The all-time best seller & the foundation to Western Civilization, now-a-days the Bible has been banned from our schools, & increasingly from public venues. Where do we go for truth?? This is a discussion about the value of the Christian Holy Scriptures for those who are not using it, but are curious if it could be of some value. This is not a complete coverage of all the issues, nor is it an argument…it is a discussion that covers most major objections. Is the Bible merely the writing of humans, or is it a heavenly instrument to instruct us in righteousness? What is its message, and do people need that message? I think it is unfortunate that many people today are scared off from the Bible, yet have not really been exposed to it. Later, some are very surprised at what they find in it.
DIVINE REVELATION GIVEN TO SPECIAL MEN OF GOD? The Bible says of itself that “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory & goodness.”(A) Another Bible verse teaches that all scripture is given by inspiration of God [to men] and is profitable for instruction in righteousness.(B) We will discuss reasons why people might call these claims into question.
WHAT BIBLE? At times, a person decides to read this book called the Word of God, and the Holy Scriptures…but after all these “translator wars” is puzzled about which Bible to use. Sadly, the world does not need all this confusion over a multitude of translations. The end result of these translator wars is to make some people fearful to read any Bible. First, potential readers need to bear in mind that modern translations are copyrighted, and the purpose behind a new translation often is to make money & to promote some New Age agenda. Some are sectarian Bibles slanted to the sect’s view, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses NWT and the Mormon’s JST. The foundational reliable Bible translations have historically been the Latin Vulgate (for Latin), the King James (for English), and the Martin Luther (for German). The last 3 were all based on the Textus Receptus (mainstream manuscripts). There are solid reasons why such Bibles have been dependable & popular. But I can assure you, that no matter how unfaithful some of these newer “Bible translations” are—let’s say the J.W.’s NWT for instance, that all of them are adequate for a person to comprehend the issues of salvation when you are guided by the Holy Spirit of God.
So I say the best translation is the one the Spirit of God is using to teach you. I say this to get people past the inertia of not reading any Bible. God is more powerful than a perverted translator. Use any translation, but with caution and the realization that you will need to dial in your focus and understanding of the truth by additional study into the actual original language of the text beyond the inadequacies of what that translation or paraphrase gave you. Some of these new translators are gay & anti-Christian; some are mediums. Perverted translators can try to hide the truth, but the truths of salvation are still there for the Spirit of God to work with. In other words, God is more powerful than the “translators”. If you want the truth you will seek it with the faith that God will reveal His truths to you by the actions of God’s Spirit of truth. I think more important than finding the right translation is for a person to have that Spirit of truth animating one’s search. Some people have good translations but let others spoon fed them what it supposedly means, and never let the Word speak for itself. And then we have the situation where the candidate to read the Bible lacks faith in God, and of course, then a book that claims to be the Word of God is not going to have any value.
VIEWS OF ITS DISUSE. Surveys show that the Bible is held in higher esteem than is suggested by how politically incorrect it has become. People, even pastors who want to use it more, are intimidated not to use it. But there is certainly a segment, that are opposed to the Bible (but not necessarily to the idea of God). If you were to ask a young person, she will tell you that she doesn’t read it because it is not relevant to today & would be a waste of time. She spends her time texting & watching TV cartoons. If you ask another young man, he will tell you that it is full of mistakes, so that is why he doesn’t read it; yet, this same young man listens all day to his “home-ees” (buddies), & listens to the weather forecasts & the rest of main stream media. So one can conclude after experiencing numerous different (somewhat inconsistent or hypocritical) excuses of why the Bible is not in people’s lives, that the reason they give are more pretexts than the real reasons. I think it is a fair assessment to say that deep down, people realize that IF the Bible were correct, they would have to obey God & surrender their lives to Christ…and they are not ready to give any outside authority, like their parents or God, control over their own life. (But again, we see a lack of consistency here, because they join the marines, or whatever, and willingly allow themselves to be controlled by outside forces.) People tell me how much a control-freak God is, and then they join some Satanic-cult where they lose all freedom. Unfortunately, humanity is not consistent, they may say one thing, & do another. Plus, there are other objections to the Bible that we have not touched on yet.
IT IS USED WHEN PERCEIVED AS USEFUL. One solid truth is that people use & apply the Bible when they perceive it as useful. When I gave my life to Christ, God’s Spirit immediately gave me a thirst for the Bible. I have witnessed the same thing happen to numerous converts to Christ. Recently, a young man was telling me how all his spare time was spent reading the Bible…he could not get enough of it. So from my experience, I would state that I don’t need to defend the Bible, God’s Spirit will advocate for it. I don’t need to convince people of the book’s value…it’s value speaks for itself. When people get hungry to discover its truths; then they are deeply delighted in it. Interestingly, the New Testament teaches that the Hebrew scriptures were written so that we’d believe in Jesus Christ(C) and Jesus said that the Scriptures were a witness of who he was.(D) When I gave my life to Christ, I didn’t know that, but the Spirit gave me a hunger to read the Word of God.
BUT THERE ARE STILL SOME WHO ARE DRAWN TO IT, BUT NERVOUS TO OPEN IT BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY HAVE HEARD. For instance, one stat is that there are 400,000 textual variations in the Bible.(E) That number is scary, but what are we talking about here? Do you really think someone sat there & counted 400,000 variations? And all these differences between manuscripts—over how many manuscripts are we talking about? Well those 400,000 variations are spread over 25,000 manuscripts, and the number of differences is not a precise one—more or less a guestimate. So when we get a handle on this statistic, it actually shows how precise the Bible is. Thousands of different scribes & monks copying the Bible by hand, & yet between the 25,000 manuscripts there are small differences, most are what we would call typos—not differences in content. As with so many things in life, we should give the Word of God the benefit of the doubt until we can investigate both sides of any perceived errors. What most people who object to perceived errors don’t realize is that every supposed contradiction in the Bible has been explained with a plausible explanation that resolves the objection. There is a spin (a lie) that is popular today that there are increasing reasons for skepticism towards the Bible. Research in many fields is actually going the other way, and increasingly showing its credibility, for instance all the Hebrew books of the Bible (except Esther) were found in the Dead Sea scrolls.
ANOTHER CONCERN IS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WARNED IT IS MISSING IMPORTANT BOOKS. The Bible as it is “canonized” (created) is completely adequate to address spiritual issues. The popular story today is that due to politics many important books were left out of the Bible. Because of this, probably more people have looked at the Gospel of Thomas (which was not incl.) than have seen the Gospel of Mark. Another objection along this line is given by Muslims & Mormons who claim that the original texts & teachings were corrupted & their prophet (be it Mohammed or Joseph Smith) provided us revelation to make up these deficiencies. The truth is otherwise. The Bible says its purpose was provide mankind with salvation, and on that topic the Bible has written all that we need for salvation & sanctification. In fact, the death, resurrection & ascension of Christ was a finished work…and that is why the Bible says the next step is for people to take the word of this finished work & distribute it worldwide (what’s called the Great Commission (F)). We don’t need a revised blueprint for salvation…which is what Islam & Mormonism try to give us. Instructions on how to escape the corruption of the World are provided. It is difficult to imagine that if God wanted some truths for salvation to be part of revealed Scripture, that He had to wait many centuries after Christ for Mohammed or Joseph Smith to correct the finished work of Christ. The Bible states that Christ came to fulfill the Hebrew Scriptures (O.T.) The need for additional salvation revelation changes the purpose of Christ. As I have frequently said, those people who complain about missing books are usually uninformed about what the remaining books speak about. There is plenty of truth in the Bible to keep them busy learning the rest of their lives.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS. More work has gone into disproving & proving the Bible than any other book. An amazing amount of archeological & historical research has collaborated the Bible’s details. More people’s lives have been transformed for the better by the Bible than any other book. It is an anthology of ancient wisdom, that has been discarded & replaced in our schools by & large by trashy novels. We live in an age where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Ages like this & the consequences of such moral lawlessness are described in the Bible.(G) The Bible is very relevant for today.
(A) 2 PTR 1:3 (B) 2 TIM 3:16 (C) JN 20:31 (D) JN 5:39 (E) This stat was first given by Bart Ehrman, an agnostic, in his book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why (2005). (F) the Great Commission, see MK 12:28-31, MT 28:18-20 (G) JUDGES 17:6, 21:25 cf. DT 12:8