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STUDY FOUR

The Word is Sure

A Study in Scriptural Integrity:

God Has Magnified His Word

As important as prayer is in understanding Scripture, it is vital to have an attitude of meekness toward God, that His opinion is the final say on all matters.


Often a man or a woman limits what truths God will show them by simply refusing to act or to test what He has revealed to them.

But we want to test God's Word. We want to test His true message, not the many possible opinions and creeds man may derive from it. To do this, it is vital to reach a point where we have a relative degree of confidence that we see the Scripture as God intended it.

To do this we must have strong faith in the Scriptures themselves.

The Word is Pure

In this study we are seeking the testimony that the Scriptures give of themselves.

If the Bible is a book recorded by men simply out of someone's good intentions, then we have only another nice book.

But if we have a book inspired of God that, when written, recorded exactly what God wanted revealed, we have the absolute Word of God.

If the Bible has the opinions of men that falsely claim to speak for God, we have a book of lies.

But if the Bible is God's message to man, then we have a firm foundation for faith and practice.

We have either a book of fables or we have the doctrine of life.

If it is a fable, and we base our life upon it, we are indeed among the most pitiful of mankind, living in a dream.

But if it is the Word of Truth, and man can only know his true purpose in the pages thereof, a man or a woman who denies that Word will indeed face the greatest of loss.

The opinion one chooses to have of Scripture is therefore one thing a man or woman cannot afford to be wrong about.

This said, we go to the Word of God to see what the authors, or as many of us believe, the Author, of the Bible thought of the pages written.

"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."

Psalm 138:2

The Psalmist in this verse reports that he will praise and worship God's name for His lovingkindness and His truth, for God has magnified above His name His "word." "Word" is the Hebrew word "imrah," and means "sayings." He magnified His sayings, His utterances, above His very name.

And in the Hebrew culture, one's name was symbolic of everything one was, had, and could do.

The Psalmist recognizes that the things God says are so true that they are magnified above even the name of God itself. That is the purity of that which God has spoken.

And to the degree the Bible is true to what God originally said, that is the degree of its truth today.

"For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

Psalm 100:5

Although there have been many translations and copies of Scripture, this word reveals that the truth of the good and merciful Lord endures to all generations. While men may err in transcription and translation, we still have the tools to seek out the "truth (which) endureth to all generations."

This literally means that if the Bible contains the Word of God, we do not have to err in finding the truth.

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God is pure. How many? Every. When originally given, there were no errors, no contradictions, in any of God's Word. We want to get as close as we can to that type of integrity in our understanding.

There are no errors, no contradictions, in Scripture, only difficulties. Problems only exist in transcription, or in translation, or in our own understanding.

And in this class we are learning how the Bible itself helps us get past those difficulties, as God works in us.

The next verse, in Proverbs 30, verse 6, points out that there will be those who will be reproved, who will be found liars, for adding to the Word of God.

"Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."

Proverbs 30:6

Revelation 22:19 says there are those will will suffer loss for taking away from prophesy and 22:18 says plagues will come unto those adding thereunto.

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Revelations 22:18-19

So the Word once written can indeed be tampered with. It just isn't too good for someone to do so.

And here we see a great key in understanding Scripture.

We should quit reading our own slants into the Scripture.

Everybody wants to be so spiritual, and see "great hidden truths." But to see great truths is to simply read Scripture for what it says, not "take away" by rationalizing, not "add to" by developing elaborate webs of theology.

And the truth of God is to all generations. If this Bible is a transcription (copy) or translation (into another language) of the Word of God, we can still seek out the truth. It will be available. It will endure. We just want to be careful to do our best to find what it said.

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

I Pet. 1:24-25

Yes, it will endure.

Now, the next question arises: Does the Bible merely "contain" the Word of God, the "sayings," sandwiched in optional narrative? Or, when it was written was it the Word of God entirely?

Are we to pick and choose the pure nuggets from a sandwich of opinion? Or, when we get to where we again understand it as written, is it THE Word of God?

There has been much debate about this in Christian circles.

One group says, "What Jesus said was the pure Word, but John, Matthew, Mark and Luke added their opinions."

Or, "Paul was somewhat right, but, hey, he added his slant to his epistles."

Others say it is entirely the Word of God when it was written.

Still others say that since the Word endures forever, it cannot be tampered with. Therefore all copies, even handwritten ones that differ, and all versions, even ones that omit or add varying renditions, are the Word.

We will handle the third group first.

After all, God magnified His Word, He gave it a higher respect, than even His name.

Are All Versions Without Flaw?

"Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words."

Jer. 36:32

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

"Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."

Prov. 30:5&6

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Rev. 22:18&19

In these records of Jeremiah, Proverbs and Revelations we see that the Word in written form can be destroyed, added to or detracted from. Therefore we see that we cannot take it on blind faith that a version of the Bible has been faithfully transcribed or translated.

We are told in Jeremiah 2:13 that God's people, not unbelievers, but that God's people have committed two evils:

"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."

Jer. 2:13

We see then that God's own people often reject the way of God in favor of their own. They reject the faith in God and place faith in leaky theology.

This predilection in hewing out "broken cisterns" tends to influence transcription and translation, as well. Perhaps the most famous example of Scripture tampering to favor a certain theology is in I John.

"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

"And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son."

I John 5:5-9, King James Version

King James has five verses in this section. So does New International Version, but the NIV's five verses are merely three of KJV's verses spread thin. Two of the KJV verses are missing.

"Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

"This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

"For there are three that testify:

"the [1] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

"We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son."

I John 5:5-9, New International Version

King James Version adds an entire section, "And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. and these three are one. "

It is revealing that this section of the King James is found in no critical Greek, and does not agree with the Vulgate. (Vulgate versions are the Latin texts, although later versions of the Vulgate do make a reference to "the Father, and the Word, and the Holy Spirit in heaven which are one.")

This section here in I John is one of many verses that have been carelessly or intentionally mistranslated or mistranscribed to substantiate theology. (In this case the added section is one of several errors added to support the theology of the Trinity doctrine.)

Therefore, we must be students of the Word, and search until all the relevant verses make sense.

However, we see that while the Scriptures if true either contain God's Word, or was entirely God's Word when given, no single version may be thought of as "error proof."

It is only with that kind of understanding and honesty that we can search out "the truth which endureth forever."

How Much Was God's Word?

When originally given, where the Scriptures entirely God's Word, or, did they merely contain "nuggets of truth?"

Many would merely liken the worship of Jehovah, God of Israel, and service to His Son Jesus Christ, to any other religion. "It's all good," whether one is a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Jew, or a Christian.

And the common forms of all these religions are indeed similar. Each teaches of a singular chief deity, each teaches perfection of man and justification through good works, each teaches of the coming of an anointed that will rule mankind in a "new age."

But the Bible actually teaches that there is only one true God, Jehovah of Israel, and one salvation through grace and election by one particular man, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who will one day rule over earth.

And so, we again ask, is the Bible truth, or does it merely contain "nuggets" to be picked and chosen?

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God."

John 1:1&2

In the beginning was the Word. All right, the next two parts of the verse answer "Who" and "Where" the Word was, but they do not in English obviously answer "What" the Word was. And in the Greek, the "Where" becomes "To Whom."

"Word" is in the Greek the word "logos," (pronounced "loe-gohs") and means "communication" or "expression of thought." (Young's Concordance and Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, respectively.")

Thus, "In the beginning was the expression of thought." The expression of thought? Who's thought?

God's thought.

Who else was there? Jesus Christ was from "yesterday, today, and forever." Only God was "from everlasting, to everlasting." (Psalm 90:2)

So only God was the recipient of this expression of thought. Look at the next section, "and the Word was with God."

The word "with" is the Greek word "pros," and is usually translated "to." It should be translated "to" here, as well. "...and the Word was to God."

This expression of thought was to God. From God, to God. He was "talking to Himself." That's all it means. Before anything else happened, in the beginning, God was "talking it over" with Himself.

"And the Word was God."

Of course it was. God's Word is as much God as your words are you. Your expression of thoughts are the heart of you, as in, "he puts so much of himself in his writing," and, "you can really get to know him by the things he writes about."

"The same was in the beginning with God." This expression of the thoughts of God, this communication, regarding Creation was the initial action God took prior to Creating. Simply put, nothing was done by accident.

This Word, that is the expression of the thoughts of God, indeed preceded the very foundation of the universe.

And eventually God would give to man relevant parts of this communication. Some of it would be in specific "conversations" with His prophets, some would be relayed to others by them, some would be written and spread that way, and some would be canonised into what we refer to as "The Bible."

It is the Bible we now concern ourselves with.

How much of the canonized Bible (Genesis through Revelations, books of the KJV) is God's Word? Mistranslations or poor transcription aside, how much of what Luke originally recorded was actually "the expression of God's thought?"

"Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

"For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

"And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

II Peter 1:15-21

The Old Testament Scriptures were, as we saw in study three, given by Godís volition, not Manís.

Jesus Christ also received a wonderful piece of God's expression of thought: "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."

What a sure word of prophesy that must have been, both after baptism, and later as Jesus was preparing for his hour of greatest trial!

Yet we have a more sure word of prophesy!

For, the Scripture came not in old time by man's will. Man did not simply decide to write it.

Jeremiah did not say, "Wow, those ideas that I think came from God were awesome! I think I'll write about what I realized."

Moses did not say, "hmm, God showed me some things, I better write about them before I forget."

No, the prophesies of the Old Testament came from God Himself, through "holy men as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

If a boss can dictate a letter to a secretary, and check for errors before he will send out a proper copy, how much more can God Himself make sure a prophet gets it right?

Man did not decide to write Scripture and then do the best he could. It was as God willed, that pure Word, which endures.

When originally written, every word in Scripture was word of God. Not ,"this quote is, but that particular account is not." All Scriptures were written by men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit is, as we shall examine in upcoming studies, not a characteristic of God. It is the sum and substance of Him.

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

"That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

II Tim. 3:14-17

SO you see, it is all God's Word, all of it. If a manuscript is truly Scripture, then when it was originally given, before transcriptions and translations, it was all God's Word, every nuance, every jot and every tittle.

God dictated an expression of His thoughts.

Okay, how about the gospels?

Where they retrospective accounts of events years in the past, prone to error of memory and contradictions?

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

"Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

"It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

"That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."

Luke 1:1-4

"First" in the texts is "anothen," which is "from above." Luke has understanding "from above," anothen. He did not will this understanding, it was given him. He was, as Peter phrased it, "moved by the Holy Ghost." By God, Who is the Holy Spirit, the "Pnuema Hagion."

The Gospels were also given not by the will of man, even though Luke thought it to be a good thing that he do the writing. After all, he wanted God's people to know the certainty of the things they believed.

Just as Peter wrote, "as unto a light that shineth into a dark place."

The Word Made Flesh

What about the Epistle of Paul?

"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Romans 1:7

Paul again received revelation. Note that in all of his epistles, he conveyed specific greetings from God and from Jesus.

Was he merely stating a basic doctrine that "God and Jesus are always saying hello?"

Perhaps, but these were also specific greetings that Paul was conveying as "he was told."

God told Paul to say "hello" to these Romans for him, and for Jesus likewise.

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Gal. 1:11&12

This revelation was not of God directly, not "as moved by the Holy Ghost." It came from God by Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament Scriptures were received through "men of God as they were moved by God," Who is "the Holy Ghost." Luke said his understanding of the Gospels also were from above.

Paul however received his information directly from Jesus Christ.

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"

Hebrews 1:1&2

See? In the book to the Hebrews, Israel, God spoke to the people by the prophets, which as you remember are holy men of God moved by the Pnuema Hagion.

But now, He speaks through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the conclusion of the promises of the Old Testament, which was literally a contract with Israel. Thus they were not given "by revelation of Jesus Christ," but by "holy men as they were moved by Pnuema Hagion." God wrapped up the Old Covenant in orderly fashion..

We are in a new day, an age of Grace, and Jesus Christ is the spokesman for God regarding the matters of His household and His Kingdom.

"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

"But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

"To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

Rom. 16:25-27

You see here how that this Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the "gospel of the Kingdom" (of God and of Israel) that Jesus preached in Israel. This gospel, this preaching, was kept secret since the world began but is now, right now, made manifest.

Is this Gospel "within" the Kingdom of God? Of course it is. The spiritual standards are the same. But we aren't under the law of the Kingdom, but a greater law that frees us to better works. We need to learn those differences, make them our own.

This gospel now preached is also made known by Scriptures of the prophets, but not the "prophets moved by the Pnuema Hagion," but as was Paul, by "revelation of Jesus Christ."

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

"Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw."

Revelation 1:1&2

The old Testament was given directly to prophets. Now, though, it is Christ's Church, he is Lord, he is head of the Church.

It is still the Word of the Lord, the Word of God, and thus is still "the expression of God's thoughts."

But now we get them through testimony of Jesus Christ. God tells Jesus, who then tells his servant, who would be us.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

"John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

"And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

"No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

John 1:14-18

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" does not mean that God became Jesus. When the Word was scribed, did God become a book? I do not pray to my Bible, do you?

But is the Word still God? Of course.

"Word" means "expression of thoughts," and in Jesus the expression of God's thoughts, of His kindness and grace, were and are evident.

And in Jesus' witnessing to the "expression of thought" God revealed to Jesus again to the Church, he continues to this day to declare the Father.

Again,

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Gal. 1:11&12

The Word as given was pure, containing not nuggets of truth but all pertaining to life and godliness, and in this day and age the doctrine of the Church is through the Word made flesh, from revelation of Jesus Christ.

This is a Word we can trust, that we can obey.

And by an accurate understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of how this Gospel fits with the rest of the Word, we have our more sure word of prophesy by which to live.

This is the Word we can, even in this day and age, have absolute faith in.

 

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