WORD OF GOD IN ANY LANGUAGE
How do we recognize the word of God today? I am personally convinced that the AV is God’s word (inspired, inerrant, infallible, perfect, etc. as defined by any “Bible”) in the English language. How did I come to this conclusion? There is no verse that says: “The AV is the word of God”. Granted. Then again there are no verses that say: “All Bibles are the word of God”. Yet many on the “critical text” side of this debate believe that “all Bibles” are the word of God. There are no verses that say: “Esther, Job, Matthew, Hebrews, 2 Peter and Revelation are the word of God” yet both sides of this debate believe this. It is where both sides are in agreement, and the principles used to come to this agreement I have taken my stand.
There was a time in church history when there was “confusion”, “doubt” and “divisions” as to what exactly was the “inspired” text - the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. A decision was made based on certain criteria and for the most part the debate was settled. What was that criteria? For we find ourselves in another part of church history where there is again “confusion”, “doubt” and “division” over the inspired text. This time however the debate is not about Books but about words.
There was no “verse” to say directly: “These are the “inspired books of the Bible” any more than there is a particular verse that says: “The AV is God’s word in English”. If that were the criteria for making my decision then I frankly admit, I have no verse. But then again, neither does the “critical text” side. Many on the “critical text” side of this debate continually berate “KJV-only” brothers with: “The KJV translators never claimed inspiration”. Well neither did Matthew, James, Esther, and the author of Hebrews, etc. It is a mute point. The “critical text” side believes Matthew, James, Esther, and the book of Hebrews are inspired, as does “KJV-only” side. They believe them to be inspired for exactly the same reasons I believe the AV to be God’s word today. They are part of the recognized canon! Recognized by whom and how I might ask? I propose the following from Scripture:
I. How was the word of God revealed?
A. In sundry times and in divers manners God spake unto his people.
1. Directly - God spoke directly to people
2. Appearances - God appeared unto men
3. Visions - God gave his word through visions
4. Dreams - God gave his word in dreams
1. I think most of this is pretty clear and nobody would dispute the interpretation of these verses. God in time past spoke directly to men. Those men who received direct revelation needed no further witness but that direct revelation. They themselves were convinced it was the very word of God – inspired, infallible, inerrant, perfect, etc. They did not question it in the least. They submitted themselves to it without reservation or doubt.
a. The question remains as to how they convinced others that the revelation they received was indeed the word of God – inspired, infallible, inerrant, perfect, etc. Abram convinced Isaac (Gen. 22:8) that it was indeed the very word of God. So much so that Isaac submitted to be sacrificed on the testimony of his father. Where did Isaac get his “faith”? He had up to that time no “direct revelation” and yet he “believed”. He took the word of his father – a faithful witness.
b. Did they convince any others? If they were unable to convince others could it indeed be the word of God? Noah did not convince the vast majority yet he did convince his own family. Lot on the other hand did not convince his entire family. What was the difference? The lack of a consistent witness in the life of Lot hence the division in Lot’s household.
2. This of course presents a problem for many that accept all Bibles as the word of God for low and behold “The Koran” and “The Book of Mormon” both claim direct revelation. Granted this is the extreme position of those who hold “all Bibles are the word of God”. Yet, many would reject these books. I ask on what grounds were they rejected other than they are not part of the “standard” Scriptures, or that they were never received as the “word of God” by the church of the living God? Were they not rejected because a faithful witness was lacking or that they do not exalt the Lord Jesus Christ or they do not bear righteous fruits, they bear not the witness of the Spirit of God?
3. We must ask ourselves what “criteria” are we to use in recognizing the <revealed> word of God. Opinion? Preference? Tradition? Critical method? Faith? Principles of canon? The Scriptures?
We now move on in Scriptures in what I call the “transition” period. Revealed word conveyed or communicated to others. How was this done? The Scriptures speak for themselves.
1. God revealed his word through the PREACHING of preachers. Those who claim to give you the word of God today – are they preachers? Or are they bookworms? That is to say - we should pay more attention to what the preachers are preaching (the word of God) than to what some "professor" has to say who has never built a church from scratch, does not actively win souls, etc. The preacher is more likely to have the word of God than the bookworm.
2. Unless the brethren think this “weird” I remind them that every true Christian receives the 66 books of “canon” (standard) as the very word of God. They do not “doubt” that the book of James, 2 Peter, or Revelations should be and is part of the word of God. Nor do they have any reservations about “excluding” The epistle of Barnabas, The Gospel of Thomas, Maccabees, Baruch, etc.... They accept this by “faith”. Based on what criteria? Most believe all 66 books as the standard because the very people that “preached” the word of God to them believed thus. Even though the “oldest and best manuscripts” contain as part of the canon the apocrypha they reject the apocrypha and receive the true word of God. One of the most consistent criteria used by ALL in determining the “standard” is “apostolicity”, that is, was it written by an “apostle”? And was that apostle recognized by the church as such? See 1 Cor. 9:1-2 where Paul defends his apostleship by making reference to “his converts”! Paul was a preacher. See also my previous post “My understanding of the other side – and comments”.
B. It is written - the word of God was written down – Scriptures
1. Written by God himself
2. Written down by men
1. We see the transition. The word of God was revealed directly to individual men. They themselves convinced and persuaded others that they received the “very word of God”. They did this by “preaching”! It was later then “written” down. There were some Scriptures that were written with the finger of God. Again this was no doubt directly revealed – as with Moses receiving the commandments of the Lord.
2. The question remains: How were these “preached” and later “written” words recognized as the “very word of God – inspired, infallible, inerrant, perfect, etc.? By the “critical text” method? I trow not.
III. How was the word of God acknowledged or recognized as such?
A. By the testimony of the Holy Ghost
B. By signs and wonders
C. By faithful witnesses
1. Witness of Israel -
2. Witness of the Church of the living God -
D. By fruits -
1. Life -
2. Faith -
3. Righteousness -
1. These are the Biblical criteria to use in recognizing the word of God. They can be used by all believers in any language no matter what their station in life.
2. The testimony of the Holy Ghost is some times laughed at or spurned. Many times the “critical text” side throw this into the AV Bible believers face with something like the following:
What is wrong with praying and asking God for truth is beyond me. Wasn’t this David’s constant prayer (Ps 27:11, 31:3, 43:3, etc.). Mormons are not wrong for praying. They are wrong for not receiving God’s answer to their prayer – ending up at a Bible believer’s doorstep!
Sometimes the accusation is: “They think God told them what the word of God is”. How is this to be interpreted? Didn’t God tell Abraham? Isaac? David, Paul, Peter, etc. the word of God? God didn’t tell the “early church” what the word of God was or what the limits of the canon were? Is the “critical text” side really trying to tell people to believe something the Spirit of God did not bear witness to? Surely not.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
3. Signs and wonders confirmed the word of God. This of course would only be needed at the beginning when the word was first given. Interesting enough most of the “critical text” side wants to “omit” the last part of the Gospel of Mark where the AV teaches us clearly WHY God gave the signs. Pentecostals and the “critical text” side both miss the point.
a. Please take note that when Moses went before Israel and Pharaoh a “sign” was required to confirm the word. Also notice that “signs” were given to the Apostles to confirm the word.
b. In reading the histories of missionary endeavors into “cannibal tribes” and also talking with modern day missionaries doing tribal work one thing is obvious. There are two conflicting “final authorities” when entering tribal work. The word of the “witch doctor” that represents the “word of the devil” and the word of the missionary that claims to be presenting the word of the one true God. There is a “dead lock” until the missionary shows that “his medicine” is more powerful than the “witch doctors”. That is a sign to the “heathen” which is the true word of God. May I suggest Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson or any of the biographies of Studd, Goforth, Judson, Patton, etc.
4. The word of God once confirmed was committed to the care of Israel (Old Testament) and now the Church of God (New Testament and Old Testament). The Jews had a history of “standardizing” their Hebrew text. The current standard is the Massoretic Text. The Church of God has also “standardized”. That standard being the Textus Receptus – the text received by all.
a. If we can find a time in history where it was clear WHAT the Church of God recognized as “the standard” then we can identify the true word of God today. There was a Church that “kept his word” Rev. 3.8 we would do well to find that Church!
b. There is no doubt from either side that the Textus Receptus was the standard in Greek – this is confirmed by the fact that every Bible in every language was translated from the Textus Receptus through 350+ years after the Reformation. The English AV was THE recognized standard for 350+ years. To this there is not doubt, argument or division.
c. The question asked, however, is: “Is it STILL the standard”? Obviously it is not for the “critical text” side. It is not their standard. They have REJECTED its authority. They feel quite confident that they can find fault with it, correct it and belittle those who STILL believe it.
d. I remind our dear brothers that the AV (English standard) was THE STANDARD accepted by ALL Bible Believers for over 350+ years. It behooves them to prove that the AV is no longer the standard. They must prove that something has “replaced” the AV as the standard. That Something must be recognized by ALL as the standard. For low and behold on the “critical text” side they are divided into 100’s of fractured groups as to which is the “most accurate”, “best versions”, “most literal”, “most faithful”, etc.
5. Fruit must be a criteria. Please note that the great debate on AUTHORITY between Korah and Aaron was decided by FRUITS! Aaron’s rod that budded was the deciding factor! The correlations are astounding. There can be no doubt whatsoever as to the fruits of the AV. As for the modern versions for the most part they have all died on the vine. Proof? Where is the RV of 1881 today? The ASV of 1901? Where are the 100+ versions that challenged the AV’s authority today?
IV. Facts about the word of God
A. The word of God is without error -
B. God's word is preserved -
C. God's word should not be added unto -
D. Ways to abuse the word of God -
V. THE WORD OF GOD - Written by men but inspired by God -
1. Both sides agreed at one time that the AV was the standard of the English speaking church. For whatever reason there is “doubt” and “division” about that today.
2. Both sides agree for the most part on how the “canon” was decided. The same principles can be applied today for deciding the canon (standard) of “words”.
3. The above Biblical principles can be applied in all countries everywhere. There is no real need for “textual criticism”.
a. Textual criticism being defined as that art of determining what was original said in the lost originals using the following criteria:
#1. The older reading is preferred.
#2. The more difficult reading is preferred.
#3. The shorter reading is preferred.
#4. The reading which best explains the variants is preferred.
#5. The widest geographical support for a reading makes it preferred.
#6. The reading which conforms best with the author’s style is preferred.
#7. The reading which reflects no doctrinal bias is preferred.
b. Where anyone can find this in Scripture is beyond me. Let us try this out for recognizing the books of the Bible.
#1. The Older reading is preferred – out goes the New Testament!
#2. The more difficult reading is preferred – Well, keep the last half of Exodus, Leviticus, Ezekiel, Hebrews and Revelation, but please throw out the gospel of John, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians.
#3. The shorter reading is preferred – Keep Jude, 2 John, 3 John, the Pauline Epistles and the minor prophets but throw out Luke and Acts along with the Isaiah, Jeremiah and Job.
#4. The reading which best explains the variants – which would be?
#5. The widest geographical support – There goes all the epistles to isolated churches, Galations, Ephesians, Colossians, etc. but keep Acts, Exodus, and Revelations.
#6. The reading which conforms best with the author’s style – Pitch the last half of Isaiah from chapter 40 on because his style changed. Also get rid of Matthew 23 for that’s not Jesus’s style – he is more loving than to rip into religious hypocrites. Pitch Revelation for John also was very loving and it speaks to much of the wrath of God.
#7. The reading which reflects no doctrinal bias – pitch them all for they are ALL pro God and Pro Jesus.
The point of all the above is to show that “textual critics” treat the Bible as a “neutral book” in general. They forget Biblical principles when making decisions on which version is correct. Like prayer, faith, fruits, witness of the Spirit, witness of the church, etc.
4. Not one time in all of the above was the Scriptures ever DOUBTED! Not one time did anyone question the prophets with: “Are you sure that was in the original”, “Paul, your mistaken, the original Hebrew says it ‘differently’”, “Don’t you think you could say that a better way?”, “Your writings are too archaic and difficult to understand”, etc. The word of God was RECEIVED, ACKNOWLEDGED and BELIEVED! Never doubted, corrected or looked upon with skepticism.
5. I have made what I believe to be a reasonable decision. I “prefer” (to use “textual critic’s” terminology) the AV. I believe every word of it. When I preach, I preach believing the Bible in my hands. I never correct it or cast doubt on it in anyway. In our church in the States we use nothing but the AV in our services and expect that any public reading will be done from the AV. When a decision has to be made concerning spiritual matters of faith and practice, the AV is our final court of appeal. We do not prohibit believers from reading any Bible in any language they so choose in their own homes. Nor do we prohibit YOU from reading in Bible you so choose. We realize that God will judge each man according to his OWN works. We do however RESENT and RESIST all attempts to cast doubt, find fault with and correct our time honored Bible the AV.
I do hope this helps some of you understand my position.
Please do write if you have any questions or comments!