We may say that without a Bible we might have had Christ and all that he stands for to our souls. Let us not say that this might not have been possible. But neither let us forget that, in point of fact, it is to the Bible that we owe it that we know Christ and are found in him.
And may it not be fairly doubted whether you and I, – however it may have been with others, – would have had Christ had there been no Bible? We must not at any rate forget those nineteen Christian centuries which stretch between us and Christ, whose Christian light we would do much to blot out and sink in a dreadful darkness if we could blot out the Bible.
Even with the Bible, and all that had come from the Bible to form Christian lives and inform a Christian literature, after a millennium and a half the darkness had grown so deep that a Reformation was necessary if Christian truth was to persist, – a Luther was necessary, raised up by God to rediscover the Bible and give it back to man.
Suppose there had been no Bible for Luther to rediscover, and on the lines of which to refound the church, – and no Bible in the hearts of God’s saints and in the pages of Christian literature, persisting through those darker ages to prepare a Luther to rediscover it?
Though Christ had come into the world and had lived and died for us, might it not be to us, – you and me, I mean, who are not learned historians but simple men and women, – might it not be to us as though he had not been?
Or, if some faint echo of a Son of God offering salvation to men could still be faintly heard even by such dull ears as ours, sounding down the ages, who would have ears to catch the fulness of the message of free grace which he brought into the world? who could assure our doubting souls that it was not all a pleasant dream? who could cleanse the message from the ever-gathering corruptions of the multiplying years?
No: whatever might possibly have been had there been no Bible, it is actually to the Bible that you and I owe it that we have a Christ, – a Christ to love, to trust and to follow, a Christ without us the ground of our salvation, a Christ within us the hope of glory.