Saturday, August 24, 2013

King James Only?

King James only? No, we should not restrict ourselves to just the KJV. It is not without mistakes and its old English is sometimes difficult to understand in our day. But, the manuscripts that the King James translation is based on are some of the best. The KJV is not inerrant or inspired, only the original books of the Bible written in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic are inerrant and God-breathed. That is a fact. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are grossly mistaken. The Greek and Hebrew copies of the Bible that we have today are numerous and very, very reliable, but they are not perfect. 

What? Isn’t the Bible inerrant? Yes, the Bible is inerrant, but only the original books in their original languages. The Greek and Hebrew copies of the originals (and the translations made from them, including English translations) have some variations, errors, and omissions, although all of the textual families are very well preserved. 

There is numerous evidence to substantiate that the most reliable family of manuscripts for the New Testament (NT) is the Byzantine, and that the resulting Greek text known as the Textus Receptus (which is Latin for the “Received Text”) is the most accurate Greek NT. The NT of the King James (English) translation of the Bible is based on this family of manuscripts. The Old Testament is mostly based on the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls, among other manuscripts. All of the English versions are translations of the Bible from its original languages, just like any other translations of the Bible, like Spanish or French. 

Most of the other (modern) English versions can be very helpful in understanding what God is truly saying to us in His Word, even though they are mostly based on textual families inferior to the Byzantine. The NT in the modern English translations (except NKJV) are based on these other manuscript families, primarily the Alexandrian family. Although most of what all of the textual families say is the same, there are some important differences. And when translated into English, the modern versions (translations) have more errors than the KJV. I use the KJV/NKJV mostly, but I refer to nearly all of the English versions at some point (like the NLT, NASB, NRSV, ESV, HCSB, NIV and others based on the Alexandrian and/or Western text families). I do this because, for the most part, they are accurate and reliable, and many times they convey the meaning of the verses in modern English in a way that is much easier for people to understand. We just have to be careful of the passages that contain errors. This happens more often in the modern translations, but there are errors in the King James translation, as well. 

Remember, the errors are in translation and the manuscript copies written in Greek and Hebrew. Though they are no longer extant, the original books of the Bible in Greek and Hebrew had no errors. The errors in our Bibles today are few and far between, whether in a modern or King James translation. According to the experts, 95-99% of our Bible today is accurate and reliable. The academic discipline known as “textual criticism” has the task of discovering the true text of the variations in the manuscripts, as well as discovering the true meaning of obscurities in the texts. This field of study has made the Bible texts much more accurate then ever before. The Bible today is nearer to the original than ever. But to get there, we need all of the textual families of both the NT and OT. And, if you are using an English translation, having more than one English version is very helpful in discovering the true meaning of God’s Word. 

There is a lot of disinformation about the English translations and the underlying manuscript copies they are based on. Below is a link to a free class that is at Blue Letter Bible. If you are interested in the truth of the English versions, the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts they are based on and the inspired, inerrant original books of the Bible, you will love this class. Here is an excerpt from the class regarding the Byzantine Text: 

"Okay. Now, we have listed under Byzantine Text, notice it says it is often called Textus Receptus or the “Received Text.” It’s a Latin word that was put on one of these Greek texts. What it means is (it is) the text that was universally read and accepted by the churches. Which text was universally read and accepted by the churches, class? This is not a difference of opinion. This is a fact. What text was universally read and accepted by the churches? What tradition? Was it Byzantine? Was it Western? Was it Alexandria? It was Byzantine. You see the Western Text became (quickly) Latin. That’s all it was. So what Greek text was used universally by the churches? The answer is Byzantine. Not Western. That’s why this whole issue is kind of interesting. When you come to the King James translation, people are always trying to undermine that one. People are always trying to say it was dependent upon a text that is not that reliable. No, excuse me. It’s not only reliable, it’s the one everybody used!"

Especially see the lessons titled "Manuscript Evidence" and "English Versions." Enjoy!

"Which English Bible Translation is the Best?"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blind Faith

Evolutionist atheists just "know" macroevolution to be happening, apparently intuitively, from only tidbits of data here and there, that seem to them to somehow represent precursors, first steps of actual macroevolution (change from one kind into another). And, believe it or not, that's as far as the "evidence" for macroevolution goes! Microevolution is simply adaptation within species. Macroevolution, in fact, has never actually happened. “But that's not the same as having blind faith,” they say! Noooooo. 

On the other hand, Christians do not have blind faith in Jesus Christ.

But set apart the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear... (1 Peter 3:15)

We have myriad evidence from the innerrant Word of God, biblical prophecies, theology, history, philosophy, biology, archeology and geology, among other academic disciplines, to correlate our personal relationship and experience with Jesus Christ. It is not a blind faith, but a defensible, reasonable faith. In addition to this tangible support for historical Christianity, Jesus doesn't just show us the way or give us truth or life. He is the Way. He is Truth. And He is the Life. 

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Searching for evidence of molecules-to-man evolution (from goo-to the zoo-to you), I looked to the dirt, but I found a complete lack of remains of evolving, transitional creatures in the fossil record. I looked deep inside the living cell, but all I saw were intricate systems of design, operating like machines. I looked around and above, and I discovered a finely tuned earth and universe that could not exist but by a miracle of circumstances magically coalescing, and that in the words of scientists! So, I turned to the scientists for their evidence of macroevolution, and what did they say? I heard dozens of opposing theories, admissions of lack of evidence and grandiose ideas of currently non existent evidence to be gloriously found on some unknown date in the future. Adaptation within a species is a fact. Change from one kind of an animal to another has never happened and will never happen, because it is impossible. 

In the beginning (time) God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter). (Genesis 1:1)

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind.." (Genesis 1:24)

To the evolutionist, I say, "when the naive impression that the 'experts' have found all the answers, are competent to do so and are trustworthy in their confidence, when that belief is finally destroyed by the facts, then the reality of Who created all things and sustains all things will finally be liberated for your acknowledgment." I hope that happens while you still have time to trust in His name. 

This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12)

For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Outer Darkness

The doctrine of eternal damnation is an admittedly difficult truth, to say the least. Let me say that this is a horrifying and distressing doctrine for anyone to contemplate and attempt to understand, let alone accept. It is heart-breaking beyond words. I have struggled with it my whole walk with Christ (about 37 years), especially the last 16 years of serious study. This is why some Christians cannot believe in a literal, eternal hell. They allegorize it so that some day everyone gets to Heaven or they believe in the annihilation of the soul. But, a literal reading of the Bible clearly reveals that this is not the case. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else in the New Testament, and He spoke of it as a real and eternal place.

"But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mathew 8:12, see also Mark 9:43, Revelation 20:14)

What I will share with you is what I have come to understand hell will be like, from a literal, plain reading of the Bible.

First of all, not many people know that the Bible indicates that there are degrees of punishment in hell. The New Testament has a lot to say about degrees of rewards for believers in Heaven (see Matthew 5:11-12, Matthew 6:1-2, 2 Cornithians 5:10). In the same way, there are degrees of punishment in hell. Consider the following Scriptures:

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:27)

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile ... (1 Peter 1:17)

"Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town." (Matthew 10:15)

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)

As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely." (Mark 12:38-40)

“And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Luke 12:47-48)

Now, this is huge. We haven't dealt with the eternality of hell yet, which may be the tougher issue to comprehend, but in terms of fairness of punishment, this should rattle some critic’s past arguments. We hear all the time about how unfair it is for God to punish some generally nice person in the same way as Hitler. But, as we can see from these Scriptures, it is not true.

Now, Jesus said, “no one is good but One, that is God,” so all that reject Him deserve to go to hell because only God is perfectly good. But, there will be a difference in what is experienced there for each individual person, according to their works. Even though each will get a punishment fitting to their sin, hell is not a place anyone wants to go. It is a place of darkness, torment, weeping and gnashing of teeth for everyone sent there. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, is the only one that can keep you from this horrible place.

So, we have seen that the punishment will be appropriate for each person in hell, but how can an eternal hell be appropriate, just and right? I believe eternal damnation is justified for at least 5 reasons.

1. The punishment will fit the crime, so to speak, in that there are degrees of punishment for the wicked based on each one’s works.

2. God is eternal and created human spirits to be eternal. Because people were created to live forever, hell is necessarily eternal.

3. As a person continues to exist eternally in sin, separated from God, they bring about for themselves "each day" in hell the just punishment for their sin. In order for justice to be served, an eternally sinning person does demand an eternal punishment.

4. God has made hell a choice. It is the option for human beings who do not want to spend eternity with Him. For those who never heard of Christ, before or after the cross, they are saved by faith in God. Each heart will be examined by God for sincere faith and He will not send anyone to hell wrongfully. For those who have heard the good news of the cross of Christ, they will be judged based on whether they have received Jesus as Lord and Savior or not.

5. God has made a way for everyone to avoid eternal damnation in hell, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone can receive Christ by faith and have their sins forgiven, so no one has an excuse for not being able to achieve eternal life with Jesus.

Have you repented of your sin, sincerely and from the heart? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation? If you have not, there is no sin that is unforgivable except for the sin of rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus paid the price for all of your sin at the cross so that you can be saved freely by God’s grace, through faith in Him. One cannot be made right with our perfect Creator by doing good things. We must be forgiven of our sin by Him. God is love and a God of justice. The Creator of all things became a man in the person of Jesus Christ, and took our punishment upon Himself so that we can live forever in His Kingdom. Ask God for forgiveness now, and receive new life through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some additional resources: