Billy Graham: The Bible—Our Highest Authority

Billy Graham: The Bible—Our Highest Authority

Some people want to get rid of the Bible completely. Some want to keep it just as literature. And many, believing it to be God’s Word, want to live by it. The Bible is the constitution of Christianity. Just as the United States Constitution is not of any private interpretation, neither is the Bible of any private interpretation. The Constitution includes all who live under its stated domain, without exception. In the same way, the Bible includes all who live under its stated domain, without exception.

As the Constitution is the highest law of man, so the Bible is the highest law of God. God’s laws for the spiritual world are found in the Bible. Whatever else there may be that tells us of God, it is more clearly told in the Bible.

Nature in her laws tells of God, but the message is not too clear. It tells us nothing of the love and grace of God. Conscience, in our inmost being, tells us of God, but the message is fragmentary. The only place we can find a clear, unmistakable message is in the Word of God, which we call the Bible.

True Christianity finds all of its doctrines in the Bible; true Christianity does not deny any part of the Bible; true Christianity does not add anything to the Bible. For many centuries the Bible has been the most available book on Earth. It has no hidden purpose. It cannot be destroyed.

The Bible has a magnificent heritage. It has 66 books, written over a period of 1,600 years by about 40 writers, and yet the message is the same throughout—so clearly that the 66 books are actually one book.

The message, in every part, is straightforward. No writer changed his message to put his friends in a better light. The sins of small and great alike are frankly admitted, and life is presented as it actually is.

The Bible has been the anvil upon which the critics have worn out their hammers. Critics claim the Bible is full of forgery, fiction and unfulfilled prophecy; but the findings of archaeology have corroborated rather than denied the Biblical data.

Our faith, which is not dependent upon human knowledge and scientific advancement, has nevertheless presented a magnificent case at the “bar of knowledge.” The Bible, the greatest document of the human race, remains a bulwark of national, personal and spiritual freedom.

In the oft-quoted statement made by William Lyon Phelps, called the most beloved professor in America, we get something of the importance of the Bible. This former Yale professor said: “I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women, but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.” The world has many thousands of people who agree with Professor Phelps.

You ask, “Has less knowledge of the Bible been accompanied by a breakdown in our moral fiber?” It certainly has!

“Will a return to the study of the Bible improve and raise the moral level of our people?” It certainly will! It has been proven time after time in history.

The fact that some Bibles are dust collectors is not a joke, even though we often hear stories about it. A little girl told her minister that she finally had learned everything that was in the Bible.

She said, “Sister’s boyfriend’s picture is in it, and Mom’s recipe for vanishing cream, and a lock of my hair cut off when I was a baby, and the ticket for Dad’s watch.” We may smile at the child, but the tragedy is obvious.

How many times we have heard someone say, “Why, the Bible contradicts itself!” Very few who make that statement have used the family Bible for more than a storage place for pressed flowers.

The very first requirement placed upon the critic is that he read carefully every chapter of the Bible. He ought also to know something about how we got our Bible, the miracle of its writing. Biblical history is fascinating and makes us appreciate the Book which has been preserved for us to this day.

If you are setting yourself up as a critic, it is your responsibility to read and know both sides of the question. It is significant that very few Bible critics have bothered themselves to read the literature available on the defense of the Bible, much less the Bible itself.

The Bible will always be the center of controversy. For many centuries there have been purges and bonfires. There are Bibles in existence today that were baked into loaves of bread to keep them from the hands of leaders who wanted to destroy the Word of God.

There are Bibles in scores of languages; and organizations are working around the clock to provide Bible portions for remote tribes so that they, too, may have something of God’s Word.

It is this Book that contains the basis of American freedom. William McKinley, 25th president of the United States, once said, “The more profoundly we study this wonderful Book, and the more closely we observe its divine precepts, the better citizens we will become and the higher will be our destiny as a nation.”

Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president, said, “It is out of the Word of God that a system has come to make life sweet. If you blot out of your statute books, your constitution and your family life all that is taken from the Sacred Book, what would be left to bind society together?”

We could go on quoting leader after leader in our nation’s history who have urged their people to heed the message of the Bible.

You may ask, “What is the message of the Bible?” The message of the Bible is Jesus Christ.

The Bible is concerned only incidentally with the history of Israel or with a system of ethics. The Bible is primarily concerned with the story of man’s redemption as it is through Jesus Christ. If you read Scripture and miss the story of salvation, you have missed its message and its meaning.

The story of Jesus can be traced through the Bible.

  • In Genesis, He is the Seed of the woman.
  • In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb.
  • In Leviticus, He is the Atoning Sacrifice.
  • In Numbers, He is the Smitten Rock.
  • In Deuteronomy, He is the Prophet.
  • In Joshua, He is the Captain of the Lord’s hosts.
  • In Judges, He is the Deliverer.
  • In Ruth, He is the Heavenly Kinsman.
  • In 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, He is the Promised King.
  • In Nehemiah, He is the Restorer of the nation.
  • In Esther, He is the Advocate.
  • In Job, He is my Redeemer.
  • In Psalms, He is my Song.
  • In Proverbs, He is Wisdom.
  • In Ecclesiastes, He is my Goal.
  • In the Song of Solomon, He is my Satisfier.
  • In the Prophets, He is the coming Prince of Peace.
  • In the Gospels, He is God in Christ Jesus, come to redeem.
  • In Acts, He is alive in the church.
  • In the Epistles, He is Christ at the Father’s right hand.
  • In Revelation, He is the Mighty Conqueror.

The message of Jesus Christ, our Savior, is the story of the Bible—it is the story of salvation; it is the story of the Gospel; it is the story of life, peace, eternity and Heaven. The whole world ought to know the story of the Bible.

But if this Gospel is hidden today from anyone reading these words, it is hidden because you have never opened your Bible. Or you have opened it, but with a closed mind.

The Apostle Peter summed it up when he wrote, “The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

The story of the Scriptures is the story of your redemption and mine through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures teach the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is the Gospel story, and without Him you are lost and doomed.

The Bible teaches that there is a hell and a Heaven. The way to Heaven is by receiving and trusting Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And the Bible also says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).

The Bible says the only way to bridge the gap between man and God is through Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Today you can accept the Christ of the Bible. You can know peace of soul, peace of conscience and peace of mind by letting Him come into your heart by faith.

Will you now, as you read these words, open your heart to Christ? ©1951 BGEA


Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. 

Photo: BGEA Archives

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