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Insights from the KJV Translators Themselves

Most KJV Bibles sold today no longer have the longer introduction to the translation originally penned by the KJV translators.  Most English Bibles today have an introduction to the translation that comes from the KJV itself.  The KJV translators penned their introduction to explain and defend their translation.

One must bear in mind the time period of the 1611 translation.  Imagine if President Obama told the church here in the United States that he wanted one Bible “to rule them all” (to quote from Lord of the Rings)?  How would Christians react to Obama?  Even if Obama had the top scholars appointed to translate the Bible, most would view the translation with intrepidation.  I would.  I would figure that Obama would want the translate to be one sided, to avoid truth, to delete core doctrines and to make it as far from teaching the truth as possible while still sounding like the Bible.  What is true today was true of the Christians living under King James.  They viewed the “Authorized Version” with much fear.  In fact, the KJV would not become the preferred English Bible for about 50 years after its publication.  The Geneva Bible and not the King James Bible was brought over to the new world by the first English settlers to America.

The KJV scholars added the long introduction then to both promote their translation and defend it against those who questioned it.  After all, when the KJV was published in 1611 there were already good English Bibles on the market.  The KJV was not the first nor the last (and the KJV translators recognized that fact).  Though the KJV Bible would become the greatest of the English translations for many years to come, in 1611 it was just another Bible translation being offered now by the King himself of the British Empire.

I recently read the longer introduction that you can find in modern English on Amazon.  I learned much from it.  I only want to highlight a few of the KJV translators words.  Their words are good to read in our day of KJV onlyism.  After reading the KJV introduction, I have no doubt in my mind that these Anglican men would not be KJV only if they were alive today.  In fact, they would laugh at the arguments used by KJV only “scholars” who claim that the KJV is the final Word of God, that (as some radical KJV only men teach) the KJV was inspired just as the Apostle’s were inspired, that the KJV is a perfect Bible translation without any errors, that the Anglicans involved were fundamentalist in secret who believed in the Received Text (the Greek text of the KJV) as the perfect Word of God, etc.

First, the KJV translators believed the originals were inspired but recognized variants in the copies.  They stated:

because the original thereof is from heaven, not from earth, the author is God, not man; the composer is the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the penmen were such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principle portion of God’s Spirit; the content is truth, piety, purity, and uprightness; the form is God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, and so forth.

The translators did not teach anywhere in their writings that the Received Text is the “inerrant and infallible Word of God” (inerrant would not have been used for people simply said the Bible was true in those days and people understood what they meant without qualification).  In fact, they believed the originals alone to be the ones inspired by God Himself.  The copies are copies of the originals but we no longer have the originals (praise be to God lest someone would have worshiped them as the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf in Exodus 32).  The KJV translators could not have visioned that someday their own translation would become a golden calf to many.

They went on to write:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, from men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility.

So what about the errors in the copies?  KJV onlyism teaches that no errors exist but what did the KJV translators write about this:

The Septuagint dissents from the Original in many places, and does not come near it in terms of clarity, gravity, and majesty.  Yet did any of the Apostles condemn it?  Condemn it?  Nay, they used it.

Notice that the KJV translators approved of the Septuagint as a translation while understanding that it was not the original.  The Apostles quoted extensively from the Septuagint in the Greek New Testament despite the fact that the Septuagint is just a translation from the Hebrew text.

Secondly, the KJV translators saw the value of having Bibles in our tongues.  They wrote:

Truly, without translation into the common language, the unlearned are like children at Jacob’s well, which was deep, without a bucket.  Or they are like the person mentioned by Isaiah who, when a sealed book was presented to him with the command, “Read this, I ask you,” he had to reply, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”

And yet the KJV translators acknowledged that even the lowest English translations were still good!  Modern KJV onlyism tells us that only the KJV is the truth of God and hates all other English Bibles but they would not be joined by the KJV translators.  They wrote:

Now we answer our adversaries.  We do not deny – nay, we affirm and avow – that the very lowest translation of the Bible into English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have not yet seen any of their translations of the entire Bible) contains the word of God, nay, is the word of God.  The King’s speech, which he utters in Parliament, when translated into French, German, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with identical grace, nor altogether so appropriately phrased, nor so exactly expressing  the sense at every point.

And what of their own translation work?  They wrote yet again:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men.

The intent of the KJV translator was such:

Our intent was to make a better translation out of a good one, or to make , from many good ones, one especially good one, not to be justly objected against.

And yes the KJV translators did do biblical criticism (lower criticism) contrary to the KJV onlyism view that textual criticism is evil altogether.  They wrote:

These languages therefore – that is, the Scriptures in those languages – we set before us to translate, being the languages in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by the Prophets and Apostles.

Without a second thought, we consulted the translators or commentators in Chaldean, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek and Latin, and the Spanish, French, Italian, and German.  We revised what we had done, and brought back to the anvil that which we had hammered.

Lastly, the KJV translators spoke about the variants in the biblical texts.  In fact, the first published 1611 Authorized Bible had marginal notes to show differences in the text as well as alternate translations of the text.  How can this be if the KJV is the inspired Word of God as KJV onlyism teaches?  Nearly all KJV Bibles today exclude the marginal notes so KJV only “scholars” often will attack modern Bibles such as the NKJV or the ESV for either including marginal notes, “deleting” verses such as Acts 8:37 or 1 John 5:7-8, or adding textual notes about the translation or variant readings.

The KJV translators wrote:

Some individuals, perhaps, would prefer to have no margin notes about alternative meanings, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding controversies might be somewhat shaken by that show of uncertainty.  But we consider their judgment unsound in this point.

The translators go on to speak of how difficult the work of translating is.  They speak of how there are often many words that can be used in English for one Hebrew or Greek word or the opposite where a Hebrew or Greek word only appears once in the text and is how to translate into English.  A case in point would be the KJV use of “Godhead” in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9.  This is a poor translation here.  Another place would in the KJV where they erred would be Acts 19:2 or Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1.  The inclusion of 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV is also a variant reading that should not be there.  Modern English Bibles (excluding the NKJV for tradition only) have changed 1 John 5:7-8 back to its original.

Conclusion

My point here is to show that the KJV translators were not infallible men.  They were godly Anglican men who loved the Word of God.  I am blessed by that fact.  I pray the Lord would move again on the Anglican Church to produce such godly men.  That said, the KJV translators recognized their work as the work of men.  A very good work but a translation nonetheless.  The KJV ranks as a work of art.  It truly is the Word of God.  But it is not perfect.  No Bible translation is.  The KJV served the Church in the English speaking world for many years.  It was published in 1611 and revised just two years later in 1613.  The final revision of the KJV was in 1769.  This is the KJV used today and not the 1611.  Of course, the men who did the work in 1604-11 were now dead.  Their work though stands as a testimony to their faithfulness to God.

Today we have probably too many English translations and they exist sadly for one reason: money.  Crossway doesn’t want to pay Zondervan for usage of the NIV so they translate the ESV.  All English translations today but the KJV are owned by a publishing house.  For example, Crossway owns the ESV.  Lockman owns the NASB.  Zondervan owns the NIV.  Thomas Nelson owns the NKJV.  Tyndale House owns the NLT.  Holman owns the HCSB.  This doesn’t prove that these English Bibles are corrupt but only that they are produced by publishers for avoiding royalties to other publishers.

I prefer the ESV but I am not ESV only by any means.  I recognize that no English Bible is perfect.  I also am grateful that God is sovereign in salvation and He often uses even the worst translations to draw sinners to salvation.  I read of a Jehovah’s Witness coming to faith in Christ through reading Philippians 3:9 in the New World Translation which is not good at all.  I was saved reading from the NIV and it was the first Bible I owned and read after coming to faith in Christ at age 17.  I honestly thought, when I came to faith in Christ, that there were two English Bibles in the world: the KJV and the NIV and I understood the NIV so I went with it.

God is able to save sinners through the gospel (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:21).  People hear the gospel in many ways (Romans 10:17) but the gospel must flow from Scripture.  Some preachers use the KJV and others use the NLT but the Lord is the one who saves sinners (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  Our job is to plant the seed of the gospel (Mark 4:14).  The Spirit of God brings the fruit.  The Spirit draws sinners to salvation by the grace of God (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15).

So my advice is to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  Perhaps this comes through a KJV or an NIV or a ESV but preach the Word of God!  Be faithful to study the Word and to live the Word (James 2:14-26).  The Word is able to save our souls (James 1:21).

May God be glorified through His holy Word.  Amen.

 

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The Absolute Authority of Scripture

The Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  This is true because the Bible comes from God who is the absolute authority and He has said that He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2).  Because God is the absolute authority and He is perfection, His Word is both absolute in its authority and inerrant because it comes from God (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21).  Any denial of the authority of the Word of God will always lead to the elevation of the individual to the judge of what is true and not God Himself.

For example, some claim that they follow Christ but they deny the inerrant of the Bible.  They claim that such a view is outdated and not supported by modern science or some other claim.  Either way, they have placed science or a theologian or a creed or a person to the judge of God.  God is glorious and He will not be judged by fallible humans (Job 40:2).  God is exalted above all His creation and He will not lay down on a table for us to dissect and examine.  He has given us evidence both within and without of who He is (Romans 1:20) and He will not be judged by sinful people (Romans 11:33-35).  Who are we to judge the Lord of Glory?  Who are we to question His ways?  Who are we to say that we don’t believe God could create in six days or that He could rescue Noah and his family from the worldwide flood?  Who are we to question the miracles of Scripture when in fact God can do whatever He wants to do?

The reality is that the Bible flows from Him who is truth (John 14:6).  The absolute truth is found only in God.  It is not found in religion.  It is not found in human philosophy.  It is not found in our meager attempts at knowledge.  In fact, the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and all wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3).  The Bible, because it has come from a perfect God who created all things, is perfect and infallible.

Everything must then submit to the authority of the Bible since the Bible comes from the One who created all things and who is the source of absolute truth.  When we reject the Bible, we reject our standard for truth and we become the standard for truth.  This only leads to insanity as we humans are so full of wickedness are easily swayed by our emotions and sins.  The standard for truth is God alone.  Any other claim of truth without God has no standing.  God is the foundation for knowledge and truth.  If you begin with any truth claim apart from God and His revelation, we have already erred.

The liberal churches give us a picture of what happens with the Bible is rejected.  Certainly liberal churches such as the PCUSA, many Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches show us what happens when the Bible is only held up as an example but not the inerrant and infallible truth.  The gospel is reduced to nothing but a social cause.  Lost is the forgiveness of sins (because sin no longer can be defined since the Word of God has been rejected and man is now the judge of sin).  Lost is the authority to warn sinners to repent.  Lost is the authority to call evil as evil and good as good.  Lost is the authority to teach sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).  All is lost and these liberal churches become nothing but social causes  and fighting for rights of sinful people without any authority.  Their authority becomes them and they sit as judges of God.  Yet God is not to be judged by us.  We will be judged by God (Romans 14:10-12; Revelation 20:11-15).

All of us approach the Bible with certain presuppositions.  I approach the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God because that is what the Bible says.  Someone will argue, “But that is circular reasoning.”  Yet if I told you I was the strongest man in the world, you wouldn’t reply, “Okay, prove that but don’t use your muscles.”  My muscles are my authority to prove I am the strongest man in the world.  Why deny me my guns (see what I did there)?  The Bible claims to be from God and by definition God would be superior to us and He would be judge of us.  He would not be like us and He is not (Isaiah 40:25).  God gave us His perfect Word because it flows from Him who is perfect.

Now when a person approaches the Bible and says, “I believe in Jesus Christ but I reject the parts in the Bible about the flood or about creation or about an ax head floating or about Daniel in the lion’s den or about Jonah and the great fish.”  Who is now the judge of Scripture?  Who now judges God?  Yet I may not understand some things about the Bible but I submit to a holy and perfect God.  I believe that He is certainly more than able to do even above what I could imagine or think (Ephesians 3:20).

It is nothing for God to raise the dead or for Him to feed 5000 people.  It is nothing for God to calm the seas or to bring down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices.  It is nothing for God to become a man and make His dwelling among us (John 1:14).  This is the greatest example of God revealing who He is to us (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In the end, there is no reason to reject the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  Any claim otherwise is to set ourselves up as the judge of the Bible and we lose our authority and answer for truth.  From here we have no truth to stand on and our standard for truth will be our feelings, our emotions, our culture, our reasoning.  And all of this is sinful and flawed.  However, God is not sinful nor is He flawed.  He is perfect in every way possible.

The Type of Preaching/Teaching I Enjoy

I enjoy hearing good solid Bible preaching and teaching.  On my iPhone are several podcasts of all different types of preachers.  Some are better speakers than others but the type of preaching/teaching that I am attracted to is one that is full of the Word of God.  I enjoy hearing Bible teachers who fill their teachings with the Word of God.  I prefer expository preaching/teaching mixed with allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture and pointing to other passages of Scripture that are relevant to the text.

Most preaching/teaching today is full of stories.  Lots of illustrations.  While there is certainly nothing wrong with an illustration, too often in modern Bible teaching, the illustration becomes what is remembered or focused on.  This happens when video illustrations are used or drama skits.  The focus is not then on the Word of God (no matter what the Bible teacher may say).  The focus is on the skit or the vivid illustration.  The Word of God becomes just part of the show.  The Bible is certainly quoted and referred to but the illustration is the focus.  This should not be.

The focus of the true Bible preacher/teacher is the Word of God for the Word of God is what God uses to lift up His name and to save sinners (1 Peter 1:23).  The Word of God cuts deep into our hearts and exposes our true selves (Hebrews 4:12-13).  The Word of God sanctifies the people of God (John 17:17).  The Word of God is the agency by which God draws the lost unto Himself (Romans 10:17).  The Word of God alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God (Psalm 119:89; 2 Peter 1:16-21) and the Word of God makes the servant of God “competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).  The Bible alone is the breathed out Book of God (2 Timothy 3:16).  Jesus said the Word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35).

The focus then must be on the Word of God.  When illustrations or skits or movie scenes are the focus, the Word of God is lost.  There is no denying that even still the Word is powerful (Isaiah 55:11) but the heart of the Bible preacher/teacher is on explaining Scripture.  This is our heart and passion.

I urge you, if you teach the Bible, to do just that: preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  The Bible gives us our authority to speak for God (Titus 2:14).  This authority is lost when you make your illustrations, your funny stories, your personal experiences, or skits the focus.  Fill your teaching with the Word.  Let Scripture dominate.  When people walk away from hearing you teach the Word, let them remember the Word and may you fill their minds with the Word.  Let them accuse you, if they must, of being too biblical, of spending too much time in the Word.  When people hear you speak, let them learn how to study the Bible.  Teach them how to interpret Scripture, how to exegete the passages, how to apply the texts, and fill them with the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  May they remember the Word above all else and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through faithfulness to His Word (John 14:23-24).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/03/2014 at 3:08 PM

Philosophy and Theology

The cry of the Reformation has long been sola scriptura or “Scripture alone” as the final authority for the disciple of Jesus.  We don’t believe that Scripture + Tradition = Christianity but rather Scripture + Nothing = Christianity.  This flows from the Roman Catholic idea that the Scriptures, the Church, and the Pope all can speak for God.  We reject the idea that God speaks through any other thing in finality other than the Bible.  The Bible is the final, inerrant, infallible guide for the Church of Jesus Christ.  We don’t need a pope.  We don’t need a prophet.  We have the Bible and we need to read, study, and exegete the Scriptures in light of Scripture.  Scripture must interpret Scripture.

Yet how often do we actually rely on philosophy instead of the Bible to define our beliefs.  A case in point is the Calvinist doctrines of the sovereignty of God and limited atonement.  To me, both doctrines are not based clearly on sound exegesis of Scripture.  Instead, the Calvinist insists that in order for God to be God then He must be in complete control and cause of all things.  As R.C. Sproul is famous for saying, “If there is one rebel molecule then God is not sovereign.”  Sproul insists that unless God determines all things that come to pass (including evil) to the point that He renders them certain whatsoever comes to pass then He is not sovereign and not God.  Sproul argues that only the Calvinist understanding of God’s meticulous control of all things is the only biblical view and any other view leads to atheism.  This leads to the Calvinist view that since God is sovereign and causes all things then He surely predestined all things that come to pass whether good or evil and this includes salvation and damnation.  If God knew all who would believe then it logically follows that He sent His Son not to die for all but only for the elect that He predestined and enables to believe.

Now all that I have said above is not based on Scripture.  Certainly there are some appeals to Scripture but even those Scriptures are interpreted in light of a preconceived philosophical bent.  In this case, passages that speak of God controlling all things are seen as God also causing all things such as in Genesis 50:20 or Ephesians 1:11.  Passages of Scripture that speak of the universal atonement of Jesus Christ such as John 3:16 or 1 Timothy 2:3-6 or 2 Peter 3:9 are all interpreted in light of the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election based on the divine deterministic view of the sovereignty of God.  Surely John 3:16 can’t mean what it says.  It must mean something else since God cannot be God unless He causes all things including the sinner’s own condemnation.

Now please don’t misunderstand me and think that I don’t believe that we Arminians don’t appeal to logic.  We do.  For example, we believe that the Scriptures teach us that God is loving and because He is loving we logically believe that He truly does love all people and desire their salvation so He sent His Son to die for their sins to prove His love (Romans 5:8-9; 1 John 4:14).  We do believe that God was glorified in Jesus Christ and that Jesus came to show us God (John 14:9).  We believe that Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:14) and that all that Jesus did was for the glory of the Father and this includes dying for the sins of the world (John 1:29).  We do appeal to both Scripture and logic.

But the difference for us Arminians, I believe, is that we are basing our views on sound exegesis of the key passages.  For instance, we Arminians do not deny the sovereignty of God.  We believe that God was sovereign in creating the world in the way that He did.  We believe God grants free will to His creation so that true love can be manifested and yet we believe that God has sovereignly shaped history to glorify His name.  Certainly God foreknows all things but this doesn’t mean that He is the direct cause of all things and nor must He be to be God.  So when the Arminians reads the Bible and reads passages of Scripture about God’s sovereign rule, we do rejoice in them!  We take joy in knowing that our God reigns.  Yet we don’t see in those passages that God is sinful nor that He must not just permit sin but also lead the sinner to do what is sinful for the glory of God.  We see no Scriptural basis for such a view (James 1:12-15).

For more on the Arminian view of God’s sovereignty as opposed to R.C. Sproul’s view, I recommend the book God’s Strategy in Human History.  

>Prima Scriptura

>Scot McKnight recently posted about the issues around sola scriptura and how he prefers to use the term, “prima scriptura” to describe his own view of the Bible.  In McKnight’s words, prima scriptura means that the Bible is the primary source of theology, teaching, truth, etc. but this doesn’t mean that we don’t look at what others have said on issues such as the early Church Fathers, the creeds, traditions, etc.  


There is certainly some truth to what he wrote.  I would agree that there is nothing wrong with looking at what Arminius or Calvin or Spurgeon or Wesley had to say about Scripture or what their practices were in regard to obeying the Scriptures.  We can learn much from studying the creeds of the Church or the doctrinal statements of various movements in the Church.  We can also learn from reading from the Church Fathers or even from those whom we might disagree such as Catholic theologians or Orthodox theologians.  I have a friend of who loves to read what various Jewish scholars have had to say about the Old Testament laws and rituals.  


Yet I still don’t believe it is necessary to abandon the idea of sola scriptura.  By this, the Reformers meant that the Scriptures alone (and not the Catholic Church or any other church) are the standard for truth.  I would agree and I believe McKnight would as well.  Arminius affirmed the authority of the Scriptures when he wrote, 

The authority of Scripture is nothing else but the worthiness according to which it merits (1.) CREDENCE, as being true in words and true in significations, whether it simply declares anything; or also promises and threatens; and (2.) as a superior, it merits OBEDIENCE through the credence given to it, when it either commands or prohibits anything.



So we can conclude from Arminius that he rightly held the Bible to be the foundation for the Church of Jesus Christ.  The Bible was to be heeded to by the Church and the Bible alone was to be the final and faithful authority.  


Yet again it is right to read the works of great saints of God and learn from them.  I do this all the time when I read books on prayer by E.M. Bounds or when I study theology proper with A.W. Tozer.  Much can be gleamed from reading other books but in the final analysis, the Bible alone is the inerrant and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/11/2011 at 2:55 PM

>The Church Should Stand For Truth

>Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
– Psalm 25:5


Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
– John 17:17


If I delay, you may know how ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
– 1 Timothy 3:15


2 John is an amazing letter.  It is only 13 verses and yet John’s focus is that the disciples that he is writing to abide in truth.  Contrary to the postmodern mindset, John writes that our fellowship is based on truth (2 John 1-2).  He warns the Church to abide in the truth (2 John 9) and he warns them that many deceivers have gone out (2 John 7).  He warns them, in good Arminian theology, to watch themselves lest they lose what they have worked for (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4) and that they may receive their full reward (Hebrews 10:19-39).

What amazes me the most is that John says that the disciples should center their fellowship around the truth.  Today’s church, at least in the West, centers around methodology and not theology.  You don’t see, except in a few cases, churches gathering around doctrinal issues anymore.  Now they revolve around methodology.  The fellowship of the truth has been abandoned in the spirit of the age (2 Timothy 4:3-4) and with the American ideal of tolerance.  Tolerance has gone beyond merely allowing someone to hold a contrary view to now we must not just allow them to hold to that view but we must accept it as truthful even if we don’t agree.

I don’t know if you realize this but all the Apostles of Jesus were killed for their faith.  All of them died for the cause of Jesus Christ.  The postmodern would mock such a sacrifice.  The Apostles laid down their lives for the truth of Jesus (John 14:6).  They died believing and standing on the gospel, that Jesus was the only way to God and that His name alone is the only name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).  They died knowing that there is no other way to God but through Jesus (1 Timothy 2:1-6).  They died knowing that Jesus laid His life down for the Church (Acts 20:28) and that His blood alone atones for our sins before a holy and perfect God (Romans 3:22-25).  This was not up for debate to the Apostles.  Their letters are clear: Jesus is to be loved above all, cherished and adored, and He is to be followed at all costs even to the death (Luke 9:23-25).  They tolerated others to hold to contrary beliefs but they recognized that in the end, those holding to false teachers would be condemned (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).  Even in Acts 17, which is a passage that pragmatist love to quote from, Paul called those outside of following Jesus to repent (Acts 17:30-31).  Where is that being preached today by the postmodern preacher?

For 2000 years the Church has stood for the truth.  Yes we have seen much error creep into the Church through Satan but God has preserved His Word through the Church of Jesus Christ.  The Word of God remains inerrant and infallible after 2000 years.  What an amazing God!  Yet all around us we see error in the Church.  From Rob Bell to Todd Bentley and everyone in-between, we see errors.  We must abide in the Word of God.  We must remain committed to the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura.  We need men and women of God who will be willing, if necessary, to die for the Bible in defense of the truth of God.  I pray that I am one such person.  Truth does matter.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/04/2011 at 1:37 PM

>Teaching the Scriptures vs. Counseling from the Scriptures

>It seems to me that many of the churches that I am familiar with are more and more using the Scriptures as a book to proof-text their counseling of human problems.  Entire series’ of talks now are being given by “lead pastors” that are focused on problems such as marriage, family, failures, passion, etc.  Instead of teaching the Scriptures and taking people deeper in their understanding of the Word of God, too often the “sermons” are counseling sessions where the speaker hopes you will be encouraged and that his talk would be relevant to your life.  Teaching the Scriptures, of course, is seen as archaic and out of touch with real life issues.  Or so we are told.

My plea is that “lead pastors” would abandon their CEO mentalities and embrace the biblical call to teach the Word.  2 Timothy 4:1-5 should be enough to encourage the Bible teacher to teach the truths of Scripture and avoid trying to attract a crowd using worldly means.  As John MacArthur wrote, “If we will concern ourselves with the depth of our ministries, God will see to the breadth of our ministries.”  Too often the CEO minded modern church leader has his mind on the bottom line: finances and is not concerning primarily with passionately teaching the Scriptures.

Ephesians 4:11-16 is the most quoted verse for the modern pastorate.  While I believe much of the modern pastorate has little to do with the Bible and has more to do with traditions and with the business world that with the kingdom of God, nonetheless the current pastorates are often self defeating.  Instead of following the pattern of Ephesians 4:11-16 and seeking to help disciples of Jesus become more and more independent in their service to the King, many “lead pastors” create an atmosphere of utter dependence upon the clergy. In a return almost to the days of Roman Catholicism, the modern pastorate fails to allow the individual person to learn how to read, study, and apply the Bible to their daily life apart from the clergy.  If Ephesians 4:11-16 is correctly applied, the clergy should be seeking to teach their way out of their positions instead of intrenching the church more and more into dependence upon them.  By the way, the word “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11 is only translated that way here and is not the best translation.  The ESV correctly translates it better as shepherd.  Jesus, of course, is the great shepherd of the sheep (John 10:10-16; Hebrews 13:20) and He is in control of His Church above any professional clergy (Colossians 1:15-18; 1 Peter 2:25).

The true elder in the Church knows that their position is one of humility and service (Matthew 20:20-28).  True leaders serve Jesus as Lord and His Church by following Jesus’ example given to us (John 13:1-17).  1 Peter 5:1-5 calls elders in the Church to lead by examples as servants and not as lording it over the flock of God which has been given to them by God Himself (Acts 20:28-32).  In no way did our Lord establish a clergy-laity system that makes some people “full time ministers” and others as simple “laity” who pays the clergy to serve the people.  That system is unbiblical and self-defeating.  The true elder does not teach the Word for money but out of service to Jesus Christ as Lord.  They know that He, the sovereign God, will repay them in His timing.

Now certainly there is nothing wrong with Bible teachers in the local church teaching on subjects related to life issues such as stress, work, marriage, family, children, etc.  But the point of every teaching should be 1) to glorify God (1 Peter 4:11; cf. Colossians 3:16-17) and 2) with an eye on teaching the Scriptures as the final authority above all others including opinions, popular culture, or the latest fad.  The duty of the Bible teacher is to point the disciple to the Word of God as the only true source for knowing and doing the will of God (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).  The focus of the elder then is on pleasing the Shepherd and making Him great.  Our names, our series’, our titles, etc. are meaningless before the One who alone is worthy to be worshiped and adored (1 Timothy 6:15-16).  In eternity, only Jesus will be praised and not us or our teachings.

Sadly, the modern Western Church is run like a business.  Sermons, programs, and anything else is geared toward the bottom line: numbers.  The more people equals more money.  But the true elder, the true Spirit-led Bible teacher cares nothing about money or about fame or about having their name glorified by men but their focus is simple: make Jesus great before His Church.  Ephesians 4:11-16 is sadly being abandoned and people are not being trained to do the work of the ministry but are hearing pop pschology from the pulpit instead of the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7; cf. Psalm 112:1).  Instead of filling disciples hearts and minds with the inerrant and infallible Word of God, we are being spoon fed spiritual junk food that is poor for the soul (1 Peter 2:1-3).

David Wilkerson recently wrote, “We do not have a famine of the Word of God but rather we have a famine of hearing the Word of God.”  He is right.  Amos 8:11 is true in the Western Church.  We have Bibles everywhere and we have so many study Bibles and so many Bible teachings but we don’t have a hearing of the Word of God in the Church.  We hear sermons but they are not Bible sermons.  They lack the convicting Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13).

In closing, ask yourself this question: Does the Bible teacher that I sit under convict me from the Scriptures?  If not, why not?  I admit that I enjoy hearing a Bible lesson at times that encourages me and we do need that (1 Corinthians 14:26) but the Word of God should also convict us.  We all stumble (James 3:2; 1 John 1:10) and so we need the Word of God to correct us and call us to repentance.  Jesus said that those whom He loves, He reproves and disciplines (Revelation 3:19) and I believe His primary way of doing this is from the convicting Word of God either that we receive from the Spirit while reading or from a Bible teacher.  We need both!

May the Lord give us ears to hear what He is saying to us in His Word (Revelation 3:22).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/25/2011 at 7:13 PM

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