DEFENDING THE INDISPEblipBLE WORD OF GOD
By David Norris
As the believer turns over the pages of his Bible, reads it line by line, word by word, he expects to be reading the very words of the Holy Ghost. His attitude topiano coversds what he reads is no different than were those same words carried to him audibly by God speaking to him from heaven. It is therefore not helpful to be told that, in fact, only the words the apostles and prophets actually wrote down were God-breathed and that these are now lost.
Strictly speaking, we cannot really know in every detail what these men wrote. This is worrying. The believer is then told that there are lots of different manuscripts not all saying precisely the same thing, although they largely agree. Indeed, the text from which the Bible is now generally translated has been cobbled together from these manuscripts by apostate scholars.
There is now a distinct loss of confidence, but it gets worse. We are next told that it is quite impossible to translate perfectly; after all, translators are only human and mistakes are inevitable even in the revered Authorised Version - and this we are told by those who use it! The conclusion must then be that no version, no translation, no Bible we are able to read is word for word the inspired Word of God and there are also some doubts about the blip and Greek. Someone then continues, it is not the individual words that God inspired but the meaning behind the words. Now that is all very strange, how can there be any meaning without any words?
So it is that step by step the believer’s faith in an objective, authoritative Word is disturbed. Any suggestions that undermine the believer’s trust and confidence in the Word of God must be rejected. The confidence he once had ebbs and so, using this translation or that, he tends to rely on his own thoughts and feelings more and more, or in a worst case scenario finds his faith all but gone.
An argument that moves progressively away from confidence and faith in the Word God has given us is not one that has come from heaven, but is inspired by the enemy of souls.
We need an objective Word, authoritative, a Word that does not change with our feelings or our mood, that is the same whenever we read it.
For feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My piano coversrant is the Word of God;
Naught else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned,
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.
I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word,
Till soul and body sever;
For though all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever.
attr. MARTIN LUTHER
We need God’s Word even to begin to understand the world in which we live; moreover, we need it if we are to be saved and live a life pleasing to our heavenly Father. We must hold fast to a verbally inspired, reliable, and authentic Word of God in the English language. This we have in our Authorised Version. Anything less than this is inadequate. We need to have complete confidence that every word we are reading has come from God and carries His authority, nothing less will do.
We find that many, of whom we would have expected better things, express
confidence in the Authorised Version, nevertheless, they suggest in the next
breath that it is something less than entirely the inspired Word of God. The
Authorised Version is virtually, but not quite, the perfect Word of God. It
is superior to other versions, but not without error. As most believers will
read the Bible in their own language, they are thus denied access to a completely
trustworthy copy of the Scriptures. This is a totally inadequate and unacceptable
state of affairs.
1 A WORK OF GOD OR OF MAN?
This brings us to the heart of the debate: to what extent is the Bible we read the work of man and to what extent is it the work of God? Is only the initial inspiration the work of God and are the copies and translations thereafter largely the work of man? Do we have the authentic Scriptures only in the original languages or are they available to us in our own language? Do we have before us the word of man or the Word of God? Is our English Bible wholly the work of man, wholly the work of God, or is it a mixture of both? These are important questions, for if my Bible is in any part the work of man, then how can I ever really be sure that what I am reading at any given point has come from God or from man? Shall I rely on scholars to tell me?
It will be argued, as it is with respect to differences in the Greek text, that no discrepancies in our English Bible affect any major doctrine - but how can we know that? Often meaning will depend upon a single word. If our Bible cannot be relied upon in one place, it cannot be relied upon in another.
First, there are those who tell us that the Bible is completely human with no divine element at all. This view we reject unequivocally. These are the views of unbelievers, who may see the Bible as a remarkable, but thoroughly human book. They will subject the Scriptures to the kind of textual criticism that they apply to the works of Shakespeare, Goethe, or any other writers for whom they consider it worth their while to establish an authentic text of their works. They will readily acknowledge that the Christian Scriptures have a particularly advantageous position because there is far more consistent manuscript evidence with which to work by comparison with secular literature of similar age.
Second, at the other end of the spectrum, as Bible believers, we believe the Bible to be God-breathed. Let us be clear in our mind as to what we mean by this - “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). The following, taken from the writings of the Puritan, John Owen (1616-1683), is probably one of the best definitions of divine inspiration outside holy writ.
“When the word was thus brought to them, it was not left to their under-standings, wisdoms, minds, memories, to order, dispose, and give it out; but they were borne, acted [actuated], carried out by the Holy Ghost, to speak, deliver, and write all that, and nothing but that - to every tittle - that was brought to them. They invented not words them-selves, suited to the things they had learned, but only expressed the words that they received. Though their mind and understanding were used in the choice of words (whence arise all the differences - that is, in their manner of expression - for they did use ‘words of will’, or choice,) yet they were so guided, that their words were not their own, but immediately supplied to them. And so they gave out the ‘writing of uprightness’ and ‘words of truth’ itself (Ecclesiastes 12:10).
Not only the doctrine they taught was the word of truth - truth itself, (John 17:17) - but the words whereby they taught it were the words of truth from God himself.
Thus, allowing the contribution of passive instruments for the reception and representation of words - which answer the mind and tongue of the prophets, in the coming of the voice of God to them - every apex of the written Word is equally divine, and as immediately from God as the voice wherewith, or whereby, he spake to or in the prophets; and is, therefore, accompanied with the same authority in itself, and unto us. What hath been thus spoken of the Old Testament, must also be affirmed of the New.” (Works, 16, 305, ed. bold ours)
This view constitutes a shift away from the traditional view espoused by earlier theologians such as R. L. Dabney in the Blip, or John Owen in England, or Francis Turretin of Geneva, and as such it is a novelty of recent origin. To suggest this newer view, promulgated initially by A. A. Hodge and Benjamin piano coversfield at Princeton, is the traditional one is disingenuous and misleading.
Another view claims that inspiration has not been lost in the existing copies of the originals, or apographs, but that translations must of necessity be the work of men and therefore fallible and open to correction. This appears to have been the view held by Francis Turretin of Geneva (1623-87). Those sharing Turretin’s views on versions and translations today would do well to remember that he was primarily com-bating the papists’ insistence that the Latin Vulgate, the translation of Jerome, was definitive.
In seeking to assert its final authority in all such matters, Rome insisted that the original language manuscripts had been corrupted, particularly We further believe that inspiration is not impaired in the process of copying the original autographs, nor in translation, when these tasks are carried out in humble dependence upon God and by the call and guidance of the Holy Spirit. A translation of the Bible is simply the same Word of God in a language other than that in which it was originally written. If theos is the word that God gave in Greek, then God, Dieu, Gott, are precisely the same, nothing has changed, but the several words are understood by those whose language is English, French, and German respectively.
This is not to say that translation is simply a matter of swapping words! As anyone knows who has tried it, even at school, a good translation demands enormous skill and language knowledge, themselves gifts of God. We affirm that those parts of the work of bringing us the Scriptures in our own tongue involving the active participation of men are so protected by the providence of God as to ensure the transmission of divine revelation without error. Language itself, we assert, is a gift of God given above all to the end that we might learn of God, the way of salvation, and be instructed in our most holy faith. We believe God has given us His authentic Word in our own language.
We do not deny that blemishes may have crept into reliable manuscripts through age or the oversight of copyists, nor the possibility of such things as printer’s errors in our own or earlier copies of the Bible. Nor do we deny that from time to time changes to the spelling, even the up-dating of some grammatical structures, none of which will remotely change the original meaning carried by those words, may occasionally be necessary in some translations. Such changes were successfully made to our 1611 Author-ised Version on several occasions and do not thereby make it less a verbally inspired book. Similar work on other translations could profitably be carried out by godly men suitably conversant with the relevant languages and equip-ped by God for such an undertaking, as for example on the German translation made by Martin Luther in collaboration with his colleagues.
Third, there are many positions taken up between these two, but all involve at heart the same question as to the extent to which our Bible is deemed to be a human book and how much it is divine in origin. The common view among evangelicals still holding to some view of verbal inspiration is likely to be that popularised by Benjamin piano coversfield (1851-1921). This view holds that the original autographs only were inspired and that it is the work of scholars to engage in textual criticism, as would be carried out on secular texts, in order to reconstruct the original inspired text.
The problem with this view is that the result of such work can at best still only be a never-ending work of approximation as we do not have the originals with which to make a comparison. Did we have the originals, then of course, such work would be unnecessary anyway. However few the discrepancies might be, we are still left with a Bible that is in part the work of man and so is uncertain and not entirely reliable. by the blips, and ought therefore to be corrected by the Latin of Jerome. This view of the Vulgate he rightly disputed and he also contested the infallibility of other translations of the day. Owen too encountered this problem, speaking of the use of translations he wrote:
“We add, that the whole Scripture, entire as given out from God, without any loss, is preserved in the copies of the originals yet remaining; what varieties there are among the copies themselves shall be afterpiano coversd declared. In them all, we say, is every letter and tittle of the word. These copies, we say, are the rule, standard, and touchstone of all translations, ancient or modern, by which they are in all things to be examined, tried, corrected, amended; and themselves only by themselves.
Translations contain the word of God, and are the word of God, perfectly or imperfectly, according as they ex-press the words, sense, and meaning of those originals.
To advance any, all translations concurring, into an equality with the originals, - so to set them up with it on even terms, - much more to propose and use them as a means of castigating, amending, altering any thing in them, gathering various lections by them, is to set up an altar of our own by the altar of God, and to make equal the wisdom, care and skill, and diligence of men, with the wisdom, care, and providence of God himself.” (Works, 16, reed organ)
That which the prophets and apostles wrote is found today in copies preserved by God from which nothing has been lost of His Word and these copies are to be the standard by which we recognise the authenticity of any translation, this was Owen’s view. Our own Authorised Version was translated from the Word of God perfectly preserved in copies of the originals given in blip and Greek, at the same time comparing the work previously undertaken by Tyndale. These same authentic apographs should be the starting point for translating the Bible into any language, along with comparisons made with the work done by others such as the Authorised Version.
Owen’s remarks about translations and versions must also be placed in their historical context, if they are to be properly understood. It is not the 1611 Authorised Version which he has primarily in mind and to which he makes no direct reference, although as a ‘modern’ translation of his day he would have included it within his wider general rules. It had appeared five years prior to his birth and he would have known it; though doubtless, because of his familiarity with blip, Greek, and Latin, he would have used the original text most frequently and perhaps the Geneva Bible in English.
He refers in the main to those versions such as the Septuagint (or LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament made about three hundred years before the coming of the Lord Jesus and which he regarded as being full of errors, or the Syriac translation, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and others, all of which he viewed as being irreparably corrupt, but were being used by enemies of the Gospel to cast doubt on the reliability of the original texts. Their argument was that as the compilers and translators of these various versions would have had access to texts no longer available, the extant originals ought to be corrected using these versions. This he vigorously refutes.
Those who believe translations must of necessity be less than the Word of God ought not to seek refuge in the above quotation from John Owen. Let us note with care that whilst he believed it possible for a translation to be imperfect or corrupt, far more significant, Owen believed it possible for a translation to be the perfect Word of God in as much as it conformed to the originals; in other words, to that which God gave to Scripture writers and He has preserved intact. For John Owen the relationship between the original text and the translation was one of precedent. A son does not precede his father, but this does not make him any the less his own flesh and blood. He is his father’s son, and as such distinct, but to the extent that he carries his father’s attributes, nature, and physical characteristics, the source from which the son has sprung may be clearly seen. In the case of Scripture, the translation can and, in the case of the Authorised Version, does perfectly replicate that which prophets and apostles wrote under divine inspiration.
We believe we still have the Word of God today in its purity and perfection, free from error, and we have it in the English language in our Authorised Version.
It will be commended to us as such by the accurate copies of that which was originally penned by the Scripture writers whilst inspired and impelled by the Holy Spirit, so that the believer who does not read Greek or blip can have absolute confidence that he is reading God’s Word as though he were actually reading the original. We have still the inspired Scriptures, and we have them in English. There is little doubt that this view is far closer to that which has been found among the people of God down through the centuries than the one now generally accepted by modern evangelicals and detractors of our Authorised Bible. At the same time it must be acknowledged that this historical testimony is insufficient authority on its own for the views we hold.
Given the views of Owen and Turretin, with regard to the authenticity of the apographs or copies, and to inspiration, both men would certainly have rejected those modern translations espoused by many today who like to claim these men as their own. We dispute the view that translation undertaken by those qualified by the Holy Spirit to do such work must of necessity diminish, still less destroy, the perfection and infallibility inherent in inspired Scripture, or that inspiration disappears in copies and translations. How can the Bible be any the less the Word of God for being translated? This seems rather to reflect the superstitious stance of Muslims topiano coversds the Arabic Koran!
A translation is either the inspired Word of God in the same sense as the originals or it is not the Word of God at all and we ought all to set about learning blip and Greek immediately so that we may have access to it and from thence food for our souls!
This is our point of difference with Francis Turretin. In effect, he leaves access to the authentic Scriptures open only to those with a knowledge of the original languages and those without such knowledge dependent on the interpretations of a scholarly caste.
To support his point, Turretin appears to make a distinction between the doctrine contained in Scripture and the words used. If so, we must dissent most strongly. A similar distinction is made by those who today argue that inspiration lies in the ‘meaning’ rather than the letter. As we would expect, Turretin held no such view with respect to the text, rigidly maintaining what at times almost appears to be a ‘dictation’ view of verbal inspiration. Our answer to him is the same as to those today who hold a ‘dynamic’ rather than a verbal view of inspiration. Meaning and doctrine are completely dependent upon the form of words used for their accurate expression and we cannot lose one single word, nor even change one, without at the same time losing or changing the doctrine being expressed.
There are syntactical changes that develop in language over time, word-order being one example. This occurs particularly in languages other than English, such as Greek, German, Russian, that generally show ‘case’ by inflection rather than word-order. Orthographical changes also take place, and indeed spellings often differ where the same language is spoken in different countries. English spelling began to acquire some uniformity from around the year 1476 when William Caxton set up his printing press in the precincts of Westminster Abbey in London and adopted the English of London and the South-East of England as standard. Such changes can be made to translations, including the Bible, without affecting the meaning in any way. As we have already indicated, such judicious changes have been made to our 1611 Bible. However, once we begin to move much further than that, a deliberate change in vocabulary or grammar will introduce a different meaning. A precise meaning can often hang on a small word such as a preposition or an article. It is therefore essential to us that not one jot nor tittle should fail.
It is essential that a translation of God’s word reproduce not an equivalence, either ‘formal’ or ‘dynamic’, but an identity or agreement of language, the same words in another language. Indeed, the term ‘formal’ equivalence is recent and is probably not the best description of what is being sought in the translation of the Bible. It was coined to distinguish traditional translation methodology from modern ‘dynamic’ equivalence translations in which something completely new in its own right is developed from the text in the source language (see Dayspring 10, 42-45 for more on translation methodology). In the best translations, when reading Martin Luther’s Works in English for example, someone with a good knowledge of the original German will be able to ‘read’ the original German text from the English translation almost sentence by sentence. Even the structure of the English sentences will often owe something to the original German whilst still remaining good readable English. It is this type of translation we have in our Authorised Version.
“The translators of the AV succeeded wonderfully in capturing the original phraseology so that all kinds of blip expressions, not native to English, have found their way into our Bibles. It is unique English, biblical English, English formed by the blip and Greek texts from which it came and not dictated to by the language into which it was transferred and yet it still remains eminently readable and understandable.” (in Dayspring 10, 44)
The English of the Authorised Version is not Elizabethan English, in fact, no one ever spoke in that way.
“No one today speaks the English of the King James Version, or ever did for that matter, for though, like Shakespeare, it is pure Anglo-Saxon, yet unlike Shakespeare it reproduces to a remarkable extent the spirit and language of the Bible.” (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, A.T. Robertson)
We must insist that the doctrinal content and the form of words in which they come to us cannot be separated. The one as the other comes from God. Let me quote again the words of John Owen, speaking of corruption in the originals, and remember by this he means the apographs, or extant copies, he says,
“Besides the injury done hereby to the providence of God topiano coversds his church, and care of his Word, it will not be found so easy a matter, upon a supposition of such corruption in the originals as is pleaded for, to evince unquestionably that the whole saving doctrine itself, at first given out by God, continues entire and incorrupt. The nature of this doctrine is such, that there is no other principle or means of its discovery, no other rule or measure of its judging and determining any thing about or concerning it, but only the writing from whence it is taken; it being wholly of divine revelation, and that revelation being expressed only in that writing.” (Works, 16, 302-3, emphasis ours; see also emphasis in the quotation from Owen on page 2)
Owen also makes a clear distinction between the nature of secular works and divine revelation. Mistakes are easy enough to rectify in the mathematical writings of such as Euclid, but we are in a different world when speaking of divine revelation, he continues,
“In things of pure revelation - whose knowledge depends solely on their revelation - it is not so. Nor is it enough to satisfy us, that the doctrines mentioned are preserved entire; (ed. despite the corruption) every tittle, every iota in the Word of God must come under our care and consideration, as being, as such, from God.” (Works, 16, 303)
Owen’s Scriptures were no work of man, the grammar, the vocabulary, everything is given of God and not open to correction. The Scriptures cannot be corrected without the doctrine being affected. Where there is corruption of the text, where there are corrupt translations, Owen says, there will be corruption of doctrine because both doctrine and writing are equally given of God.
“Hence the providence of God hath manifested itself no less concerned in the preservation of the writings than of the doctrines contained in them; the writing itself being the product of his own eternal counsel for the preservation of the doctrine, after a sufficient discovery of the insufficiency of all other means for that end and purpose.” (Works, 16, 300)
Language is the vehicle for the thoughts of God, created and given of God
and so perfectly suitable for this very purpose. Without a completely reliable
Bible we can have no completely reliable knowledge of God nor of salvation in
2 ON THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY
The difficulty with many of the arguments brought by those seeking sincerely and honestly to defend the integrity of God’s Word is that little or no account is taken of the fact that the discussion is taking place between two irreconcilable parties, each of which has its own belief system and mutually exclusive methodologies. Each side looks upon the beliefs of the other side with unbelief and scepticism.
The believer regards the arguments of the unbeliever against Scripture as being falsehoods; the unbeliever regards the claims of believers as being contrary to proven fact. The Christian is seen by the rationalist as an ‘unbeliever’ to his rationalist faith; on the other side, the Christian regards the rationalist as an unbeliever to Bible truth. There are two different kinds of science and scholarship, even as there exist two different kinds of men, two different kingdoms. The difference is that as between darkness and light, falsehood and truth. Both systems claim the right to absolute rule, one legitimately the other illegitimately.
The faith of the Christian believer rests in the one and only source of truth, God Himself, who has spoken to us by His Son.
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)
To think the truth, we must think as God does. A verbal revelation of that truth is found today only in His written Word. If anyone maintains anything different to be the truth than that which has been revealed in God’s Word, he is lying. If anyone says about the Bible anything other than that which the Bible says of itself, then he sits in darkness.
If we would argue according to the truth, we must accept what the Bible teaches, including what it says about itself. Scripture is not open to question.
God alone is the arbiter of what is true and what is false. We can believe the truth or we can believe a lie.
By contrast, the faith of the unbeliever is focussed upon himself. He denies that God’s knowledge of all things alone determines what is true or false. He imagines that the truth exists quite apart from God, and all that can be known is as accessible to him as it is to God. He can know as God does, even if admitting it may not be to the same degree, and he can do so without God. His independent opinion, he believes, is as valid as that of anyone else. After weighing the evidences, he will decide for himself what is right and wrong and with no reference to God’s Word. Men are, after all, ‘as gods’.
In asking the unbeliever to examine the evidence for the Christian faith and to judge for himself, whether with respect to miracles, the resurrection, the text of the Scriptures, or whatever it is, we are pandering to his unbelief, to his rejection of God, and to his exaltation of himself. We make the pretended autonomy of his sinful mind the final authority in matters of truth. There is here an inherent contradiction in what we are asking. If he does weigh up the evidence using his unbelief as a measure, which he surely must do, then he is bound to reject the truth and choose the lie unless he first gives up his rebellion and submits to God’s truth.
The sinner is not neutral and unbiased any more than is the believer. The sinner is biased in favour of falsehood, the believer in favour of the truth. What we ought to be asking him to do is to turn from his sin and to accept the truth, submitting to what God has given in Scripture. If what men believe about themselves were true, if it were possible for men to access the truth in independence of God, they would need no authoritative Scripture, except perhaps as an added source of information alongside what they can discover for themselves.
We can only be sure of the truth by accepting unquestioningly what God has revealed in Scripture. This means above all that the unregenerate rationalist must accept that what the Bible says about himself is true, that he is a guilty sinner, lost and need of salvation, in need of cleansing in the precious blood of Christ. He must see that his godless thinking is fatally flawed and is complete foolishness.
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the blips require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the blips a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called both blips and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:21-24)
Try telling your average university or college professor that! As a rebel and a sinner the man without Christ has a vested interest in denying all the Bible says about him.
There is no way an unbeliever can accept the Word of God unreservedly without at the same time giving up his rebellion against God and this he will not do.
Yet this is what he must do if he is to come to a knowledge of the truth. He must switch over to a completely new way of thinking, take God’s side, become a new man in Christ Jesus, then he will know the truth. One sure mark of regeneration is a love for the Word of God; one sure mark of being unregenerate is a hatred of it and a refBlipl to obey its teaching.
Men do not see themselves as they truly are. It is sin that blinds the spiritual sight of men, not lack of evidence. It is sin that causes men to interpret everything they come upon with no consideration of what God Himself has said and revealed. It is sin that drives men to measure the truth about Scripture, its infallibility, its sufficiency, and its preservation by a standard other than by Scripture itself. The miracles, the prophecies, the teaching and doctrines of Scripture will all be misinterpreted until the sinner is brought to the point where he sees rejection of the Bible as God’s Word is itself sin. In his world the blind are not made to see, the deaf to hear, nor the lame to leap for joy - in ours they are and do.
We stand as those born of the Spirit of God on the clear statements of the Word of God. Men will accept or reject them. We believe,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The Scriptures cannot be shown to be true or false by looking at ‘evidences’. The truth cannot be tested in unbelief by those predisposed to reject it. To demand proof is to be already in doubt or denial. Yet we must never suppose that faith is belief without evidence, it is rather to look at the evidence whilst believing the interpretation put on it by Scripture. The only other way that the evidence can be viewed is from a standpoint other than Scripture, which then must be a lie. No evidence speaks for itself, it is all subject to the interpretation we impose upon it.
The alternative to faith is not reason, but unbelief! The unbeliever will interpret any evidence we put before him in a way that will strengthen not weaken his position. Everything depends upon which of the two systems of belief I use to examine the evidence, the true or the false, God’s Word or a mind adrift from God. Having already rejected every possibility of the Scriptures being the authoritative Word of God, standing outside the truth, it is not possible for an unbeliever whilst still holding on to the lie to accept the truth without first changing sides.
Men are not called upon to examine the evidence, nowhere in Scripture do we find such an invitation. Men are called upon to repent, to turn from their rebellion and believe the Gospel or perish. It is not the task of God’s servants to discuss the truth with sinners, but to proclaim it.
Before the Word of God there is nothing to be decided. Where it speaks, it speaks with absolute authority. The Bible calls upon men to forsake their sinful ways and their evil thoughts and to believe!
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Move across! Leave the devil’s camp, come over to the side of Christ, believe His Word! Replace pride with pardon, exchange mutiny for mercy. This, this is the call we must sound!
The Scriptures challenge the life and thought of the unbeliever at every point and they will brook no compromise. The Bible does not discuss the possibility that God may exist and may have created the universe, it does not give us a list of ‘proofs and evidences’, but it states categorically that it was so. The Bible opens with a most profound statement of fact.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
Furthermore, God having created it, the whole universe shows forth His glory. This fills the believer with thankfulness and praise. This evidence of His creative handiwork is not there to convince the unbeliever of God’s existence and should not be used to this end. The unbeliever has an unthankful heart and is willingly blind to the true significance and meaning of all he encounters around him. His refBlipl of God as Creator is deliberate, as is his rejection of the flood - and all because he knows he must answer to God and that judgement awaits, the Bible says so:
“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:5-7)
God made the world, God keeps the world, God preserves the world now for judgement along with all ungodly men.
The sinner is already convinced in the depths of his heart that God is there, no one fights a non-existent enemy. The intense irritation of conscience he does all he can to eradicate. All creation condemns men’s unbelief and leaves them each and everyone without excuse.
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
Everything he looks at shouts at him: “God made me!” As the old saying goes, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Proofs against evolution are worse than useless in seeking to persuade men because they bypass the real problem: the problem of guilt, of sin and of deliberate blindness. There is no lack of evidence, it is all around us; there is just lack of sight. Men are willingly deaf, willingly blind.
Do not waste your breath arguing with the spiritually deaf and blind about what they will not see, take up the Scriptures and ask them about their relationship to God, ask them about that which really gnaws at their conscience, point to the Lord Jesus as the only Saviour of men. The sinner does not mind arguing with us over things such as creation and the flood because we are moving in his territory of unbelief and he knows the ground well, he has his reasons all lined up in readiness, here he is king and has the upper-hand. His misinterpretation of creation and of everything else is due to his rejection of God and this can be corrected only by repentance, faith, and an unequivocal acceptance of the absolute authority of God’s Word. We ought to keep to our own territory, that of faith. Let us stick by what Scripture says. We begin with Scripture, we continue with Scripture, we end with Scripture.
All too often we talk to each other as though we were all unbelievers. We speak as though we have to demonstrate even to each other that the Scriptures are true using ‘evidences’ drawn from outside Scripture, from archaeology, from history, from textual studies, when all the time the highest authority we can have is Scripture itself. Since we now have the Code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon at around the time of Abraham, we are told that as a result we know now that Moses was able to write after all, he could therefore be the author of the Pentateuch.
This is something once thought to have been very unlikely, if not impossible. No, we have a higher authority than that of archaeology, the Word of God. These things, we say, show us that the Bible is true. They do not, on the contrary, we need the Bible to show us the meaning of all these matters external to Scripture. Nothing comes to us as a neutral, un- interpreted ‘fact’. We either see everything as a chaotic meaningless jumble of unrelated facts requiring the mind of man to bring to them some kind of order, to describe them in terms of self-sustaining ‘natural law’, or we shall see in creation a coherent unity with everything in it already possessing a meaning and purpose allotted to it by God, all being faithfully sustained and kept by His power until He shall fold them up as a vesture and they shall be changed. This we know from Scripture.
The problem for most of us is that throughout the whole of our pre-conversion lives we have been conditioned by ungodly patterns of thinking so that after our conversion they can be difficult to shake off. Indeed, we may not even recognise them as such. Many of these ways we will have acquired through contact with the world, its media, our schooling, and so on. The Bible tells us it is possible to train up children in the ways of the Scriptures and godly thought, even before they make a profession of faith. This is the reason behind a Christian education and upbringing.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Children are to be trained in godly paths, including the way they think, so that even in an unconverted state such habits will dominate their lives and be conducive to repentance and faith in Christ. It is sometimes objected that children are not converted through training but just ‘christianised’, but are we then to tell our children lies, train them in ungodliness? Let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus to those who would obstruct the simple faith of children who would trust Him.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
We must now, as believers, continually check out the way we think against what we read in Scripture. We need to take to heart the words of the apostle Paul.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
We are often told we ought to persuade our unbelieving opponent of the truth by first putting ourselves in his position. We are supposed to see things from the unbeliever’s point of view - but what we have then forgotten is that the unbeliever’s point of view is one of unbelief, denial, and rebellion against God. We can look for common ground, but we will never find it in the unbelieving, rebellious mind of unregenerate men. The mind of unbelievers is given over to fleeing the truth, to excusing themselves and accusing others. It started in Eden. Who did Adam blame? He blamed his wife. Who did Eve blame? She blamed the serpent. But who did Adam really blame? He blamed God! He despised the goodness of God.
“The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12)
The book of Genesis is full of firsts, and this is the father of all lame excuses - and men, we have all done it. Ladies, who do you blame, the children perhaps? And the children? Ask any group of children, “Who kicked the ball through my window?” They all point to each other, or blame someone who lives in the next street. We all start this game early and no one needs to teach us how to do it. The natural, sinful mind is out to place blame for the responsibility of sin in some other place than where it truly belongs.
“Is it not natural for us to extenuate our sin, and transfer the guilt to others? As Adam laid the blame of his sin on the woman: And did not the woman lay the blame on the serpent? Adam’s children need not be taught this; for before they can well speak, if they cannot deny, they lisp out something to lessen their fault, and lay the blame upon another. Nay, so natural is this to men, that, in the greatest of sins, they will charge the fault on God himself: blaspheming his providence under the name of ill luck, or misfortune, and so laying the blame of their sin at Heaven’s door. Thus does ‘the foolishness of man pervert his ways; and his heart fretteth against the Lord.’ Let us then call Adam, Father: Let us not deny the relation, seeing we bear his image.” (John Wesley, Works 9, 443)
Do you want an explanation for evolution, for science, and for virtually all human wisdom and understanding? Evolution must be one of the biggest confidence tricks ever pulled in the history of the human race. Wrapping it up in the respectability of science changes nothing. Here is the real motive!
The mind alienated from God is all geared up to escaping all personal responsibility for sin. Godless human understanding has nothing to do with knowledge and the mind, but everything to do with sin and guilt. All men want to do is let themselves off the hook and explain everything in some other way than according to the truth. Deny that God made you and you have no one to answer to for your sin. Wrap it up in brown paper of primitive media presentations or the gold foil of the obscure convolutions of academia, it all amounts to the same thing. A mind pre-set to excusing itself for sin will not listen to godly reason.
Today you can believe in flying saucers and little green men on Mars, but not in a God who calls sinners to account.
How then can we reach men with the truth? The Bible tells us. The Word of God must be applied to the con-science. Here God has an ally within every man with which His Spirit can work. If men are to be convinced, they must first be convicted. Of the Gentiles, who had not been exposed to the Old Testament Scriptures, the apostle Paul writes:
“Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” (Romans 2:15)
Their conscience accuses them, their mind and their thoughts accuse others. They know right and wrong, this is why they spend their life on the run from their conscience. This is what the working of the human mind is all about. All men know themselves to be guilty before God and to be facing His wrath and indignation! How do they know?
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” (Romans 1:19)
How then did they get themselves into all this mess? How come they invent all this nonsense? The Bible tells us.
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22)
This is why we do not get involved in discussing the foolishness that the natural godless man counts as wisdom. Men know who God is. Don’t give me all that nonsense about atheists! Remember, it is all a gigantic cover-up operation. Everyone is on the run. Men need to be brought up short, stopped in their tracks, confronted with the truth as it is in Christ Jesus and not confirmed in their unbelief.
Sinful men search for God with the same intensity as a thief looking for a policeman!
Why then do we spend our time trying to persuade men from a position of unbelief, from within their own foolishness? In arguing from the unbeliever’s viewpoint we become, as it were, unbelievers arguing for the truth! In seeking this kind of common ground we end up forsaking a position of faith for the camp of our opponents. We delude ourselves, if we think that by deciphering the dinosaur, demystifying the deluge, we can convince the ungodly of the truth. If we are ourselves standing where those who reject the truth stand, then we should not be surprised when we make such little progress. We are going down a road that has led men to reject the truth in order to persuade them to accept it. This cannot work.
In a world of blind men it makes no sense at all to poke out our own eyes as well, thinking that as a result we shall all be able to see!
We cannot take the side of the enemy in order to persuade him of the truth!
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalms 1:1-2)
Walk with the ungodly, stand with sinners, sit with the scornful, and we shall come to the same conclusions as they do and end up rejecting the Word of God. Why is it that so many who once walked with us, now speak against us? Is this not the reason why many who once proclaimed the word of truth, now preach the word of doubt? Make common cause with unbelievers, even thinking to defend the truth, seek common ground to win over the sceptics, and you will end up denying the truth, because in sharing the unequal yoke you will already have left the truth! Those who have no Word of God have nothing, they cannot even read the evidence aright and especially not with respect to God’s Word.
Instead of siding with the enemy by looking for extra-biblical evidence to show whether what we read in Scripture is or is not true, we ought to dismiss out of hand right from the outset any suggestion that Scripture could be wrong in anything it says. How often even writers seeking to support Scripture come with some new ‘discovery’ and tell us that the Bible is true after all! Well, big deal, we knew this all the time so they could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort! If we must look at historical evidence, and who is to deny this is often very interesting, then what we can do is look at it, explain and correct it, using the Bible account as a guide.
We cannot use historical evidence to in some way ‘prove’ to godless minds that the Bible is true. We interpret history from the Bible and not the other way round. Prove and explain history from the Bible, that makes far more sense. Those scholars who tell us the evidence for this or that does not exist are not interested in proving the Bible right, but wrong. We shall not give way an inch, not let them think for a minute they can deny God’s own Word and still be right. We do not show the Bible to be true by answering their critical questions, but by exposing them as being motivated by unbelief and rebellion.
Everything in Scripture is the truth and according to the truth, whether it is history, science, or whatever else. When the Bible tells us in the book of Daniel that there was a king whose name was Darius, then it was so. Whatever the opinions and views of critics and commentators, they change nothing.
What is true remains true, whether they see it or not. Even although they substitute their own alternative explanation, this changes nothing, the truth remains and their inventions are just that. We do not ‘prove’ the truth or make it the truth by exposing the liar, useful though it may be at times. Archaeologists may protest they have no certain evidence that there was ever such a king as David. They may have none, but we most certainly do. There is no need for us to search for evidence and write learned tomes to prove the Bible right as many commentators have done, even ‘conservative’ and ‘fundamentalist’ writers.
We need no other ‘proof’ than that the God who speaks only truth has given us His Word of truth in Scripture. To question Scripture in any way is to act according to the lie, it is ultimately to call God a liar and attempt to make ourselves the judge of all truth in God’s place. It is to determine what can and cannot be true ourselves, when what we should be doing is seeking to know the truth from the One who alone is in a position to know and reveal it. We have nothing less than God’s own Word that Darius and David lived, and so it cannot be other than fact, that is sufficient. So when any smart aleck arrives on the scene to tell us Darius or David may not have been real persons, we know with complete certainty that they are spinning us a yarn and we do not need to give any further attention to their rubbish talk.
Many conservative scholars who have set out to test the poison have ended up as victims of it themselves!
What is true of history is equally true of science. When the Bible tells us
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)
We know that anyone then telling us all our ancestors were apes is in the business of storytelling. They should leave such nonsense to Aesop and the brothers Grimm, or they should turn to entertaining their friends by writing science fiction, for many of them are already producing it by the ream. This is not being obscurantist, it is getting at the truth, learning our science from the One who created science.
There was no big bang and no primeval slime. Evolution is a fabrication of fevered sinful minds seeking a non-existent escape route from God. There can be no higher authority, no more accurate account of what happened at the beginning than from the One who was at least there! God’s Word is sufficient to be taken on its own as an historical record of how the universe came into being. As with history, we interpret what we find around us in the light of that account. Many think to move to some mythical ‘neutral’ ground in trying to convince others, stand together with unbelievers to look at the matter objectively.
The last thing that sinners are, is neutral and objective, they are totally biased and with very good reason. They will only accept as truth what they say is truth even when something other than their ‘truth’ is staring them in the face. To move to an imagined ‘neutrality’ from a position of acceptance of the truth is to have already left the truth behind in order to get into bed with the enemy. To agree even a common starting point with our enemy is to confirm his unbelief.
Godless men have a vested interest in denying the Genesis account, they have an interest in suppressing and twisting evidence of God not uncover-ing it, and so we cannot trust what they say. Men as sinners are unwilling to acknowledge God as their Creator and God to whom they must give account. They will not acknowledge His intimate involvement with every detail of their lives. No one can declare his independence from God and take an objective look at things, even in part, and expect at the same time to arrive at the truth. This position presumes bias. To separate from God is to separate from the truth. There can be no mixture. The teaching of the Bible cannot simply be tacked on to that which man can discover all on his own. Even apart from sin we are finite and do not possess the exhaustive know-ledge that God does; something man in his pride is reluctant to admit even to himself, he imagines he has the right to know everything, and given time he almost thinks it possible.
By even acknowledging that unbelievers are able to make judgements about the Word of God, we are subjecting God Himself to the judgement of sinners. By asking them to judge the evidence for themselves, we have already given ground to them. We are agreeing with their own false views about themselves and about God. We are saying, they can judge even as God can judge and can quite apart from Him arrive at valid judgements about His Word. Conclusions they draw about the Bible must then be as valid as statements the Bible makes about itself. We are acknowledging their falsehoods as a valid point of view when we should instead be exposing them from Scripture as the lies of the enemy of souls.
We ought to be calling for an about-turn, sounding a clarion call for an end to rebellion and for surrender to God through His Son, and calling upon God’s enemies to accept the authority of His infallible Word. What we do instead is to wimpishly allow unbelievers and all those who cast doubt on God’s Word to ‘call the shots’ and to dictate the terms of the debate. For them, what cannot be measured with their own yardstick does not exist. Yet, they are allowed to determine on what grounds they will or will not accept the Scriptures.
On this basis we sit down to parley with the enemy, but in truth we are agreeing terms of surrender. We cannot defend the Scriptures by denying them. We cannot set to one side what the Scriptures say about themselves and begin scraping around elsewhere for reasons to believe them, because what the Scriptures say about themselves is the truth, and if we forsake the Scriptures we forsake the truth.
If its own statements about itself are not true, then there is little point in trying to demonstrate by other means that the Bible is the Word of God.
To look for other arguments is to look in vain. We are looking for gold amongst the garbage, treasure amongst the trash. To set the Bible on one side when speaking with un-believers, is to set aside the one reliable source of truth we have in this world. We can only defend Scripture on the basis of Scripture.
Any reasonable person when confronted with the evidence will, we say, concede that our arguments are valid. Any reasonable person will not see any such thing as long as their reasoning is grounded anywhere else but in the truth of Scripture. This is true when speaking of God’s existence, creation, prophecy, the resurrection, the inspiration of Scripture. Even were it possible for us to demonstrate to the satisfaction of unbelievers that Christ rose physically from the dead - and how many books are there in Christian bookstores attempting to do just that - we would still only have confirmed them in their unbelief, for their acceptance would be on the basis of their own godless reason, they would see that it is a ‘reasonable’ thing to believe, it has some rational explanation, it measures up to their humanistic yardstick!
I can tell you something, this would not be the resurrection of the Lord Jesus they were talking about. Taking this route their faith would remain in themselves and still not be resting in the written Word of God. They would still not be submitted to God. By their own decision to accept they remain the ultimate authority of what can be known. The Word of God demands our submission to its truth, not our validation of it. Says the apostle Paul,
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)
What we have being saying thus far is also true when speaking in defence of the Authorised Version. This is some-thing that may never have even crossed our minds. We line up our charts, we count up our verses, we list our manuscripts - and do not mis-understand me here, all these things are very helpful at times in the right place - but then we go on to say, look at the evidence, you must now believe that the Authorised Version is God’s Word to us in the English language. No my friends, we cannot work in this way. Even if we are persuaded by arguments from the manuscripts and the like, this leaves our faith in God’s Word still resting in the human arguments of external evidence.
If we are to have an unshakeable confidence in the Authorised Version as the pure Word of God in the English language, that confidence must itself be rooted in Scripture.
The question is not whether the manuscript evidence, the textual evidence, and the historical evidence, all demand we accept the Authorised Version of the Bible as the perfect Word of God and therefore we must reject the modern perversions. The question is whether the Word of God itself leads us to expect this one authoritative Word in a language we understand. If we affirm this, we must be able to show it from Scripture for otherwise we have no case!
We can defend nothing that is not rooted in Scripture, however convincing our external arguments from history or from the texts and manuscripts may appear to us to be.
We dare not rest our faith in God’s Word on any ‘neutral’, quasi-objective
consideration of external facts, rather the opposite, what we have read in the
Scriptures themselves must determine how to deal with matters such as manuscripts,
translation, and every-thing else. An understanding of those things external
to the Scriptures must line up with what the Scriptures themselves teach.
3 NO MATTER OF CHOICE
There are those who would have us believe that this whole question as to which translation of the Word of God we use is nothing more than a matter of preference and choice. Whatever choice we make, that will be the correct Bible for us. This can never be so. Those who rather patronisingly imply the preference for the King James Bible is merely one of habit and upbringing or even uninformed prejudice, are all too often guilty of trivialising, belittling, and mis-representing deeply held convictions. Their remarks sometimes smack more of impudence than good manners.
By stigmatising rigorous critical appraisal of their stance as abuse or divisive, it is thought opponents will be cowed into silence, leaving them a clear road to continue to propagate what would otherwise come under close scrutiny and censure. A recent book of this ilk is The Word of Truth by Robert J. Sheehan, published here in the UK by the Evangelical Press. The author has the gall to infer that the choice of translation is guided purely by tradition. He then goes on to suggest that such people deny to others the freedom to make choices and to find a favourite version. He further hopes that each person will be allowed to make his or her choice without being subjected to abuse from those who differ.
This book is typical of many today that have the overall effect of undermining confidence in the integrity of the text of Scripture and sow seeds of doubt in the minds of God’s children concerning the Word of God. It is part of a steady drift from the “faith once delivered” on the part of evangelicals and many in the ‘reformed’ tradition, accompanied by changes in the way the Gospel is preached and presented. It is the pathway to apostasy.
What version of the Bible we use is not a matter of choice but of obedience. Preference does not even enter into the equation. Were this a question of a different understanding of the teaching of Scripture, we would have some basis for discussion, but because the issue is to be decided outside the Scriptures where the pretended auto-nomy of human reason reigns and ‘choice’ is king, we have no common ground. You make up your mind, I make up mine, both views are equally valid. This is not the approach of biblical faith but of unbridled rational-ism. It simply will not do to run away and hide behind such platitudinous remarks as: ‘I have my own views on these things’. They are always a ‘cop-out’.
The expression ‘making choices’ is an unfortunate one, depending on your point of view, ofcourse! On the other hand, it does rather give the game away. It is an expression heard constantly these days among those influenced by existentialism and contemporary psychotherapy and it comes as a surprise to find it in the writings of anyone professing anything remotely akin to a biblical Gospel. It is virtually impossible to use these expressions without at the same time dragging with them all the connotative baggage modern readers will inevitably attribute to them. The pivotal point in this godless way of thinking is an exercise of the will, take the leap, the choice is yours to make. Throw off that which predetermines, all that which fetters freedom of choice!
Choice alone will not lead to the truth. One choice is not as valid as the next, one will be a right choice, another a wrong one. My choice is no criterion of truth and most certainly not of what is and what is not the Word of God.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2)
None of us possesses this ‘freedom to make choices’, not if we would know what is the truth. If there is to be any freedom, it must be the freedom to submit to what the Bible teaches about itself and not to be bound any longer by sin to reject its truth.
Those who make the translation of Scripture a matter of personal choice can never ever say that any book they hold in their hands is word-for-word the inspired Word of God. For them the verbally inspired Scripture no longer exists anyway. It disappeared many years ago when the actual writings of the prophets and apostles fell apart. Where we have a dozen Bibles each saying different things, which then is telling us the truth and which is lying? They cannot all be true renderings of God’s infallible Word surely? They often contradict each other. Shall we toss a coin, perhaps? Shall we pick out the rendering that best suits our own foibles. You pays your money and takes yer choice! Let preference and choice decide the truth!
Such thinking as this has moulded the world in which we live, ‘do your own thing’ has dominated both private and public ‘values’ and its devastating results are clear for us all to see in the moral morass all around us.
“The centre of this type of post-Kantian moral philosophy is the notion of the will as the creator of value. Values which were previously in some sense inscribed in the heavens and guaranteed by God collapse into the human will. There is no transcendent reality. The idea of the good remains indefinable and empty so that human choice may fill it. The sovereign moral concept is freedom, or possibly courage in a sense which identifies wit with freedom, will, power.” (The Sovereignty of Good over other Concepts, Iris Murdoch)
The truth, the good, the gap left by God, is filled by human choice, by an exercise of the will.
Those using the Authorised Version are more often than not deprived of any ‘choice’ anyway, by being handed a modern version at the door of the Church, or by being made to feel fuddy-duddy and outmoded in front of others! How many times has a modern version been foisted upon a Church without any prior consultation? In the end it all comes down to a matter of personal choice! Hurrah, it is make-up-your-own-mind time, too bad you are stuck in the past! On this basis, freedom to choose, conscience, all have a higher authority than the Word of God itself. Not true! Will, con-science, reason, are all bound by Scripture, and are all to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. What matters is not my opinion or choice, but the truth - and this we find in Scripture!
This is an approach we find increasingly among those clamouring for new and ‘modern’ versions of Scripture, even the thought that we should need an up-dated Bible betrays this tendency. These people have surely not bought ‘the lie’? Closer examination shows the use of modern versions to be a collateral to a new ‘gospel’ being preached by many of these compulsive ‘modernisers’, it is a gospel showing less and less resemblance to the pure Gospel of Christ. They are obsessed with being modern.
They accuse us of being obsessed with the past. ‘The past is gone,’ they cry, ‘we are in-tune with today.’ Underlying this very seductive approach is the notion that if only the Gospel of Christ can be shown to unbelievers as being ‘relevant’, dressed up in easy-to-read modern language - please do not let me have to use my mind - swathed in an accompanying raucous dissonance of modern music, or a join-the-golf-club mentality if you are a little older, show that you are a ‘normal’ person, identify with the world around you, then any reasonable person will be forced to admit there must be some truth in this Gospel after all! This gospel is ‘modern’, ‘relevant’!
Whilst lip service is paid to a work of the Spirit of God, at the same time the underlying premise is and remains humanist and rationalist and constitutes a move further and further away from a biblical view of the darkened human heart. The sinner does not, and indeed cannot and will not see the Gospel as being anything related to his own need. Whatever impressions we may receive at times to the contrary, we must begin not with our impressions, but with the plain words of Scripture:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Our argument is not that man cannot reason, but that his ability to reason since the fall is seriously biased and flawed, and will inevitably err. Our reason, as every other faculty, must be used in submission to the Word of God and can never be used as a judge of it. Only a believer will want to think as God does and so will turn to the Scriptures. The natural man cannot be relied upon all on his own to make reliable judgements, or ‘choices’, about the things he observes in the world around him and certainly not about the one place where he will read of his own sin and miserable condition, the Bible. Clearly, many of the ‘modernising tendency’ go part of the way down the road of a Roman Catholic view of the nature of human reason, preserving intact from the effects of the fall, or so they think, at least some of the powers of human reasoning. Discuss-ing this issue John Wesley says,
“Man, in his natural state, is altogether corrupt, through all the faculties of his soul: Corrupt in his understanding, his will, his affections, his conscience, and his memories.” (Works 9, 443)
If godless men do draw right conclusions, it will only be by the grace of God and not because of anything necessary or inherent in the human mind. That those outside Christ are able to get their maths right, indeed that maths function at all, is only due to the faithfulness of God. What men call natural law is an observation of the way God works in His world. It still does not work without Him. That He continually works in the same way provides a basis on which science can operate. Godless science denies the very power of God that enables it to function. The explanation for any phenomenon will not be found within itself, neither is it to be found within man himself, but with God whose work it is. The Bible tells us this.
“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.” (Job 28:12-14)
God intervenes directly in preserving life on earth, every detail of human life is enclosed in the providence of God. Contrary to the faith of the rationalist, nothing functions without Him. The apparent vagaries of the weather are neither by chance nor fixed laws, but are the works of God.
“For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.” (Job 28:24-27)
Everything man discovers has been put there by God for man to find and use, whether this be iron ore, electricity, radio waves, whatever it is.
“Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.” (Job 28:1-2)
Godless men discover the truth only in contradiction to their own belief system and even then what they do and say, if it is the truth, will be fully in accord with the teaching of Scripture. God often preserves men from the results of their folly to the end that they should repent and believe the Gospel, but men despise His goodness by using it in their rebellion against Him. Before the fall, after the fall, we need the wisdom of God. We cannot operate outside it.
“Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? ...Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:20 & 28)
There is more than a suggestion in Sheehan’s book that the infallibility of Scripture is at least in part due to the reliability of innate human reason. Why do people write such stuff and nonsense? He maintains that the ability to get things right is part of our humanity as the powers of reason with which we were created have not been totally removed. He continues to say that if we add to the human ability to sometimes get things right the power of God to sustain a person in making correct statements, then the possibility of an infallible Scripture is present. He states that there is a hidden atheism in the suggestion that God could not enable men to record his Word without error. Such sentiments suggest that part of the Bible is of divine origin and part of human origin. Surely, this cannot be what the author must mean?
This more modern view contrasts starkly with that of our forefathers. Were they less enlightened than we? Far from it! John Owen once more,
“That the laws they made known, the doctrines they delivered, the instructions they gave, the stories they recorded, the promises of Christ, the prophecies of gospel times they gave out and revealed, were not their own, not conceived in their minds, not formed by their reasonings, not retained in their memories from what they heard, not by any means beforehand comprehended by them, (1 Peter 1:10, 11), but were all of them immediately from God - there being only a passive concurrence of their rational faculties in their reception, without any such active obedience as by any law they might be obliged unto.” (Works, 16, 298)
Let us further grant to the author of The Word of Truth, the atheism to which he refers is not that defined by Feuerbach as being a denial of the attributes of divinity to man. Despite this, in attributing to man the kind of reason he does, the author is in effect doing just that, attributing to man what is true only of God. Our reason has not been removed, but most certainly it has been downgraded and perverted by the fall and made unreliable.
This demonstrates even further the need for the Scriptures, enlightened to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit. Man’s reason, even before the fall, was always and always will be derivative and not determinative. It does not float free in some kind of nebulous neutrality. Man’s reasoning must reflect the reasoning of God in all things, if it is to be true. Is there then a remnant within us unaffected by sin?
It is not true that every rationalist is an atheist, anymore than that every atheist is a rationalist. It is alarming to find such blatant rationalism alive and kicking in evangelical circles. One is a rationalist who gives a place to reason, to any degree, that is not piano coversranted by Scripture; who gives to it a sphere where it can operate outside and beyond the reach of Scripture. Some of the most dangerous forms of rationalism are those where faith and reason are mixed; where faith is delegated to one sphere but excluded from those where reason rules; or where faith may be added to reason and what man can work out for himself.
The father of English empiricism, Francis Bacon, along with other scientists of his day, believed in a God of reason who had created a reasonable universe. It was open therefore to man, by use of his own reason to discover the form of the universe. His book Nova Atlantis was one of the great utopias of the era and describes a world fully regulated by reason. Even so, as yet neither man nor God had themselves become caught up in the machinery so as to become part of it, this was to follow with other philosophers. In Bacon’s thinking both God and man were still able to influence the working of the universe from outside.
We cannot approach any question relating to the Bible, its texts, its preservation, its translation, or any other aspect, using human reason that is not itself submitted to plain statements of the Word of God. It cannot be that some questions are to be decided by unbridled human reason and others by faith. It is not that we do not use the mind God has given us, but that this mind, as all other faculties, is not free to roam where it will, but is to be subject to the Scriptures; if that is, we would know the truth about anything.
What then is the Word of God? Is it in the end, what I decide it is? - and don’t you sit in judgement on me for that, we are told! I shall take the Bible version I want to, and do not give me abuse by saying it is not the Word of God! It is only your opinion anyway! To think that all this parades as biblical Christianity is too scandalous for words. What is being preached by these men is a deadly mixture and contrary to the Gospel.
We accept the teaching of Scripture or we reject it and accept the pre-suppositions of the kingdom of darkness. There can be no borrowing from the arguments of the other side to prove our own points. There is no such thing as ‘mix and match’. As believers we cannot departmentalise everything into science, history, textual or translation science, and then interpret each without reference to the Bible. This is what the unbeliever expects the Christian to do and many fall for it. The believer is then expected to line up what he reads in the Bible with the findings of these autonomous areas of scholarly enquiry. It cannot be done.
An assumed autonomy to think and make judgements of any kind about the
Scriptures without reference to the Scriptures themselves can only lead to a
denial of the truth. It is this professed ability to discover the truth with
unaided natural reason that unbelievers and those who are infected with rationalist
thinking will not allow to be challenged, and it is precisely this that must
be challenged and shown to be self-deception.
4 THE WORD OF GOD IN ENGLISH IS STILL THE WORD OF GOD
As believers we must argue from the position of the truth, that of the Bible being the unadulterated and pure Word of God, perfectly preserved, and in our hands today as it came from God to those who wrote it but in a language we can understand. Without this we have no authoritative Word - on anything! We believe this, and base all our presuppositions concerning every aspect of created reality, and our knowledge of salvation, on this Word, including what it says concerning itself. We rely on its truth.
There is no neutral point from which saint and sinner may both stand back and view matters from a common perspective, both have divergent starting points and beliefs. Our interpretation will proceed from God and His revealed Word of truth or it will not and will be false. The believer accepts without question the absolute authority and sufficiency of Scripture. We need none, nor do we possess any other such revelation. If our English Authorised Version upon which we have relied is a book of errors, however few, however insignificant, then we have built on sand.
But is this simply a question of scholarship, are there not other factors at work here? When scholars cast doubt upon the reliability of the divine texts, it is not because they want to show the Bible to be God’s Word, but because they would drag it down to the level of a human, if somewhat unusual book, and therefore open to all the critical techniques employed in establishing the original texts of secular literature. Equally, we have no hesitation in questioning the motives of those so very eager to dispose of those translations that have stood the test of time for accuracy and reliability and upon which God has set His own seal of approval. Why change something that cannot be bettered? Can it be that what they read there does not suit the modified Gospel they now preach? Apostates need an apostate bible from which to preach!
We have it on the highest possible authority that the Authorised Version of the Bible is the Word of God in the English language.
Indeed without such authority we ought to make no such stand. Let others claim the authority of theological tradition, of piano coversfield or A. A. Hodge, for us this is insufficient. The Scriptures themselves teach us that we are to expect God to give us His Word in a language we can understand - and there can be no higher authority than that.
Just as the botanist learns about the nature of the plant he is studying by examining it, so we learn about the Scriptures by looking into them. If we would show that our Authorised Version is and remains the authentic Word of God, we must do so on the basis of what it teaches about itself. Whether it is God’s Word or not will be not decided by our ability to confound the critics and harass the historians.
The Bible is God’s Word because God gave it and so it is authoritative in what it says about itself. If the Bible were not already God’s Word, there would be no point in trying to show that it is. Our faith in the plain statements of the Bible with respect to itself is not a blind faith. True faith rests on testimony and evidence, but the question is whose testimony, whose evidence? The evidence that God has provided, and there can be no higher authority, is in His written Word.
Indeed, if the Bible itself does not bear witness to its own divine origin and infallibility, then we are not bound to believe it, rather it would be foolish to do so.
If the testimony of Scripture to itself cannot be appealed to, then neither
can we rely upon it for teaching on any other truths - wrong as to itself, wrong
about everything else. How can we be persuaded that the Bible we have came from
God? What we believe about the Bible must be taken from the Bible itself. If
we believe the King James Authorised Version of the Bible to be the Word of
God to us in our own language, we must first be able to show that this is what
the teaching of Scripture itself demands or we must desist. If this is what
the Scripture says, we must then face whatever difficulties we may subsequently
encounter concerning texts or with history in the light of the reality that
this translation is already the Word of God. We believe that God intends that
we should have access to His Word, perfect and intact, and in our own language,
without fault as He has given it. There are many reasons for saying this all
of which can be drawn from the teaching of Scripture.
4.1 THE NATURE OF GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE PRESENT DISPEblipTION
4.1.1 All men need to hear the perfect Word of God in a language they can understand, if they are to be saved.
Are you saved, dear friend? Then it can only be because at some time or other you have been exposed to God’s Word.
“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.”
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
Where have we come into contact with this Word of God that is both perfect and converts the soul? Was it the Greek we read, or perhaps the blip? It can only have been in a language we understand, and this presumes for most reading these words, that the perfect Word of God was available to us in the English language for us to have come to faith.
“If none could understand the Scriptures but those that had the original Greek, ...then but a few of the poorer sort would be saved; yet the Scripture saith, that God hides these things from the wise and prudent,’ that is, from the learned of the world, ‘and reveals them to babes and sucklings.’” (John Bunyan)
Certain things we are apiano coverse of already by virtue of being made in the image of God, although we still need the Scriptures to interpret to us their meaning. We all know that God exists, although by nature we suppress this knowledge, some with more success than others. Even although we may never have opened a Bible, we know the difference between right and wrong for the law is written in our hearts, although this too is piano coversped by a sinful and unreliable conscience in need of the correction of Scripture. We all know that we must account for ourselves before God, we know we shall be found wanting and as a result face the wrath of God.
The Bible tells us that all this all men know, albeit imperfectly. What all men do not know is how their guilt can be dealt with, how they can find peace with God, how they can pass from death to life. What the sinner does not know apart from Scripture is how the Lord Jesus, God’s Son, in infinite love, came to shed his blood for sinful men. To know this, we need the Word of God and this Word must therefore come to us in the certainty of being without the slightest error, for how else can we have confidence that anything we are reading is actually the truth? Clearly, it must come in a language we can understand.
The Gospel command to believe goes out to all men everywhere without exception to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel call is not restricted to a particular kind of individual. Some say only the elect are invited, or only those under deep conviction of sin, some lay down other conditions. This is despite the fact that the goodness and longsuffering of God topiano coversds all men, sustaining them day by day, keeping them alive, is a sure indication that He does not seek the death of any sinner, but that He extends the opportunity for all to repent. The answer to ‘easy-believism’ is not ‘hard-believism’.
There can be no other reason that God should sustain sinful men who continually refuse Him and that He should not send them all to hell immediately they draw their first breath, unless it is that they should hear the Gospel, believe, call upon Him, and be saved.
“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
The only qualification we need to call upon the name of the Lord in faith is to be a helpless sinner in need of salvation. The Bible says that all may come, no one is forbidden, all those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. The Bible says so.
“For there is no difference between the blip and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13)
We say again, does anyone want to be saved from sin, then call upon the Lord in faith, knowing you will be received. The Gospel call is not restricted to any particular race, to blipish people, to English people, or any other, it goes out to those of all nations.
If we are to call upon the name of the Lord, we must first believe. There is no point in calling upon Someone in whom we have no confidence that he is able or willing to save us.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)
In order to believe we need to hear, and how shall we hear without a preacher preaching in a language we understand, bringing the Word of God in a language we understand. Men are lost either because they never hear the Gospel, if they do not hear they cannot believe; or they are lost because, having heard, they do not obey the Gospel. This was true in blip.
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Romans 10:16)
From where does the faith needed come to call upon the name of the Lord? It comes through hearing the Word of God. Without the Word of God we will not come to salvation.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17)
In other words, without the Word of God no one is saved.
The glory of God has been declared in His creation from the beginning, irrespective of place or language. The Psalmist says,
“There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (Psalm 19:3-4)
The apostle Paul takes this passage to introduce a new situation as far as the Gentiles are concerned. That which was the specific privilege of the blip, ‘that unto them were committed the oracles of God’ (Romans 3:2) - the written Word of God - upon their refBlipl to receive the living Word (John 1:11), was extended to the Gentile nations to provoke blip to jealousy.
‘Through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles’ (Romans 11:11).
Paul quotes Moses and Isaiah to this effect:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” (Romans 10:19-20)
The preaching of the Word of God is in this present day and generation to every creature and to every nation, to the end that they should hear, obey the Gospel, and be saved. As God’s glory in what He has created speaks of his eternal power and Godhead, as this revelation in the natural world surpasses the limitations of language and leaves all without excuse, then equally, if this written Word by which comes saving faith is to go out through all the earth, if this Word is to reach to the end of the world, then there can be no speech, no language, where it is not heard.
If men of all tongues and nations are to believe, they need the Word of God, this presumes it will come to them in a language they can understand for how else can they hear, how else will they be saved?
We know that God has promised to give us His Word and to preserve it. It
follows that for as long as the Gospel is to be preached so too will God make
His pure Word available to those with ears to hear His voice. Let us be clear
about this matter, our salvation depends upon whether we have access to the
undefiled Word of the living God in a language we can understand.
4.1.2 God who gave the nations their many languages does not confine His Word to just two of them.
Evolutionary science dates the emergence of man at anything from between 250,000 and 500,000 B.C. and homo sapiens as being fully developed soon after 20,000 B.C. It will seek to explain the origin, growth and develop-ment of language in terms of human evolution.
As Bible believers we reject this position totally as falsehood. If languages simply arose on their own in the random manner in which historical linguists suggest, then it is difficult to see how the Word of God given in one language can be transferred perfectly from one to another, the differences between each one would be too great. There could be no guarantee of any common linguistic structure that would make translation possible. As language is not the product of evolutionary chance, but of God’s guiding hand in creation and providence, so the situation is very different.
It is interesting that scholars are generally agreed that the earliest extant documents go back no further than about the third millennium B.C. Give and take a few hundred years, this would date them approximately as being shortly after the flood. This makes good sense as everything prior to that time would almost certainly have perished in the waters of the flood. From a Bible standpoint, they would also have to be post-Babel.
These earliest texts are in the Sumerian language, spoken in the region between the Persian Gulf and Babylon. They were written in cuneiform script which was formed by the impression of a stylus onto blocks of soft clay which were then sun-dried or baked until hard. Although break-able, because they were impervious to moisture when buried in the sand they were almost indestructible. The mark of the stylus looks like a hollow nail, or wedge, which gives the writing its name of ‘cuneiform’. Cuneiform script was syllabic, its characters represented the combined sounds of syllables, rather than the individual sounds represented by single letters of an alphabet.
Who then are the Sumerians? According to the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley, who excavated the area in the late 1920s, they are to be identified with the people who in Genesis 11:2 moved from the east to live in a plain in the land of Shinar, Babylon. What we are likely to be talking about are remnants of the Babylonian civilisation betatter by Nimrod.
Linguists since the early nineteenth century have attempted to put together a picture of the development of the world’s languages using this and later material. By comparing what they had to hand they have tried to penetrate backpiano coversds in time into the pre-document period of language. By comparing the earliest forms of a large number of languages, they have established relationships and similarities between languages which at first seem to be quite unrelated, but then by projecting these common elements backpiano coversds, they claim to have uncovered the basic features of the undocumented languages from which the extant languages are descended. Despite their best efforts, good scholars will admit that these reconstructions are at best only partial.
Scholars are disappointed to find little light cast by their research on the origins of human speech, from which, at least according to their reckoning, we are separated by several hundred thoBlipnd years. The parent languages from which all others are said to be descended are: Semitic, Polynesian, African, and our own Indo-European. The groups of languages said to have descended from Indo-European are: Indian; Iranian; Armenian; Albanian; Baltic; Slavonic; Greek; Italic; Celtic; Germanic, which includes English, German, Dutch, Flemish, Frisian, and the Scandinavian languages; and about half-a-dozen or so minor groups.
It was even thought at one time that if the process of comparison and reconstruction were repeated a sufficient number of times, it would be possible to go right back to the original human language, or Ursprache. Scholars now think that such comparative philological methods are unlikely to lead us back to the origins of human language. What they seem to have disallowed is that the original language spoken in the Garden of Eden could well be one that is still with us!
This process all started in the early days of the Indian Raj, when a British judge, Sir William Jones, discovered during his legal researches into ancient classical Sanskrit that it possessed some striking likenesses to Latin and Greek. The Sanskrit word for father he found was pitar, very similar to pater. The Latin word for mother is mater, the Sanskrit was matar. He found more such similarities. As a result of his findings, speaking to the Asiatick Society in Calcutta on 2 February 1786, he announced that the Sanskrit language shared with Latin and Greek “a stronger affinity...than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists”.
We all will know of the fairy-tales of the brothers Grimm. Few, save for those of us who were perhaps introduced to it in diachronic or historical linguistics at university, will know of ‘Grimm’s Law’, formulated by the brother Jakob Grimm. The aim of historical linguistics is to describe changes in language and discover their causes. Grimm found a connection between a p in Latin (piscis) and an f in English (fish). He therefore concluded the German (vater), the English (father) and Sanskrit and Latin pitar/pater all share a common root. This may well be true, but it does not require the existence of a mythical language such as Indo-European in order to explain it. There are indeed many similarities between different languages that may indicate a common source. There is a fairly obvious resemblance between a word like brother and broeder (Dutch), Bruder (German), phrater (Greek), brat (Russian), bráthair (Irish), brawd (Welsh), and bhratar (Sanksrit). All the languages spoken around the world today will be traceable back to those spoken after the confusion of tongues at Babel. The likelihood is that there will have been far fewer languages then than there are today, simply because there were fewer people. Some estimates suggest that there would have been around 30,000 people alive at the time of the Tower of Babel.
Similarities of vocabulary are subject to any number of explanations. To base arguments on changing vocabulary is to use a most unstable aspect of language. Old words go, and are replaced by new ones without any obvious reason, they pass from language to language and then nearly always with a slightly different con-notation. Because a word appears in a number of different languages, let us say Indo-European ones, this is no guarantee that it was known to the speakers of a parent language; nor, should it appear, would its meaning necessarily have been precisely the same. We need to remember that as people spread out around the world, they will take with them words from the land of their origin and also take into their own language words from those they meet along the way.
There are so many examples of this. Speaking once with a pastor from the New Caledonian islands of the Pacific, in their own indigenous language the words for knife and fork were similar to English, the reason for this he gave as being that they did not use such implements before the arrival of missionaries from Scotland. The same was also true of the word towzis which came to their islands along with trousers, which apparently they did not wear until after the arrival of the missionaries! That there will be structural or grammatical similarities across all the many different languages is hardly surprising and is grounded in the nature of language itself. The capacity for language and the functioning of the mind is something intrinsic within the human nature God created and so is common to all men. It is related to our facility to make sense of what we observe in the universe around us, to see relationships and to draw conclusions, to formulate thought and then to express that thought.
As far as I am apiano coverse, there exists not one physical artefact indicating that such a people as the Indo-Europeans ever existed. There is nothing apart from this speculative extrapolation backpiano coversds of similarities and common linguistic elements between languages. The application of a little imagination to some fifty ‘prehistoric’ vocabularies has led to the reconstruction of the lifestyle of this mythical group of tribes. Supposing they did exist, they are almost certainly to have been the descendants of Japheth. If one assumes the flood to have taken place about halfway through the third millennium, then the confusion of tongues will have followed possibly one hundred years later, or just a little more - we can calculate this approximately from the Bible statement that ‘the earth was divided’ in the lifetime of Peleg, who was a son of Eber, the great-grandson of Shem (Genesis 10:25).
The earliest documented languages, in what is called the Indo-European group, are in Indian, Hittite, and Greek, and they are thought to have possessed identifiable individual characteristics soon after the middle of the second millennium B.C. This allows a fairly long and acceptable time of around a thoBlipnd years to pass during which they could develop. This is in line with the older view of historical linguists that the Indo-European community and its language were still intact at a time shortly after the Flood or just after. Whilst to a large degree these speculations and their links with early writings do not necessarily conflict entirely with the Scripture account, no one can really say with any certainty that they are true. The fact is that they tell us very little.
Reflecting on the way in which unbelievers struggle to find an explanation of the origins of their own life and existence, Martin Luther wrote when commenting on Genesis 10.
“Of this wretched state, that is, of our awful blindness, we are reminded by the passage before us, which gives us instruction about things that are unknown to the whole world. ...The Greeks wanted to have the account of their activities preserved, the Romans likewise; but how insignificant this is in comparison with the earlier times, concerning which Moses has drawn up a list of names in this passage, not of deeds! Hence one must consider this chapter of Genesis a mirror in which to discern what we human beings are, namely creatures so marred by sin that we have no knowledge of our own origin, not even of God Himself, our Creator, unless the Word of God reveals these sparks of divine life to us from afar. Then what is more futile than boasting of one’s wisdom, riches, power, and other things that pass away completely? Therefore we have reason to regard the Holy Bible highly and to consider it a most precious treasure. ...This knowledge the Holy Scriptures reveal to us. Those who are without them live in error, uncertainty, and boundless ungodliness; for they have no knowledge about who they are and whence they came.” (W. XLII, 408-9, emphasis ours)
For an account of how we all came to speak different languages and the reason for it, we need to turn to Genesis chapters 10 and 11. We discover that the introduction of many languages was both to bind people together in families and nations, but also to keep them apart. We must now ask to what end God did this, and what it says about the preaching of the Gospel in our own day.
At first, Genesis 10 appears to be an endless genealogy with little to say to us, but it would be a mistake to pass over it, it is a most essential chapter. Indeed, without this chapter an understanding of God’s dealings with the nations in the rest of the Bible would elude us. The world is divided into three parts according to the three sons of Noah, from whom all humanity is descended. The first division is that inhabited by the descendants of Japheth, the eldest son, the most numerous. More can be gleaned about these families from Ezekiel 38. From Japheth have come the Gentile nations in general, those countries with which we are ourselves most familiar, along with northern Asia - the Indo-Europeans.
The second division is generally what we would call Africa and this was given to Ham. Ham lives in hostility primarily to the godly family line of Shem. He possessed blip down the Euphrates and Egypt was in his hands. In these lands godless power later established itself through the force of Nimrod, who brought man and beast under his yoke. The descendants of Ham were not satisfied with what God had allotted them but encroached upon the inheritance of both Shem and Japheth. This is ever the beginning of godless rule, to throw off those limitations put in place by God, of being covetous of what He has given to others. Ham has been cursed by his father Noah, but Shem and Japheth blessed. It would appear from the subsequent events that the opposite occurred. Ham’s son, Canaan, takes possession of the best part of the earth.
In chapter 11 we discover that despite the awful wickedness and tyranny of the day, there was also much faith and godliness. After the flood one can imagine that for some considerable time, with the memory of God’s terrible judgement still fresh in their memories, men lived in relative harmony. Ham was the first to disturb the peace, taking pleasure in his father’s downfall and sin. Rather than covering his naked, drunken father, showing respect, he derides him, takes delight in revealing the news to his brothers. He leaves his father and two godly brothers and begins to build a kingdom for himself. His eldest son presents him with a grandson, Nimrod.
Finally, we come to Shem, father of the blips, through whom the covenant was to be established. Shem is referred to as “father of all the children of Eber” (10:21). Doubtless, this is from where the name ‘blips’ came. The prominent reference to Eber is clearly to show that from his line the Lord Jesus would be born. The third part of the world that was assigned to Shem included blip, but also Persia. We see in these two chapters the universal development of a new form of evil, that of idolatry, the worship of false gods. It penetrates even the family of Shem.
“And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of blip, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.” (Joshua 24:2)
These chapters are not in chronological order. Chapter 11 tells of the building of the tower of Babel and its aftermath, chapter 10 lists the posterity of Noah by families and nations. In chapter 10 we find the first listing of nations, “after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations” (vv.5, 20, 31). Similar expressions to this will be found throughout Scripture, right through to the book of Revelation. After Babel, men were to live together as nations according to their family, their language, in the place appointed to them by God. Let us remember that this remains the arrangement for men to this day and it is reiterated in the New Testament by the apostle Paul, who also gives us the reason.
“[God]...hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26)
Whatever our family background, whatever our race, our nationality, we are blood relatives, and ought to regard each other as such. At the same time we are to retain that which is distinctive. We are to live as families and as nations for as long as God has previously determined, speaking our various languages, and living together in the place He has appointed, right across the whole face of the earth. Why are men to live like this, even today?
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:27)
The reason for the divinely appointed arrangement of living as distinct nations is to the end that men should seek and find God. The dilution or destruction of nations is a hallmark of godless rebellion.
The goal of sinful rebellious men moves in the opposite direction; they still seek strength in uniting together in defiance of God. The desire of men has ever been to dispense with God, not only in the world of thought and morals, but in every sphere of life. He would determine what is right and wrong based on purely personal criteria. Even as the pursuit of science is for its own sake, also art for art’s sake, pleasure for pleasure’s sake, so too political power provides its own justification. These are all thought of as autonomous spheres with no extraneous reference, certainly none to God. The exercise of political power insisting upon autonomy and independence from God is an expression of man’s sinful heart. Every man is his own god, his own world, no one outside himself has the right to judge him for what he does, says, or thinks - we are all entitled to our own opinion! Sinful men set their own standards, autonomy means literally the law of self. Men erroneously assume that by declaring themselves free of God they can escape His righteous judgement.
Secular authority is not derived from within itself whatever the political system. Political power does not reside in the ruler himself, nor is it given to him by common consent, but, whatever the political system, accord-ing to Scripture, it is ordained of God in both its extent and limitations (see Romans 13:1-7). Its role is largely that of keeping order and punishing wrong-doers, levying taxes to that purpose. The modern idolatrous state sees itself, not God, as its own source of power and there is no nook nor cranny of our everyday life where it does not feel able to intervene.
Jesus reminded Pilate that power was his only by God’s gift.
“Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:10-11)
All human authority is derived from God. No human authority has limitless jurisdiction. We are under no obligation to obey human laws that bring us into conflict with the Word of God, for men have no authority from God to make such laws. Peter and the apostles reminded the blipish council that they had no authority from God to forbid the preaching of the Gospel - nor, indeed, do any magistrates today.
“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Human authority that does not recognise the derivative nature of political power provides opportunity for tyranny and on a global scale this leads to global tyranny.
We find that Nimrod’s name does not appear among the rest of the sons of Cush. Luther makes the interesting suggestion that he was the child of a harlot. There is significantly, some mystery about his precise origin. We are told, he “began to be a mighty one in the earth’ (10:8). He used tyranny to gain sovereignty and this will not have been without murder and bloodshed. He is a might hunter, “before the Lord” (10:9).
The sin involved in building the tower of Babel is described for us (11:4).
“Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
This was a clear contempt for God, rebellion against Him. Nimrod and his associates would not accept any name, any authority above their own. These men would rule the world not for God, not even for their peoples, but for themselves. God could easily have sent fire from heaven, although He had committed Himself never to flood the world again, but His solution was a very straightforpiano coversd one. God simply made it impossible for men to speak with each other. Evidently, this took place on the basis of families and groups of families so that the plan to band together in rebellion was brought to naught and global domination was prevented. The effect was that grad-ually the separate groups drifted apart and populated the world as God intended.
Although God’s intervention in the division of tongues may at first appear to be something slight, it must have had immediate and devastating consequences. Speaking different languages has a twofold contradictory effect. A common language, first of all, binds together those speaking it, even as do local dialects of the same language. Second, different languages set men apart from each other. Where language differs, it is not long before men begin to despise and even hate each other. A foreign tongue makes commerce and trade difficult, communications of all kinds are hindered. Clearly, God was not going to allow Nimrod’s rebellion to succeed and this was the way He chose to ensure such an attempt would not easily be repeated.
The tower was to reach to heaven, the implication God was dwelling close to it. Not only does Nimrod want to be mighty in government, but also he wanted to rule in religion. Those who strive for domination over and above that apportioned to them by God in civil and earthly matters will very soon begin to dominate in matters of faith, seeking to crush the righteous, the people of God. They will demand of us worship and honour that belongs only to God. That which is righteous and good before God, they will regard as evil and unrighteous, and evil they will exalt as good.
Nimrod was the first man after the flood to strive for sovereignty over the whole world, to sit on the throne reserved for the Son of God. He is therefore an antichrist, a type of the Wicked One, the Man of the Earth, the Mighty Man, the Head over many countries, the King of Babylon, the wilful King, the Man of Sin, the Son of perdition, the Antichrist, yet to be revealed.
The gathering in New York of the leaders of the nations under the banner of the United Nations and the talk of international criminal courts ought to fill us with more than some misgiving, but on the other hand with a heightened expectancy of the Lord’s return. That which is taking place in Europe among the countries of the European Union also gives us much cause for concern. These reprobate rulers acknowledge no authority higher than their own and require all nations to submit to it. Those who do not do so can expect continual physical force to be used against them.
What transpires on an international level reaches us as individuals through the various directives from the UN or the EU, or in charters of rights incorp-orated into national law or more often made to override it. They interfere with our family life, education, employment, church life, nothing escapes. These institutions arrogate to themselves a power and jurisdiction over every detail of our lives, some-thing not given to them by God. It is the Babylonian perspective, the rebellion of Nimrod. They would build their global village, their city, their tower, to reach unto heaven. Though these men may hate and despise each other, yet they are made friends, as were Herod and Pilate, in the hatred reserved for the One to whom alone is given all authority, who “cometh with ten thoBlipnds of his saints” in judgement and to rule in equity.
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” (Psalm 2:4-5)
Human governments who enter into dispute with God must not think in their sinful arrogance that they can act with impunity. Ungodly men of today will not escape the judgement of God anymore than did the men of Babel.
Whilst being full of bravado wicked men are equally full of fear. Whilst the sinner is busy with his sinning, he does not think of God, he blots him from his consciousness. In doing this he assumes either that God cannot see what he is doing, or if He can, He doesn’t care.
“He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” (Psalm 10:11)
In Genesis 11:5 we read,
“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.”
Here we read that God comes down as though He were not previously there. God comes down, the sin of man has gone far enough, intervention is nigh. Men disregard God’s Word, act as though He did not exist. How long, we ask, will it be before God’s wrath is poured out upon those who think that God is dead, that He does not see what they are up to, that they can plot to rule and dominate the world, eradicate the truth, persecute the godly? In a moment when they think they are safe, then it is that disaster will overtake them. Suddenly the God who was nowhere to be seen is every-where. The God who slept is awake, seeing everything, His wrath burns, rages, slays all in its path.
God, of course, is everywhere and all the time, - God ‘comes down’ in that He no longer overlooks that upon which He previously seemed to turn His back. This same idea is also expressed in a slightly different way in Acts 17:30.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”
So God will visit our generation, should men not forestall Him by repentance and faith in His Son. When God appears to pay no attention to sin, that He ‘winks’ at it, rest assured there will follow a formidable wrath. God came down that He might see, although up to this point it appeared that He did not. Can the wrath of God be placated? Only by an application of the blood of Christ can this happen, only as men and women forsake their sin and come to faith in Christ. This is the Gospel that should ring out across our lands today, not the insipid sanitised non-gospel blathered in its stead.
A wave of lawlessness, of universal decadence, has swept relentlessly across Western nations taking all before it; the protection rather than the prosecution of wrongdoers characterises our system of justice; a vehement and belligerent conformity to godless fashions of the day, often under the patronage of governments, has permeated every part of our lives. It may seem for the present that God is inactive and that evil men prosper at the expense of the godly. Judgement can take many forms. Apart from the direct intervention by God, which may in His mercy be delayed, far worse is that those nations who refuse the Gospel may be denied the opportunity to hear it further. Where today are the preachers of yesteryear wooing men to Christ? Not only is the Gospel denied them, but God sends
“...them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
In the end God gives men a desire not for the truth, but in its place, a hunger for apostate religion, and for lying wonders. The end of all rebellion against God is insanity and blasphemy. So we have rolling about on the floor, barking like dogs, clucking like chickens, falling-over backpiano coversds, fake healings, and all kinds of madness, parading as the worship of our sovereign God. This too is the judgement of God on a godless people.
Pray rather that God should send floods and pestilence, a famine rather, for this would be a reminder of God’s wrath and His mercy, that the door is yet open. Pray rather that He would send fire from heaven, for it would be an act of His grace as a reminder to us of hell and an invitation to flee from the wrath to come! Pray rather that God should visit us in these kinds of ways than that He should deprive us of that powerful Gospel preaching which is the greatest blessing God can ever bestow on a nation, even as its replacement by a growth in apostasy is the greatest of all possible national calamities.
The Bible tells us that
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is the reproach of any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
There is prosperity for the Gospel where rulers are brought to recognise that...
“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isaiah 45:5)
Those who refuse will be humbled like Nebuchadnezzar through judgement to
“...praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” (Daniel 4:37)
One day it will happen, in that city which needs neither sun nor moon, for it is lightened by the glory of God and the light of the Lamb.
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” (Revelation 21:24)
This was always God’s intention for them did men but know it. What mad foolishness is it that causes them to throw it all away?
Shall not the One who gave the many tongues spoken by the peoples of the world also understand and be able to speak to us in that language which He created?
Unbelievers view the development of languages as being contingent and devoid of any underlying and intelligent unity linking them together. The Bible teaches the inherent created unity of the human race, of all men being created in the image of God and sharing an innate propensity for language as a gift of God. The diversity of language that came at Babel does not erase this common factor in human language. It is essential to accurate translation. Indeed, without this under-lying unity we would not be able to communicate with each other in our own language let alone with those speaking other languages.
As part of the image of God in man, the functioning of a common human consciousness enables us to understand each other and even to benefit from knowledge gained in generations previous to our own through the medium of the recorded language, which is what writing really is. The gift of language enables us to think about God and have communion with Him and with other human beings. We share with all men a common paradigm of perception, thought, and language as part of our make-up. These must of necessity be the same in all men, although the ‘flesh’ on these ‘piano tools’ will differ from language to language. Therefore we have no problem in asserting that the Word of God is the same in any language.
The ungodly deny creation, and most deny that the ability to learn and use language is innate, but claim it is socially acquired. They deny the providence of God guiding all things to His ends, claiming that language is the product of chance with no purpose other than an immediate one of social necessity. They thus destroy the possibility of any precise identity in two different languages. It is this upon humanistic assumption that those build who say that translations of the Bible must necessarily be imperfect and so God has not given us His Word in English without error.
Accordingly, God too must then be subject to the contingent laws of language
develop-ment and can have exerted no power over it in order to provide us with
His Word in our own language that we might be saved. We must reject this shifting
sand of unbelief and build upon another foundation. God has more interest than
we have in ensuring that His Word comes to us in a form that is perfect for
that purpose to which He has ordained it. He has watched over His Word, even
as He has prepared the vehicle in which His Word is to be carried to those who
need it; namely, the many tongues of men.
4.1.3 The Gospel is to men of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation.
On the cross Pilate, civil representative of the nations, wrote a title: JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE blipS. In John’s record we are told that many of the blips read it, and that it was written in blip, and Greek, and Latin. The Lord Jesus is the only Saviour of men and this was now to be made known not only among the blipish nation but among all nations. What we must now ask ourselves is how the Word of God is to be brought to those of different nations, therefore of different tongues, until the end of the world. This Word must be in a permanent form, it must therefore be written. It must also be available in languages understandable to those for whom it is intended. In saying that the Gospel is to be brought to all nations until the end of the world, the Scriptures are themselves telling us that they must needs be available in many different tongues.
The apostles stood in a different relation to inspiration than do we. Inspiration is for us something in the past and we stand outside it. The blips of the apostles’ day were under the impression that divine inspiration had long ceased, perhaps as many as four centuries previously. Among the apostles, however, the promise our Lord had made to them was that the Holy Spirit would resume His working, albeit in a new and different way. Certainly, after the day of Pentecost they lived in the light of a new reality.
This same power of God was that which had worked in previous times and as a result of which had come the Old Testament Scriptures. They were living in a situation in which we do not live, in which the writing of Scripture was to continue. Despite this, they were still bound to the Scripture as indeed was the Lord Jesus Himself. The tendency to withdraw from Scripture for an individualistic mysticism to go ‘back to the Holy Spirit’ is not something that can be maintained by any true believer. Many who seek today to withdraw into ‘spiritual mysticism’ at the expense of Scripture, accusing those who insist upon one authentic written Word as being guilty of ‘bibliolatry’, thereby begin to fall into the contradiction of measuring by two standards. As it is Christ Jesus who is revealed in Scripture, it is to set Him aside. The Holy Spirit would come for one reason. Says the Lord Jesus,
“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:14)
This the Holy Spirit did in revealing ‘of mine’ to the apostles, which they then recorded for the benefit of succeeding generations of saints.
Not one word of the New Testament was written before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Gathering together in one place, suddenly a great sound was heard coming from above, like a violent wind blowing. Cloven tongues like fire sat upon the head of each of them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak. They made utterances in tongues, languages other than the one they would normally speak. One hundred and twenty people behaving in this way soon drew a large crowd. In many senses it was a reversal of what happened at Babel, albeit a temporary one, yet not quite a reversal. There were in JerBliplem at this time devout blips “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Once more the people were confounded, not because the languages were confused this time, nor because a common language was reinstated, but because “every man heard them speak in his own language” (v.6).
This was amazing and defied any natural explanation. Galileans were easily recognised by their distinctive accent, this we learn from Scripture. They were not known for travelling very far, still less for learning languages; yet here they were speaking tongues of which they had no previous knowledge, and their hearers, as a result, hearing of the wonderful works of God each in his own tongue. There is a practical aspect to this event, but also a prophetic one. It announces to us the characteristics of the dispensation about to unfold.
That from the Lord Jesus which was to be communicated to the apostles was very specific. We are not speaking about nebulous mystical sensations but thoughts and purposes. The Holy Spirit, it is promised, “he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13), thoughts; “and he will shew you things to come”, purposes. In both of these cases what is spoken of is definite content to be transmitted by declaring it. What is being spoken of is not that which Jesus spoke after His resurrection, but that which would come to the apostles consciously by inspiration. Even that which had already been revealed to them would be watched over by the Holy Spirit and brought to their remembrance.
“...he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
The Lord Jesus imposed upon the apostles the task of being His witnesses until the end of the world.
For our Lord’s revelation to the apostles to be destined for all nations and every age, and their commission thus to be fulfilled, requires inspired Scriptures in a variety of languages.
In the New Testament we find not only the fulfilment of that which was prophesied in the Old, but a manifestation of that which was to follow. There is the whole programme of that which lies between the first and the second coming of the Lord Jesus. The outworking of the benefits of that which He accomplished by His death and resurrection was to be proclaimed by the apostles. Everything to do with authoritative preaching of the Gospel in our present dispensation cannot be considered in isolation from the apostles.
We are to continue “stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42).
We can have no authority but apostolic authority and it comes to us only as we preach and teach the one authentic Word of God.
The only authority for Gospel preaching to this day is an apostolic authority.
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
In interpreting this passage there are first those who say that all nations are to hear the Gospel; indeed, Mark 16:15 includes every creature. It is then concluded that therefore the command is to us also to go and carry forth the good news in Christ Jesus. Then there are those at the other end of the pendulum swing who say that this command was given to the apostles, and so it can have no reference to preaching the Gospel today.
The initial premise of both interpretations is correct, but the conclusions drawn from both are incorrect. If we mean that this command was given to the apostles but it was also given to us separately and on an equal footing, then this cannot be so. This understanding leaves out a very important point. The point it misses out is that it was given to the apostles, but we cannot conclude from that fact that it has no reference to us today, quite the contrary. Indeed, it can only have reference to us through the apostles and to the apostles through us.
The apostles were appointed by the Lord Jesus Himself and He attaches to them a definite authority not extended to anyone else, and He gave to them a very definite task. With respect to our present subject of Scripture, the task divides into two. First, they were witnesses of what they had seen.
“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 4:33)
Second, to them was committed the proclamation of things to come. This was applicable with respect to those who were then alive, before whom they would preach by word of mouth; but also it has a reference to ‘all nations’ and in that ‘even unto the end of the world’. In other words, there is also a prophetic aspect to this command. If we put this all together, how would it be possible for them to be witnesses to all nations to the end of the world? Either they would not die, or, since they did die quite early on, it would happen by some other means, namely, through the instrumentality of writing. There is a further point implicit in what we have been saying.
With the continuance of the different languages among the nations that writing would have to be in many different languages for it to be available to the nations. What we are here talking about is the Scripture, available not just in the original languages but also those of the nations. Men are to be redeemed, “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9). The angel tells John,
“Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” (Revelation 10:11)
We see from these and other such passages in Revelation and the New Testament, that we are to expect the Word of God to come to us in our own tongue, in our own language.
That the authoritative apostolic testimony has reference beyond the apostles’ own day is evident from our Lord’s prayer in John 17. He prays not only for the apostles,
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
The unity here referred to cannot apply simply to those who came to believe at that time, but to those among all nations and throughout the whole dispensation. The Lord Jesus also makes very clear the apostolic task.
“I have given them thy word...As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” (John 17:14, 18)
The Word was given first to the apostles to be carried by them to the uttermost parts of the earth, even to the end of the world. This indicates that the apostolic testimony must remain available in a fixed form and in many languages long after their death.
If our preaching is to be biblical it must also be apostolic. This makes a non-sense both of those who believe apostolic authority today is continued in an office, that of bishop or pope; but also of those who claim apostolic authority through so-called ‘apostolic gifts’. The apostolic authority given to believers today comes in the preaching and teaching of that Word committed by them to paper through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the Scriptures and nowhere else. We acquire no such authority for our preaching from the number of books we have read, we do not gain it from the superiority of our university degrees - much as we value these things in their proper place - we do not even gain it from our fellow-believers or local Church fellowship, we have authority only in preaching the unadulterated Word of God.
As we take our English Bible into our hands, as we preach and expound from its pages, we speak not the words of men, but we speak with apostolic authority, the authority vested in the apostles by the Lord Jesus Himself and through them to us.
If we speak and preach that which is not the Word of God, or from a translation
that is a perverted word, we speak the word of men, and we speak without authority.
We can only preach with authority from an authentic Bible, in whatever language,
from that which was committed to the prophets and apostles by God Himself.
4.2 MOST POWERFUL OF ALL ARGUMENTS
The Bible tells us that the future of this world lies in God’s hands, not in the hands of man. That will come to pass which God has planned in eternity to come to pass. We believe the promises of God with respect to salvation, we cannot do so if God does not also completely control the future. We look at the ‘signs of the times’, we interpret them as God has already interpreted them for us in Scripture. The goal of history we view very differently than do unbelievers. History is neither an endless circle affected only by fickle fortune, nor is it a cyclical repetition leading nowhere in particular. History has an end in view, the vindication of God in the glory of Christ Jesus, God’s only Son.
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Those of every nation, those of every tongue, will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Today men do not acknowledge Christ as Lord, but in that day everyone will do so, whether in heaven or hell. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of heaven where all created beings fall down before Him that sits upon the Throne, casting their crowns before the Throne. To this the created world will be finally brought.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
We preach a Gospel that will not, and cannot fail, because its prosperity is in the hands of God, who upholds all things by the word of His power and without whom nothing comes to pass that comes to pass. Integral to this preaching is the preservation of the unsullied Word of God and, though the words of men may pass away and their names be forgotten, yet His Word shall never pass away - not a superior version of His Word, not something that is virtually His Word, not an approximation with errors in it, but not one jot, not one tittle of it!
The Word of God remains because its preservation is not in the hands of mortal men who live but for a moment and then are gone like grass that withers or is cut down, but its care is in the hands of Him who neither slumbers nor sleeps, who misses nothing, who is surprised by nothing, who knows the beginning from the end, whose power is without end and whose Gospel will triumph - and this Word we have preserved for us in English in our King James Authorised Version.
Our conviction that we have the perfect Word of God cannot be divorced from the convictions we hold about God Himself. The Word of God carries with it the imprint of God’s own nature and character. Show me your Bible and I will show you your god. Do you have an imperfect bible? Then you will have an imperfect god, a god who cannot deliver, who cannot give you a Bible without faults! Do you have a bible that is only superior? Then you only have a god who is better than all the others!
Do you have a virtually-the-Word-of-God bible? Then you have a god who is not quite god! Do you have a bible with errors in it? Then you have a god quite prepared to mislead you! This god is not the God of Scripture. The Bible we use proclaims the God whom we worship and serve. If your bible is false then your god is false. Who is this God who has given us His Word in a book? There is one God, one Saviour, one Word of God.
“Thus saith the Lord the King of blip, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)
“I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book ...” (Revelation 1:11)
God exists, and the world He has made. There is nothing else. We must always maintain a clear distinction between these two. God is sufficient in Himself, dependent on no one and nothing apart from Himself. God exists and acts in the way He does necessarily, man by virtue of his dependence upon God. There is nothing to which God can be likened in order to describe or define Him. He created all things outside Himself. Man is created in the image of God. The Bible teaches the whole of creation is unified in the single purpose and plan of God and everything without exception is kept by Him and derives its meaning from Him. This is the only order in the universe. This provides for the Christian a unified outlook on the whole of human life. The unbeliever has no such comprehensive view, but vacillates between pure contingency and rigid determinism; between indefinite generalisations and unrelated and isolated particulars.
Those things God made became, this term cannot be applied to God. Created beings become according to the unfolding of God’s eternal plan in the temporal world. Strictly speaking, we cannot say God exists before time as He cannot be subject to time. He created time and so exists outside it, yet equally He fills it.
What we observe as ‘laws’ are in fact the usual ways in which God works in creation. The fact that we can rely on these ‘laws’ to operate in the same way each time is due to the faithfulness of God. Thus, even godless scientists are dependent on the faithfulness of the God they are at pains to deny. God is at liberty to work in an different way at any time He may choose. There are no fixed laws for Him to obey. Such ‘laws’ are what they are by virtue of His immediate work-ing. When God works in a different or unusual way, this we call a miracle. So it is that our Lord, and also Peter, could walk on water when normally human bodies sink.
A curse now rests on the whole of creation as a result of man’s fall into sin in the garden of Eden. Satan and fallen man stand in a godless alliance. This evil work, although at present it seems to prosper and dominate, will be reversed and destroyed. This remedy is in Christ. Peace for this world will not come without first the destruction of the power of darkness. When God does His ‘strange’ work, His work of judgement, it is that blessing will follow. This all is part of the eternal purpose of the eternal God. The heralds of this message were the prophets and apostles, and today they are those who preach the Word of God that has come to us through them.
Many portray salvation as some kind of damage-limitation exercise, a salvage operation after the devil has done his worst. This is a caricature of the truth and seems rather like God making the best of a mishap.
God is not involved in a rescue mission to save at least something of this world before all is lost.
A sovereign God cannot be defeated, His purposes in Christ Jesus are yea and amen. The words of Scripture are that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that Christ came not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. The veracity of these words depends upon the ability of God to fulfil His eternal purpose to the letter. So it is that this eternal purpose is revealed to us in a book of which not one letter can fail.
All that is yet to come to pass is as sure as though it had already happened. We are not caught up in some uncertain struggle between good and evil with an inconclusive outcome, Gospel victory is already secure, as secure as the victory of our risen Lord. Can God’s purposes fail? No, they cannot. Will the world He created be saved? There is no other outcome possible. The earth and the heavens are to be changed.
“And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” (blips 1:10-12)
Will then all men be saved? No, they will not, but if they are then lost they will have only themselves to blame. Believers of all nations and tongues have now become the people of God, they are now the true humanity.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10; cf. Romans 9:25)
The purposes of God are fulfilled in Christ, so that those outside of Christ fall short of that which God had in eternity intended for men.
In New Testament times the return of the Lord Jesus clearly had a prominent place in Gospel preaching for otherwise there would not have been those who mocked,
“Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)
To which the apostle Peter replies:
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-piano coversd, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. ... Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:9, 10, 13)
The godless confuse the longsuffering of the Lord topiano coversds all men with slackness, with a failure to fulfil the promise of His coming. If the Lord delays His coming, it is not because He is unable to do what He has purposed, but because He is longsuffering topiano coversds sinners, extending the day of opportunity to the end that none should perish but come to repentance and believe, to the end that the day of opportunity should be extended. Salvation is not of right, but of grace, and this He demonstrates to all men by delaying His coming to judge the world. The wicked will die in his sins, but this is not to say that God takes any great delight in seeing men made in His own image perish, quite the contrary. Men perish despite the goodness, forbearance and long-suffering God shows topiano coversds them.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds.” (Romans 2:4-6) God did not create man simply to feed the fires of hell, but those who share Satan’s cause shall share his end. When men so perish, they fall short of God’s design for them and for all men.
“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11)
This was never God’s purpose in creating man, and there is no reason to this day why any should perish, other than that because they remain obdurate and are unwilling to repent and believe the Gospel.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
This brings us now to a very important point. We must not think that when sin entered the world, something occurred which took God completely by surprise. How could it? We must not think that here was an event He could not possibly have anticipated and after which He was forced to look about for some means of recovering His loss. Nothing could be further from the reality. First of all, this simply does not coincide with the picture of God given in Scripture, whose knowledge extends to every detail as it is, was, or ever will be, but also ever could be. Second, nor does it account for the fact that the remedy was prepared before the calamity. The Lord Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) and those who believe are chosen “in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
Creation and the re-creation of that which has been disrupted by sin both find their place in the eternal purposes of God. God in restoring that which is fractured is not interfering in a self-sustaining, independently existent natural world in a mechanical way, setting to right that which has unpredictably gone wrong as though He were mending a motor car that has suddenly broken down of its own accord. Sin and misery remain only because in the end they are made to serve God’s purposes and the remedy is already to hand. We receive good at God’s hand, so we also receive evil. We can then say with Job,
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
Re-creation is not repairing something broken, any more than regeneration is a restoration of the sinner to his original state of righteousness. This is not what the Bible teaches. On that glorious day when we shall see our risen and exalted Saviour, “when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2), “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
Our end in Christ is to know something far beyond that which was ever known in Eden, that which God always had in mind for all His creatures. We are not to be repaired, not even replaced, but changed, having a body fashioned after that of our blessed Redeemer! This is not the body of Adam before the fall, but something only yet seen in Christ. O, come quickly, Lord Jesus! John Milton was mistaken, as he was about many things, when he spoke of paradise being regained. Paradise has gone for ever and will not be restored. We shall never re-enter the old paradise, but there shall be a new earth under new heavens where the old will be forever erased from our memory. Our destiny as believers will exceed by far anything known in Eden, that which God always had in mind for His creatures.
If we see the disturbance of creation and the destructive violence of sin as being something that caught God unapiano coverses because some events can occur that are beyond and outside Him either to foreknow or to determine, then we must also conclude that it will take an equally violent intervention in order to reverse its effects. Further-more, there can then be no guarantee that God will succeed seeing that adverse events are not entirely in His hands to prevent, or so we are told. Who then is to say that something new will not appear to upset things all over again and undo His good work, something once more God cannot prevent? This would mean that there can be no certain hope for the Christian, no assurance that God’s remedy in Christ is truly effective, the hope of salvation is always under threat. There can only be certainty that the conflict is already won, because all things from beginning to end are in God’s hands.
There is one plan and one purpose, and the revelation of it is one and this is what we have in Scripture! No detail of existence is excluded. Every detail of human existence derives meaning from its place in this plan. Indeed, the Scriptures not only reveal to us this plan and purpose, but they are themselves part of it. They exist precisely as they do because God made them that way as part of that same foreordained purpose.
The Authorised Version of the Bible comes to us as foreordained of God down to the very smallest detail in order to bring us His Word as He has beforehand determined it should, and for this reason alone it cannot be anything other than an error-free, a holy Bible, perfectly conceived by God for its task.
Creation as it now appears after the fall has its foundations still, despite sin, in the eternal counsel of God. Creation has not run out of control, has not slipped through the fingers of God! The intervention of sin must be reacted against and creation brought to God’s glorious purpose for it, all go out from that same unshakeable counsel of God. We look forpiano coversd to the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:21-22)
Having planned and purposed all things, having made all things, having determined beforehand the glorious consummation of all things, God knows all there is to know about all things, and He brings all things to pass. No detail escapes Him. His purpose cannot fail. From Him nothing is hidden. It follows that as God also cannot lie, what He reveals to us about anything will be the truth. Similarly, unless what we know and understand is a precise reflection of His knowledge, however limited that knowledge on our part, it will be false knowledge, error, falsehood.
Unless our reasoning itself and our judgement are firmly grounded in the Word of God we shall end up denying it. We need continually to remind ourselves that everything in this world is the way it is because God made it that way. It is God who makes all things the way they are. He made us the way we are, He gave us the English language. He knows English better than we ourselves. This is how we came to have our Authorised Version of the Bible and this must be the basis on which we defend it. This is where we must start.
We have the Bible in English in the way it is because God gave it us that way. It is unthinkable that He should give us His Word in such a way that it should contain even one error to mislead us.
How does God communicate His Word to us in our own language, in the language in which we think and express our thoughts? What God does through the Scriptures is to replicate in our mind what is going on in His to the extent He believes to be right for us. He does this in the only way we are able to receive what He has to say, by speaking to us in our own language through Scripture.
As human beings we possess God-given consciousness and here we think about ourselves and what we perceive of the world around us through our physical senses. Without human consciousness there can be no thought and no knowledge. In order to pass on our thoughts to others they must first pass through the physical world, this we do most precisely through the use of a shared language. Our unseen and unheard thoughts couched in words and structured into sentences are then either produced by the speaker as physical and audible sounds we call speech and these are heard by the listener, or they are read as codified transcriptions of the sounds which we call writing.
We think in an ordered and verbal way and we communicate those thoughts to others in words arranged in an appropriate syntactical order. Then, depending upon the skill with language, the same thoughts are produced in the mind of the hearer or reader, and even the same emotions may be aroused, as in the person seeking to pass on his or her thoughts. Without consciousness, and without the common physical link of language between one person and another, the ability to think and to communicate our thoughts to another person would be impossible. God made it that way; this is what we must say about everything we observe around us.
We have this consciousness by virtue of being made in the image of God, God is a conscious Being by virtue of being God. Our consciousness is in itself a reflection of God’s own consciousness. Having this in common with God it becomes possible for us to have communion with God and for thoughts to pass between us. Those who deny God, or deny a God who is self-conscious, will ultimately deny that it is possible for man to know anything of God or to communicate with Him, as is the case in liberal and neo-orthodox theology. Deny consciousness in God and we soon end up denying our own too.
God revealed His thoughts speaking to Adam in words. God speaks to us today in words, He uses our language in order to bring His thoughts into our consciousness. This is clear when we read in the Bible of how God communicated with the prophets and apostles. God reveals Himself to men in various ways, but His communication with men is in words, is verbal. If we are to receive God’s thoughts, He will communicate them to us using vocabulary and syntax that accurately convey His meaning. This is at the heart of verbal inspiration.
The fact that every human being is a conscious being, conscious of his or her own existence and that of things around them, presents ungodly people with real difficulty and we have no reason to let them off the hook lightly. The denial of a non-material human soul reduces men to a purely physical machine functioning alone by chemical reactions and electrical impulses, no different in fact from a motorcar or a railway engine! In his early writings, Karl Marx described consciousness of any kind as an illusion (cf. The German Ideology). In a recent BBC television series about the human brain the ‘idea’ of freewill was said to be a ‘phantom’ of the imagination - pure Marxist materialism. Not the invisible is eternal, but the material!
All this has a drastic effect, for example, on medical ethics and the manner in which medics view their patients. The patient is purely physical, has no soul, all the sensations we attribute to the soul, even religious ones, are said to be nothing more than a phantom reality created by electrical impulses. Godless doctors claim they can reproduce religious experiences simply by applying electrical impulses to the brain. Every ground of human compassion in medicine has been undermined. Little wonder that unborn children are spoken of as ‘embryos’, material to be discarded or used for experimentation.
The transplantation of human organs is little different than popping down to the local car accessory dealer for spare parts. Deprived of the godly image in man the task of doctors and surgeons is reduced to being that of sophisticated butchers. Education is also affected, after all, you have no mind, it is nothing but a phantom. All that is required in learning is the appropriate response to the stimuli provided. React like a zombie, it makes no difference. This is the thinking behind modern outcome-based education determining current changes in school curricula. With the mind gone, what kind of an education are our children going to receive?
Such ‘phantoms’ are formed in the human brain by an ever-changing environment; they are a dream, little more than a fairy story, something from Alice in Wonderland.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream -
Lingering in the golden gleam -
Life, what is it but a dream?
The king is dreaming about Alice, Tweedledee exclaims, “And if he left
off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?”
“Where I am now, of course,” said Alice.
“Not you!” Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. “You’d be nowhere. Why, you’re only a sort of thing in his dream!”
“If that there King was to wake,” added Tweedledum, “you’d go out - bang! - just like a candle!”
“I shouldn’t” Alice exclaimed indignantly. “Besides, if I’m only a sort of thing in his dream, what are you, I should like to know?”
“Ditto,” said Tweedledum.
“Ditto, ditto!” cried Tweedledee.
(from Through the Looking Glass) After death - poof - and you vanish! Not according to Scripture you don’t.
“...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.” (blips 9:27)
What is not material and physical is not. Conceiving, thinking, even language, rather than coming from the unseen human soul is seen as the direct result of the effect of the ‘material behaviour’ of men upon the human brain. ‘Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life’ wrote Marx. Self-consciousness is created by being conscious of others and of the environment around us. Our consciousness is dependent upon being stimulated by others and the environment in which we live.
Were there nothing around us to create self-consciousness in us, we would not be apiano coverse of ourselves. This is at the heart of all socialism: our existence as self-conscious beings, and the nature of that existence, is determined by others plus our environment. To improve the environment, improve the condition of men, is to improve the nature of man and this can only be achieved in a social context. Human consciousness is thus made dependent upon the material world and man’s inter-action with it. Without all the others I can have no meaning myself, and as a person can have no existence.
That the adoption of the NIV is promoted vigorously by those rejecting the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis ought not to surprise us. Modern linguistic theories, such as that of Ferdinand Saussure, from which are derived the translation methods employed in modern Bible translations such as the New International Version, all share this Marxist foundation. ‘Language, like consciousness,’ says Marx, ‘only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other men.’ It is not a gift of God to men, it is not an innate capability placed creatively within us to be developed. Language, it is said, like consciousness, is socially and environmentally dependent and determined. An isolated individual living in a void could have no self-consciousness nor could he speak or even think anything. What I am is defined, not by being created by God, but socially, by everyone and everything around me.
In a similar way, individual objects to which we ascribe words in the form of ‘names’ or nouns, actions by verbs, characteristics by adjectives and so forth, are said to be defined by everything else, because they are not themselves any of these other things. A dog is a dog only by virtue of the fact that lots of other things exist around it which are not a dog. Its own name is relative to all the others. Without the others the dog is no longer a dog. This is all total nonsense. A dog is a dog because God created it as it is and in naming it we acknowledge that, and the sound uttered becomes a sign of the essential nature in the physical form of a word.
The meaning of any word is therefore inseparably linked to a belief in the biblical doctrine of the unique creation by God of all things out of nothing and is thereby linked to His eternal plan for the world. Such is the comprehensiveness of the providential working of God that every single word, every fullpoint and comma, every nuance of grammar, can make any sense only because their very existence includes them in the purposes of God. Nothing is excluded.
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)
Once we forsake biblical creation, we lose all basis for the meaning of individual words, for their function in connected speech and their relationships in the sentence, which we call syntax.
We have then no option but to turn to within the world itself to provide us with lost meaning. What we have been describing is the imaginative scheme dreamt up by, among others, Karl Marx. Those at home using the New International Version, because of the use of the ‘dynamic equivalence’ method of translation based on modern linguistic theory, show not only that they have forsaken the doctrine of verbal inspiration, but also the biblical doctrine of creation.
The Lord Jesus is the ‘Word’ of God because He is the eternal expression of God’s essential nature, all that God is He is too because He is God. The Word has now passed from the unseen into the material world, revealing in a physical sign the very glory of God in being made flesh. There is a distinct analogy between the Word becoming flesh and God’s Word becoming written.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“God ...hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son ...who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (blips 1:1-3)
What do we mean when we sing, ‘Take the Name of Jesus with you...Precious Name, O how sweet”? It is more than a sentimental song, we are expressing our faith in our Saviour, our love to Him, in all that He is and has done on our behalf - this is all encapsulated in the name that God has given Him. To Joseph the angel said,
“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
God is saying this is who the Jesus, my Son, is!
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Even as the Lord Jesus as the Word of God cannot be separated from the essential nature of God Himself, neither can the word given to created things be pulled apart from the essential nature of the things named. A name is more than a label attached for purposes of recognition, it classifies, it becomes one with the character of that which is named. True science will today continue what Adam began, naming that which we uncover in God’s world, whether it be objects or phenomena.
We must not be deceived, but recognise the true reason for wanting to be rid of human consciousness as a non-physical entity. We cannot keep a human consciousness without at the same time retaining consciousness of God, because human consciousness is in the image of God. In this sense Paul speaks in Romans 1 of all men knowing God. He is inescapable because in knowing ourselves we cannot escape within our own consciousness a revelation of God Himself. To deny one’s own consciousness is to deny the image of the God. This men seek to be rid of. Which is, of course, the whole point of the exercise. Man, to these people, rather than being made in the image of God exists only in the image of other men. Rather than being upheld by the word of His power, He exists as a conscious being at the behest of other created things. These men indeed worship and serve the creature more than the Creator!
Expressions such as that found in Acts 1:16, “this scripture must needs have been fulfilled” because coming from the heart and mind of God, placed in the mouth of David by the Holy Spirit, there was no way it could fail. The Old Testament Scripture was seen by the apostles as a transcript of the eternal sovereign purpose of God, that transcript itself being given by that same sovereign will. We have a Bible conceived in the heart of God before the foundation of the world. In the process of time all kinds of events take place, people appear on the scene unknown to each other, who induced by the Spirit of God commit to writing that given them of God.
Language and writing are things that God first thought out for us and then when the time was ready caused us to discover. In God’s wisdom His inspired revelation to us is perfectly suited to the languages He Himself gave in all their written forms, also the language to the revelation. All languages, in an un-corrupted form, are equally suited to this purpose at any time He disposes. Human language and writing, printing, also gifts of God, can reach no greater end than to spread the Word of God abroad among the nations of the world and put it within the reach of every individual, to all nations and to every creature.
We need to remember that God made all things to glorify Himself. The Bible is for God, not for men, only that they may glorify Him. He cannot be glorified by anything of which He is not Himself the great Originator. He can be glorified only in His own perfections. Creation, all creation, including Scripture is nothing less than a revelation of the glory and the power of God. Revelation, Scripture, is not given ultimately for man, but for God’s own sake and for reasons He is under no obligation to us to reveal to us. Scripture is a revelation of the glory of God. To look at it as given for man’s sake is to deform the Bible and reduce it to little more than a mechanical communication of date, of laws, of facts. Nevertheless, the Word of God adopts to the circumstance of man and reaches its designed end when men glorify their Creator.
Inspire the Bible word-for-word, even preserve it to some extent, all that God could do, but secure its accurate translation into English, that was beyond Him. Turn water into wine, no problem; make the lame to walk, the blind to see, even raise the dead, create this wonderful universe, sure God can do all these things, but what He cannot do is give us His Word in pristine condition in a language we can understand. What a blasphemous load of old rubbish! Who can say such things, who can peddle such nonsense, save those intent in escaping from, changing, adjusting in some way, or denying that self-same Word?
The God who cannot guarantee us a perfect Bible that we can readily understand, cannot guarantee us a perfect Saviour, cannot guarantee us a sure salvation, cannot guarantee us anything at all. Such a God whose divine providence does not include personal supervision of the preservation and in the translation of the precious Word He Himself inspired surely has no control over anything at all. God determines all things, or He determines nothing.
So important is this issue. Can the God who sees the sparrow fall, who knows each of the hairs of our head, can He not preserve in equal detail His own Word, the very Word of Christ, the Word of man’s redemption? Or are there some things beyond even His reach, including His own Word? This surely cannot be.
If you have in your hands a bible made in the image of man, and to any
extent subject to the fallibility of man you will have a salvation of the same
order, you will have a god made in the image of man, and so no God at all and
4.3 APOSTASY AND BIBLES TO SUIT
Satan’s piano helps upon the Word of God increase in intensity as the Lord’s return approaches and the number of days to his final doom dwindle. In particular, piano helps against our Authorised Version are becoming more sustained, vicious, and the polemics filled with acrimony. As a result Churches that once harmoniously read the Authorised Version together have been split as a new perversion is foisted upon an unsuspecting congregation, more often than not quietly and without them being consulted.
Many have been forced out of fellowships because they object to the use of these fake bibles and all that goes with them. This is happening not only here in the UK, but in the Blip, Canada, and throughout the English-speaking world as many of our readers will testify. A similar phenomenon is taking place where French and German is read. Satan cannot achieve his end with many by a direct piano help on Scripture so he adopts a less obvious method. If he cannot discredit or sideline the Bible altogether, what he can do is to make counterfeits and perversions available. In this way people think they are still reading the Word of God, but they are doing nothing of the sort. Many welcome these new perversions as they pander to the new diluted gospel now being propagated even in places where once the truth was fearlessly proclaimed.
Some are ready to accept the New International Version, soft on Sodomy, inhibiting inspiration, implicity denying creation, down-grading the person of our Saviour - and in this respect very little different from the Russellite New World Translation. The widespread use of the NIV is evidence enough of a steady drift into apostasy. For others this jump is too great in one go, so the enemy has provided a stepping stone mid-stream over to his side in the guise of the New King James Version; and so that its true source is recognisable to those ‘in the know’, it is printed with a Gnostic mobius symbol on the title page! The origin of all these versions lies within the widespread spiritual apostasy of our day.
In seeking to defend the Authorised Version it is also incumbent upon us to show why we reject other translations of the Bible into English. This in itself is at once a much wider issue than a discussion of texts and translation methodology. We must not fall to confusing the cause and the effect. As we have already noted, both Owen and Turretin recognised that many versions of the Bible are not simply imperfect but positively perverse. In this instance too we cannot look at the alternatives to the Authorised Version in isolation, but must consider this wider context of apostasy. Satan’s great aim is to separate man from the Word of God, to prevent that which originates in the heart and mind of God, His consciousness, from reaching the heart and mind, the consciousness, of men. He wants in fact to go further to replace the truth with his own lie. More often than not his chosen means to accomplish his end will be a gradual slide from the truth into apostasy, and to an apostate faith belong apostate bibles.
Our present dispensation is characterised by a growth around the world of desperate wickedness and ungodliness and this will continue and intensify. Eventually, there will be a manifestation of such evil as has never before been witnessed on the face of the earth, evil that will be destroyed only by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Himself from heaven.
The apostles piano coversned that we are to expect an invasive form of apostasy, a wholesale rejection of the truth by those who once espoused it.
Indeed, this is one sure way of knowing that we are living close to the return of the Lord: there will be a revival, not of religion, but apostasy will receive a new lease of life.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)
The Bible tells us that the last days will be as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:30 & 37). The culmination of our present dispensation will be a rejection of the truth accompanied by unprecedented evil, giving way to a terrible unleashing of the wrath of God. This must happen to clear the way for an unprecedented revelation of God’s glory.
The nature of apostasy is described for us by the Lord Jesus in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). As the Word of God is preached, Satan’s emissaries are busy disseminating a very similar, but totally contrary message. Tares resemble wheat, and in the early stages of growth they are difficult to tell apart. In this way two sets of disciples emerge, both very similar, those of Christ and those of Satan, apostates. The mixture of the true and the false will continue until the end when both wheat and tares will be harvested, the wheat to be gathered into barns, the tares to be thrown into the furnace fires, the righteous being gathered into the kingdom of their Father, the wicked being cast into the fire of hell.
Apostasy, by definition, arises from within the bosom of the Church, from among true believers. Some enter from outside. They do not announce their arrival but slip in quietly among the believers, passing themselves off as being like everyone else.
“For there are certain men crept in unapiano coverses, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men.” (Jude 4)
There are others who arise from among the saints. Says Paul to the Ephesian elders,
“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30)
These will be people we have recognised amongst us as fellow-believers having a knowledge of the Lord. The whole question of apostasy is a very serious one and it is surprising in some ways that so little is said of it today when we find so much mention of it in Scripture; but hardly surprising, those who are false will not want to be exposed.
Accepting apostate doctrine is something more than a change of belief or opinion, but involves giving over the mind to the manipulation of evil spirits.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
Paul draws Timothy’s attention to two such teachings: vegetarianism and forbidding to marry, the setting aside of marriage as the basis for physical relationships between a man and a woman.
The clearest possible sign there is of the Lord’s return is apostasy.
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18)
This evil comes not necessarily through overtly wicked people, but by false Christs, people who appear to be like Christ.
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. ...For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:5, 24)
Satan’s answer to JerBliplem is Babylon, his response to Christ is an Antichrist. The mystery of godliness is God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16) and it is this very teaching that lies at the heart of the denial by Antichrists and false prophets.
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)
It is precisely for this reason we object to the use of those pro-Arian type texts that came once more to light around the 1860s and along with other similar texts have since been incorporated into a ‘critical text’ over against those New Testament manuscripts providentially preserved by God in the bosom of His Church, upon which God Himself has set His seal of approval, and from which our Authorised Version was translated, known as the ‘received text’ or textus receptus. The source of these more recently discovered older texts, Alexandria, was a hotbed of heresies, some involving the doctrine of the trinity, but all concerning the person of Christ in some way.
Origen, head of the catechetical school of Alexandria may perhaps be considered to be the first ‘textual critic’. He compiled his famous Hexapla (six-fold), where in six parallel columns he gave the blip text, the same again using Greek letters, the Septuagint, Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. The effect of such a comparative compilation does two things: first, it is always an expression of the dissatisfaction of the compiler with the ‘received text’; and second, it invariably unsettles the confidence of others in that text. Origen, as did many of his 19th century counterparts, held heretical views. However, he insisted on the distinct personality of the Son of God, something denied by Alexandrian modalistic monarchianism. This heresy taught that the one Person of the Godhead variously manifested Himself as the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit.
This has reappeared today among modern charismatics, who justify their errors and antics by saying that we are living in the age of the ‘Spirit’. Origen also defended the eternal generation of the Son of God, and although he called Him God, he nevertheless would not admit that the Son was equal with God. Origen taught that the Son was of a different essence from the Father. It was not long before Arias, another presbyter of Alexandria, began to teach that the Son was not eternal but posterior to the Father, the Son was created and not of the same substance -
“and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:3).
The differences in the Alexandrian texts are to be explained by the drift into apostasy that took place there. It is very easy now to understand why modern Russellites prefer the critical texts when we learn of the ground in which they grew. These texts, preferred by the infidel critics, West-cott and Hort, are directly identified with the apostasy, the spirit of antichrist, foretold by the apostles. Modern translations are almost entirely made from these critical texts and their subtle but sure piano help on the person of our blessed Saviour is all too clear when a verse by verse comparison is made with our Authorised Version. Passages are changed or omitted, and all to the detriment of the doctrine of Christ.
False teaching is part of a power already at work, denying the mystery of godliness, it is yet to be revealed and is called in Scripture the mystery of iniquity. The mystery of iniquity is a human manifestation of Satan, similar, but not identical to the revelation of God in Christ.
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-10)
A mystery remains just that until it is revealed. Those who deny Christ openly are not a mystery, they are easily recognised by the confession of their own mouths. Antichrists look like one thing, but are in fact something quite different. They do not oppose Christ, but profess to follow Him (cf. Matthew 24). At the moment their true nature and their activities are kept hidden and restrained. It is restrained by the presence on earth of true believers and the presence in them of the Holy Spirit. When they and He are removed, the mystery will be revealed. Christ’s representative on earth, the Holy Spirit, will be replaced by that of Satan. All those antichrists, who have gone before, will now be embodied in one man, the Antichrist.
Today antichrists are at work in the midst of all that calls itself Christianity and false bibles are a part of that work. This veil will be ripped away when the ‘glory’ of the Antichrist is revealed. The glory of Christ is yet hidden, is not seen. The moment when the mystery of godliness shall be made plain, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea is also yet future. The end of this dispensation is very different to its beginning. In apostolic days, very largely because of the purity of the Church, false teachers were compelled to leave gatherings of believers. Today, at its end, the professing Church is made up largely of those who deny the doctrine of Christ, and it is now the people of God who are commanded to come out.
“Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)
This we do without further question and also reject the apostate bibles
It cannot be argued that the Bible we have today in our hands is not word-for-word what the Scripture writers were given because such a view contradicts all the manuscript evidence available to us today. Equally, turning the argument the other way round, it cannot be argued that we prove the case for an infallible Bible in our hands, and at the same time disprove the arguments of textual critics, by show-ing their claims are wrong.
Our Authorised Bible is not authentic and reliable because the critics are wrong, but because God has kept and preserved His Word and so there can be no possibility of them being right.
Their assertions are false for one very simple reason, we have in our hands today the Word of God in the English language because God has given it and this we have on His own authority, therefore they must be wrong.
To the enemies of Christ proofs derived from the Bible itself are devoid of all force for one simple reason: they do not acknowledge the authority of Christ and they will therefore not accept the authority of His Word. Their objections have nothing whatever to do with reasoning in a circle by seeking to determine what Scripture is from Scripture itself. Even as the beauty of a precious stone is seen as its shines forth from that same stone, so the divine majesty of Scripture shines forth from its own pages. The glory of a diamond means little to someone without the eyes to see it, so the glory of Scripture is closed to the spiritually blind and especially when that blindness is of the worst kind in those who wilfully refuse to see.
Talk of miracles and the fulfilment of prophecy cuts little ice with those who deny the very possibility of such things. Unregenerate scholars handling the Word of God are about the task of demonstrating the ‘truth’ of their own unbelief and so will do nothing to support and sustain the faith of God’s people. They will tear prophecy apart and try to show it could only have been written after the event took place.
The organic unity of the several books of God’s Word, its effectiveness in the salvation of sinners, the testimony to its truth of martyrs’ blood, its divine character, its acceptance through the centuries by all the people of God, its preservation, they all mean nothing to those outside the kingdom of God. The marks of authenticity, of divine origin, are plain within the Scriptures, but to those before whose eyes there still hangs the veil of unbelief there is nothing to see. This darkness is dispelled only by an enlightening work of the Spirit of God.
Let it be stated categorically that without the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit within the human heart, no one will ever be convinced of the divine origin of Scripture. We say with C. H. Spurgeon,
“It is God’s voice, not man’s; the words are God’s words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovah on this earth. The Bible is God’s Bible; and when I see it I seem to hear a voice springing up from it saying, ‘I am the book of God; man, read me. I am God’s writing.’”
This conviction does not come by way of added information, in this way the Scriptures would not be any longer testifying to their own authenticity. It will be even as it was, when our Lord talked with the two on the Emmaus road, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). Was there ever such an exposition of Holy Writ? It will only be as the risen Lord Jesus by His Spirit makes Himself known to us, and eyes once holden that we should not know Him are opened in loving recognition, that then, and only then, will the Scriptures flame up before us as a holy fire, burning within us as to consume our piano tools. The reformer, John Calvin, wrote:
“For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inpiano coversd testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted.” (Institutes, I, 7, 4)
God speaks to men today through His divine Word, ever living, ever fresh, for now and for ever. The Bible is the continuing Word of God to men en-lightened to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This connection is made by Isaiah (59:21):
“My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.”
Do we want to know what kind of Bible is our Authorised Version? Take it and read it!
As there is only one living Word of God, there remains one authentic written Word of God, and there can be only one rendering that is perfect in whatever language.