What Bible In English? Part IV
A CRISIS OF FAITH
“And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” -Luke 4:17-21
When Jesus stood in the synagogue at Nazareth and was handed the Book of Isaiah, even though it was a copy of the original autographs, He verified, without question, the reading as the inerrant, perfect, and preserved Words of God. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for today. There is a glut of modern translations of the Scriptures in English. These modern versions of the Bible, to justify their existence, usually attack the long-standing standard, the King James Bible, as a poor translation and thereby cast a shadow on the accuracy of Scripture. Sadly, after over a hundred years of modern Bible versions, confusion and unbelief abound (1 Cor 14:33). Amazingly, the modern church, for the most part, denies the tangible existence of a perfect and infallible Bible. Most say the Scriptures are only inerrant in the original autographs, which, to our knowledge, no longer exist. In other words, they accept Biblical infallibility in theory, but reject it in practical experience. This leaves such professing Christians in a very precarious situation indeed: hypocritically claiming divine authority from a book they vehemently insist is flawed.
Even though few admit it, this spiritual contradiction poses a glaring crisis of faith.
THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES: OUR OBJECTIVE STANDARD
“All scripture (holy writ) is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17
As Christians, we often casually affirm the “inspiration” of Scripture. However, the compound Greek word theopneustos translated “inspiration” in 2 Timothy 3:16, literally means “breathed out of God”. The implication of this truth is profound. The origins of the written Word of God are not human, but divine; Scripture came directly out from God. Thus, the Scripture is exactly what God thinks, what God says, what God wills, and what God commands. Moreover, the authority of God is perfectly and uniformly reflected in the authority of Scripture. He who obeys God, obeys the Scripture. He who loves God, loves the Scripture (Jn 14:23-24). This being true, Scripture is the Christian’s only objective standard for truth. Hence, if there is no available, tangible, inerrant, infallible written Word of God then we have no epistemological foundation. The challenge to those who reject their Bibles as literally infallible (if our Bible is not error-free it cannot be inerrant) is that they have no authoritative epistemological principle by which to judge one part of Scripture to be accurate and another part to be inaccurate. Since Scripture is the only objective source of information from which the entire Christian system is constructed, one who considers any portion of Scripture as fallible must reject the whole Bible. If there is no objective standard who is to know what is actually accurate or not? Biblical infallibility then, is the epistemological foundation of the Christian faith. Hence, if Christians have no infallible Bible to read, to study, and to apply, then they have no authoritative grounds to claim to know God, His mind, His will or call others to believe. If God has not perfectly preserved His Word for us, how can we know anything for sure? If our Bible is not inerrant, every claim of Christianity can be boldly challenged.
This demands we find a translation of the Bible which is perfect and inerrant.
GOD’S PERSON AND GOD’S WORD ARE ONE IN THE SAME
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” -John 1:1
God and His Word are synonymous and are one in essence (Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 5:7). Any attempt to separate the Word of God (the written Word) from the Person of God (the living Word) must be viewed as unscriptural and spiritually reckless. Hence, it is only logical to conclude what is true of God, is true of His Word. God is perfect. Perfection is an attribute of the divine nature. If God ceases to be perfect, He ceases to be God. Accordingly, God’s Word is perfect and any translation of God’s Word that falls short of perfection cannot accurately be referred to as God’s Word. Likewise, God is self-evident, meaning all moral creatures have, at the very least, a limited but sufficient revelation of His existence (Rom 1:20). God is also self-attesting and needs no external authority to validate Himself (Heb 6:13). Therefore, seeing God and His Word are intrinsically the same, God’s Word must also be self-evident and self-attesting. This simply means God’s Word bears witness with the human conscience and it authoritatively verifies itself (Rom 2:15).
The Scriptures are of divine origin, character and authority; hence, they bear the marks of divinity. They clearly authenticate themselves as God-breathed, however, man is unable to perceive this apart from the internal testimony of the Holy Ghost (Jn 15:26; 1 Cor 2:12-14). Thus, discerning God’s Word is a spiritual matter. True, it involves our reason but cannot be approached by mere intellectual sight, but by faith (Heb 11:3). Thus, in considering the validity of a translation of the Bible, we must understand, as mere men, the concept of empirically proving the Scriptures is an impossibility (though some empirical examination is unavoidable). How can we then know? We must concede, only by faith. No matter how much research, no matter how trained or educated we are, the only way to truly know any translation of the Bible is perfect is by faith. The beginning, or starting point, of knowledge and understanding is the “fear of the Lord”, not the carnal examination of subjective evidence (Prov 9:10). Even in the case of the original autographs, only by faith can they be established and believed as perfect. We must see, God, as omniscient, is the only One with all information, thus, He is the lone individual qualified to empirically verify His Word. The key then, to finding a perfect and infallible Bible is twofold:
• You must believe such a Bible exists (Matt 24:35).
• You must trust God alone to reveal it to you (Jn 10:27, 16:13).
As long as men trust their autonomous intellect and second-hand expertise to judge between this Bible and that Bible, the truth will remain obscured to them. For the Christian, Jesus is Lord. This means the Christian’s highest authority is God and His Word. Only God can verify His Word. Why? To be the “ultimate authority”, that authority must be self-attesting; otherwise the one testifying to it is greater. That is why God “sware by Himself” (Heb 6:13). Therefore, it stands to reason, anything used to authoritatively verify Scripture must possess more authority than Scripture. If we use extra-biblical evidence above Scripture in an effort to objectively identify Scripture we place something from outside the Scripture above Scripture. We thus, violate our own confession and undermine the doctrine of sola scriptura.
“In all cases, the church is to be judged by the Scriptures not the Scriptures by the church.” -John Wesley
What are the self-attesting standards God declares of His Word in His Word?
1. Perfect and true (Ps 19:7; 119:151-152; Jn 17:17).
2. Unmixed and pure (Ps 18:30; 119:140; 1 Pet 2:2).
3. Preserved and eternal (Ps 119:152; Isa 40:8; Lk 21:33; Ps 12:6-7; 119:144).
Hence, in our search for a Bible that truly contains “the very Words of God”, we see it will be perfect, true, pure, preserved and eternal.
GOD’S PROMISES OF PRESERVATION
The following are Scripture passages that promise divine preservation of God’s Word:
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” -Psalm 12:6-7
“Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…” -Psalm 78:1-7
“He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.” -Psalm 105:8
“Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant. He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen. The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” -Psalm 111:1-10
“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” -Psalm 119:89
“Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.” -Psalm 119:152
“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” -Psalm 119:160
“Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?” -Proverbs 22:20-21
“I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” -Eccles. 3:14
“But he answered and said, It is WRITTEN, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” -Matthew 4:4
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one JOT or one TITTLE shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” -Matthew 5:17-18
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” -Matthew 24:35
“If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken…” -John 10:35
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” -Col. 1:17
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” -1 Peter 1:23-25
These promises give us every reason to believe God’s perfect Word exists today and we must believe God to have such a copy of the Bible.
WHY WOULD GOD PRESERVE HIS WORD?
Most professing Christians believe the Bible has been preserved, at least in a general sense. Yet, many falsely assume God’s written Word is only preserved perfect in concepts, thoughts, and spirit. Others believe every word of God is literally preserved for us…somewhere. They may make the claim that the Bible was inspired in the original autographs and subsequently “preserved” to some degree, to our present day. But what good is it to have a perfect, inerrant, inspired Word of God, if it has not been wholly preserved and accessible to us today? I believe it is only logical to assume God has preserved His written Word. Why? So His people could accurately fulfill His perfect will, as apart from God’s Word, this is impossible. Jesus, declaring His view on the doctrine of divine preservation, stated…
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one JOT or one TITTLE shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” -Matthew 5:18
The terms “jot” and “tittle” represent the smallest distinguishing characteristic between two single letters in the written Hebrew language. Jesus was obviously talking about divine preservation of not just the concepts and thoughts, but the very words of the Word of God.
GOD’S REVEALED WILL: HE DESIRES ALL MEN TO HAVE A PERFECT COPY OF THE SCRIPTURES
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith…” -Romans 16:25-26
As we know, the Old Testament Scriptures were originally given in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old) and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of its writing, was generally known to the nations). However, these original languages are not known to all the people of God who have an interest in the Scriptures and are commanded to read, search, obey, and preach them. Therefore, they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation, that the Word of God may bless all so they may worship and serve Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear through the comfort and instruction of the Scriptures. Hence, it is a Biblical mandate, via the Great Commission, to accurately and properly translate, from the providentially preserved Hebrew and Greek Words, the Scriptures into the languages of all people. For the English speaking people, this has been done in a superior manner by the KJV.
WHAT ABOUT “TRANSLATION”?
Many will concede a promise for preservation but will deny that extends to translation. Indeed, what does God’s Word say about translation? It is interesting to note, in every case where God is involved with translation of a message from one language to another, perfection is always either implied or demonstrated (Dan 5:5-31; Matt 27:46; Acts 2:4-6; 1 Cor 14:10-11; 28; Rev 5:5). For example, in Daniel chapter 5, a mysterious hand, that can only be understood to be God’s hand, wrote a message on the palace wall of King Belshazzar. None of the wise men of Babylon could understand or interpret the message. However, the Prophet Daniel, by the providential and supernatural power of God, was able to accurately translate and communicate the message of judgment to the King. Again, on the day of Pentecost, men supernaturally spoke the Word of God and men heard God’s Word in their own language. By this example in Acts 2 we can see that it is God’s ultimate aim and perfect will to accurately provide His Word to all men in their native language. Thus, there are certainly no Scriptural grounds to conclude that God wants anything less than a perfect translation of His Word.
THE BASIC ARGUMENTS
As clearly indicated above…
1. God’s Word is our highest authority and is self-evident and self-attesting.
2. Biblical infallibility then, is the epistemological foundation of the Christian faith; if our Bible is not perfect we cannot defend our faith.
3. God has promised to preserve His Word in His Word (Ps 12:6-7; Matt 24:35).
4. If you reject the idea, as many professing Christians do, that a perfectly preserved Bible exists, then you call God a liar and you are guilty of unbelief. Hence, you are certainly disqualified to discern God’s Word while you, by default, resist and renounce His declaration of Himself.
“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” -John 8:47
5. However, if you agree that there must be a perfect, infallible Bible, then you must concede that the KJV and the modern translations cannot both be it, as they vastly differ and two perfect books cannot contradict one another. Remember, we are not talking about “Gone with the Wind”, but God’s Word, which by strict definition, must be inerrant or it ceases to be God’s Word.
6. The gross apostasy in the Western church has paralleled the popularity of the modern translations.
7. I believe, by faith, the King James Bible is God’s perfect, preserved, infallible Word to the English speaking people.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF BELIEVING THE LIE
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, YEA, HATH GOD SAID, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” –Genesis 3:2
If you have foolishly listened to the textual critics, the Bible-correctors, and the Bible-agnostics, believing their accusations against the King James Bible and receiving the demonic lie that there is no perfect translation of the Bible, there are three sobering implications to your choice…
1. By appealing to something other than the Scriptures to identify the Scriptures you reveal Scripture cannot be your ultimate authority.
By seducing you to implement empiricism and put the Word of God on trial, the enemy has enticed you to partake of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”, thinking you could independently, with your autonomous mind, discern the very Words of God. In doing so, he has pitted you against the very faith you claim. While you call men to forsake their metaphysical commitment to natural science and walk by faith to follow Jesus, you place God’s Word under an empirical microscope. Man may not see this, but God does.
2. You, by faith in the opinions of fallible men, have crippled your faith in God’s written infallible Word.
Ironically, we can only discern God’s Word by faith, but likewise, we can only deny it by faith as well. Whatever you believe about God’s Word you believe by faith. All the information (Hebrew, Greek, research, dictionaries, lexicons, etc.) are all second-hand expertise by someone you trust as accurate. All your assertions about the Bible have been established by faith. You cannot empirically verify anything you believe about the written Word of God. What you know about the Scriptures, right or wrong, you know by faith. So, by faith in what man has said against God’s Word in English, the King James Bible, you have undermined your faith in God’s Word.
3. You have an imperfect Bible.
In reality, there are basically only two, fundamental presuppositions in the King James Only debate:
• There are those who are presuppositionally committed, by faith on God’s Word, that there is a perfect Bible and the KJV is it in English.
• There are those who are presuppositionally committed, by faith on various criticisms of God’s Word, that their Bible is not perfect.
This is the end of swallowing the attacks of the textual critics of God’s Word: by faith, you have an imperfect Bible whereby you can, if you are honest, believe nothing, prove nothing, or preach nothing. Oh, of course, you can say you believe, you may vigorously insist you can prove, and you can even continue to preach. But in actuality, you can only pretend. For all your intellectual savvy, you are left standing in thin air, declaring to an unbelieving generation that God literally created the universe in six days while you secretly doubt He can keep His own book together.
You may laugh me to scorn, saying “You are so ignorant and stubborn to deny the facts so as to hold to your archaic and outdated KJV”.
“Yes, I may be a simple-minded, backwoods, KJVO Bible-thumper to you, but at least my archaic and outdated Bible is perfect.”