Ready for the N.T.? The oldest complete manuscript in Greek was copied less than 100 years after the writing of the N.T. Guess how many ancient copies exist? 5600. The consistency between the copies is amazing ~ 99.5% accurate. If I were to hand write a note and ten of you one after the other copy what I write…. How accurate would it be to my original?
Why so many translations? Scholars are commissioned to use early and accurate texts, translating for their generation updated language for the current times. Sometimes its because we can. There is no Christian authority out there to stop scholars, people, publishers and so they produce more to fit niches, to helps more people understand…
Vast number of translations will always be with us. Most of you only need one or two or three and stick with them. Don’t be overwhelmed ~ understand each is a labor of love… a gift. We are all different. If you are in a Bible study, some people like have a different translation from most of the others because you can see the same thing said a different way and it helps. Others like having the common translation to the group…. No right or wrong…
What do you think of the Bible? Is it a supplement to life? Entertaining? Babble? Or does it define you? Guide you? Here is the Bible defining itself: READ Heb. 4:12-13. Even if you do not believe this about the Bible, it is still true. You can argue about the law of gravity all day that it is not true, but if I throw a ball in the air I guarantee it will fall down!
Years ago in the late 70s a man was descending Mt. Baker. Just as he and his party were nearing the camp where the tents were pitched he plunged into a crevasse, perhaps 12-15 feet down when it stopped in a “v”. Lots of people were around so they hoisted him up. Just as he was near the top, the rope slipped off and he fell getting wedged into the “V”. They managed to get him out again, but not in time. He spent too much time against the solid ice and a later died of hypothermia. I was not on the mountain that week-end. I was 18 at the time. I knew all about the mountain and the current conditions. That Summer I knew every crevasse on the standard climbing route. The next week I led a group of two ropes of men to the top. I showed the men, all beginners, about roping up. I told them about the importance of staying roped. I pointed out the crevasse where the man died. I was 18. Most of them were in their 40s and 50s. I was the leader, or so I thought. I was the authority, or so I thought.
We went to the top. No problems. It gets to be a long day. You get tired. We descended the mountain. As we came upon the last slope we could see our tents probably the better part of a mile away looking like ants. The temptation was too much for these men. A long tiring day of trudging through snow. What would you rather do? Freely sled down a mile of snow or trudge one more mile with a cumbersome rope. I tried to stop them, but my young 18 year old voice of authority sounded weak to these middle aged men. The men took off their ropes, sat on their bottoms and sped down the mile long slope. And I watched as they headed towards the crevasse that had just taken a life. Nobody was hurt. Nobody landed in the crevasse. They all had a grand time. But that made my instructions no less true!
The Word of God is TRUE whether you choose to follow or not. as true as gravity. It is as true as how seriously you take the need for safety in dangerous situations. Wearing a seat belt is always a good idea whether you follow the practice or not and most of the time you will not be an accident, but it is still true. The Word of God is living, active, sharp, penetrating, judgmental, uncovers what is hidden. That is the character of the Bible no matter how seriously you take it. Sliding down a mile long slope is great fun, but it was foolishness.
Let’s look at what it means for the Bible to be Living. Active. Penetrating. Exposing. The last point: The Bible is Always True, the only question will you embrace it now and let it change your world, or wait till later when you are called to account.
God’s Word is Living
A person is living, a plant is living, but what does it mean that a word is living? God’s Word makes a transforming difference. It is not spoken, falls to the ground and turns to dust. It is not like a dead leaf, it is like a living plant. One person says it this way: “When I was a teenager, we thought we were so cool. We knew the latest songs and styles and were up to date. Our parents were out of date. I have realized since that those songs and styles that we thought were up to date are now out of date. The word of God is living because it never goes out of date. It always has something to say to us.”
I found a manual for an old typewriter. It has no practical use. Not so the Bible! To say the Word of God is alive is to affirm it makes a difference. Is. 55:11 declares, “[my word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
His word is active. Energy. Jer. 23:29: “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” The power of the word of God is seen in creation. God created by his word? Gen. 1:3:, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” What tremendous power! The closest thing I personally experience as a human to creating something with words… it is very humbling to me: as a minister I have been given the power to speak a marriage into existence. “I pronounce that you are husband and wife” But that’s a pittance compared to God’s Energetic Alive WORD.
God’s Word Penetrates and Divides “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The word of God is so precise, so sharp, so effective that it is able to divide those things that appear almost indivisible. So share it can divide soul and spirit. Don’t ask me what the difference or sameness is of these two realities, or one reality… the point is that God’s word is so sharp, the depth of penetration into your heart, soul, spirit... God is able to discern what is in the deepest part of our being and to distinguish all our thoughts and attitudes. Let me say this, I have problems with the popular declaration of people shouting, “Do not judge me” because I don’t think they are using the phrase in a Biblical way, but putting that aside, if people would please add the thought of this verse, “But God, I want you to judge me, I want you to penetrate the depth of my soul and spirit, I want you to judge my attitudes and opinions and you, God, correct me, you God, set me on a right path. Let God be your judge through His Word, the Bible, His Word, the Spirit, his word, Jesus alive. The word of God not only reveals what is in our hearts, it is powerful to distinguish what is good and what is bad in our hearts. “God, penetrate my heart.”
Many have experienced the penetrating work of God’s word. One man writes: “Have you ever wondered how a sermon or a Sunday school lesson can be so fitted to what you are experiencing? You may even think that someone has talked to them and given them some inside information about you. The truth is that it isn’t the teacher or the preacher. It’s the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God, delivering the right message at the right place at the right time.” (Gerald Flury.)
The Word of God Exposes All ~ READ Heb. 4:13 “uncovered” means naked. To be naked is to be exposed. vulnerable. In the presence of God we are naked. God knows what is happening in the deepest recesses of our heart. The word of God exposes all that is in our hearts as we stand before God without any excuse or anything to hide behind. The Bible has the power to overcome sins and transform us from the inside out.
What will it be? Now or later? The last phrase of Heb. 4:13: Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
In the immediacy of the now, I knew there was a good chance that the five six guys that did not listen to me and slid down the slope without a rope would not die. They made it. But it is also true that if a mountain climber that was on the slopes were to make such poor decisions as a way of life, the day would come when they would be caught in a place, a situation which would be to their downfall. How many adults wish young people would take a lesson from the adults foolish mistakes and not engage in the risky or destructive behavior. Not make the same bad decisions. Nobody would smoke if logic ruled the decision making. There would be no addictions of any kind.
Heb. 4:12-13 is a wonderful caption of the Bible, but it is also written to certain people in a certain situation. It makes a difference in how we apply these verses to ourselves. If you were to read through Hebrews, you would find hints along the way that the people are afraid ~ about to crumble from the weight of persecution, so you have a great scripture such as Heb. 12:1-3 READ.
To understand our scripture today about the powerful character of the Word of God is written to those that are struggling and afraid. Yes, it is still a choice whether to believe the Bible or not, but more than that, this is an invitation to live a life of confidence by inviting the Word of God to penetrate your life. It takes guts to change,, you know. Replace the fear of the world with the joy of the Lord. This is an invitation. Living in obedience to the Bible, the Word of God, is freedom because no longer does the world define you. You are defined by the Word of God. Rejecting the Bible is going to catch up to you, so embrace it now and discover the transforming power of the Living Word of God. We don’t need the world to change for us to find peace, we need the Word of God to change us.
The Bible is living, active and sharp. You are invited to embrace the Bible as your guide for life. You will never be the same. Amen.