By N. B. Hardeman I next call your attention to the first roman writer of note. Caius Cornelius Tacitus, whose ancestors are unknown, was born about the middle of the first century and died in the year 117. Thus he lived contemporary with the apostles and early Christians. He was chosen praetor of Rome in the year 88, and was made consul in 97. He wrote, Description of Germany, The Life of Agricola (his father-in-law), History of Rome, and Annals of Rome. He is one of the most reliable of Roman writers and his superiority of style is such that two of his books are used as texts in our best colleges. Tacitus had no respect for Christians and speaks of them in the bitterest of terms. His evidence, therefore, is the evidence of a foe, and becomes all the stronger because of such. Summing up his testimony, we offer the following:
Jesus said that he was both God and the Son of God Almighty, the Creator. He did not claim to be a philosopher or simply a good guy. Those who say he was a ground breaking philosopher, but not God, as he claimed to be make him out a liar in their ignorance.
He is the only person who has ever made these claims and offered any evidence to back them up. The making of the claims gives you only two choices as to how to go: it either makes him a nut, unworthy of wasting any time on, or he is the Son of God as he claims to be. Christ (not a name, but a title) said, that in his name is life. The world did not, and does not believe that.
The supporting evidence, however, was in fact sealed in what he said and did through his resurrection and in his triumph over death. Even his enemies admitted as much. That stands as a witness to his authority and power.
So it is with God’s Word. Though not distinct in size or volume from other writings, it rejects the common wisdom and demands that it be recognized that it is from God. It either is full of delusion and lies and not worth the cost of the paper to print, or it is as it claims to be. It also has a witness in its endurance against all the obstacles and the objections set by the powers aligned against it.
Therefore, let no one think that it is a product from the mind of men, as that is contrary to both the evidence and testimony.
The challenge has been offered — let any man, woman, or group of the same set about to write an equal, or dare say, a superior tome; and let the product aspire to take its place over all other books, and to hold sway over all of mankind throughout the times to come.
According to the logic of the greatness of human thought and effort, this should have already been accomplished; that is, unless we have evolved in the wrong direction in all this time.
Simply put, God’s book has never been equaled in the literature of any age. So it shouts aloud that it was not inspired by men. We neither collected it nor did we compose it.
It does not appeal to a single class or group, it makes its appeal to the common person of any nation and time. As the evangelist had noted, “The common people heard him (that is, Jesus) gladly” (Mark 12:37). It has endured despite the attacks of atheists, of pagans and empires, of infidels and scientists, of historians and leaders.
It earns the respect of men and women daily. It has outlasted civilizations, and will outlast all of us. It is still giving guidance through the hope and truth of the gospel of God, daily pointing sinners to the path that leads to the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
It, through Christ, is the Christian’s guiding light — the beacon post and our evening and morning star. By it alone we may compass through the trials of living and guide ourselves out upon the sea of life until we gain the safe harbor in the New Jerusalem of heaven.
It is then surely “a lamp to my feet and a light to my way.” Abiding forever as the Word of God, it is the word by which the gospel is preached to you, to the salvation of your soul.
(This set of essays was a compilation of material from some lessons by J. W. McGarvey and W. G. Bass.)