Exd 19:9And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.
Exd 20:18-21 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
I struggle to write this because I know it goes against much of the popular teaching today. It will make me look uneducated and naïve but I care little about that – I have read books by the score on manuscript evidence and arguments from both sides and believe the position I hold is correct. I struggle, too, because in stating my position it may come across like I am attacking those that hold a contrary one or am accusing them of ulterior motives. This is far from the truth many people who I consider dear friends and sincere godly Christians hold the view that is in opposition to mine and I harbor no ill will to anyone. I simply want to state my position and explain it –in hopes to be a blessing to some and to magnify God and his word. Please read through the whole thing before you make a judgment for or against. Even if you disagree with my position something in what I say might be a blessing to you.
At this point in Israel’s history God is ready to offer them a special opportunity to get closer to him and hear his word for themselves. The people at that time were too afraid and too uncomfortable to come into his presence and hear his voice. This was not godly fear but a worldly fleshly fear. If it had been godly fear it would have motivated them to turn to him and hear from him but instead they stood afar off. A lot of the religious rituals we perform in the name of God can quite easily be done in the flesh – in fact there is a religious lust that feeds our pride in doing many of the “Christian” things we do. We can even pray and read and study in the flesh, but this is not the same as coming into his presence and hearing the voice of his word.
His is the voice of supreme authority. If we hear it we must bow and bend at his word and so our human nature would rather here it second hand so that it is not so strong. We would rater have someone else tell us what God has said and what we need to do. We want to dilute and deny that absolute power to some degree – and put another intermediary authority in its place. We want to put a man between ourselves and God.
This desire gave rise to popes and the priesthood. It gave rise to the doctrine of the Nicolaitines. It gave rise to allegorical interpretation. It made it easy for men to get up and tell us this is not what God said – what he really meant was….
Anything that undermines and replaces the authority of the word is not of God. Does that ever happen today? It happens all the time by mostly well meaning people. It happens because doubt has been cast upon the reliability of God’s word.
Did God inspire the bible? Most evangelicals would say absolutely – that God inspired the original autographs – meaning the original writings penned by the biblical authors. Do we have the originals? No! So what do we have? Was the bible inspired but lost or is it preserved for us today?
Most evangelicals will say that what we have in the original languages is somewhere around 98% accurate. Which 98%? Well, we don’t know. So two of every hundred words is not accurate or reliable. If I put out 100 cookies for you to eat and told you they were delicious and nutritious except that two of the one hundred are bad and maybe poisonous – and – oh ya – I am not sure which ones are the poisonous ones – what would happen? Doubt is cast on all 100 cookies and you wouldn’t want to eat any of them. So, we have 98% of scripture that is God’s word and 2% that is untrustworthy but we don’t know which two per cent so all of scripture is brought into question and doubt is cast upon his word – we must have a scholar to tell us what God hath said.
We have fallen into the trap of science falsely so called. Textual critics have cast doubt on the reliability if scripture. The result is that today we have multitudes of English translations that each differ from the other – and according to the laws of logic: things that are different are not the same. So, which one is the right one? Is there one that is the word of God – or do they just contain the word of God? Can I hold any in my hand and read it trusting that it is the word of God? Do I need to learn Greek and Hebrew? If I Greek what kind of Greek – which text is the pure word of God?
If the translator’s did not get it right – how do I know that any other person knows better how to translated the text – and if it is just a matter of mistranslation how come we have never got it right in all these translations. Any way you slice it – it is a choice between the authority of the scriptures or the authority of the Professor – should the authority be in the word of men or of God?
So – let’s say we find an English translation that is totally reliable – then what? We still have the dilemma that our flesh does not want to hear from God directly – we would rather read a good commentary or Christian book that tells us what God says. We would rather hear a sermon or a lecture from someone about the bible than meet with God and here from him ourselves.
God has put into the church pastors and teachers and there is nothing wrong with learning from others – that is part of God’s plan- but when we go to others in place of going to God ourselves then something is wrong. We are meant to supplement our own learning with that of others and not rely on others in place of a personal walk with God.
1Jo 2:27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
We can, with the aid of the Spirit of God, read and understand his word. We can rely on the bible as the very word of God – inspired and preserved and understandable in English. Sure, we need to use correct principles of interpretation. We need the aid of the Spirit of God. We can enrich our study by use of a dictionary and by comparing the original languages, but God’s word is perfect and complete in English and needs no correcting.
Spiritual things are by definition not natural. The flesh and Spirit are contrary one to another. It is a spiritual battle to really pray and to sincerely search the scriptures and to hear his voice speak to us through them. It is easier to just say, “Let not God speak to us,” but you hear from him and tell us what he says. Christianity is meant to be a personal relationship with God not a second hand experience. Te inscription in many bible covers used to say, “This book will keep me from sin, or sin will keep me from this book” God wants us to know him. He wants to bless us.
I believe that in the Authorized or King James bible we have the complete perfectly preserved word of God in English and that he will meet and speak to me through his word if I seek him in it. Don’t let the voice of the adversary whisper, “Yea, hath God said”.