Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 23, 1950

Enduring Monuments

J. Early Arceneaux, Lovelady, Texas

Nearly two centuries ago a young man in Europe wrote a letter to a well known defender of Christianity, asking him if there was any way he could make a demonstration of the truth of the Bible record. The young man wanted something that would be as undeniable and as clear-cut as a mathematical demonstration.

The man who received the letter gave long and serious thought to the problem, and finally wrote a little book about it. This book is one of the finest defenses of Christianity to be found anywhere, and presents a very wonderful text-book on the subject of Christian Evidences. The author lays out four steps, or four conditions, that are necessary to such a demonstration:

(1) A public event. This event must have been so public and so widely known that the whole people in the land were aware of it. It must not have been done in secret.

(2) A public monument. This monument must be one erected by the people who witnessed the event, and must be such as will commemorate that particular event. (3) A correct date for the monument. That is, the monument must date from the time of the event; it must not have its origin a hundred years or so later. The monument must have been contemporary in its origin with the event. (4) An unbroken existence of the monument. It must have been kept intact from the time of its origin to the present.

An Old Testament Illustration

Illustrating the principle, the author took the Jewish Passover. It was shown that (1) the Passover commemorated a definite and certain event in Jewish history—the night when the angel of death visited the homes of all the Egyptians, and came into not a single home of Israel This was a public event, known to the whole nation. There could be no concealing of it, since the first-born of every Egyptian family lay dead. (2) The monument erected to commemorate this event was the Passover. The entire Jewish nation was involved, for all were to observe it. There was no Passover prior to this night. (3) The Passover dates from the very night that the event took place. On that night God told the Jews what to do; they were to kill a lamb, and sprinkle its blood on the lintels of the door and on the door-posts. (4) That feast has been kept intact through all the years of Jewish history, and is being observed year after year right in our own generation wherever there are Jews anywhere in the world.

The Jews in the world today are the same separate and distinct people to whom the feast was given. They have been through the ages—a living, standing mirror before our eyes. Where are the men of Babylon? Where are the Assyrians? Where are the ancient Romans? While Babylon stood in all her power and glory, at the very zenith of her greatness, Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be destroyed, but that Israel, though suffering punishment, would never be utterly destroyed. The Passover even till this day is observed by the Jews. It is a monument that has been preserved intact through all the centuries.

A New Testament Illustration

In the New Testament we have the Lord's Supper as a Christian monument. Had you been among the disciples of Jesus while he was on the earth, you would have heard his predictions concerning his death; you would have seen him crucified, and buried in a sepulchre, and a great stone rolled across the mouth of that tomb. You would have seen the Roman guards placed there to prevent his body's being removed. As the days rolled by, if Christ had not risen, your heart would have been like the hearts of his other disciples—heavy, disappointed, hopeless. You would have been like those two disciples to whom he talked after his resurrection, and who had said, "We had hoped that it was he who would redeem Israel" They had hoped, but believing him dead, they hoped no longer.

But something had happened at that tomb. There had been a disturbance there. And six weeks after that day of resurrection, the disciples of the Lord began meeting together to partake of a simple memorial feast—a feast in memory of the death of Christ. For nearly two thousand years that feast has continued to exist in the world. They did it, not on the Jewish sabbath, but on the first day of the week... They observed that feast on the Lord's day. They came together on the first day of the week "to break bread." Paul wrote to the Corinthian church concerning this particular worship.

Thus in the Lord's Supper we have another public monument in commemoration of a public event. The monument begins contemporary with the event; it was set up in the very shadow of the cross; it was in general observance among the people who were affected by the event. And it is with us to this very day.

There is no scene in all human history more poignant and more terrible than the scene that crucifixion morning when Jesus was nailed to the cross. He cried, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." During those awful hours he spoke to John, to his mother, and, finally, in triumph he called out to the Father, "It is finished." But the loneliness of that hour, its gloom and horror, are never fully realized by us until we have some understanding of what was happening. His friends stood helplessly by, watching as he died; the sun hid his face in darkness, refusing to look upon the scene; twelve legions of angels stood at his command, but they could not help lest redemption's plan be foiled. Out of the depth of his agony, Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In that moment, Jesus tasted of something worse than death for you and me. All the sin of the world was bearing down upon him. He was suffering for the guilt of all mankind.

In commemoration of that awful hour, the Lord's Supper is an enduring monument. It is a witness to the truth of the divine record. No atheist, infidel, or skeptic can deny the existence of the Lord's Supper; but only the believer can understand it. The unbeliever sees it, but he is unable to explain it. The believer knows that it is a monument God has left. It will endure on this earth just so long as there are men and women who continue to believe in Jesus Christ, and who are looking "for that city whose builder and maker is God."