There are a number of false views that are taught about the word of God. In the religious world, some teach that we need more than the Bible in order to understand it while there are those in the secular world who believe that it needs to be modernized to fit with the changing views of culture and be less offensive. Let us study briefly some important concepts about God's word.
The Bible is inerrant. This means that neither error nor contradiction can be found within its pages. Jesus said, "Thy word is truth," (John 17:17). Here, Jesus is not only referring to the words that are uttered from God's own lips, but also the scriptures that he has handed down to us through inspired men. Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:15 gives specific instructions on what to do with God's word. He says,
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Furthermore, the word of God is complete. Therefore, we have no need of anything else such as Mary Baker Eddy's "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," and Joseph Smith's "Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ." These so-called latter day revelations are not God-breathed. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we read that
all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Many tend to believe that absolute truth is non-existent. In addition, there are those who promote the idea that the Bible, not only contains offensive language but also is archaic and does not apply today. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is the final authority in all things and is applicable to man today since the creation of man in the beginning.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).Also,
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8).
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:12-13).When we read and study the word of God, it will convict our hearts so that we may believe (Romans 10:17) the truth of the message, turn back to God, and be encouraged to live righteously until passing from this life like those who were convicted of their sins on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.It is the word of God that will be used to judge every man, whether he has done good or evil. Some will be allowed to enter Heaven, while others will be cast into eternal punishment. Jesus said,
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46).
We have just completed our study of the word of God. Next week, we will conclude this series of articles by discussing some important aspects concerning the relationship between God and His children.
Today, let us examine a different division within Bible versions: interpretive versions. Previously, we have examined the literal versions (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, NASU, RSV, NRSV); versions that their editors wished to make as literal of a translation as possible from the Hebrew/Greek into the English, so that the modern Bible student can have the most accurate text at his disposal. The editors of interpretive versions, however, determined that their versions should not necessarily follow the literal text: they wish to convey the meaning, not the letter, of the Scriptures. Examples of these versions include the New International Version (NIV), the New Living Translation (NLT; also, "The Book"), "The Message," Today's English Version (TEV), Contemporary English Version (CEV), and others.
First and foremost among interpretive versions is the NIV. Developed in the 1960s, the NIV is a distant offshoot of the ASV: the editors determined from the ASV what needed editing for comprehension. The NLT is gaining ground also, the work of evangelicals in the last decade. The other versions tend to be modifications of the same concept as the NIV and the NLT.
There is very little, if any, good to say about interpretive versions. It is the right of individual Christians, not translators, to determine the meaning of Scripture. When the Greek text involves an idiom that requires further clarification, then perhaps help with the meaning is necessary, but this needs to be the exception, not the rule.
These interpretive versions act more as a rubber stamp for denominational creeds than an actual Bible. The NIV, for example, often slants passages toward denominational understandings, such as Psalm 51:5:
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (NIV)
For I was born a sinner-- yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (NLT)
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (NASU)The NIV, and the NLT more so, show the denominational belief of original sin, which is clearly in error, as shown by Ezekiel 18:20.
The interpretive versions of the Bible are man's latest attempt to fit the Word of God to fit men's doctrines. The Calvinistic slant on Psalm 51:5 cannot be ignored, among other passages. As a Christian, you have the responsibility to read and understand the Scriptures for yourself-- not to have someone "pre-interpret" the Scriptures for you. I give no recommendation for any of the interpretive versions, and I urge anyone that has one to reconsider their choice of versions.
Ethan R. Longhenry
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