THE TRUTH AND THE POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD
(This article was originally printed in Spetember, 2004)
Down through the centuries, the altering of Scripture has been used by organizations and individuals to undergird an unscriptural point of view. For example, to justify the horrors of the Inquisition, the Catholic Church and Augustine used Luke 14:23 to endorse the use of force against all who opposed the false doctrine and traditions of the Catholic Church:
“And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.”
The misuse of the word “compel” (anagkason) by the Roman Catholic Church imposed physical force upon people to embrace their false ways. The word would be better understood in light of its use in other Scriptures, such as Matthew 14:22 and Mark 6:45. Since God would not violate our free will, we can understand “compel” to mean “to prevail by most earnest entreaties or by argument and persuasion,” and not physical force.
The Catholic Church had completely discarded the truths of charity and compassion, and had taken upon itself pagan superstitions and doctrines that were materially, physically, and socially beneficial to its clergy, giving them total domination in all church matters. Anyone who disagreed with them or their doctrines were branded as heretics who must be brought into agreement with the Papal Church by whatever force necessary. If the heretics did not repent and swear allegiance to the Pope and his prelates, they must be killed. For several centuries, the Catholic Church raged throughout the world like a hungry beast, slaughtering thousands of true Believers in Christ as well as torturing and mutilating thousands more. The light of the true Gospel had almost been totally extinguished by darkness and superstition.
The Inquisition was a medieval Church court appointed to prosecute heretics, those so named who opposed the errors and superstitions of the Papal Church. The Bible was kept hidden from the common people and was often chained to the pulpit to insure it would not be taken and read by the common man. Some said it wasn’t lawful for the lay people to have a Bible in their own language. Others said it would make all lay people heretics and they would rebel against the king. The Catholic clergy would not translate the Bible themselves or allow anyone else to translate it. All they wanted was to keep the people in darkness and manipulate their conscience with fear from foolish superstitions and false doctrines. In that way, they could satisfy their personal ambitions and greedy covetousness and exalt their own honor even above Christ himself.
THE PRICE PAID FOR THE GOSPEL
For this and other reasons, God stirred the hearts of good men such as William Tyndale to translate the Scriptures into English for the benefit of the simple people of his country. Tyndale began printing his New Testament translation in 1525 in Germany, and soon after his translation appeared in England. Tyndale’s books, especially the New Testament translation, were of great spiritual benefit to the Godly lay people, but of great harm to the ungodly clergy who were afraid that the shining beams of truth would reveal their deeds of darkness. On October 6, 1536, Tyndale, God’s first translator of the English New Testament, was brought to a place of execution, tied to a stake, strangled to death, and his body burned for doing God’s Work.
The Bible was brought to us at a great price. Thousands gave their lives for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, we in the Church are faced with a similar situation. The Bible is slowly being taken from the Church. You ask, “How?” By the many different interpretations that masquerade as translations, which change the Scriptures not to say what “thus saith the Lord,” but what “thus saith the translation,” and the authors of many books on the market today. Let’s look at the “Purpose Driven Life” and “Purpose Driven Church” as two examples of this. The author of these books brags that he has used over one thousand quotations from Scripture. He says:
“I have intentionally varied the Bible translations used for two important reasons. First, no matter how wonderful a translation is, it has limitations. The Bible was originally written using 11,280 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, but the typical English translation uses only around 6,000 words. Obviously, nuances and shades of meaning can be missed, so it is always helpful to compare translations.
“Second, and even more important, is the fact that we often miss the full impact of familiar Bible verses, not because of poor translating, but simply because they have become so familiar . . . therefore, I have deliberately used paraphrases in order to help you see God’s truth in new, fresh ways.”
DOCTRINES OF DEVILS
Let’s look at why he is really using many different translations. He must remove the focus of the Christian from the Cross of Christ to a new “practical” Gospel. The word “Gospel” means Good News and the Good News proclaimed in Scripture is, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Tim. 1:15). Instead of preaching Jesus can save you from your sins, the new message is “Jesus can save you from your problems.”
Truths of the Bible are by their very nature offensive to unredeemed man and would drive many people away from the Church. Since the “church growth theory” has replaced obedience to God’s Word as the driving force behind most Churches and Denominations, preaching the pure Gospel has been found to be a hindrance to perceived success. Instead, practical principles are extracted from the Scriptures. Scripture does hold a wealth of wisdom. When the whole counsel of God is preached, the Believer will become equipped with all that is necessary for Christian living. The glaring problem with only preaching the practical wisdom of Scriptures is it neglects the true Gospel, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, which is the foundation of all things. Everything is for naught if the primary reason for the coming of Christ, which is His sacrifice for sin, is never preached and, therefore, never accepted which is “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
THE HARD TRUTH
The hard truths that are essential to the very nature of the Gospel, such as the wrath of God, sin, conviction, Hell, punishment, and Atonement are never preached or taught. Therefore, the heart of the Christian faith has all been removed in order to appeal to a modern, worldly culture. This well illustrates how the focus on the Cross has been misplaced. The most important question, “Does it produce repentance?” is being ignored. Notice how in I Corinthians 15:2 Paul did not appeal to their superficial problems in trying to present the Gospel to them. He considered the Gospel “of first importance.” He admonished the Corinthians that if they did not hold fast these truths that they have “believed in vain.” Paul, as a minister of the Gospel knew this was the only message able to save souls. It is the only message that produces true repentance. Paul was so aware of this that he preached the Gospel plainly with much fear and trembling so he would not interfere with its pure, God-ordained message. Paul knew that inherent in the Gospel message is the power of an omnipotent God. That power alone is sufficient to save the vilest sinner and transform the hardest heart – apart from any human arguments, illustrations, or ingenuity. It’s the Gospel, the message that is of utmost importance, not the medium:
“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified.
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
“That your Faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the Power of God.”
(I Cor. 2:2-5)
A proponent of this new way notes the central focus of their Church’s weekend services is on a three-part grid: “We ask ourselves: ‘Is this real? Is this relevant? Is this rocking?’” He goes on to say that the service is made “real” by watching movies or television clips, and made “relevant” by playing secular music.
Is this the Church that Tyndale and many, many others gave their lives for? Is this the Church that Jesus Christ died for? Is this the New Testament Church?