A Voice in the
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever." (Is40:8)
A while back somebody sent me a treatise that was supposed to show that the Bible is not reliable. It took Mt27:3-10 and Acts ch1, comparing the two narratives of Judas taking the money back to the temple, how he hung himself, how the field was purchased with the money, etc. If he threw the money down in the temple in one passage, then how could 'he' have "purchased" the field in the other passage, etc?
For a period of time, a year or more ago, I used to receive various lists from people passing by, visiting the website. Lists of "Bible Contradictions"
A while back, somebody else sent me a file from some place, describing a new "Illuminated Bible" that is on the drawing boards to be produced. It is supposed to be produced in "glossy magazine" style, with many photographs with models such as Claudia Schiffer, etc. Talking about portraying Adam and Eve in New York City, walking down a street, kissing. They talk of having nudity "because the Bible is very sensual and we are going to exploit that". Oh yes, and, by the way, you KJV-only people will be 'glad' to know that they intend to use the KJV in it!
And while the KJV has been considered a standard of fidelity to God's Word for many years, we have come to realize that it contains some doctrinal errors because of some places that have been mistranslated.
So... do we have God's Word? How do we know? Can we trust what we read? If the "Word of our God stands forever" and Jesus said that not one "jot or tittle" would pass away from God's Word without being fulfilled (Mt5:18), what do we do when we realize that the KJV promotes the seeds of Mariolotry in Luke 11:28, and other things in other places, because it was produced by the church of Rome? If the KJV, NKJV or others have errors, does this mean that God's Word cannot be trusted? That the Bible contains lies and discrepancies?
Well, first of all, let us understand one thing -very- clearly. "..knowing this first, that not any of the prophecies of Scripture came into being from personal exposition, for prophecy was not formerly brought forth by man's choice, but holy men of God spoke as they were propelled along by the Holy Spirit" (2Pet1:20-21)
Notice that the Scriptures were "-FORMERLY- brought forth". It is now approaching well-nigh unto 2000 years since the last bit of Scripture was penned, when it was "once for all delivered to the saints" (Judas3) When the Scriptures were written by the "holy men of God" there were no such things as "versions". There was no KJV, NKJV, RSV, NIV, etc.
Many of the more detailed doctrinal statements from places such as seminaries will speak of the "plenary [complete in all respects] verbal inspiration of Scriptures IN THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS". God's Word, as He gave it originally, does not change. If when the lady called out to Jesus, blessing Mary, and Jesus said, "No! Rather, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it" (Lk11:28), if Rome changed it to "Yes. But more than that..." does such a mistranslation change God's Word? Does it change the fact that Jesus actually said, "No; rather.."? Not hardly!
So, how can we know that we can be sure of "how to" get to Heaven, then, if the translations we have contain errors? Well, God "looks at the heart". (1Sam16:7) He knows "those who are His" and who "..trust Him". (2Tm2:19, Nah1:7) Even the worst perversions (well; except for "The Message"!!) declare that salvation is "by grace through faith" (Eph2:8) and that we need to "call upon the name of the Lord". (Joel2:32, Ps116:13, Rom10:13)
But you know... I think I have finally figured out why God has allowed these bits and pieces of errors to exist in the translations. For the same reason that Jesus always spoke to the multitudes in parables, as it says, "and without a parable He did not speak to them" (Mt13:34) Why? "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Mt13:13) "..lest they should convert, and their sins be forgiven them" (Mk4:12)
Recently while going through all four Gospels several times in close succession while working at the VW-Edition, I was struck with the utter hard-heartedness of the religious leaders. Jesus would be continually performing signs and healing people, and then next thing you see, the leaders come circling around Jesus like a bunch of vultures asking Him to "perform a sign" for them. And I would keep thinking to myself, "What has He just been doing hundreds of times over and over?!? Were you not watching??" As John records, "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe into Him" (Jn12:37) It is as Abraham said to the rich man, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead." (Lk16:31) And as we know, when Lazarus truly 'was' raised from the dead, what did they want to do? They wanted to kill Lazarus, too, because that by his being raised, people were believing into Jesus. (Jn12:10-11)
Let us understand the OVERWHELMING nature of the signs Jesus was performing. We, of course, remember the case where the woman came from within the throng and touched Jesus' garment and was healed; and Jesus asks, "Who touched Me?" And Peter responds, essentially, with, 'Well, duh! All these people thronging around, and You ask, "Who touched Me?"??' (Mk5:31, Lk8:45) With the various movies that have come out, showing a namby-pamby 'Jesus', with His disciples and crowds all lined up in neat photogenic 'rows' listening to Him, and no crowd ever much larger than a couple dozen when He is healing, I don't think we begin to grasp the concept of how desperate these people were to be healed of their sicknesses. When Jesus healed the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda, the man's comments are not given justice from the translations we have been used to. The man was not wanting to be "put" in the pool, but he says, "I have no man to -THROW-ME- into the pool.." (Jn5:7) When the angel came to stir up the water, the infirm did not line up politely and motion to each other, "Oh, you go first." No! It was a MAD DASH to GET THERE FIRST! When the crowds thronged around to be healed, we get a very revealing picture from Mark. In Mk3:7-10 it says that a "great multitude" came to Him; and it lists the various places they gathered from. And knowing the nature of things, Jesus has the disciples get a boat ready, so that if He needs to, He can get into the boat for safety, "that they might not press upon Him". (vs9) Now, the next verse is rather fascinating, "For He healed many, such that, as many as had plagues -FELL- UPON HIM in order to touch Him". It is a picture of people frantically swarming around Him, pushing and shoving, scratching and pulling and tugging on others that are in their way, so they can get to Jesus, and if the struggle is such, somewhat like when a whole swarm of players are tackling the person who has the ball, and a few more "jump on top" to get through to tackle him. If the people couldn't claw their way through, when they were just about there, they were apparently lunging forward just so they could, if nothing else, 'ram' into Him to 'touch' Jesus and be healed. They weren't concerned about finesse, but to TOUCH HIM.
With all of these kinds of swarms of people being healed, you mean to tell me the scribes and Pharisees didn't know about Jesus' "signs"? Really, now!! You see, -that- was the nature of their hard-heartedness. And actually, yes, such is the nature of today's hard-heartedness, too.
Thus, while we continually address the matter of perVersions, and sticking with translations that adhere to the correct Heb/Grk texts, the problem with most hearts is not the "translation". It is not a translation problem, but a heart problem. Many of those who militantly hold to the best translations, often have the hardest hearts regarding God's Truth. They are like the chief priests who said of Judas' refund of those 30 pieces of silver on the temple floor, "it is NOT LAWFUL to put them into the treasury" (Mt27:6) As I reread that several times recently, too, I found myself 'yelling' at those hypocrites with sentiments like, "Is it -LAWFUL- to have the Son of God up on that cross right now??" It's not lawful to take back blood money, but it's OK to crucify God's Son, which that blood money helped you obtain!? Again: Really, now!!
While we continually strive to have the most faithful translation, God is not limited by what man has done with His Word. His Word still stands forever. (Is40:8) The ones to whose hearts God reveals Himself are those who have hearts to say, "..my heart stands in awe of Your Word". (Ps119:161) To such a person, even if they are reading a perVersion, their heart tells them, as we have heard testimony from those for whom this has been the case, that "something is wrong". While doing studies and preparing writings for VW, even before I ever started into working on translation matters, I was often in awe of how the Holy Spirit within me would cause me to 'question' something I was reading, in whatever translation I was reading it, to look up the words and investigate, and discover how it had been mistranslated. If a pastor or preacher has to do a word study, and says something like, "In the Heb/Grk the word -REALLY-MEANS-..." then, it is obvious that the translation you are reading has an error; otherwise, "really means" would not be necessary. And, yup! I think I've heard a LOT MORE "really means" in KJV-only type churches than any place else, too. Will they ever make up their minds?! Is the KJV "without error", or is it not??
For a True Believer, within whom the Holy Spirit dwells (Rom8:9), never forget that it is the very self-same Holy Spirit who propelled along the original "holy men of God" who penned the words. God's Word does not change. He wrote it back then. He remembers what He wrote. When a Holy Spirit indwelt Believer reads God's Word, the same Holy Spirit recognizes whether or not those are the same words that were originally written; or a translational equivalent.
So, back to the title-question: Is the Bible reliable? When I read the printed page do I know that it is God's Word? Well, an unbeliever may likely not have a clue. But a true Child of God will know. And if it is not, the Holy Spirit will stir something in the heart, and put a question mark there. God's Word is not necessarily the printed page, but is "living and powerfully active" and reaches into the heart of man "..even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb4:12) When Abraham "believed God" (Rom4:3), he did not have any printed book. But he had God's Word in his heart.
"So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Is55:11)