“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” – Jeremiah 23:29 –
The path taken by the Scriptures over the millennia is absolutely stunning when one considers it. From ancient texts passed generationally at the beginning, to dusty papyri, and eventually parchment and vellum manuscripts, through exile and hardship, torture and martyrdom, and in spite of those who would withhold and corrupt it, the very Word of God, the Bible, is certainly special. It is more than just another book. It’s more than just another religious document. It is the Living Word, timeless and yet imminently relevant, filled with the power to inspire and transform the fallen human heart.
Over the years there have been many who stood in its way, who sought to put a stop to it. All have ultimately failed. All have, along with their efforts, perished under the weight of time, yet the Bible marches on. Look no further than the French writer Voltaire who, in the year 1700, declared “one hundred years from now the world will hear no more of the Bible.” Not more than fifty years after his death, in the very house where he lived and upon his own printing press, the Geneva Bible Society printed their Bibles!
Beyond individuals, whole nations have sought to impede the spread of the Christian Bible and the truth of our Lord. Time and again, their efforts have failed. In many cases, the details behind such things are almost miraculous! As one one anecdotal account from the last century recalls, there was a man being treated in an American hospital in Turkey. There he was given a Bible, which he took back to his own town to show to his friends and family. A muslim leader, upon learning of this, took the Bible from the man and tore its pages from the binding, casting them into the street like trash. Later, as a grocer passed those pages strewn about the street, it came to him that they could be used as wrapping paper, and with that in mind, he collected the pages and set about using them for that purpose. Before long the Bible was spread across the town, his customers reading its words and ultimately returning to him with a hunger for more!
Critics may condemn it, and politicians may abuse it, but in the end God makes a way for the Word to push through in victory. In some of the darkest corners of the world today, where religious freedom is only a dream, the Christian faith is thriving in spite of the opposition, standing strong – one by one – even in the face of certain death! Consider the People’s Republic of China for instance. Officially an atheist nation, it’s past stained red with the blood of those – including Christians – who stood against the forces of communism there, it now runs as a solid contender for being the most populous Christian nation in the world. According to some estimates, by 2030 China could be home to more than 247 million Christians!¹ Friend, there is a longevity and a durability to the authentic Word of God that cannot be denied, matched, or naturalistically explained. As one commentator wrote:
“A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put. No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet? The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions.“²
The Word of God persists in spite of tribulation, just as those who have fully entrusted their eternity to Christ stand against relentless forces seeking their destruction. We, here in the West, tend to miss the degree of persecution faced by believers abroad. We are – in a sense – insulated against this fact because of the democracy we enjoy, blinded by our freedoms, numbed to the threats that loom darkly before our foreign brothers and sisters. Even so, as the threats of financial ruin, physical torture, and even bloody death sweep in upon them, many stand strong – resilient against the enemy – for their hope rests not in this world and its trappings, but in the embrace the Divine as declared through the words of Scripture and confirmed by the experiences they have had with the Spirit.
There is an undeniable value in the words of the Bible. With so many published versions and interpretations though, which is one to trust? Proponents of the newer translations readily defend the stance by claiming that their translations are more accurate and are more accessible to modern readers. That said though, how can we justify those claims in light of the massive – and in many cases divergent – manuscript evidences to the contrary? What of the lasting marks left in the wake of Westcott & Hort’s work?
I freely admit that my preference is the King James Version for many reasons, but that said, I believe that if one wishes to read a Bible other than the King James version in an effort to know our God and Savior, then I firmly believe that they should do so. If they sincerely seek Him, they will find Him regardless of the corruption of their text. Understand though that we absolutely must exercise discernment in what we rely on. As believers, we know that we have an enemy and he – Lucifer – from our very beginning in the Garden, was causing us to question God. Why should we assume that his motives are different today? Could some of those newer translations be born not of a hope to enhance the viability and accessibility of the Scriptures, but rather as a deceptive means of division, petty spite, and doctrinal deceit. There is an enemy that exists and he can and does snake his way into everything he can in order to spread lies, doubt, and confusion, often in such a way that those he uses to further his purposes do so unawares. Such is the way it has always been, and the confusion it breeds is detrimental to so many…
The interpretations of man, when they have thought themselves capable of using the Word for political purposes, or as a tool to keep the ignorant masses in the dark, or to promote genocide and hate, that is where we – the believers of Christ – have failed. Looking back on it all, the Bible has alway presented the same truths and values, but mankind has time and again failed to live up to those truths and values, and in the wake of those fateful, selfish moments flow crimson stains across history. Stains that not only linger on the hands of the church, but that also stand as a proverbial scarlet letter sewn upon it, warning away those who may be undecided about the nature of our faith. Make no mistake, the church has done many terrible things in the name of God, but these things always were born out of misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the Word. In some cases, such was born out of the adoption of practices and positions that were wholly unrelated to the teachings of the Bible. As one Reverend put it, “The doctrines of the Catholic Church are entirely independent of Holy Scripture.”³
- “China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years,” The Telegraph, April 19th, 2014, Philips, Tom, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10776023/China-on-course-to-become-worlds-most-Christian-nation-within-15-years.html , retrieved October 7th, 2017
- Ramm, Dr. Bernard, “Protestant Christian Evidences,” Literary Licensing, LLC, May 12, 2012, pg 32
- Familiar Explanation of Catholic Doctrine, Rev. M. Muller, 1876, pg 151
“Conclusions on the Bible” continues next time…
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