The Word of God - Dangers

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Do we Christians really value the written Word of God- the Holy Bible? Doubtless, not as we should. It is a veritable treasure-trove-"more to be desired... than gold, yea, than much fine gold." Psalm 19:1010More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10). But what comes easy is often not valued as it should be. To have within our reach the very Word of God is an inestimable privilege, for it reveals to us the whole mind of God about our relationships with Him with whom we have to do. It tells us of our fall in Adam, and of redemption in Jesus Christ, the last Adam—the Lord from heaven. It tells us of life and of death, of heaven and of hell, of things terrestrial and of things celestial. It meets all our needs and gives us direction for each step of our pathway.
Many dear saints of God have endured hardships and even death to possess a copy of the Bible, and others have given up their lives rather than part with it and its sacred precepts. Its very preservation to us, against all the malice and hostility of men and of demons, is a great miracle; it is a work of God who has in His all-wise superintendence guarded it for us. It has been maligned and ridiculed, scoffed at and beset by foes among the rich and the poor, the uninformed and the ill-informed, the religious and the irreligious. There is scarcely a portion of the Holy Scriptures that has escaped being handled by unholy hands, or discounted by words proceeding from unholy lips and brains.
In early times, God conversed with the patriarchs and gave them instruction for themselves and their families. Until the time of Moses, there was no written word for the people. The first five books of the Old Testament comprise what is known to the Jews as the Torah. It contains a divine and absolutely accurate account of creation, and shows man his responsibility to his Creator. In it God also gave His law to the Israelites; this could be broken, but not bent, even as the tables of stone upon which "the writing of God" was. The stones were broken before they came into the camp, even as the commandments were broken at that time.
But along came the critics who said that Moses could not have written those books, because writing was unknown then. This pleased the fool who says in his heart, "There is no God." But God allowed men to find writings that had been done long before Moses wrote; however, the opponent of God and His Word is never long at a loss for objections. Next, the critic said that Moses did not write the account of creation, or give the law from God to the people, but that he had merely compiled fragmentary legends and various codes of conduct. There are always those who eagerly adopt any notion that seems to favor atheism. But God said by Stephen that Moses received the living oracles for the people; he did not compile or edit them. Furthermore, the Pentateuch, or Torah, abounds with "The LORD spake unto Moses." And if we go back to the codes of human conduct that Moses is supposed to have copied, they are without exception concerned only with man-to-man relations; but the law of the living God had first to say to man's responsibility to his Creator. Or if we compare God's unadorned but sublime account of creation with the nonsense found in the fragmentary legends of the heathen regarding it, we see that the latter is but crude corruption of the facts.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, except a very few isolated portions which concerned Gentiles, which were written in Chaldee, or Aramaic. This is as we might have supposed. The Old Testament was translated into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt, about 270 B. C. Here again the critic is routed when he rejects the book of Daniel as having been written as history and not prophecy. To get around the exactness with which Daniel's prophecy was fulfilled, he simply says, It was written after the events, and hence was merely history. But that early Greek translation, called the Septuagint, contained the book of Daniel. And that prophecy carries us on to the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem. God's prophetic word by him also takes us into the long interval in which we live, between the Roman Empire of the past and that of the future. The Lord Jesus Himself referred to Daniel as "Daniel the prophet," not as Daniel the historian.
The New Testament was written in Greek (not classical, but in the language of the people, called Koine). In about the second century, Latin superseded Greek as the language of government and diplomacy. This gave rise for the need of a Latin translation of the Holy Scriptures, which in the fourth century was made, largely by Jerome. It became known as the Latin Vulgate. Vulgate signifies to make common or public. This well suited the Roman Church for centuries, as all its services were in Latin; but, as Europe was overrun by other peoples, and languages multiplied, the Latin Vulgate was no longer the language of the common people. Thus for centuries the people could not have or read the Word of God, and the Roman Church became the most determined foe of placing the Bible before the common people. The populace was kept in ignorance and darkness.
This was one of the contributing factors which brought about the Reformation. The reformers did not start out to break with Rome, but to make her clean out corruption, graft, and evil. When Rome was adamant, a final break ensued.
In the fourteenth century, John Wycliffe was the first to translate the whole Bible into English. It took him 22 years to complete it, and each copy was written by hand, which required ten months' labor. Only the rich could afford a copy, and others would pay for the privilege of reading it for an hour a day. "The Word of God was precious in those days." It is strange that Wycliffe was permitted to die a natural death, but forty years later his bones were dug up and burned and his ashes scattered on a river. Wycliffe's translation was made from the Latin Vulgate.
Early in the sixteenth century, a very great scholar by the name of Erasmus made a good Greek translation. He was a man evidently raised up of God for the work, for it was a valuable help to later translators. It was from the original Greek, and errors that had been made in the Vulgate were lacking.
About this time, William Tyndale, a contemporary reformer of Luther's, made a translation from the Erasmus Greek Version, and this was the first printed New Testament in English. He had to flee England because of persecution, and his work was done in Cologne and Worms on the Continent. These New Testaments had to be smuggled into England, and every copy the Church of Rome could get its hands on was burned forthwith. This man of God was first strangled and then burned at the stake. It is not our purpose to recall these early struggles in order that the common people might have the Word of God in the vernacular, but we do wish to point out that others have suffered the loss of all things, and even of life itself, because they valued so highly what we take for granted.
"That old serpent... the Devil" has always been the enemy of the truth of God. Many times in Old Testament days, the enemy sought to eradicate the Old Testament. Whatever has been of God has been the object of his hatred and abuse, and he has always found willing hands to do his work. We will not go into further details of the struggles to have the Bible in the language of the people, but pass on to the well-known work, the King James Translation. In 1611 that work of inestimable value was printed. It was a work of fifty-four translators. They worked under the favor of the strange king, King Jas. 1 The English translation was made from Greek and Hebrew texts. Probably nothing in English history did so much to stabilize the English language, or to enrich the English people, as that translation—not that it was wholly free from mistakes, but it shows the marks of God's guiding and providential hand in its preparation. It also shows the piety of the men who labored hard and long on its preparation.
The Catholic Church too felt the pressure and need to give a vernacular translation to the people. This was done in the Douay Version which was made from the Latin Vulgate. They have since produced a more satisfactory translation in this country in the Confraternity Revision. But the effects of all of them are somewhat nullified by their priestly warnings to their communicants that they may err in reading it for themselves, and so should receive it only in the light which the Church throws upon it.
In 1885 the whole Bible was revised from the King James Translation. This was also a long and tedious operation, but the Revised Version never gained the acceptance that the King James Version did. Early in this century (1901, to be precise), another revised version came out; this one was produced by American scholars. It is generally referred to by the initials of A. R. V., meaning American Revised Version. This did not gain acceptance either, but we consider it is in many places better than the 1885 English revision.
But let us come on down to the middle of the 20th century. Satan, the god and prince of this world, can no longer deprive much of the world populace of the Word of the living God. It is now readily available in most languages and at reasonable prices. His attacks now are to call its divine authorship in question, to seek to disprove its statements by pseudo-scientific argument. Instead of fighting the production of the Bible, he is patronizing the Bible. He has joined forces with so-called Christianity to produce a great multiplicity of versions, texts, and translations, so that the wayfaring man might become so confused and bewildered that he casts all aside as spurious, or at least, as doubtful.
To make our point clear, we will quote from a current publication:
"Anyone invoking the Bible these days is always well advised to double-check his quotation; in the current flurry of Biblical revision and retranslation, it might have suddenly become archaic or incorrect. Last week two more additions to the changing Bible were announced."—Time, October 19, 1962. This article is headed: "The Changing Word."
What better way to sow distrust of the unchanging and unchangeable Word than to dub it the Changing Word. "Forever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven." Psalm 119:8989LAMED. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89). If the Word of God is subject to changing moods and fancies of men, then there is nothing solid in this whole world, for it is a changing scene. Things that were considered as unchanging as the Rock of Gibraltar are gone or going from the scene. How many nations remain as they were 62 years ago? Which moneys of the world have the same value as they did fifty years ago? None! as far as we know. Who can guarantee the so-called blue-chip stock certificates for a decade ahead? Who can promise that there will not be a war of giants whose struggles will decimate the population? We say with solid conviction, There
is nothing stable here. All is fleeting and vain, perishable and transient. And now great men of letters would remove the only bulwark—the Word of Him who does not change, and who never changes His Word. Of old He said to Israel, "I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Mal. 3:66For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6).
When the last remaining bit of stability is cast aside, is there any wonder that moral decay is prevalent in government, in business, and in the social structure? Where is individual morality appreciated? Truly this great nation is following closely in the steps of decadent Rome in the days of her fast decline.
Are these days not reminiscent of what we read in Jer. 36? There God gave Jeremiah a message to write to King Jehoiakim the son of Josiah. The princes went in and told the king what Jeremiah wrote; then "the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll; and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which, stood beside the king. Now the king sat in the winter house in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he [the king -A. R. V.] cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed." Jer. 36:21-2321So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. 22Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. 23And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. (Jeremiah 36:21‑23). There have long been men of great daring who would use a penknife to cut up the Word of God, and burn it; but many men today use the pen instead of the knife to mutilate the Word of Him "who cannot lie." Surely all the judgments pronounced by the God of heaven will come upon this world, and solemn indeed they are.
Besides the news headline quoted above—"The Changing Word"—we have before us other headlines as follows:
"Time-Honored Words Vanish from Old Testament." "Drastic Changes in Translation for New Bible."
"A New Translation Alters Bible."
"British Scholars Use Scissors—New Bible Version Deleting 'Nonsense.' "
"A New Bible For Our Age."
"Scientific Churchman Cuts Out Adam, Eve."
"Jewish Bible 'Reroutes' Exodus."
"New Bible Changes Story of Moses, 3rd Commandment."
Are not these headlines sufficiently bold to sway many unbelievers toward distrust.. of the Holy Bible? Are they not calculated by the enemy. of souls to do their disastrous work? Why burn Bibles today when more effective means are at hand to discredit them? Christian readers, are we really awake about the character of these times? If Jude found it necessary to write to the believers to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," is it not all the more necessary now? Are we to succumb to laziness which worldly prosperity produces? Are we to be inebriated with the spirit of the world? Or, are we going to EARNESTLY CONTEND for the faith? We may easily lose our heritage by simple default. The spirit of Laodicean apathy has swept over Christendom where professed (and sometimes real) Christians are neither cold nor hot. Are we partaking of the spirit of lukewarmness which permeates all profession?
For many years it was possible to obtain from Bible Houses and Societies faithful translations in foreign languages of the King James Version. Now, we admit that it would probably be better to have faithful men of God translate the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures into the foreign languages in which missionaries and indigenous Christians labor in the Word and doctrine; but as a shortcut to getting the Word of God into many languages, it was easier to translate from the English. This proved quite satisfactory. Now we are informed that it is impossible to buy such translations for work in several lands. The publishers have simply discontinued printing the Bible from the more trustworthy King James Version and have substituted the modern translations which cast doubt upon many portions of Scripture. We received this complaint two weeks ago from a native Japanese laborer who is in the United States for a visit. Will there be an attempt made now to discontinue printing the King James Version in English? Who can tell? The trend is certainly that way, and some of the great Bible Societies are going along with it.