The Bible

Luke 11:52.---' Ye have taken away the key of knowledge.'

Our Lord here calls the Bible 'the key of knowledge.' A key! It is a homely figure. A great commentary characterizes it as "a remarkably vigorous metaphor." To think of Christ comparing the Bible to the portable metal instrument for shooting the lock-bolt of a door! But when we speak of a key we quite as often use the word in a metaphorical sense. When we allude to what discloses a mystery, or gives guidance, or explains a difficulty, we designate it a key. In both senses, surely, the Lord uses this singularly suggestive term when, setting forth the quality and scope of the Bible, He calls it 'the key of knowledge.'

The Bible is the key of the knowledge of HUMANITY. It is a noteworthy fact that the book which was written to reveal God is also the most complete revelation of man that literature has known. We have within its pages the historical knowledge of humanity. It gives us the biography of humanity. So it does. We see here the origin of man, and the paths along which the Creator has led him. Nowhere else is the stream of humanity so tracked to its source. If you would know what is popularly termed the evolution of humanity, read your Bible. It describes man's history. Each man's history is here unfolded. Your story and mine is in these fascinating pages.

But, what is far more important, the Bible is the key of the knowledge of the constituent qualities of humanity. In no book that ever was written is humanity so fully exhibited. And it is a profoundly true saying. We would know humanity better by far, and would therefore love it and serve it more devotedly, did we but search the Scriptures more industriously.

We must set forth, we must live above the world, if we would wish to enjoy the pure humanity which it fetters. And how? We cannot go without a guide, that would be self-conceited; but what guide shall we take? Oh, I am sick of doctors and divines! Books! there is no end of them; mud, fire, acids, alkalies, every foreign ingredient contaminating pure truth. Shall we listen to the voice of God's spirit alone? Yes! but where? Has He not spoken to those very book-makers? And has not every man his own gift? Each hero appointed witness of some peculiar truth? Then, must we plunge again into that vast, muddy, blind, contradictory book-ocean? No! Is there not one immutable book? One pure written wisdom? The Bible, speaking of God's truth in words meant for men. There may be other meanings in that book besides the plain one. But this I will believe, that, whatever mysticism the mystic way may find there, the simple human being, the lover of his wife, the father of children, the lover of God's earth, glorying in matter and humanity, not for that which they are, but that which they ought to be and will be, will find in the Bible the whole mystery solved---an answer to every riddle, a guide in every difficulty.

The Bible is the key of the knowledge of GOD. It is vain to say, as do some, that we can know God adequately apart from the Bible. Nothing else is 'the key.' Nature, according to many, is the key of this so essential knowledge. But Nature does not tell us what we most need to know regarding God. The Bible frankly acknowledges that there is a theology in Nature. We learn 'His eternal power and Godhead' from the creation around us. But we need to know much more than this. We need to know, for example, that 'God is love.' Can we know this from Nature? He has a tremendous task who sets himself morally to demonstrate this from Nature. It is easy to infer it from the serene aspects of Nature, but what of the morose and cruel, and repellent phases of Nature? It is to the Bible we must turn if we would see indeed that 'God is love.' There it is indubitably revealed. From the Bible alone we learn that 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.' From the Bible alone we learn that 'His mercy endureth for ever.' From the Bible alone we learn that 'He delighteth in mercy.' What do we not owe the Bible for its delightsome revelation of God! Here we read His name in fairer lines. Could we but realize our theological obligation to the Bible, the old-time grateful ardor of appreciation of the Holy Writings would again posses the Church. And that is a revival we sadly need.

I almost adore the Bible. The more I read it, without any thought of questions of inspiration, but simply as a record of fact, of precept, and principle, of judgment and of mercy, of God's acts and 'ways' [i.e. the principles of His acts], all culminating in Christ, as a revelation of what God is to man, and what man was created to be to God, the more my whole moral being responds to it, as being a revelation of God. The authority of the Bible is to me supreme, because it 'commands' my reason and conscience. I feel it is from God. It was once otherwise with me. It is so no more; and the older I get, the more my spirit says 'Amen' to it.

The Bible is the key of the knowledge of SIN. We cannot live a life that is life indeed unless we know something concerning sin. It is not a mere question of theology. Were there no theology there would still be sin. It is a fact of life. It poisons the air. It is in our blood. What is this sinister principle? From where came it? Whither does it tend? How may it be intercepted? Life would not be worth living if such inquiries could not be answered. And they are answered only in the Bible. But how thoroughly they are answered there! Beyond all controversy the Bible is 'the key of' this solemn and indispensable 'knowledge.'

Moreover, the Bible is the key of the knowledge of SALVATION. Seen in this light it is assuredly the master key. Nature has no gospel of salvation. Nor in summer nor in winter can the visible creation respond to the supremest question, 'What must I do to be saved?' Whatever moral or spiritual subjects Nature may be eloquent on, it is absolutely dumb upon this transcendent theme. The penitent turns his tearful eyes upon the loveliness and grandeur of the outer world in vain. It has no balm for his sore pain.

What a glorious contrast is the Bible! It is one great message of salvation. The older evangelists spoke much of a 'plan of salvation': and such a plan pervades the Scriptures. The scheme of salvation is indeed a plan: it is the sublime resultant of Divine thought; it represents the gracious ingenuity of God. Were we not so familiar with it, it would astound and thrill us. How original it is! God sent His Son into the world. He lived our life, faced our temptations, wept our tears, smiled our smiles, entered into all the glory and all the tragedy of our earthly existence. It is easy to speak of 'the Incarnation,' but who can explain the miracle to which it points?

In the Bible alone I find God drawing near to man in Christ Jesus and declaring to us in Him His will for our salvation, and this record I know to be true by the witness of His Spirit in my heart whereby I am assured that none other than God Himself is able to speak such words to my soul.

The Bible is also the key of the knowledge of IMMORTALITY. We instinctively long to know something of the great beyond. What is there on the other side of death? Is there another side to death? 'If a man die, shall he live again?' Never was this pathetic inquiry more eagerly uttered than today. Nature has 'intiminations of immortality,' but we want more than intiminations. We think there are hints of immortality in our 'mystic frame,' but we demand more than mere hints. In the Bible we have a Divine revelation of the life eternal. The practical power of this revelation has been tested by humanity in every time and place. And the acceptance of the Bible doctrine of immortality has made all the difference to men in their own dying hour and in the death of their best beloved ones. The possession of this 'key of knowledge' has enabled them to mourn in hope and to die in hope. It has enabled saved multitudes to cry exultantly in the last hour, 'Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'

What has struck me, is the openness of soul that brave fellows willingly listened to me speaking of a religion, which till then had not existed for them, and of a God who till then was for them the 'Unknown God.' It is so with many at times of war. Amid those experiences of warfare, when the solid earth seems to tremble and almost give way beneath one, many a soldier has realized afresh the meaning of the words. 'The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture.'

In Christ, timothy. maranatha