‘The Proof of the Pudding’

You all know how that proverb ends, and many of you will be using that proof again very shortly, “in the eating" of your Christmas puddings! Of course yours will be a good pudding: mother is a good cook; she has a good recipe; she uses good ingredients; everybody will agree that it looks good and smells good; but it is not until the pudding is inside you and has become part of you, that you really know just how good it is.

It is much the same in regard to the “truth” of the Bible. In this series of articles under the title of “Problems,” we have tried to show you, with the help of a number of writers, some of the evidence that supports our belief that the Bible is true–from history and archaeology, from literary and scientific discoveries, from the testimony of the Bible to itself, and of others to its power. But it is only when you have taken it for yourself as God’s word that you become convinced of its truth. Then you can say, like Jeremiah, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 35. 16).

The editors are perhaps the only ones who have read all twenty-four of the articles that have appeared since the series began, four years ago, in one column of the Children’s Page of the November/ December issue of 1946. So perhaps it will be a good thing.–before bringing the series to an end–to repeat some of the things we said at the beginning on this subject of the value of personal experience.

In the first article you were reminded that even if we could prove all the critics of the Bible to be wrong, we still would not have proved the Bible to be true, or have convinced everyone of its truth, for “We most prove the Bible to be true in our experience … the more we find the Author to be trustworthy, the more we shall be convinced that the Book is true.” The third article outlined the different ways in which modem discoveries, described in more detail by experts in later articles, had made it “much easier for you to believe the Bible – all of it – than it was for people SO years ago,” But it, too, emphasized the importance of experience: “The Bible has been proved true to life … Bible promises are being fulfilled in the daily lives of Christians who are proving for themselves that “It works.” The poet, S. T. Coleridge, once said, “I believe the Bible because it finds me.” In our phrase, “It gets you” – and not until it does, do you become convinced of its truth,”

Later articles have shown the power of the Bible at work in human lives–in the experience of conversion by Paul on the Damascus road and by Captain Carré in the Indian Ocean (No. 22); and in the transformation of the lives of survivors of the mutiny of the “Bounty” and of the primitive natives of Tierra del Fuego, a South American island {No. 1(3), A great Indian Christian, Sadhu Sunday Singh, was once asked, “Who was the greatest missionary who ever came to India?” He replied, “The Bible.” A French trader in the New Hebrides saw the Chief, once a cannibal but now a Christian, reading a Bible. He said, “Fancy reading the Bible, No-one believes that nowadays.” The Chief replied, “Sir, if it was not for the Bible, you would be in my pot!” A great Bible student, Dr. Pierson, has put it like this: “Some books may inform; some books may reform; but this Book transforms.”

Similar transformations have been shown in countless other lives, and Christians down the ages have echoed the words of Paul, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we art: the children of God” (Romans 8. 16). For that confirmation of his assurance, the Christian turns to the source and explanation of his experience–the Bible. Here, with the promised help of the Spirit of Truth, he finds himself guided “into all truth” (John 16. 13). “For in the pages of Scripture, and there alone, are offered satisfying solutions to the problems of the origin and purpose of the world, to tile questions concerning the powers of the human mind and the nature and importance of the distinction between good and evil. There, too, is presented, in the person of Jesus Christ, the purest and highest ethical ideal. There is found the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation … That gospel has withstood the ravages of time and the assaults of evil. It has proved its exact adaptation to the moral and spiritual needs of human nature in all ages and in all lands; removing the sense of guilt and the fear of death ; repairing broken and wasted lives; giving victory in temptation and comfort in suffering, loneliness and bereavement” (K. Hogben; The Criterion of Truth).

The Spirit’s work in confirming the Scriptures has been well put in the ‘Westminster Confession of Faith.’ It insists that, notwithstanding the many internal and external evidences of their excellency, yet “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts,” This is the only valid proof of inspiration, since it conies from the same Spirit who moved the “holy men of God” to write the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1. 211, who gave that spiritual discernment to the early Church to include in the New Testament the books we know and value, and to excludeother early Christian literature of little or no merit (I Cor. 2. 14 ; 12. 10) : and who guides us into the proper and full understanding, in all the Scriptures, of the things concerning Christ Himself (John 16. 13, 14).

This same assurance is put in more modern words by a great Biblical scholar, Professor Robertson Smith, in 1878; “If I am asked why I receive Scripture as the Word of God and as the only perfect rule of faith and life, I answer with all the fathers of the Protestant Church, ‘Because the Bible is the only record of the redeeming love of God; because in the Bible alone I Had 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.”

That is the testimony of others to the truth of the Bible. How can I prove its truth for myself? Only by putting it to the test in my own experience. For the challenge of Christ in regard to His own teaching is equally true for all God’s Word: “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7. 17).