Pastor A. W. Weckeman Sept. 2002
There are two ways of approaching the subject of preservation regarding the Scriptures:
First, from a technical perspective, the science of textual criticism. The textual critic approaches the Bible as he would any other literary work of antiquity in which the original autographs are no longer available. The premise is that since the original copies have long since perished and that which has survived consists of questionable, conflicting copies of copies, it is, therefore, impossible to have a pure Bible.
Textual criticism is then the science by which biblical scholars seek to restore or reconstruct the indefinite (lost) text of the Bible as close as possible to its original form by a detailed analysis of the various manuscripts. The standard criterion of reliability is age, assuming the older the manuscript, the closer it must be to the original. This approach fails to consider that most Bible corruption took place in the first few centuries consider (2 Cor.2:17, 2 Peter 3:16).
As with any branch of academia, there are different schools of thought among textual critics. Disagreements abound and take many forms. Each group of scholars defends their own set of criteria and presuppositions for evaluating the superiority of one text type over another (textual disputes) or one family of manuscripts over another.
Then there are translation disputes, disagreements over how to understand and translate the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek texts (original languages of the Bible) into English. For example, the Greek word “logismos,” found in 2 Corinthians 10:5, can mean; reasoning, imagination, or thought. According to Greek, any one of these three definitions would be correct. The question then arises, how do we determine the precise Word (meaning) which the Holy Spirit initially intended? Who gets to make the determination, and on what basis, by what authority?
When you consider all the complexities and variables of textual criticism, not to mention the differences between the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and English languages it should be apparent that without supernatural intervention it would be impossible to reconstruct the original text of the Scriptures, even if it had been lost. In reality, textual criticism is no more than educated guesswork, an intellectual exercise in futility and unbelief. The Bible sums up the science of textual criticism in 2 Tim.3:7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
False doctrine originates with the acceptance of a false premise; deception is born out of failure to recognize truth, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die… (Gen.3:4). The beginning of the end came when Satan interjected a false thought into Eve’s mind. A bold lie that sounded logical, even though it was contrary to what God had said, tragically, Eve accepted it. Why was Eve so easily deceived?
It has been wisely stated that the heart of every problem is a problem in the heart. Eve was beguiled because she questioned what God had said. So then, so now And the serpent said unto the “biblical scholar,” God hath not preserved His Word. The clever lie that God’s words perished along with the papyri or vellum on which they were written initially has been broadly propagated and widely accepted, even though it is contrary to what God has said. Papyri and vellum are physical, material, temporal. God’s Word is spiritual (John 6:63) eternal (1 Peter 1:21). The students of the school of modern textual criticism have little, if any, faith in God’s ability to preserve His own words. In effect, their position accuses God of negligence.
The false doctrine of non-preservation is a doctrine that lacks any basis in the Word of God other than “Yea, hath God said…” (Gen.3:1). It is, in fact, nothing more than a theory constructed upon a flawed foundation that assumes inspiration was limited to the original autographs. A method strikingly similar to “Darwin’s theory of evolution,” also founded on a lie. Textual criticism and evolution are similar in that both utilize man’s wisdom to refute God’s Word; both replace certainty with uncertainty. The common goal is the destruction of absolutes (one of the primary objectives of secular humanism).
Absolute truth is the foundation of morality that holds man accountable; therefore, his fallen nature dictates that he challenge, resist, and deny it, especially where it applies to his conduct. In a sense, evolution got rid of God, and textual criticism gets rid of His words. The so-called “scholars” begin with absolute inerrancy (the original lost autographs) and end up with relative inerrancy (hundreds of “relatively pure” albeit conflicting versions of the Bible).
The crux of textual criticism concerning the Bible isn’t the restoration of lost truth; the real issue is the final authority. The whole process lacks any Scriptural justification and is inconsistent with the nature of God. How can we explain the Sovereignty of a God who relies on the mind of fallen man to discern, decide and declare what is and isn’t true? The truth of God’s Word needs to be resurrected by man’s wisdom lacks underlying support within the Bible. When we examine the Scriptures, we find just the opposite. Jesus Himself stated, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). That God’s words would be lost is contrary to His nature as revealed in Scripture; if God is pure, perfect, holy, and eternal (and He is), then it stands to reason so must His Word be. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb .13:8).
If uncertainty is better than certainty, if confusion is more desirable than clarity, if impurity is superior to purity, textual critics have accomplished much. As a direct result of the modern school of textual criticism, we have today more than two hundred different versions of the Bible, all of which disagree in one form or another (to satisfy copyright laws, among other things). Bible publishing has become a lucrative enterprise.
The resulting confusion within the Body of Christ is yet another confirmation that the whole process is not from God ” For God is not the author of confusion…” (1 Cor. 14:33). In reality, the science of modern textual criticism has proven to be a “Pandora’s box,” a contemporary form of “Yea, hath God said…” resulting in continuous controversy and significant divisions within the Body of Christ. “As if it weren’t enough for proud men to doubt God’s Holy Word, in their folly they imagine they could somehow resurrect it!” Humility is hardly the hallmark of supposed higher learning.
The second means by which to approach the subject of Bible preservation:
Scriptural perspective: Upon close examination of what God’s Word says about itself, it becomes evident that preservation and purity never has, nor ever could be, subject to man. The fundamental error of textual criticism, which assumes God’s Word to be lost, can be refuted by studying the internal evidence of the Scriptures regarding preservation. Secondly, by considering the Holy Spirits’ indictment of “man’s wisdom” (1 Cor.1:19-20 & 3:18-21). Regarding spiritual realities, man’s wisdom is inherently flawed therefore inadequate. The powers of human intellect are limited to apprehend spiritual truth. “…Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matt.11:25). “…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Therefore, having” no confidence in the flesh” (Phil.3:3), we can, “by faith” (Heb.11:6), rely on what God has historically stated in His Word. Instead of accepting an unscriptural premise and proceeding by so-called “scientific means” contrived in the finite mind of man, we can look to the host of internal evidence which assures us that God has indeed preserved His precious Word.
Consider the Nature of God’s Word:
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt PRESERVE them from this generation FOR EVER” (Ps.12:6-7) [emphasis added].
“Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.” (Ps.119:140).
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that trusteth in him.” (Prov.30:5). If we don’t have the pure Words of God, then it stands to reason that what we have is impure.
“For the word of God is quick [alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12) [emphasis added].
“It is the spirit that quickeneth [imparts life]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Jesus Christ (John 6:63) [emphasis added].
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever .” (1 Peter 1:23).
The above Scripture reveals the nature of God’s Word: Pure, living, breathing, incorruptible, eternal spirit words. Why would God supernaturally inspire and promise to preserve scriptures which He did not intend us to have? If He promised to keep them pure and then failed to do so, He would have lied.
“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Rom. 3:4).
The obvious conclusion is that the only means by which God could keep His promise to preserve His Word to every generation would be “infallible preservation.”
Jesus and the Word
The Scriptures state that Jesus and the Word are one (John 1:1, Rev. 19:13). Therefore, everything that Jesus is, the Word must be. God’s attributes and character must be perfectly reflected in His Word. If God is absolute, the same must be true of His Word… “thy word is truth.” (John 17:17); the truth is never relative…it is absolute!
Examples of comparisons between Jesus and the Word of God:
Salvation is found in Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12) and “For by grace are ye saved through faith….” (Eph.2:8) and “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom.10:17).
Jesus had the power to give life (John 11:43-44). He is referred to as “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).
The same is true of His words; they give life, “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63), also consider, (James 1:21, Acts 11:14, 2 Tim.3:15).
The power lies not in our ability to explain the Word but in the Word itself! Everlasting life is revealed in a Book, believing and trusting God’s Word imparts eternal life, “…thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
“God is light…” (1 John 1:5.) Not a light or the light, He is pure light, “and in him is no darkness at all.” (Darkness constitutes error, Eph.4:17-19). “Every word of God is pure…” (Prov.30:5). That is absolute truth (John 17:17). It functions as pure light, revealing all imperfections, errors, and motives (Eph.5:13).
In its presence, nothing can remain hidden, “For the Word of God is quick, [alive] and powerful…and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb.4:12) [emphasis mine]. Also consider, (John 3:19-21, Ps.119:105 & 130).
Just as Jesus has the supernatural ability to see into man’s heart and read his mind (Matt.9:3-4 cf. 2 Chron.6:30) also, (John 4:16-19 & 29, Jer.17:9-10), the same is true of the Word of God as we saw in (Heb.4:12). Also, consider (1 Cor. 14:24-25.) In reality, as we read God’s Word, we are being read by God. His living Word simultaneously convicts the conscience, discerns our thoughts, and reveals our hearts.
The Doctrine of Inspiration
The science of textual criticism is based upon three fundamentally false premises: First, God has allowed His Word to be lost. Second: It is man’s responsibility to preserve God’s Word. Third: Inspiration is limited to the first century and the original autographs.
First of all, we must remember that the Holy Spirit is the source of inspiration, “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.” (2 Peter 1:21).
The thing that sets God’s Word above all other words is that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim.3:16). The purpose of divine inspiration is to place a supernatural signature on the Bible to validate the Scriptures as the very words of God.
How logical or reasonable is it to believe that God supernaturally inspired His life-giving Word and then allowed it to be lost? Without the doctrine of preservation, the doctrine of inspiration is irrelevant; what value are pure God-breathed words, which man has carelessly lost, and therefore no longer obtainable? If God failed to preserve His Word (which He didn’t), how could we be sure He can preserve our souls?
Consider the Bible’s use of the term “scripture.”
“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…” (2 Tim.3:15-16).
Would anyone in their right mind believe that Timothy’s mother and grandmother (2 Tim.1:5) possessed a copy of the original Hebrew autographs?
The Scriptures which Paul was referring to were copies of the Old Testament. Faithful copies of copies of the originals, which had not only been inspired but preserved! The prevailing view among “Bible scholars” is that “holy scriptures” in (2 Tim.3:15) refer to imperfect copies of God’s Word; however, in verse 16 (same context), they refer to the word “scripture” as the inspired, infallible originals.
The Greek Word for Scripture is “graphe” which occurs 51 times in the New Testament. The following provides a small sample:
In Acts 17, Paul came to Thessalonica, where he “reasoned with them out of the scriptures…” (vs.2). Later in that same chapter, Paul went to Berea and preached Christ to the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (vs.11).
In Luke 24:45, Jesus opened the eyes of the apostles so that “they might understand the scriptures.” Jesus read from Scripture in the synagogue at Nazareth Luke 4:21. These were not the originals that they were reading; they were “infallibly preserved” copies of copies, which the Bible refers to as Holy Writ, graphe.
What evidence do Christians rely on to prove that the Bible is divinely inspired? We rest on the testimony of the Scriptures to confirm the Authorship of the Word.
The Internal Evidence which Supports Inspiration:
(All Scripture is from King James Bible unless otherwise noted)
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim.3:16). Notice, “All Scripture is given, not was given.
“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.” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God…” (1 Thess. 2:13).
“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord…” (Heb.10:15-16). Notice that the author of Hebrews doesn’t attribute Jeremiah 31:33 to the prophet Jeremiah, but the Holy Spirit. Men did not write the Bible but by God working through them.
“And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” (Exodus 32:16).
“The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” (2 Sam.23:2).
“Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jerm.1:9).
How can we be sure that God not only inspired His Word but also preserved it? By following the same method and reasoning regarding inspiration, simply, by faith, believing what the Word of God says about itself.
The Alteration of Internal Evidence which Supports Preservation
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35). [That is unless you are using the “New International Version” or one of the other modern perversions]. Contrast Jesus’ words in Matt.23:14 (K.J.B) with (N.I.V.)
Notice the devious verse deletion in Acts chapter 8 verse 35,36,38. Verse 37 “passed away” along with Matt.17:21, Matt.18:11, Mark 7:16, Mark 9:44, Mark 9:46, Mark 11:26, Mark 15:28, Luke 17:36, Luke 23:17, John 5:4, Acts 15:34, Acts 24:7, Acts 28:29 and Rom.16:24 to name a few.
Also, compare (Ps.12:6-7 K.J.B.)
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt PRESERVE them from this generation for ever” (Ps.12:6-7) [Emphasis mine]. Compare these crucial verses as rendered in the N.I.V. below:
“And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.” N.I.V.
A comparison of the above “proof-text” (regarding preservation) in the modern versions (N.I.V, N.A.S.B., etc.) provides critical insight concerning the corruption of God’s Word at the hands of liberal, so-called “biblical scholars.” Remember, initially, the alleged reasoning behind making a new version was to update the archaic language of the K.J.B simply.
“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…” (2 Peter 1:17-19) [Emphasis mine].
The words of the Lord are “MORE SURE” than the actual voice of God! (Compare the above verse in the N.A.S.B. & N.I.V. and notice how the wording attempts to confuse the meaning).
“Every word of God is pure…” (Prov. 30:5). The N.A.S.B. replaces “pure with “tested” (same as N.A.B, Catholic Bible) N.I.V. replaces “pure” with “flawless.”
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and thy truth: for thou hast MAGNIFIED THY WORD ABOVE THY NAME.” (Ps.138:2) [Emphasis mine].
The N.A.S.B. changes “above” to “according” N.I.V. re-words the entire verse, totally distorting it.
* Note: By pointing out that most of these critical verses concerning the doctrines of inspiration and preservation are also found in the modern versions (albeit altered), it disarms the charge that those who hold to the K.J.B. follow circular reasoning (assuming the K.J.B. to be pure) in defending their position.
At this point, some may ask the logical question, “Aren’t you assuming the K.J.B. to be absolute? Why should I accept it as a standard by which to judge?” To answer the question with an equally logical question, why should I believe that there is no standard even though God plainly states in His Word that there is! Should we place our faith in what God has said or the speculation of “professional theologians”?
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man…..” “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” (Jerm.17:5 & 7).
Consider the following insightful quote by Tozer:
“I know all the arguments against the King James Version, but answer me this: If it is as bad as some scholars tell us, why has God blessed it so much? More people have come into the Kingdom of God through this blessed translation than any other. It has been translated into more languages than any other version; perhaps more than all the rest put together.”
“Does it not seem strange that the generation with the most advanced technology and the easiest-to-read Bible translations is the weakest generation of Christians in the history of our country?”
“It is my observation that the natural man does not understand spiritual principles. The problem has never been the translation. The problem has never been academic. The problem has always been spiritual.” – A.W.Tozer, “The Crucified Life.”
“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Ps.119:160).