Monday, December 31, 2012

Statements of Un-Faith: What Do Our Churches and Denominations Really Believe About Scripture?

Practically all churches, denominations, Bible colleges, seminaries, and other religious organizations have “Statements of Faith” that address their doctrinal views on Scripture.  The following is a common template:

We believe that the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, and that it is without error in the original manuscripts; and that it is the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct. 
But while it appears to be a Statement of Faith, it’s really nothing more than a “Statement of Un-Faith,” or a “Statement of Unbelief.”  Reading it again, notice the bolded and underlined portion. 

We believe that the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, and that it is without error in the original manuscripts; and that it is the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct. 
In short, they don’t believe that the Bible exists today; they only believe that the Bible was inspired,[1] inerrant,[2] and infallible[3] Word of God in the original manuscripts (autographs); and since these autographs no longer exist, then by default the Word of God no longer exists.  But if the Word of God no longer exists, then how can it be the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct? 

If the Word of God doesn’t exist, then how can anyone be sure of anything – including the need for salvation?[4]  If the Word of God doesn’t exist, then how can it be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [so] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”?[5]  How can man live by “every word” that proceeds from the mouth of God if those very words don’t exist?[6]  And if the Word of God doesn’t exist, then how can anyone be held accountable for teaching error if the Bible itself is full of errors?[7]  To do so would be unjust!  So while these "Statements of Faith" seem bold and authoritative in their pronouncement, they really only mask the unbelief of the church or organization who published it. 

But if this were not enough, many have shortened their Statements to read:

We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. 
Few would disagree with this statement, and it does sound authoritative.  But at the same time, the autographs don’t exist and so there’s no way to test the mettle of a man’s faith as it pertains to the inspiration of the Scriptures.  In other words, it takes more faith to believe that God has preserved his Word than it does to believe that he inspired it.  The autographs don’t exist, but the copies do.  So has God preserved his Word in these copies or has he not?  And if so, which ones?    

Most denominations and churches are of the mindset that “scribal errors” that have entered into the written text of God’s Word thus corrupting it and rendering it unreliable, or not as reliable as the autographs, and so this is why they’ve removed inerrancy and infallibility from their Statements.  They don’t believe that the copies are “without error” (inerrant) or that they’re “incapable of error” (infallible), and so this is why their Statements now only refer to inspiration.  So again, while their "Statements of Faith" seem bold and authoritative in their pronouncement, they really only mask the unbelief of the church or organization who published it. 

But if they do believe in the perfect preservation of Scripture, then they must also name which “version” they think is the Word of God.  You can’t say that you believe in the perfect preservation of Scripture without naming a version because there are two major sources from which all versions are translated.  All modern versions come from the same set of manuscripts used by Rome to produce its Latin Vulgate while the King James Bible comes from a completely different set – and so a side must be chosen.  Two Bible translations that come from different sources that read so differently can’t both be true – despite the marketing to the contrary.  It’s irrational.  This doesn’t mean that one set has more “scribal errors” in it than the other.  It means that one is the Word of God and the other is the word of Satan.  One is a Bible while the other is a (per)version.  This one tidbit alone is enough to provide the saint with a clear mind as to which s of God and which is of Satan.  But given the ecumenical state of our churches, this is unlikely to occur.     

But returning to the point at hand, if our religious institutions don’t believe that God’s Word exists today, then why are we listening to them?  Selah. 

[1] Inspiration – literally means "God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16); meaning, all Scripture was written by God as he moved upon men by the power of his Holy Spirit. 
[2] Inerrant – without error.  With God as its Author, Scripture was written without any errors.  God by his very nature is both inerrant and infallible and his Word is the same.  Thus, the doctrine of the perfect preservation of Scripture requires that God's Word remains inerrant else God isn’t all-powerful.    
[3] Infallible – incapable of error.  God by his very nature is incorruptible as is his Word.  This teaches that the Scriptures would be perfectly preserved although it is true that corrupted manuscripts exist (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2).   
[4] Jn. 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15
[5] 2 Tim. 3:16-17
[6] Dt. 8:3; Mt. 4:4
[7] Mt. 5:18-19; Ja. 3:1

God’s Method of Preserving His Written Word: How to Know Which Version of the Bible is the Word of God

Anyone who’s been a Christian for any length of time has probably wondered which version of the Bible was the right one, or the right one for them, or if there’s a right one at all.  There’s no harm in asking ourselves these questions – so long as we’re asking them in faith.  But the reality is that most will arrive at an answer based upon little more than personal preference or opinion, both of which are continually subject to change. 

But this is untenable.  It implies that God has left us alone to make these decisions without any guidance from him.  But if true, how can God’s people know which version of the Bible is the right one, if there’s a right one at all?  In keeping with God’s nature, the Bible is often described as being holy, inerrant (without error), and infallible (incapable of error).  God himself has remained pure and without error and so likewise his written Word has as well because it’s really just a written extension of his own personal nature and character (Ps. 12:6-7, 138:2; Mt. 5:17-18 etc.); and so an attack upon one is also an attack upon the other.  And for this reason, this study assumes that God’s written Word has remained fully intact although there are corrupted manuscripts that do exist, just as there are false gods.[1] 

But to answer the question, God has placed within his Word his method of preserving his written Word which will help us to answer the question as to which version of the Bible is the “right one” and the “right one for us.”  And so all that remains is to familiarize ourselves with this method and then began to apply it.

The Method[2]

The method itself can easily and adequately be taught in only a few short minutes.  It isn’t plainly stated in Scripture but it is plainly taught.  Had it been plainly stated, then the enemies of the cross would have sought to remove it, probably postulating that the “oldest and most reliable manuscripts” didn’t contain it.  It does have its limitations, however.  It won’t allow those untrained in Hebrew or Greek to do any translation work; but for the vast majority of Christians, this isn’t an issue nor will it pose any problems in being able to understand what will be presented here, and so the saint may proceed with confidence. 

But where the method does take abit of time is in researching the history of the men and their manuscripts (MSS); however, some of that will be provided here although this is by no means intended to be an exhaustive study.  But neither would an exhaustive study affect or alter the final outcome.  In short, then, God’s method of preservation is ample and sure.  It will provide the reader with a method of knowing which version of the Bible is the correct one without having to know any Hebrew or Greekif beheld within a believing frame of reference.  The method asks two basic questions: Who authored it?  And, who preserved it?  

Who Authored It?

God is the Author of Scripture and he accomplished this as he moved upon men by the power of his Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21),[3] and so Scripture is supernatural in origin although it was written by the hands of mortal men; and of the 40 or so men who were involved in its construct, they were all Jewish. 

Rom. 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?  2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
Thus, Scripture makes it clear that it was to the Jews, and only the Jews, to whom the Scriptures were given – and this would include both the Old and the New Testament.[4]  It also means that no man from any other tribe or people has ever received written revelation from God.[5]  So any written work claiming the God of the Bible as its Author must be rejected if it wasn’t written by a Jew because Scripture teaches that it was to the Jews, and only to the Jews, to whom the Scriptures were given.  This cannot be stated more plainly. 

For example, Joseph Smith claims to have received the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ from an angel of God named Moroni.  But Joseph Smith isn’t a Jew nor does he claim Jewish ancestry; and so we can immediately discern that the Book of Mormon wasn’t inspired by God.  Why?  Because it was to the Jews, and only to the Jews, to whom the Scriptures were given, and no one else. 

In another example, Mohammed claims to have received the Qur’an by way of an angel of God named Gabriel.  But Mohammed isn’t a Jew; he’s Muslim.  And so we can immediately discern that the Qur’an also wasn’t inspired by God.  Why?  Again, because it was to the Jews, and only to the Jews, to whom the Scriptures were given, and none else. 

So in having applied God’s method of preservation, the claims of both of these men have been proven false and they in turn have exposed themselves as false prophets/teachers.  Therefore, God’s people need not worry or fret or engage in endless debate with them over their doctrine(s) nor should we be intimidated by their popularity or growing numbers.  All that’s necessary is to believe what the Bible says about itself.  Both groups claim to live by it; so in revealing the truth of Romans 3:1-2, they’re now forced to make a decision.  Selah.

Who Preserved It?

There are two facets to this question: God’s method as it applies to Old Testament (OT) manuscripts copied during OT times and God’s method as it applies to both Old and New Testament (NT) manuscripts copied during NT times.  These aren't in competition nor are they opposed to one another: the NT merely represents an expansion of the OT plan.

Manuscripts Copied During OT Times

As the verses below indicate, the responsibility for the preservation and copying of God’s Word was given to the Levitical priesthood.[6]  This is logical because they were the ones who served as the Bible teachers of their day; and so they had to have had a copy of God's Word in order to properly minister and fulfill their duties (Num. 3; Neh. 8 etc.).  Among them were the scribes who probably did most of the copying.  Ezra was a scribe (Ezr. 7:6). 

Dt. 17:18 And it shall be, when he [the king] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites
Dt. 31:24-26 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, 25That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.
Mal. 2:7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 
So as the Scriptures were written, they eventually and inevitably found their way into the hands of the Levites who in turn faithfully copied them (Dt. 31:9).  Hence, any MSS copied or preserved by non-Levitical Jews during OT times must be rejected.[7]     

Simple, is it not?

Manuscripts Copied During NT Times

For manuscripts copied during NT times, the Levitical priesthood has been dissolved although the patterns and principles that it set forth are still true.  The priests today are those who’ve repented of their sins and acknowledged Jesus as their only Savior – Jew or Gentile – and so now it’s the NT priesthood of believers who are responsible for maintaining and preserving the written text of the Word of God.  Hence, any Old or NT manuscript copied, compiled, or translated by non-Christians during NT times MUST also be rejected

Rom. 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Php. 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
1 Pet. 2:9 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: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Rev. 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.  (Rev. 5:10; 20:6 also).
It should therefore be becoming clear within the mind of the reader that the autographs (originals) along with their copying and preservation is, and has always been, the sole purview of God’s chosen people, and none else: to suggest anything else is to suggest that God’s people allow “the fox to guard the henhouse;" it's to suggest that we allow the unsaved, apostate, and unregenerate to safeguard that which is solely reserved for God’s people: a notion of which is soundly illogical.  This means that anything written by non-Levitical Jews in the OT and anything preserved or translated by non-Christians in the New must be rejected. 

Of course pragmatists would argue that God can use anyone and anything he wants, but if true, then there’d be no reason for the existence of the method.  This reasoning is also inherently ecumenical because it would require that equal consideration be given to any and all works claiming divine inspiration; and is this not the problem that exists in the church today?  Confusion over the wording has also led to confusion as to which books should be included in the canon of Scripture (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).  This ecumenical approach also undermines the biblical premise that Satan is actively involved in the corruption of the written text of God’s Word (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2) and so this sort of pragmatism mustn’t be entertained.  It only leads to sin and confusion, and God is not the Author of it (1 Cor. 14:33). 

But herein lies the beginning of yet another problem in the NT church: we’re hesitant to expose false prophets/teachers even though God commands it and love demands it (Dt. 13:1-5, 18:20-22; Eph. 5:11; Tit. 1:10-11; 2 Jn. 10-11 etc.).  But the Scriptural mandate is clear, only God’s people are to be involved in the copying and preservation of his Word and yet there are many who are not.  We should be investigating those who were involved in this process to see what they believed concerning the person and work of Jesus along with their views on Scripture.  By their conversation, are the girding our faith or interjecting doubt like Satan did with Eve in the Garden of Eden?  But you apply the method and do so properly.  For in so doing the answer as to which version of the Bible is the “right one” and the “right one for you” will become readily apparent.  Selah.

[1] Due to the introduction of corrupted texts (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2), it needs to be understood that there is now a difference between a Bible and the Word of God.  Both terms are often used interchangeably to describe the same thing, but hereafter let a distinction be made.  The Bible is the Word of God if it contains the words of God.  A Bible that contains corrupted texts is no longer the Word of God – it’s just a “bible.”   
[2] Note: the truths taught here are also equally found when considering the Golden Candlestick as found in the Tabernacle of Moses.  Entitled, “The Golden Candlestick & the 66 Books of the Bible”, this lesson can be obtained at no cost from this same author.

[3] From 2 Tim. 3:16, “inspiration” literally means “God-breathed.”
[4] Thus teaching that Luke was not a Gentile. 
[5] Jewish authorship doesn’t guarantee acceptance into the canon of Scripture either; but certainly anything written by a non-Jew does not. 
[6] One exception: the king.  He was required to sit and write his own copy when he inherited the throne as a means of instilling humility and fostering trust in the Lord (Dt. 17:14-20).
[7] In this, please note that the Jews never considered the books of the Apocrypha as part of their sacred canon; and so any MSS containing these books should also be rejected, such as the Septuagint (LXX).  The OT teaches that there would eventually be 66 books found in the Bible and not the 80 (82) when the Apocrypha are included.