One of the most frequent questions I receive from GospeLines subscribers is, "What Bible translation do you use?"
Before I answer that question, let's review what the Bible itself says about scripture.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:29, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."The Bereans were said to have "more noble character than the Thessalonians" because they "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:1)All scripture written before the time of Christ was written to teach us (Romans 15:4).
The "Scripture" generally referred to by New Testament writers was the "Septuagint" - The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) compiled between 300 and 200 BC.
Since the Septuagint was a translation, did it accurately reproduce the original Hebrew Scriptures?Not until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls could we begin to answer this question.Comparisons of the Dead Sea Scrolls, what we have of the original Hebrew and the Septuagint show that there are differences.However, these differences are minor and do not affect any teaching or doctrine.The study of these texts has shown that the Old Testament has not been corrupted by time and translations.
Let's now consider some other (non-Biblical) ancient texts.Homer's Iliad is one of the best represented of all ancient writings with approximately 700 manuscripts in existence.Among these there are several significant differences.Most ancient texts have manuscripts numbering less than 100 (and many of these are separated by 900 to 2,000 years from the time of the original).
We have over 5,000 copies of the Greek New Testament and close to 10,000 manuscripts of the original Greek text that was translated into other languages before 200 AD.Add to that over 90,000 comments or quotes by other authors (referring to the N.T. text) written within 200 - 300 AD.
Sir Frederick Kenyon, Director and Principal Librarian of the British Museum (1909-30), said in his book "Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts": "The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, or early translations from it in the oldest writings of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world."
What does all this mean you us?English translations of the Bible today, have an unprecedented number of documented manuscripts to draw from to verify the accuracy of the translation.Although there are differences, as with the Septuagint, these differences are extremely minor; and, when studied, do not adversely affect any area of teaching or doctrine.
So, what translation do I use?For personal reading, I use the NIV because it (generally) speaks in the same language I use in daily conversation.However, when I study, I also use the KJV, the NASB, the Amplified Bible and occasionally the NLT, CEV, the Message or the NKJV.I also make constant use of Strong's References for expanded Greek or Hebrew definitions.I do not use all these translations for fear of inaccuracy, but to enhance my understanding.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." (2nd Timothy 3:16)
However, no translation can compare to "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 2:5
July 19, 2005
"I Have GREAT News!"
Everyone who watches American television is familiar with the funny Geico Auto Insurance Ads, but for the sake of those who haven't seen them, here are two descriptions. A cartoon character, Speed Racer, is racing down a road in his car, and the accelerator is stuck. His partner is flying above in a helicopter and she radios to him that the bridge at the end of the road is out! Then she says, "But I have great news!" His hope quickly turns to fear as she excitedly adds, "I saved 15% on my auto insurance by switching to Geico!"
In another ad, a prisoner is sitting nervously at a conference table meeting with his attorney who says "I have great news!" The prisoner smiles and says, "I'm getting out?" The attorney looks back and says "No. But I just saved 15% on my auto insurance by switching to Geico."
The misplaced priorities of Speed Racer's partner and the lawyer make us laugh because they are so ludicrous! Who would have such misplaced priorities??!
But, what about our priorities? Where do we place the most significance? How do we spend our time, money and effort? Let's think about it for a moment, and then read the guidelines - the "policy" - given to us by God...
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well."
(Matthew 6:33, NIV)
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where
moth and rust destroy, and where
thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal."
(Matthew 6:19-20, NIV)
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world,
yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange
for his soul? (Matthew 16:26, NIV)
So, how'd you do? In your finances, your marriage, your family relationships, your health, your relationship with God - are you racing down a road where the bridge is out? Are you in a prison of debt or troubled relationships? Yes?
Well... I have GREAT news!
"...and then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34, NIV, emphasis added)
Our precious Abba, Father, they tell us that "gospel" means "good news" but I think it is better translated "GREAT news!" Who but you could love us enough to provide the way for us to live lives of triumph even when we're failing, to experience victory even when we're losing, and to receive the unimaginable inheritance of your kingdom even when we've been disobedient children? Lord, thank you for your patience and forgiveness, but call us Lord to rearrange our priorities to be in line with your will for us! Help us know how to seek your kingdom first! In the name of our Savior Jesus, through whom ALL of this is ours, Amen and Amen!!
(c) Debbie Collins Parker
July 20, 2005
When I was in college, I received a strange phone call from my Dad, asking me to give my grandmother a ride home for the weekend.My school was 300 miles from my hometown, and making that detour would add a few miles, but that was no problem.Grandmother was spending the week at a farm near Comanche, TX, bathing with dirt in a bath house with several bins of dirt lined neatly in a row.
The rumor was, that this dirt had a special quality which could heal certain type of ailments for which modern medicine had found no cure.For a certain fee, one could spend a week wallowing in the mud and dirt in hopes of a miracle.
Before we mock this practice, superstition affects most of us in some way, i.e., knock on wood, walk around a leaning ladder, throw salt over your shoulder, or alter your course to avoid the path of a black cat.In another sense, if we wear religious jewelry for purposes other than testimony or decoration, or if we surround ourselves with statues of biblical figurines because we believe they protect us in some way, we are victims of superstition.
Bethesda was known as a place of healing.Beneath the pool, there flowed a subterranean river.At certain times the pressure would cause bubbles to rise to the top.The first person into the pool at that precise moment was thought to gain healing of any disease or deformity.That's why it was surrounded by the blind, the lame and the paralyzed.When Jesus told the invalid man to "Get up!" he declared that superstition, angelic cures and miraculous means are not necessary to the Messiah's power to heal.
Oh, my dear friend, please forgive the length of this writing today.There is another powerful thought in those words of Jesus, "Get up!"He was asking the man to do something he had not done in 38 years!Jesus was asking the impossible of this poor invalid person to pick up his bed and walk away.But he did it.He might well have argued with Jesus.Instead, he obeyed, and by faith he walked.
GospeLines Prayer:"My Lord and my God, the next time you say to my feet, 'Walk,' I pray that you will forgive me if I strive to run for You.I want to be a man who responds to You by faith when You speak to me."Amen and amen.
Tommy Harrison, D. Min.
July 21, 2005
"Turning old into new"
A friend of mine found an old fire truck abandoned in the middle of a field a few years ago.It was all rusted, missing several parts and in very bad condition.By any standards, it was dead!
He managed to locate the owner and bought the old truck for $50 (I told you it was in really bad condition).Over the next few years, he spent many hours diligently and patiently working on that old fire truck.He repaired, repainted and renewed until one day, that old truck was as good as new - actually better than new.It was immaculate!
Although it was totally new and in excellent condition, that truck never again went on any fire calls.It didn't sit in a fire house or even pump water.It had an entirely new purpose in life - serving its new master and rebuilder in any way my friend saw fit.
Have you ever read Galatians 2:20?The KJ translation is, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
Look at the text of the Amplified bible to help really understand these words: "I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
Paul is saying that he is dead to his original purpose - It no longer exists.His only life now is the result of Jesus' sacrifice and His grace, through faith, that has given Paul a totally new purpose.Just like that old fire truck, Paul was "repaired, repainted and renewed" by the Spirit of God through his faith in Christ.He now serves his new Master and Rebuilder.
Are you still living a purpose that is of this world?Not if you've been crucified with Christ and live only because He (Jesus) lives in you.Don't sit useless and abandoned in some field with no eternal purpose.Become rebuilt by Jesus and become a new creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17) and start serving Him today.It won't even take $50 to start your rebuilding process.All it'll take is diligently seeking Him (Hebrews 11:6).
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 2:5
July 22, 2005
The Pharisees were among the most elite and learned men of all Israel.Considered to be biblical scholars, they were often asked to argue theological truth to provide direction for the followers of Jewish faith.The man born blind presented an argument which they could not answer.The man's argument was:"Jesus has done a good thing; you say that He is evil but the fact that he has done it means that God hears Him; God never hears the prayers of an evil man; therefore, Jesus cannot be a bad man; He must be a good man."
When they were confronted they attacked him unfairly by insulting him and threatening him by force.They ordered him out of the synagogue.
Had it not been for the words of William Barclay I would have missed an important thought here about pragmatic theology.Barclay says, "Often we have our differences with people, and it is well that it should be so.But the moment insult and abuse and threat enter into an argument, it ceases to be an argument and becomes a contest in bitterness.IF IN ARGUMENT WE BECOME ANGRY, AND RESORT TO WILD WORDS AND HOT THREATS, THEN ALL THAT WE PROVE IS THAT OUR CASE IS TOO WEAK TO BE STATED AS A CASE OUGHT TO BE STATED."
Disagreements need not be approached with anger and insulting language.The winner of the debate does not out-yell his opponent or wear him down with half-truths and innuendo.Conflict handled with grace enables friends to remain friends, and God to gain the glory from the moment.Beloved, it would be a boring world if we never differed in thought or opinion. It is entirely appropriate to disagree but to do so without being disagreeable. May God help us to learn how to use tact in dealing with our differences. By the way, tact is the ability to pull the stinger out of the bee without the bee knowing it.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, teach us how to learn from the person who looks at things in a different light. Remind us that you have not made us all alike, and in this journey toward eternity we will undoubtedly encounter people with whom we disagree. In those times, give us words of wisdom spoken with grace so that we can redeem every potential conflict before it happens. Amen and amen.