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Love the Author More Than the Book


Image by James Best, (C) 2020,https://www.behance.net/gallery/90621713/Sermon-Illustrations-2020

Over the last several weeks I’ve been revising - for the fourth time - a Bible study I’ve written. The third edition had FOUR PAGES (single spaced) of typographical errors and rewrites. This fourth edition is on track to do as poorly as that. As unhappy as these typos make me, they do not hold a candle to mistakes made in some editions of the Bible.

In a Nov. 18, 2017 article by DeNeen L. Brown of the Washington Post, I found several historical examples of flawed printings of the Bible.

“The ‘Wicked Bible’ omits one crucial word from the Seventh Commandment: ‘Thou shalt commit adultery.’

“The Wicked Bible contains another huge error in Deuteronomy 5:24, ‘And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his great-asse.’

“The ‘Breeches Bible,’ a 1560 Geneva Bible that says in Genesis 3:7, ‘Adam and Eve put on “breeches instead of aprons.” ’

“The ‘Bug Bible,’ which says in Psalms 91:5: “So yet thou shalt not need to be afraid for any bugs by night.”

“The ‘Murderer’s Bible,’ which contains a typo in Mark 7:27 that says: ‘Let the children be killed,’ instead of ‘filled.’

“The ‘Printers’ Bible,’ a 1702 edition of the King James, contains an error in Psalm 119:16. Instead of saying ‘princes have persecuted me without a cause,’ David complains, ‘printers have persecuted me without a cause.’

“In a 1549 printing of the ‘Matthew’s Bible,’ a note on 1 Peter 3 offers husbands some terrible advice: ‘And if she be not obedient and helpful unto him [he] endeavoreth to beat the fear of God into her.’ That version is called the ‘Wife Beater’s Bible.’

“The ‘Vinegar Bible’ has a heading instead of the ‘Parable of the Vineyard,’ it says ‘Parable of the Vinegar.’

“The Bible Museum in Washington D.C. contains a collection of more than 500 Bibles [including the ones I’ve mentioned].

(Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/11/17/the-new-bible-museums-wicked-bible-thou-shalt-commit-adultery/ on 3 June 2020.)

The Bible is our sacred text because it was given to us by God. We thank God for it, as the Bible tells us all we need to know to be saved.

God has provided us with Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Love Him even more for it.

1. Jesus is the Author of the Bible.

Hebrews 12:2 = LET US FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH, WHO FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, SCORNING ITS SHAME, AND SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD.

It’s true this passage identifies Jesus as the AUTHOR of our FAITH, not specifically the Bible. But the distinction is not an important one. The word AUTHOR means the originator or source of our faith. The word PERFECTER refers to all Jesus does to help mature our faith. In all things, Jesus is the example we are to follow. How would we know what kind of example He set if we didn’t have the Bible to tell us the story?

John 1:14+18 = THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND MADE HIS DWELLING AMONG US. WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY, THE GLORY OF THE ONE AND ONLY, WHO CAME FROM THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.

NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD, BUT GOD THE ONE AND ONLY, WHO IS AT THE FATHER’S SIDE, HAS MADE HIM KNOWN. This passage directly connects Jesus the Word of God (note the capital “W”) with the Bible, the word of God (note the lower case “w”). The Greek word translated as WORD here is logos. It is more than literal words, language-shapes made on a surface. It means a “thought” or “concept.” We refer to the Bible as the “Specific Revelation” of God and Jesus as the “Personal Revelation” of God. Jesus has made God known to us.

2. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers (“Holy Ghost writers”).

2 Peter 1:20-21 = ABOVE ALL, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE CAME ABOUT BY THE PROPHET’S OWN INTERPRETATION. FOR PROPHECY NEVER HAD ITS ORIGIN IN THE WILL OF MAN, BUT MEN SPOKE FROM GOD AS THEY WERE CARRIED ALONG BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

We make a distinction between the Author of the Bible: Jesus, and the writers of the Bible, the men who took time into recording what God had revealed to them. Those who wrote the Bible did not conceive the truths they recorded; they received those truths from God and recorded them as faithfully as possible.

The truths are recorded in the context and language of their times, not ours. In order to understand what they meant, we have to do the hard work of first orienting ourselves in their context. This passage is unconcerned about HOW the Scriptures were written. Peter’s concern was to show the Bible is not made up of human imagination. Its source is the Holy Spirit. The divine origin of the Bible is a central part of our faith - no compromise can be accepted on this point.

Some people like to debate whether or not every book is authored by the person named. While we can allow some latitude on the issue of authorship, such discussions miss the point. Regardless of who penned the words, the main point is that they were inspired.

3. God provided us with the Bible because He knew we needed it.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 = ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED AND IS USEFUL FOR TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING AND TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, SO THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK.

The Bible is intended to be a practical book, having a direct effect on daily living. There are four uses for the word of God specified in these verses: TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING, and TRAINING. These four uses have one purpose: to give TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The goal of the TRAINING is to equip every believer to do GOOD WORKS.

Dealing with human nature and sin nature requires a written word. Here are four examples.

One, to counter self-deception: We need an objective resource to study and learn because we have a strong tendency to make stuff up that excuses our sins.

Two, to bring us together: the Bible was given to be a point of unity. Shamefully, we’ve used it to justify our decisions.

Three, to empower us: We need an authority greater than self to resolve differences.

Four, to reveal His will: In order to be righteous, we need to learn the will of God and be encouraged to practice it.

God has provided us with Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Love Him even more for it.

We might assume that studying the Bible is always a good thing. Like many assumptions, that is not true.

On one occasion Jesus confronted some people who were studying the Scriptures for the wrong reason. In John 5:39-40 it is written, “YOU DILIGENTLY STUDY THE SCRIPTURES BECAUSE YOU THINK THAT BY THEM YOU POSSESS ETERNAL LIFE. THESE ARE THE SCRIPTURES THAT TESTIFY ABOUT ME, YET YOU REFUSE TO COME TO ME TO HAVE LIFE.”

Bible study is wrong whenever it is done from a wrong motive and human beings are capable of a variety of wrong motives. What makes that so terrible is that study of the book can actually cause us to misidentify the Author. If you can’t quote John 3:16 but know it talks about YOUR JESUS, then there is a place in heaven for you. On the other hand, if you’ve memorized John 3:16 and studied it in great scholarly detail but don’t know Jesus, there is NO place in heaven for you.

Yes, there is an important place for biblical literacy, but it is NOT first place. That distinction belongs to Jesus alone. Bible literacy is a virtue that is worth pursuing as long as it increases our spiritual maturity, informs our witness, and most importantly, draws us closer to Jesus. Knowledge of the Bible that fosters no change is a symptom of knowing the truth but not the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To fail to see Jesus in the Bible is a deadly failure.

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