THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD CW – Welcome once again to our broadcast. We promised you that we would be talking in the coming weeks about the basics of what Christians believe and why they believe it. To do that we will introduce you to the source of what we believe - the Bible. Christians have been known to the world as the people of the Book. Other religions have their books but Christians have The Book and that book is different from all other books claimed by all other religions. Paul – That’s right CW. Every religion known to man tries to answer questions about their god or gods to fill the God-shaped void that exists in each of us, and there have been many so called prophets that have claimed to speak for god and have produced books that claim to be the truth about god and the world. Hinduism has the Vedas, Buhddism has the teachings of Buddha, Islam has their Koran, and Mormonism has the Book of Mormon. These books often make for some very interesting and even fanciful reading but none are like the Bible of CHRISTIANITY. Christians point to the Bible and say it is the sole standard for all our faith and practice. It is our Final Authority. Ford – Yes, Brother Paul, we hang a fancy word on that belief called “sola scriptura” which is basically speaking saying that Scripture is the only infallible rule for deciding issues of faith and practices that involve doctrine. Some people think the issue first came up during the Protestant Reformation when Christians were rebelling from the Catholic Church. But the truth is that there has always been a body of Christian believers from the day of Pentecost till today that held to the belief that Holy Scripture is the sole authority for what we believe. CW – Brother FORD, I recall that you used to give your students a booklet called “The Trail of Blood” that showed how the true church existed in an unbroken line for 2000 years of history. Ford – It was called The Trail of Blood because true Christian believers were persecuted and killed for their faith; they shed their blood as a testimony to their faithfulness to the Word of God. And this has been occurring since the very beginning of the church as described in the Book of Acts. These believers searched the Scriptures to make sure that what they heard being preached was accurate and true, and not some pack of lies and false doctrines. Paul – The Bible has the answers to the questions that all people are searching for. Answers not found in the sacred literature of non-Christian religions. I have read much of the material in those other books, and it does not satisfy. The other books just don’t measure up when it comes to providing good answers to the important questions of life, such as: where we came from; where we are going; and what is our life worth as an individual. People the world over and through out history have sought God and tried to worship god in various ways. So many are wondering if God really exists, and if He does exist, then what is He like? Our Bible tells us all that, and it also tells us what God thinks about us. The Bible is a record of God’s communication to man. It tells us about such important things as, what happens to us after we die. CW – The answers God gives us in His word makes our bible different from all the books offered by other religions. THAT IS THE TOPIC OF OUR PROGRAM. Our faith is based on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the foundation of our Christian belief and His word, the Holy Bible, is part of Him; because it is His testimony. What the Bible teaches is the basis of all doctrinal claims made by genuine Christianity – THE HOLY BIBLE is a book that is truly unique - like no other book in the entire world. Paul – Yes, the Bible is our authority. Its authority is recognized and acknowledged by people who never read it. For example, our political and legal systems have historically required people to swear oaths by laying their hand upon the Bible. It is ironic that all of our judges and politicians have sworn upon the very Bible that they often deny in their rulings and legislation. Abortions would never have become legalized in the United States if our judges had taken seriously their oaths made upon the Bible. The very word “bible” has come into common usage as another word for “authority” on a subject. We see non-religious books published often that are called bibles, like the Shooter’s Bible or the Camper’s Bible, and others. CW – Where did we get the word Bible? Paul – According to my dictionary, our English word “bible” comes from the name of an early Phoenician city, “Byblos”, that was named after the papyrus plant that was used to make paper. The city of Byblos was one of the first major locations that manufactured and exported the paper made from papyrus. Much later the word byblos came into common usage among Latin and Greek speakers. The word in its various forms came to mean “book”, after the papyrus plant paper became more popular for writing on than the other materials than had been previously used, such as bricks, wood, pieces of pottery, and animal skins. It is interesting to note that the word “bible” never actually appears in “the Holy Bible”. In addition, though the word means book, our Bible is more than just one book. It is really a collection [a compendium] of books and letters written by approximately 40 different people over a period of at least 1500 years, and maybe as much as 2000 years. The oldest document in the Bible is the Book of “JOB” which is generally thought to have been written during the time of the patriarchs (ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB, AND JOSEPH) around 1600 to 1900 bc. The most recent document is the book of “The REVELATION” which was written during the first century A.D. by the apostle John while he was in exile on the island of Patmos. Ford – To me that is one of the most amazing things about the Bible. It was written over a couple thousand years by many different people, yet, it has a remarkable consistency and utter lack of contradiction. You cannot say that about other so-called “holy books.” PAUL - Unlike the other books held sacred by various religions of the world, our Holy Bible is based upon actual historical events. The history of the ancient world has been dated by many of the events recorded in the Bible, though modern liberal scholars don’t want to recognize the Bible for what it is – an accurate history book, as well as, a special revelation from God Almighty. CW – Yes, I have heard that the Bible has actually been used to discover oil. People just looked where the Bible hinted that something was to be found. Paul - For one of the seminary classes I taught I developed a historical timeline based upon the dating system God uses in the book of Genesis. A similar method was used several hundred years ago by Bishop Ussher when he developed his system of dating that has been published in some of our modern Bibles, like the Scofield Reference Bible and others. Bishop Ussher was able to develop a dating system by using passages in the Bible that estimated the creation of Adam and Eve around 4004 BC. You can still purchase copies of his work, a large book that provides a history of the world from creation until the time of Christ and beyond. Ford – And you know one of my areas of study is in the field of Creation and post flood science. Things like Niagara falls and even the Great Barrier Reef have been shown in the light of science to be about 4000 years old. These began to form after the flood. This gives us about 6000 years from the Creation to present time, which fits into a prophetic understanding of God’s Word as well. The Bible is more than black print on white paper or the ramblings of some mystic’s imagination. As a matter of fact the Jewish system of counting time places the world just short of six thousand years old. Paul – Yes we have very sound reasons to believe that the Bible is talking about real people who actually lived and spoke the words written about in the pages of scripture. In addition, the Bible boldly claims itself to be the words of God. Expressions, such as: “Thus saith the LORD”; and “I am the LORD God and besides me there is no other god”. We say that it is a “Special Revelation” to us from God, so that we might know Him in a more personal way than would otherwise be possible if all we had to reveal God to us was just the “General Revelation” of God seen in the created world around us. CW - Brother Paul, we like to remind people that the Bible does not merely contain the word of God; it is the word of God. Paul – Good point! The so called liberal scholars and theologians like to pick the Bible apart and try to tell us which parts are from God and which parts are merely the imaginations of men. The men and women that teach that are doubters and unbelievers - It is a sign of unbelief in the inspiration of the Bible. The sum total of all the scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, is literally God breathed. We use the technical term “plenary inspiration” to describe the belief that the entire Bible is inspired – not merely some parts of it. It is inerrant (without error) in all parts and in all teachings whether about salvation or about history. The liberals try to convince us that the history as related in the Bible is not accurate. That God could not have created the world in merely 6 days; that there could not have been a worldwide flood and a literal ark of wood that saved all living land and air creatures. They tell us that the Bible is filled with inaccuracies when it comes to people and places and timeframes. Of course there has never been a documented, fully proven error identified anywhere in the written word of God. In fact, just the opposite has occurred. Many times the so-called errors of the Bible have been later proven to be accurate when discoveries have confirmed the biblical account while simultaneously discrediting the claims of the unbelievers. A couple of well-known examples are: the discovery of the Hittite civilization that for years scholars had claimed never existed; and the discovery of Babylonian and Egyptian writings that have confirmed that written communications existed in the time of Moses and earlier, though scholars had claimed that Moses could not have written the first 5 books of the Bible so early in history due to their idea that no written communication was developed that early in the world. FORD – Before we leave the subject of inspiration of scripture, let’s not fail to mention that the Bible is not only fully inspired in all parts, but it is inspired in every word. We speak of the “Verbal inspiration” when we mean that the inspiration extends to the very words used, not merely to the ideas presented. When God inspired the use of a singular instead of a plural word, we know that he intended to use a singular instead of a plural. When he uses a verb instead of a noun, or a masculine instead of feminine word, we know that is exactly what he wanted us to read. CW – That is one of the reasons that we like the King James Version better than the newer English translations. FORD – If a Bible translator does not believe in the inspiration of each and every word, then he is not going to worry about translating each word exactly. Instead, he will translate the idea presented by a passage and change the wording. We call that “dynamic equivalence”. The King James translators were very careful to use the more precise and more accurate form of translating that we call “formal equivalence”. What that means, basically is that the King James Version is a word for word translation that preserves the verbal inspiration. However, all the other translations deny the verbal inspiration of scripture because they make changes to the words and phrases that appear in the Greek and Hebrew original language versions. They make sometimes subtle and sometimes glaring changes to what God has given us when they add and delete words, use words with different meanings, change the order of words, change the tense and gender, and on-and-on. They do not show a genuine respect for what God actually inspired the writers to pen down, but instead they provide us their opinion of what the apostles and prophets should have said. Paul – Jesus himself told us that every jot and every tittle of God’s word would be preserved, but men are constantly trying to prove him wrong. They refuse to accept the accuracy of the scriptures as they have been preserved by the Jews and by the true Christian believers down through history. Let me give a couple of examples. The New International Version deletes sometimes entire verses and casts doubt on entire passages with foot notes and margin notes that claim the passages are not accurate or do not belong. The NIV authors would have us believe that Jesus did not really have a conversation with the woman taken in adultery and her accusers, or that the last 12 verses of Mark’s gospel are part of God’s inspiration. The NIV translators want us to believe that numerous verses should be left out of the Bible, verses like the following 12 examples: Matt 17:21, Matt 18:11, Matt 23:14, Mark 7:16, Mark 9:44 and 46, Mark 11:16, Mark 15:28, Luke 23:17, Acts 8:37, Acts 28:29, and Rom 16:24. Now, either God has inspired and preserved his actual words or He has not, but we can’t have it both ways. I like to say that the Bible is God’s love letter to each of us, and I personally want to know exactly what He said. I am not interested in hearing a rough version of what Jesus said or did, nor am I interested in reading what some man thinks God would have or could have or should have said. I want to know what God actually inspired the authors to write – word for word. FORD – Let’s be clear. You are not saying that the King James Version is verbally inspired are you? PAUL – No, I am not saying that. The Bible was originally written in primarily the Hebrew and Greek languages, and it is the words in the Hebrew and Greek that are verbally inspired. What I am saying is that the King James translators did a much better job of preserving the verbal inspiration than did any of the other modern translators of the Bible into English. I don’t think that the KJV is a perfect translation, but I am convinced that it provides us a more literal and accurate translation of what God originally inspired. FORD – Dr. D. A. Waite said it well when he summarized the issue something like this. The King James Version has the benefit of having had: 1. better qualified translators, 2. better original language manuscripts, 3. better translating techniques and methods used, and 4. better life changing impact throughout the world. CW - God has truly blessed the use of the KJV in missionary and evangelistic work over almost 400 years. PAUL – You can literally say that God anointed the King James Version through the blood of countless numbers of saints that was shed when they were martyred for trying to translate, print, and distribute that version of God’s word. I love to read the stories about the faith and the sacrifices made by people such as Wyclif and Tyndale and others as they fought and died trying to get an accurate English translation into the hands of the common man. CW – William Tyndale’s translating was so good that much of his work was used by the King James Translators in their version. PAUL – Let me summarize briefly for our listeners what we have discussed so far in this program. First, we have stated that the entire Bible is God’s word, not just parts of it. Second, we have said that the scriptures are God breathed or inspired, and that they are without error and infallible. Third, we have stated that the Bible is both fully inspired from front to back and that the inspiration goes to the very words used, not just to the ideas presented. Fourth, we reviewed the orthodox doctrine of “sola scriptura” that means that the Holy Bible and only the Holy Bible is the source and authority for true Christian doctrines and teaching. FORD – The Roman Catholic Church says that it gave us the Bible, and that scripture is primary but not solely our authority in matters of doctrine and teachings. They use the expression “prima scriptura” and condemn the teaching of “sola scriptura” by Baptists and Protestants. It was Martin Luther who first popularized the term “sola scriptura”, but the idea that the scriptures were the sole authority, not the traditions of the church leaders, has been recognized by true Christians since the time of the apostles. PAUL – In theory there are only three possible sources of authority for a Christian to rely upon. He could accept the tradition or authority of the church - as the Roman Catholics teach. Or, a Christian could accept human logic and reasoning as his ultimate authority. That is what liberal thinkers and many so-called scholars claim as their authority. The third option is the one that we advocate, and the one that the Bible teaches, is to let the Bible itself be the ultimate authority – this is true sola scriptura, only scripture, nothing else. This is also the historical position of the true believers as described in both the Bible and in the writings of many of the early believers. The idea of sola scriptura is even present in the Old Testament in the beliefs of Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, and all those who exercised faith in God’s word, as opposed to trusting in vain rituals and traditions of men. In the Gospels, Jesus actually criticized the Pharisees for teaching the “traditions of men” as if they were the doctrines of God. We see the same thing happening today. So many people will just not study the scriptures in order to seek the truth, but instead they rely upon their preachers or priests or teachers to tell them what God has said. CW – They are betting their souls upon another man’s words, rather than resting in the true words of God. PAUL – This brings us to the fifth point that we are addressing in this program about the Written Word of God. Each and every person must assume responsibility for knowing and responding to what God has said, but actually doing that is not quite as simple and straightforward as most people assume. Someone has to be responsible for correctly interpreting the scriptures and for understanding what God is asking each of us to do, and then for doing what God asks. Here is the problem, the Bible tells us that we are all sinners by nature – conceived and born into sin - and that we are blinded by Satan and the world to the truths of God. The Bible says that there is none good, no not one, and that there is none that seeks after God, but that we all have gone astray. Therefore, it is only through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit that anyone can truly appreciate the spiritual truths revealed in God’s word. FORD – The Holy Spirit is the agent of God that works in the hearts and minds of men to create a sense of need for God and to convict our hearts of sin, so that we will come to Him. It is said that He draws us to him, in order that we might be saved. PAUL – Yes, we are touching here upon a hotly debated topic of theology. Believers that call themselves “Reformed Christians” are those like Presbyterians and others that follow in the footsteps of John Calvin and other Reformation teachers that taught that mankind is “Totally Depraved”. By that they mean that no person can come to God or trust in God until after God has already saved them and indwelled them. This is usually called the belief in “Predestination” or “Irresistible Grace” and is a primary teaching of Calvinism. This is opposed to the teachings in Baptist and Methodist denominations where the “free will” of the believers is said to enable a person to freely choose to either accept Christ’s gift of salvation or to freely reject the offer of salvation. FORD – But, both groups, those that believe in Predestination, and those that believe in the free will of the individual, believe that it is the Holy Spirit of God that illuminates the heart of the individual and awakens him to the need for salvation. PAUL – Yes, both see that only by the grace of God can we see our depraved state and understand our need for salvation. But, the difference is in the fact that Calvinist teach that a person has no say in the matter – either God has arranged for him to be saved or to be condemned, and there is nothing that the individual can do to resist God’s will in that. The free will advocates teach that each individual is given enough freedom by God to choose whether he will accept or reject God’s gift. They believe that God does all the work of salvation, except that he does allow the individual the choice after he is enlightened or illuminated through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. This is considered a confusing point to many, but in my view the important point is this. Since only the Holy Spirit can illuminate the heart of the sinner, then it is of the utmost importance that we all pray for the unsaved and ask God to prick their consciences and convict their souls of sin. We can witness to an unbeliever all day long, but until the Holy Spirit decides to work within their heart, there is nothing that we can accomplish. Prayer is the key, but accompanied by our faithful witnessing, since we cannot always know when or how the Spirit will work in the life of a potential convert. CW – As a closing thought, have you ever wondered why God wanted to use a written copy of His word? FORD - We have been careful to focus our teaching on the written word of God for a reason. It was God Himself that decided that a written communication was necessary. With a little thinking, we should be able to understand why God wanted to have His word written. PAUL – Since God wanted all people to hear the good news and have an opportunity to be saved, He knew that only by the written word could the truth be made available to all people, during all periods of time, and in all regions of the world. Not everyone would be able to personally witness Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Not everyone would be able to hear His teaching, and no one could be trusted to hear the gospel message and then to pass it along without changing the exact wording of the message. So, a method was needed to insure the accuracy of each word, and then to send the exact message to many people in many difference places at many different points in time. The use of a written method is the only known way to get the message out to everyone when they need it. FORD – Yes, the written method is the best way to preserve the accuracy. In addition, it is the easiest method to use in the teaching and training of evangelists for the faith. Not everyone can attend a Bible College or get seminary training on the finer points of doctrinal teaching. Not everyone wants to wait upon a teacher or a mentor to show them the proper way to share the gospel or to otherwise obey the commandments of God. If a person can read, then the fastest, most accurate way to study and to learn is through reading the material himself. That way there is no reason to blame anyone else for the lack of knowledge or understanding or for the lack of action. God has really left us no excuses.
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