We have said before that Christianity is in perfect accord with the Bible. The Word of God reveals Christianity to us. It is an infallible expression of its doctrines and duties. Jesus is the way to everlasting rest; the Bible is the guide. Some one has said, |Both are equally certain, equally divine. Let us be thankful for such unspeakable gifts. Next to the mercy of a Savior, able and ready to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, is the book of inspiration of God, which as a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path, conducts us to such a Friend, and teaches us the way of salvation.|
The Word of God is a lamp and a light to guide to everlasting bliss, |The entrance of thy word giveth light.| The word is written in the Christian's heart. In his conduct he adorns the doctrine of God our Savior and thus reveals the light of the gospel. Christianity is therefore a light, because it is a product of the truth. We can understand at once then that anything that is in opposition to the Scriptures can not be a light. The nearer the life accords with the whole truth the greater the light. The Scriptures contain all that is necessary for the formation of a perfect Christian. Whosoever submits heart and life to the Word of God and walks in obedience to its commands will be transformed into the glorious image of the Son of God and made ready for that better land. The apostle says, |All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect [a perfect Christian], thoroughly furnished unto all good works.| 2 Tim.3:16, 17.
Tradition is unnecessary for the production of a true Christian character. The Scriptures contain all the doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction needful. The Scriptures have but one true interpreter, and but one interpretation. All who rightly understand the Bible understand it alike. We are aware this is contrary to much of the present day teaching. Many are now saying that |we can not understand the Word of God the same, therefore just as we understand it so it is unto us.| This is very loose and robs the |two-edged sword| of all its sharpness and power. It leaves man to interpret it in a manner that will not condemn his sinful life. A class of grammar students, if allowed to analyze sentences and parse words each according to his understanding, would never become perfect grammarians. One may parse a word as a |verb,| another the same word as an |adverb,| another as a |participle,| and if each were right according to his understanding, how could we have any fixed rules of grammar? All would be confusion and no one would know what is proper speech. Students to become efficient scholars must understand mathematics, astronomy, botany, etc., alike. Every volume written by man if understood rightly must be understood alike by all.
To allow every man his own private interpretation of Scripture, or every religious society its interpretation is to admit of no certain, no fixed rules governing a Christian life. We can illustrate it better in this way. A certain rich man has a number of circulars printed. These circulars he distributes among the poor of a certain neighborhood. On these circulars he tells them that at the end of twelve months he will give one thousand dollars to each one complying with the conditions given below. The conditions are these: You must not steal. |Lie not one to another.| Do not render evil for evil. Love your enemies, and pray for those who despitefully use you. |If thine enemy hunger, feed him; and if he thirst, give him drink.| |Speak evil of no man.| |Return good for evil.| |As ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.| If a man smite you upon the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Prefer others before yourself. |Do all things without murmuring.| Do not wear gold or pearls or costly array. Pray when you are afflicted. Do not jest or talk foolishly, but have a sound speech. Greet one another with a kiss. Wash one another's feet. You must all speak the same thing. You must be of one mind. If ye do these things you shall receive the inheritance, but he that offends in one is guilty of all.
Now who of a sound mind could not understand as plain and simple language as this? But suppose one man or woman does not want to lay off their gold and pearls, so they decide he meant that for women of ancient times and not for us. Another thinks the command to greet with a kiss means to shake hands. Another thinks to visit my neighbor when he is sick is washing his feet. To pray when we are afflicted is meant for the people of olden time. One man whose heart is full of hatred against a neighbor decides no man can love his enemy, therefore this command does not mean what it says, so he will go on hating his enemy, but expects to get his inheritance. One man decides one command means one thing, another that it means something else, each one making each command to mean that which is most pleasing to do. Who would receive the one thousand dollars at the time appointed? You can at once see the folly of their entertaining hopes of receiving the inheritance.
Thousands are thus treating the Word of God, saying this and that commandment does not mean what it says, but means thus and so, or, it was for a people of some other time, etc. At this present day there are many who are taking the traditions of men and customs of some religious society for their rule of life and duty.
Recently while passing through a strange part of the country we stopped at a farmhouse to inquire our way. It became convenient to tell the lady, who came to answer our inquiry, that we had come into her neighborhood to hold a few religious meetings. She invited us into her house to see her four weeks' old baby which was sick. While talking with her she said that she became afraid that her child was going to die, so she sent for the minister and had it christened. I asked her if she believed that if the babe had died without being christened that it would have gone to hell. |No,| she said, |I do not believe that, but I believe that it would have gone to heaven.| I then asked her, Do you not believe that if your little child lives that it will go into sin and some day will have to repent and be converted in order to get to heaven just the same as if it never had been christened? She said that she believed it would. I then asked her what good the christening had done her child. She answered, |I do not know.| I then asked her to give me one commandment in the Bible obligating her to christen her child. She said, |I know of none.| I then asked her why she had her babe christened. She said, |Because most all the people do around here.|
She like thousands of others was taking the custom of the neighborhood, or religious order, and never searched the Scriptures to know what are the commandments of God. We need to be doers only of the Word of God. |Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.| The God of heaven has given laws and fixed rules and recorded them in the Holy Scriptures to govern our daily life. These laws we are positively commanded to obey. To disobey is a sin.1 John 3:4. Sinners do not go to heaven. There is not one text in the whole Bible encouraging us to hope of going to heaven if we are knowingly disobeying any commandment of God. In this present day a mighty concourse of people are passing on down the way to an eternity, professing to be children of God, but living careless and negligent, doing many things they should not do, and failing to do a great many things they should do.
This greatly reminds me of the way the people regarded a certain stock law that was passed by the legislature of our district in my boyhood days. This law forbade the running at large of cattle, hogs, sheep, etc. Now there was in our neighborhood much of what was called |commons.| It was unfenced land, and was used as a common pasture land for all. Consequently the enacting of such a law was obnoxious to nearly all of the citizens of this neighborhood, and it was almost unanimously violated; and because it was violated by so many it was never enforced. Cattle, sheep, and hogs continued to run at large the same as if there was no law prohibiting the same. After a time most people had forgotten there was such a law.
The same is true respecting the Word of God. People have gone on in their own ways, violating those holy laws until many are doing things, and do not know there is a law of God forbidding it. God's laws are not held in the high esteem they should be. They are his power unto salvation to all that believe. They are able to save the soul. They are to be kept in remembrance, to be kept in the heart, to be obeyed. They are to search, to meditate upon, to trust in, to rejoice in, to delight in, to taste, to long after, to stand in awe of, to esteem as a light, and to be let dwell richly within us. It is the Word of God that shall judge us in that great judgment-day. They that love God and keep his words, |against such there is no law;| consequently they will |have boldness in that day.| God's law is eternal; it shall never pass away. The Lord Jesus says, |Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.| |The word of God which liveth and abideth forever.| 1 Pet.1:23.
The earth and all that therein is shall pass away,
But God's pure Word shall live and stand for aye and aye: Man runs his race of life, then, passing from the scene, Returns to dust, and is as though he ne'er had been -- This is not spoken of the inner man, the soul --
This, says the Word, shall live while ceaseless ages roll. The city with its walls and towers of granite stone, Shall be to dissolution brought by rain and sun;
The ships which round the world on crested wave have flown. Go down amid the storm, and never more are known;
The daring mountain peak, all covered o'er with snow, Shall mid terrific blast descend to depths below;
The proud empire whose scepter sways o'er land and sea, Shall fall and pass away ere dawns eternity;
And haughty finite sovereign power no more shall be, The stars in firmament above shall quit their place; The waning moon shall cease her still nocturnal race, And earth no more sail through immensity of space.
Because of sin all these shall pass fore'er away,
Shall melt with fervent heat in that avenging day,
But God's pure Word shall live and stand for aye and aye.