, he is struck with fear when he discovers anyone who does, so he tries to destroy their faith in it."
"Why doesn't he just give in and believe it?" we ask.
"Pride," explains our prophet.
Now we are transported back to our present day. Times and surroundings have changed. The tattered old volume we held in our hand has become a black, leather covered book with gilt-edged pages and two precious words printed on the cover, "Holy Bible."
Our prophet now stands before us. A look of determination on his face. He speaks.
"This is the Bible. This is God's Word and God's words. Believe it. Read it. Practice it. This Book will lead you; strengthen you; impower you. It is God's Word."
We open it up and look gratefully at its pages. It is so easy to read now. So orderly. The Word of God. My, how He must love us to have written all of this. My, what power He must have to have brought it through a history that has always been hostile to it, preserve it perfectly, and put it here in our hands!
The Questioner Returns
Suddenly someone speaks.
"Yea hath God said?"
"What?" We look up. He is a fine looking man, well dressed and obviously quite educated.
"I hate to disillusion you, but actually that is not God's word. That only contains a mere translation of the Word of God, and a poor one at that. Oh, you can find the fundamentals in it, but surely you don't believe that those are God's very words? Please, your lack of proper education is showing. Don't be a fanatic. Settle for a few accurate passages, but don't be a fool and hurt the cause of Christ by saying that God preserved His very words. Grow up."
We find ourselves shocked. Our faith is being assailed. But wait a minute. As our verbal intruder walks away, the lesson that we learned earlier strikes home.
"Wow! Those unbelievers are everywhere," we say to our prophet with a sigh of relief.
"They certainly are quick to try to destroy a person's faith in the Bible. I hope he gets saved someday."
"What do you mean?" replies our prophet. "That guy was a Christian, a college graduate. He believes that God wrote this Book perfectly a few thousand years ago, but he doesn't believe that God had the power to preserve it through the centuries and give it to you and me perfectly in English. What's worse yet, he is struck with fear when he finds someone who does, so he tries to destroy their faith in it."
"But why doesn't he just give in and believe it?"