The Struggle to Believe the Bible

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalms 119:18).

A study on prayer teaches the Christian to pray specifically. We are to pray for souls to be saved. We are to pray for healing. We are to pray for the Lord to send laborers into the gospel harvest.

Psalms 119:18 teaches the Christian to pray for divine illumination when we read the Bible. This will happen if we believe the Bible is the Word of God, and that the Bible is the ultimate authority over our lives. If we believe we can pray, “Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

Not everyone believes. Many are still in doubt about the place of the Bible. So, I repeat now a true story.

Many years ago, a young man, already well established in the ministry, had a crisis of conscience about the Bible and the things he could not understand. He had read some authors who did not believe the Bible was the Word of God.  And then, his good friend, Youth for Christ evangelist, Chuck Templeton, was telling him that not everything in the Bible was true. So, this raised troubling questions for a young Billy Graham, questions he knew he needed to answer.

So what did he do?

He began with careful study.  He read scholars on both sides.  And he studied what the Bible taught about itself. He saw Paul’s statement that all Scripture was inspired, “God-breathed,” which means it is from God Himself (2Tim 3:16). He studied Peter’s statement that prophets did not speak on their own, but as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21).  He studied the statement of Jesus that God’s words would not pass away (Matt 24:35). These and other Scriptures strengthened his confidence that the Bible was the Word of God, which meant everything it teaches is true.

But the battle was just beginning.

Both Billy and his friend Chuck Templeton were scheduled to speak at a conference in the mountains east of Los Angeles. As they talked between meetings, Chuck openly mocked Billy Graham.

“Billy, you’re fifty years out of date.  People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do.  Your faith is too simple. Your language is out of date.  You are going to have to learn the new jargon if you’re going to be successful in ministry.”

Chuck’s comments were not only painful, they also shook Billy Graham’s confidence in the Bible once more. At the conference Billy had the opportunity to talk with Henrietta Mears, who was the conference director. She was confident in the truth of the Scriptures. She had a deep understanding of the Word of God and an ability to answer questions about the Bible. The conversations were helpful. 

But still, as Billy later confessed, “I asked as if I were on the rack, with Miss Mears stretching me one way and Chuck Templeton stretching me the other.” So, one evening Billy went to his room to study God’s Word alone. He saw how Jesus taught that the Old Testament was completely true. He studied how Jesus said the stories of Noah and Jonah actually happened, as described in the Old Testament. He read all the verses he could find about the Bible’s truth and authority. He saw again that the Bible did claim to be the perfectly and true Word of God. But he could tell the issue was not yet settled in his heart. So Billy left his room and walked out into the forest. 

It was a warm August night.  It was late.  The moon was out. He came to a tree stump, where he knelt down, with his Bible on the stump in front of him, and he prayed. “O God!  There are many things in this book I do not understand.  There are many problems with it for which I have no solution … I cannot answer some of the questions Chuck and others are raising.” Then, Billy paused praying. Even though he was praying sincerely, he could tell something was still unresolved.  Then, said Billy, the Holy Spirit finally enabled me to pray —

“Father, I am going to accept this Book as Thy Word — by faith!  I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.”

Here is what happened next according to Billy Graham.  

“When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears.  I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months.  Not all my questions were answered, but a major bridge had been crossed.  In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.” (Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, pp.135-139).

The Battle for the Bible continues today. I trust that you personally have settled this issue in your own heart and that you believe the Bible is God’s infallible, inerrant, and authoritative Word.  Every Word is true. Every promise can be trusted. Therefore prayer, “O Lord, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

Postscript

What happened to Charles “Chuck” Templeton? He became a pathetic old man who died at age 85 (b. Oct. 7, 1915 – June 7, 2001), after writing Farewell to God, a book that sought to explain his reason for leaving the God of his youth. Before his death, Templeton confessed to a Christian journalist, “I miss Jesus.”

On June 7, 2001 Charles Templeton stepped from time into eternity to face the Christ he once confessed, but turned against. Like Judas, Charles Templeton, “by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1:25).

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