The Bible is Indestructible

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand FOR EVER " (Isaiah 40:8). "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall NOT PASS AWAY" (Matthew 24:35). "But the word of the Lord endureth FOR EVER" (1 Pet. 1:25). "This is my covenant with them ... my words ... shall not depart out of thy mouth ... FOREVER" (Isa. 59:21).

People ask, "Are the last twelve verses or Mark's Gospel inspired?" They wonder if Mark 16:9-20 is actually a part of Scripture. Although it appears in the King James Version, many other translations either label this section as an appendix or leave it in the footnotes as in the controversial Revised Standard Version. The Moffatt Translation, the Goodspeed and others, not only have the long ending found in the KJV, but also have another shorter ending. But almost all scholars dismiss the secondary short ending found in the translations of Moffatt, Goodspeed, and others. In Hasting's Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels it is plainly stated that this short addition is not found in any of the early Church writers. We can therefore consider it as merely the addition of a copyist..

Mark 16:8 does end abruptly — seemingly at a place where the thought should continue. Why? There have been two reasons generally postulated. (1) That Mark originally wrote an ending that has been totally lost, the present endings being merely additions by later copyists. (2) That for some yet unknown reason Mark was not permitted to finish his Gospel, and that probably another person wrote an ending. The scholars don't know whether this ending was inspired, or whether it was merely the addition of another copyist. The longer ending to Mark's Gospel, is however, quoted extremely early. Mark 16:19 is quoted by Irenaeus in Against Heresies (Bk. iii, 10, 6) between 182 and 188 A.D. There are allusions to it in even earlier writings, although not as a true quotation. Not only did Irenaeus accept it as a part of Mark's Gospel when arguing with "heretics," but, according to Hastings: "No writer before Eusebius is known to have rejected them, and their presence in all later MSS (manuscripts) shows that the successors of Eusebius, in spite of his great authority, did not follow his judgment in the matter." (Eusebius was the court favorite and the church historian in the days of Emperor Constantine.) These facts point plainly to the great antiquity of the longer ending as preserved in the common English versions.

Was the real ending of Mark lost? Since the Bible explains that "the Word of the Lord endures forever" (1 Pet. 1:25), are we to assume that so important a matter as the resurrection was allowed to perish? Notice Jeremiah 36:23. Here one of the scrolls containing the inspired words of the Lord was cut with a penknife and cast into a fire and totally destroyed. Did God leave it to some copyist to guess what it might have contained? No! Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe, was ordered to write in a new scroll "all the former words that were in the first roll" (verse 28). So one of the basic principles is that God's inspired Word can not perish.

Now turn to Mark 16. Since God does not allow His Word to perish, the ending was not lost. Mark 16:9-20 is an INSPIRED ending. If these last verses or Mark's Gospel are left out, the book does not come to an orderly conclusion as does every other book in the Bible. Human writings are filled with error, but the Bible is complete, inspired, and wholly preserved through the power of God.

Jehoiakim strayed from the Lord and immersed the nation in idolatry (2 Kings 23:28-37). The prophet Jeremiah was commissioned by Jehovah to write a sacred scroll, which threatened divine destruction unless the king and his people repented of their wickedness. Jehoiakim treated the matter with absolute contempt. After briefly listening to the message being read, he confiscated the scroll, cut up the leaves with a knife, and cast them into a fire (Jeremiah 36). But Jeremiah wrote another scroll.

After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek empire was divided into four segments (cf. Daniel 8:8), and the Jewish people fell under the control of an evil ruler whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus, known popularly as “the madman,” launched a bloody persecution against the Hebrew people. One aspect of his vendetta was an attempt to destroy copies of the Jewish Scriptures. "And [the officials of Antiochus] rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, and set them on fire. And wheresoever was found with any a book of the covenant, and if any consented to the law, the king’s sentence delivered him to death" (1 Maccabees 1:56-57). Josephus says, "And if there were any sacred book of the law found, it was destroyed, and those [Jews] with whom they were found miserably perished also (Antiquities of the Jews 12.5.4).

For many years Christianity was outlawed by the Roman government. From the time of Trajan (reigned 98-117) until Constantine (c. 300), virtually every one of the Roman emperors was opposed to Christianity. It is true that not all of them actively tried to suppress it, but few of them encouraged Christianity in any way. Many of their efforts were directed toward destroying the Bible. Of Diocletian (284-316), the ruler immediately preceding Constantine, Eusebius, the historian said, "royal edicts were published everywhere, commanding that the churches be leveled to the ground and the Scriptures destroyed by fire" (Church History, Book VIII, Ch. 1). Diocletian went on to say that if one had a copy of the Scriptures and did not surrender it to be burned, if it were discovered, he would be killed. Furthermore, if any other should know of one who had a copy of the Scriptures, and did not report it, he also would be killed. During this time many, many copies of the Bible were burned, copies laboriously written in longhand. Of this period. the historian Newman said, "Multitudes . . . hastened to deny the faith and to surrender their copies of the Scriptures; many more bore the most horrible tortures and refused with their latest breath to surrender the Scriptures or in any way to compromise themselves" (Newman, Church History, p. 169). After this edict had been in force for two years, Diocletian boasted, "I have completely exterminated the Christian writings from the face of the earth!" (Rimmer, Seven Wonders of the Wonderful Word, p. 15). But did he completely destroy it?

History tells us that the next ruler, Constantine, became a Christian. He requested that copies of the Scriptures be made for all the churches. After Constantine offered a substantial reward for a copy of the Scriptures, within 25 hours, 50 copies of the Bible were brought to him!

On numerous occasions in centuries past, the Roman Catholic Church committed the Bible to flames under the guise that the translation was vulgar. The Fourth Rule of the Council of Trent stated that the indiscriminate circulation of the Scriptures in the common vernacular would generate “more harm than good.” Therefore, those reading or possessing the Bible “without . . . permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed [copies of the Scriptures] over to the ordinary” (Schroeder's Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, p. 274)

Persistent effort was made by the Romanizers to suppress the English Bible. In 1543 an act was passed forbidding absolutely the use of Tyndale’s version, and any reading of the Scriptures in assemblies without royal license (Newman's Manual of Church History. Vol. 2., p. 262). Thousands of copies were burned. “Of the estimated 18,000 copies printed between 1525-1528, only two fragments are known to remain” (Thiessen's, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p.84).

In France, Rationalism found a champion in Francois Marie Arouer—popularly known by his pen-name, Voltaire—a deist who produced several volumes brimming with hatred for the Bible. No one in Europe did as much to destroy faith in the Word of God as Voltaire. France rejected the Scriptures, tied a copy of the Bible to the tail of a donkey, and dragged it through the streets to the city dump, where it was ceremoniously burned. But, as Coffman notes, “since that time, the government of France has fallen thirty-five times” (Commentary on Matthew, pp.343-344). Voltaire predicted that within a hundred years of his death (1778) the Bible and Christianity would be swept from existence and pass into oblivion (Collett's All About the Bible, p.63), yet two centuries have come and gone, and today, rare is the person who owns a copy of Voltaire’s writings, while almost every home holds a Bible. Within 100 years of Voltaire's death, the very printing press upon which he had printed his infidel literature, was being used to print copies of the Bible. And afterward, the very house in which Voltaire had lived, was literally stacked with Bibles prepared by the Geneva Bible Society. Voltaire and all his cohorts had miserably failed. The Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that Voltaire was “inordinately vain, and totally unscrupulous in gaining money, [and] in attacking an enemy” (23:250). His final days were spent in agony. As an ex-Catholic, he loathed the idea of not having a “Christian burial.” He even signed a confession begging God to forgive his sins—which his biographers claim was insincere (Brandes' Voltaire pp.328-329). When the composer Mozart heard of the skeptic’s death, he wrote: “[T]he ungodly, arch-villain, Voltaire, has died miserably, like a dog—just like a brute. That is his reward” (Parton's Life of Voltaire, 2:617).

In America, the battle against the Bible was led by men like Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll. Paine (1737-1809) came out of a Quaker background and gained considerable prominence as a result of his writings (e.g., Common Sense) advocating America’s independence from Britain. Eventually he went to France. There he yielded to the influence of French deism, and so composed his infamous tome, The Age of Reason, which was a passionate attack against the Bible. His qualification for such a task may be illustrated by the following admission. In discussing a passage in the book of Job, Paine says: “I recollect not enough of the passages in Job to insert them correctly . . . for I keep no Bible” (The Age of Reason, p.33). Again: “[When] I began the former part of The Age of Reason, I had, besides, neither Bible nor Testament to refer to, though I was writing against both” (Ibid., p.71). So much for scholarship. Paine died a bitter and lonely old man, having lost most of his friends due to his political views and his hostility towards Christianity (Cross's Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p.1005). His trifling little volume is mostly ignored today.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) was a politician who gained his real fame as an agnostic lecturer. He toured the country blasting the Bible. Quite the eloquent speaker, he was paid as much as five thousand dollars for some of his speeches, and thousands thronged to hear him rail against things holy. His “Mistakes of Moses” was a popular presentation. William Jennings Bryan once quipped that it would be much more interesting to hear Moses on the “Mistakes of Ingersoll.” Ingersoll had been greatly influenced by the writings of Voltaire and Paine (as well as others), and initially was a deist. Eventually, he evolved into a full-blown agnostic (Larson's American Infidel: Robert G. Ingersoll pp.76-77). Ingersoll was enamored with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and argued that Darwin’s discoveries, “carried to their legitimate conclusion,” destroy the Scriptures (p. 223). Ingersoll’s influence pretty much died when he did.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Proverbs 6:23). "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrew 4:12). "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103). "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29). "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2)."The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7). "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97). "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2). "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130). "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22). "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Joshua 1:8). "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (Jeremiah 15:16). "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:104). "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). "The vigour of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts." -- George Müller

Within this awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries:
Oh, happiest they of human race,
To whom our God has given grace
To hear, to read, to watch, to pray,
To lift the latch, and force the way!
But better had they never been born
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.
-- Sir W. Scott

The Anvil of God's Word

“Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

“‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I,
‘To wear and batter all these hammers so?’
‘Just one,’ said he, and then with twinkling eye,
‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.’

“And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.”

—Attributed to John Clifford

"Unshaken, therefore, by the wintry blast,
Unmoved by storms, it shall for ages last.
It, while the race of man consumes away,
Shall vanquish time, unconscious of decay."
-- Virgil

Marble and recording brass decay,
And, like the graver's memory, pass away;
The works of man inherit, as is just,
Their author's frailty, and return to dust;
But truth divine for ever stands secure,
Its head is guarded, and its base is sure;
Fixed in the rolling flood of endless years,
The pillar of the eternal plan appears;
The raving storm and dashing wave defies,
Built by that Architect who built the skies.
-- Cowper

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