Bible Sermon Illustrations

Bible Sermon Illustrations

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A preacher without faith in the Bible, or one who does not make it the ground of his preaching and teaching, is as useless in the warfare with sin as a soldier who uses a blank cartridge. And, aside from the doctrinal significance of the Bible, what a territory it is for the intellect, for the imagination, for the conscience! "Sight, riches, healing of the mind"—all are there in the Bible. Joseph Parker, whose The People's Bible is a great window into the Bible, used to be credited with sitting for hours in his study, tapping an open Bible with his fingertips and murmuring: "This is history—exhausts all history! This is poetry—exhausts all poetry! This is truth—exhausts all truth!" Thomas a Kempis said that the Bible is the one book whose wealth rebukes us more the older we grow, because we knew and loved it so late. It is sad, but true, that many preachers are well along in their ministerial race before they awake to the power and beauty of the Bible.

No man can unlock the door of the future. Even the wisest man cannot penetrate the secrets of futurity. Anyone, however, can make a shrewd guess. When Croesus consulted the Delphic oracle as to his contemplated war against the Persians, he was told he would destroy a great empire. That was a safe prediction; for whether Croesus or the Persians were victorious in the war, a great empire would be destroyed.

Seneca predicted that one day the Shetland Islands would no longer mark the limits of the inhabited world. That, also, was a sensible conclusion, but not prophecy. A trained scientist can predict heavenly movements a long time in advance. The astronomers who observed the transit of Venus in South Carolina left the stone on which their meridian circle rested for the use of those who in June, 2004, will have need of it to watch another transit. These astronomers knew to a certainty that at that period far in the future Venus would cross the disc of the sun. That is calculation, not prophecy.

Neither is it prophecy to venture generalities about the future. In that famous passage in his "Review of Ranke's History of the Popes," Macaulay predicted the lasting prosperity of the Catholic Church, even when a traveler from New Zealand, in the midst of a vast solitude, should stand on a broken arch of London Bridge and sketch the ruins of St. Paul's. In view of what has happened to great cities and kingdoms in the past, anyone could have made a similar prediction. But that is not prophecy. If Macaulay had named the century when London would be destroyed, and the kingdom or conqueror who would destroy it, that would have been prophecy, the sort of thing we meet with in the Old Testament. But Macaulay was wise enough not to attempt a prediction of that nature. As Justin Martyr, who was converted from paganism by the evidence of prophecy, has well put it: "To declare a thing should come to pass long before it is in being, and to bring it to pass, this or nothing is the work of God."

As the Stagirite philosopher, Aristotle, said of his work, "This book is given for action and not for discussion," so the Scriptures of the New Testament are given to us for action and not for discussion. Arguments about the Bible reverberate through the centuries; vast libraries house the literature on the study of the sacred writings. But it was not for this purpose that God gave the Scriptures and that holy men of old spake through the Holy Ghost. The Bible was given to man in order that he might have eternal life through Jesus Christ. What John said at the close of his Gospel is true of every book in the Bible: "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31).

Her world was the upstairs room, and her journeys were from the bed to the chair and from the chair back to the bed. How will it fare with you and me when our goings out and comings in are thus circumscribed, when the only world in which we live and move is that upstairs world on the second story?

When I went in to greet her, I saw the Bible lying near her chair and said something about how I saw she had the best literature near at hand. "Yes," she answered, "that is my best friend."

The gifted Oscar Wilde fell into deep and shameful sin. He was sentenced to gloomy Reading Gaol, where, as he says in his powerful Ballad of Reading Gaol, the inmates could rarely look

Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky.

In writing of his experiences in the jail, he tells us how in his deep distress and woe the only literature which meant anything to him was the New Testament.

The real values of life come out in the days of loneliness and deprivation. Souls taken captive have found that God's Word is the only pillar upon which they can lean. In the African wilds Stanley had the Bible and old newspapers. He whiled away the feverish hours in bed by reading, and he recorded his impression of the Bible and the press: "The one reminded me that apart from God my life was but a bubble of air, and it bade me remember my creator; the other fostered arrogance and worldliness. The Bible, however, with its noble and simple language, I continued to read with a higher and truer understanding than I had ever before conceived. Its powerful verses had a different meaning, a more penetrative influence, in the silence of the wilds. I came to feel a stronger glow while absorbed in its pages, and a charm peculiarly appropriate to the deep melancholy of African scenery."

In Derbyshire, England, there is a rock which on the outside looks just like a dull lump of clay, a clod. But when it is broken with a hammer it is found to have within a hollow space which is lined with beautiful crystalline spar. So is it with some of the most unpromising passages of the Bible, such as genealogical tables. It always pays to read them, for in the midst of them you may come upon some beautiful treasure of the Scriptures—for example, in the First Book of the Chronicles, the prayer of Jabez in the monotonous list of those who were begotten and died.

A zealous believer in the Bible once asked a rich relative to contribute toward a fund for an archaeological exploration in Palestine. His cautious uncle wanted to know the real purpose of the expedition. "To prove that the Bible is true," was the answer.

"But," said his uncle, "suppose you prove the Bible is not true?"

The reply of the man is not given. But if the interview had taken place within the last few years the man might have answered that in view of the vast and ever-increasing evidence from the remains of ancient cities, kingdoms, and civilizations, there is no cause to fear that the spade of the archaeologist will prove the Bible to be false.

Alexander of Macedon was painted with his hand resting on his face, as if in reverie. But the real purpose was to hide an ugly scar on his cheek. The German emperor was photographed and painted standing in such a position that his withered arm would not appear. But in the Bible, men are painted just as they are. No scar, however hideous, no ugly deformity, is omitted.

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