Saturday, April 29, 2006

God's Word

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. ~Isaiah 40:8

But the word of the Lord endures forever. ~1 Peter1:25

Several days ago I was over reading another blog which dealt with the infallibility of God's Word, the Bible. I've skipped around to different sites and have certainly picked up different thoughts on the Bible being trustworthy. It grieves me when I hear or read things like this. Maybe one reason I feel so strongly about it is because of where I live. It is not uncommon to hear statements like "The Bible is correct in so far as it is translated correctly." What grieves me is when I hear of believers who do not believe everything the Bible says.

How does one pick and choose what to believe in the Bible? If it sounds nice and right in your way of thinking, then that's a "go?" When one runs across something that causes him to cringe, that must not be truthful? If you cannot believe in what the Bible says, then, how can you trust what Christ promises you for salvation? Where on earth did you hear about Him dying on the Cross to enable you to become part of God's family if it wasn't from the Bible? I know people who harbor doubts concerning the accuracy of the Bible. Many go so far as to reject the Bible, for all intents and purposes, as a book that can't be trusted.

It seems obvious to me that the Lord Jesus believed that the Scriptures were truly and really "the words of God." Often in disputing with the Jews, Jesus said, "Have you not read what God spoke to you saying, 'I am the God of Abraham and the God of Issac and the God of Jacob?'" I have not been able to find any place where Christ ever "corrected" the Old Testament Scriptures. Each time He quotes the Old Testament writings, He accepts what they say without question, and expects all others to have the same attitude.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 states "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." The word used there, in the Greek is "God-breathed." All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable...." You see, the Bible is our standard for testing everything else that claims to be true. It is our safeguard against false teachings and our source of guidance for how we should live. It is our only source of knowledge about how we can be saved.

Paul describes the Scriptures as "God-breathed." The term which is commonly translated as "inspired" literally means that the Scriptures find their origin, their source, in God Himself. They are like the breath of God Himself, coming forth from His mouth. Please note the the Bible is not here speaking of how the writers were led by God to write what they did, but that what they wrote was "inspired" or "God-breathed." God used men to write His Word, but He did so in such a way as to insure that what was written was word-for-word what He had intended from eternity past. My God, the God of the Bible, is big enough to use men to write His message and, at the same time see to it that the resultant revelation is not mixed with error or untruth.

Now, let's look for a moment at the manner in which the holy men of God were chosen by God to write the Scriptures. Second Peter 1:20-21 states "But know this first of all, that no prophesy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Here Peter is discussing not the interpretation of the test, but the origin and surety of the text. He asserts that the prophesies of Scripture (he is not speaking simply of prophesies in the sense of predictions of future events, but the whole proclamation of the truth of God) never came about simply by human impulse or through human thinking. God's revelation has never found its origin in the will of man. In other words, these men spoke from God while being carried along by the Holy Spirit of God. What they said came from God, and as they spoke these things, they were being carried along by the Spirit of God. Obviously, the Holy Spirit would not have led these men into error. That means that the Apostles, just as Jesus Christ, believed in the inerrancy of the Biblical text.

Okay, I understand there are people who would agree that the Bible as it was originally written was the perfect and complete Word of God. They may now feel, over time, that the Bible has been changed, or things lost.

People say that the Bible has been translated over and over and over again. In one sense that is true but one needs to look at translation in the proper sense. Often people mean that the Bible was translated from one language into another, and then from another and so on. That would be very reminescent of the game played by children where one person begins by whispering a phrase to the person next to them, who in turns whispers the phrase to the one next to them and so on. By the time the phrase is repeated at the end of the game it has changed quite a bit. This is not what has happened with the Bible.
When speaking of the history of the Bible and how it came to us the word is "transmission," transmission of the text over time. For about the first 1500 years of what is commonly refered to as the "Christian era," the text was transmitted by hand copying, from one manuscript to another. Today we have over 25,000 (maybe more) hand written manuscripts of the New Testament alone. And, of these, over 5,000 are written n the original language of the New Testament, Greek.
Now, translation is the process whereby one renders a passage in one language into the words of another language. Let's say you had a Bible verse written in the original Greek and we translated it into English, and wrote it down on paper. That's exactly what each of the various "versions" of the Bible are that are available today. The King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New International Bible, etc., are each just simply a different translation of the one Bible, which was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The NIV, I believe translates by "phrases" where as the NASB translates word for word. There is only one Bible, while there are many translations of that Bible into the many languages of mankind. I really hope this sheds some light on the difference between transmission and translation.
Sometimes people still misunderstand about translation and think that it has gone from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to French to German to Spanish to English. But that is incorrect. And, if it had followed that process then a lot would have been lost in the translation. The correct way for the English versions has been based directly upon the original languages, and there is but one step between the original Hebrew and Greek texts to the English translation.
An example of a mistranslated Bible would be the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnessess). They produce what they call The New World Translation. This I would not classify as "the word of God" for it purposefully mistranslates a number of passages that are relevant to the person of Jesus Christ. They attempt to "smuggle" the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses into the text of the Bible.
The Bible is the Word of God regardless of ones' opinion of it. Merely believing it doesn't make it true and disbelieving it doesn't make it untrue. Most significant of all, however, is Jesus' view of the Scripture. What did He think of it? How did He use it? If we can answer these questions, we have the answer from the incarnate Word of God Himself, the One about whom the Bible spoke.
Jesus' attitude was transparently open about the Old Testament. He states emphatically, "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18). He quoted Scripture as final authority, often introducing the statement with the phrase, "It is written," as in His encounter with Satan in the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4).
Look at when He first began teaching, He sat in the synagogue and read Isaiah 61:1-2. This was 800 years old. When He finished reading He said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Perhaps His most sweeping endorsement and acceptance of the Old Testament was when He declared with finality, "The Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). If, then, we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, it would be a contradiciton in terms, and strangely inconsistent, if we rejected the Scripture as the Word of God. This would find us in diagreement with the One Savior whom we acknowledge to be the eternal God, the Creator of the universe.
In days of uncertainty the Scriptures and character of the One who inspired them give us a firm rock on which to stand, intellectually and spiritually! "Heaven and earth will pass away," says the Lord God, "but my words will never pass away" (Luke 21:33).


Dave said...

I just love this post! Especially this part:
"Sometimes people still misunderstand about translation and think that it has gone from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to French to German to Spanish to English. But that is incorrect. And, if it had followed that process then a lot would have been lost in the translation. The correct way for the English versions has been based directly upon the original languages, and there is but one step between the original Hebrew and Greek texts to the English translation."
Praise God!

Pilot Mom said...

Thanks, Dave! God Bless!

Bob & Claire said...

I just wanted to let you know how blessed I was to read your post! You go, girl!

Love, Bob

Pilot Mom said...

Thank you, Bob. I really apprecitate hearing from you! When the family "lurkers" actually comment it really makes my day! :D

HeyJules said...

I love it when you get up on that soapbox of yours!

Great job, Claire. Sometimes I find I just have to say "I'll figure that out when I get there" and leave it at that.

But, in the end, regardless of how "off" something might sound to me, I do believe it is the inerrant word - and then I pray like a big dog that He'll help me figure out what He meant by it!