Theodore Roosevelt was an avid reader. Even when he was President of the United States, he continued his habit of reading as many as three entire books every day! In addition, he authored at least 35 books of his own, many of them scholarly tomes requiring extensive research. Yet, to Roosevelt, one book stood out above them all—the Holy Bible. In fact, Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education!”
What was it that Roosevelt saw in the Bible that made it stand apart from all other works? I would suggest he was acknowledging the truth that the Bible speaks to every aspect of the human condition, and, most importantly, its words come from the most reliable source of knowledge—the Creator Himself.
The Bible begins with the simple affirmation, “In the beginning, God.” No attempt is made to justify the existence of God—it is simply a given, a fact to be accepted. In this way, the Bible authenticates itself, and respects the reader enough to simply declare the obvious truth of God’s reality. It presupposes the Author’s existence, and validates its own authenticity.
The Bible is the only book which contains the inspired Word of God—and only His inspired Word—from the first page to the last. There are many useful books on any variety of topics, but there is only one book which can reliably make the claim to be a Divine Book, a book with unique authority and reliability because it was delivered to us by the Author of Creation Himself.
Many great and scholarly works have been written by learned men and women throughout the centuries, and these books are held forth as both reliable and worthy of study and reflection. But only one book exists that contains the words of God Himself, divinely inspired, and completely consistent with truth and reality. No human author, no matter his hubris or academic credentials, would dare to make such a claim.
True, God used human authors to record His Word. The precise method by which He inspired and communicated His Word to these men is not always provided to us in the Bible. The method is not relevant, but the source of their inspiration is everything. In fact, if one denies that the Bible is God’s Word, then there is little use in attempting to argue the point. One accepts the Bible as truth because we accept its author as true and faithful.
This is not to say that there is no place for apologetics, or for examining the many proofs for the Bible’s authenticity (fulfilled prophecy, historical accuracy, archaeological evidence, etc). These other proofs, however, serve primarily to demonstrate that authenticity to the believer. For the unbeliever, only the grace of God can open the eyes of faith, and this is both necessary for salvation through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, and for the acceptance of His written Word. The Bible does not save us, though the Word of God in His Scriptures is often used by the Holy Spirit to convict sinners and direct the lost soul to the Redeemer.
Despite Roosevelt’s glowing endorsement of the Bible, it is now ironically popular among the so-called “educated” class, to attempt to discredit the Bible and to relegate it to the status of mere literature or philosophy. In the introduction to his famous Bible Handbook, Pastor H. H. Halley refutes the notion that the Bible is mere philosophy:
We reject this view utterly, and with abhorrence. We believe the Bible to be, not man’s account of his effort to find God, but rather an account of God’s effort to reveal Himself to man: God’s own record of His dealings with men, in His unfolding revelation of Himself to the human race: the Revealed Will of the Creator of Man, given to Man by the Creator Himself, for Instruction and Guidance in the Ways of Life. (Capitalization in the original.)
Halley himself had such a high regard for the Bible that he is reported to have memorized long passages of Scripture from every book, the sum of which would take 25 hours to recite if he were to quote his entire catalog of memorized verses.
It is interesting that the Gospel of John begins with the same words as the Book of Genesis, but with a significant difference. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word.” This again authenticates the Divine Author, Jesus Christ Himself, as the very Word of God. He was not literally The Bible, but His story is found throughout the entire composition, from Genesis to Revelation.
Nowadays, with Bibles available for as little as one dollar in the WalMart book section, it is possible to take this wondrous work for granted. Electronic devices provide near-instant access to Scripture, with a full search capability and commentaries on every book of the Bible. It’s all available at a keystroke. Our ancestors could not have imagined having God’s Word so conveniently, inexpensively, and ubiquitously available. It is well to remember that not a few early translators were martyred for their efforts merely to transcribe and promulgate an English language Bible.
We ought to cherish the privilege of possessing the Bible, and to be able to study the authentic Word of God. The Bible is a true gift from God, to guide us and sustain us, especially during these times when current events can be so troubling to the soul. Thank God for His Word of Truth!
–Recently retired from a defense-related company and before that from a Naval career, John and his wife Brenda have recently spent several months forwarding the work of faith at Fairwood Chapel.