The Best Bible Translation
By Gary Amirault
(Rather lengthy but important article)
Probably more than any other question, I am asked Which Bible translation is the most accurate or the one closest to the original Hebrew and Greek? Comparing Bible translations and various Biblical texts is something I spend a great deal of my time on. I have hundreds of Bible translations, Parallel Bibles, Hebrew-Greek-English Interlinears, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic, Syrian texts and Bible dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, commentaries, etc. My computer is filled with incredible software to aid in determining the wording of the Bible that is most probable of being the original form. These tools are very valuable to me. But even if I had the perfect original, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek even if I had a perfect English translation, I believe there is something far more important than either of them. Let me explain:
Many years ago, I was in the middle of a very busy business day, about to enter a printing shop when I saw a street person come to the door of my car. I knew he was going to ask me for money.
Under my breath I said, Lord, please dont put him in my life right now. I am too busy. What a stupid thing to say! Of course the Lord put him in my life.
He was a chronic alcoholic who lived under a bridge and often found himself in trouble. He had no teeth. One of his relatives had them all pulled but never got around to getting him dentures. Although he was in his 50s, his mental abilities were that of a child.
I ended up spending several weeks trying to get him help with his alcoholic problem and other serious needs. The experience showed me how ineffective our social service programs for alcoholics are. At one point during these few weeks, I took him to a minister in hopes of having him delivered of unclean spirits. We commanded everything under the sun to come out of him, but he just stared at us, annoyed.
We began to quote various Scriptures to him. We hoped the word of God, (King James Authorized Version, of course) would set him free. We tried binding and loosing everything we could think of.
Getting a little irritated with our zealousness, pointing to the Bible in my hand, he said to me, Did you ever read the @#^*? As I mentioned already, he had no teeth and I often did not understand what he was saying. I told him I didnt understand so he repeated himself. I still didnt understand. He repeated, Did you ever read the @#^*?! He was angrily poking the open pages of my Bible with his index finger. Finally, I made out what he was saying. He said, Did you ever read the white?! Instantly, those words pierced me with the divine revelation behind his words. Light broke through. Could I read between the lines. The words on pages of a book are black marks on white pages. When we read, we only look at the black ink, but the ink is actually on a white page. Each black letter was surrounded by white. It was the large white page that carried the small black letters. Could I see beyond the black ink -- beyond -- it is written!? THE LETTER KILLS, IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT GIVES LIFE! (2 Cor. 3:6) Could I read by the Holy Spirit? Could I go beyond the literal word and REALLY get the meaning? That is what this drunk sage was trying to tell me. The words I love you for example can have many different meanings depending upon who said that at what time and to whom for what purpose. True meaning goes far beyond the actual spoken or written word. This article is about learning to go beyond the It is written Church mentality which has brought legalism, fundamentalism and many other isms which have prevented His people from moving into the Spirit of His Holy Word. There are many forces in this world arrayed against Gods people to prevent them from entering into their inheritance. Bible translating and interpreting has been an area in which the devil has had a field day. In the coming years, this is going to change. Get ready for a mighty outpouring of revelation that will truly set His people free that they may go into the world and into creation itself to set it free from its bondage to corruption.
Reading the White
My drunken friend ended up dying of alcoholism. Before knowing the Lord, I swore Id never go to a funeral. (Dumb again.) His family asked me to preach his eulogy. Before he died he told me that one time he went to heaven. Somehow, I believe him. After all, where else can one learn to read the white? Have you ever read the white?
Let me give the reader another example of reading the white and the profound effects such an experience can have on ones life and the lives of those around them:
Martin Luther and Righteousness Through Faith
In the early 1500s a Catholic monk named Martin Luther tried to live a life holy enough to be accepted by God. Unlike most Christians of that time period, he could read the Bible. The Bible was off limits to the common people. Most Christians could not read, but even if they did, the Church forbid them from reading the Bible. Church leaders at that time (like many church leaders today) did not think the average Christian was capable of understanding it they felt Christians needed priests to explain to them what God demands of them. Actually many Christian do not believe they can really understand the bible on their own. They attend churches who have trained ministers who tell them what the Bible really means. Things havent changed as much as we would like to think.
During the time when Christians were not allowed to read the Bible, the Church did not allow it to be translated into common languages such as English, German, Spanish or French. Latin, to the Roman Catholic Church, was the sacred language. Therefore, church services were done in Latin. Most people couldnt understand Latin. In his way, the Church leadership kept laypeople in darkness. Martin Luther, however, was a monk; therefore he had access to the Bible in its Latin form.
He read in Romans 1:17 that in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed. He was really struggling with that verse. How desperately he wanted to attain to the righteousness of God. He fasted, beat himself, denied himself all sorts of earthly pleasures to gain this righteousness of God according to what he thought was the word of God. But his conscience was always a witness against him. The more Luther tried to attain the righteousness of God by doing what he thought Gods Law demanded, the further away from God he felt he was. The church of his time was very law-centered. (While most Christians cannot discern it, the modern church is very law-centered too, but in a more disguised form than in Luthers day. Perhaps the reader can identify with Luther.)
What really troubled Martin Luther about this verse is that it stated that the righteousness of God (which Luther wanted more than life itself), was revealed in the Good News, that is, the Gospel. But Martin saw no good news in the Good News. He saw nothing but condemnation. Luthers problem is one countless Christians face today as well.
Luther read the words in the Bible through the theological definitions of Dark Age theologians who twisted the meaning of words like grace, sanctification, justification, faith, righteousness, justice, etc. from their true original meaning. This is exactly what the Jewish leadership did with the Scriptures when Jesus came to Israel 2,000 years ago. Jewish Rabbis like Hillel, Shamai, Gamaliel, etc., reinterpreted the meaning of words and concepts in the Bible so that people couldnt see the truth anymore even when they were reading the Scriptures themselves. Their teachings put scales over peoples eyes preventing them from seeing the truth because the words and concepts were redefine turning the truth into a lie.
Church leaders did the same thing in Luthers day even as many do today. Even though Luther was sincerely trying to understand Gods will, these traditions and teachings of men prevented him from seeing what was plainly written. (See Matt. 15:6-9)
Every denomination does this. Some key people in the past (usually men) interpret words, phrases, or books of the Bible a certain way, attract disciples which form churches which create institutions to perpetuate that teaching, add more teaching, build centers of education to train men and women to perpetuate this faith, excommunicate those within who deviate from this new system, develop Sunday School curriculum, build publishing houses which publish only books that stays within that system and wholla a new denomination which locks its members into a mindset invented by some men and/or women long dead.
Luther saw the righteousness of God through the lens of the teachings of the School of Scholastic theologians of the latter part of the Middle Ages (1100-1500 AD). Scholastics like Duns Scotus, Peter Lombard, and Thomas Aquinas taught that the righteousness of God was Gods means of meting out justice or punishment. To the Scholastics of the Roman Catholic Church, the term righteousness of God was simply another word for law for Gods demands upon man demands which were really unattainable as Martin Luther or any other sincere person soon found out. Their righteousness of God was really the same burden as the pack of rules that the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers and scribes put on the backs of the people while unwilling or unable to lift a finger to help them. This hypocritical Pharisaic Spirit has been alive and well in all three of the Western monotheistic religions right up to our own times.
Luther in his writings said that whenever he came across the term righteousness of God it struck my conscience like lightning. It was like a thunderbolt in my heart. His conscience continually told him he was an unrighteous sinner who fell short of what he thought was Gods standard for righteousness. Because of his inability to attain it, his torment and anguish caused Luther to come to the place of utterly hating this righteousness, the God who demanded it and himself. To Luther, God became a fiend who expected from fallen man what he (Martin) was incapable of giving. It nearly drove Luther insane. (Some historians and theologians believe Luther did go insane, at least temporarily.)
After days of meditation in much darkness and great torment of soul, daylight broke through. Luther was given the revelation that true righteousness was actually imparted to us through the faith of Jesus Christ. Righteousness was an imputed gift; it was not something we had to attain through our self-efforts.
After the light broke through, when those very same words the righteousness of God were seen through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, Luther said that he was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. Luther had entered the peace that passes understanding which Jesus promised to give all those who received His faith. This peace is a supernatural peace nothing in this world can duplicate. The true understanding of a handful of words in a corrupted Latin text read by the light of the Holy Spirit completely changed Martin Luthers life. This is REVELATION. This is what reading the white is all about.
It greatly grieves me to know that there are millions of Christians, who go to church every Sunday and yet have never EXPERIENCED the peace that passes understanding, the unspeakable joy which Jesus promised to bring, the forgiveness which the blood/life of Christ brings to the conscience, the unconditional love of God which brings security that nothing in this world can take away, the Living Word etc. Ive met so many Christians who have been taught that true faith is not a feeling; that one is just supposed to trust that if they believe that Jesus died for their sins that they will go to heaven and that that should be good enough for them. Go to church regularly, listen to the pastor or priest, sing a few songs, pay your tithes, shut up and wait for Jesus return and hope youre right with Him when He comes. Thats church in a nutshell. Maybe if youre in a Pentecostal or Charismatic church, theyll let you shout or dance a little too. Poppycock!
Being in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, etc. floods one with the supernatural; and He greatly affects our feelings, both physical and spiritual. The gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the works of the Holy Spirit should explode from our being and should manifest in great expressions of feelings! Revelation, like when the light of God touches down on a portion of Scripture brings a delight that is often indescribable a delight that most literalists, legalists, traditionalists, fundamentalists have not yet enjoyed. Why? Because they are DEAD! The dead have no feelings.
Literalism and Legalism is Joyless
On the day of Pentecost, when the tongues of fire fell upon the 120 disciples, they were DRIVEN into the streets of Jerusalem declaring the wonderful works of God in all the languages of the world. Let me tell you, these men and women were FEELING wonderful! When the Holy Spirit moves through a Christian they KNOW it. True faith is not blind. The faith of Christ in a believer brings them into a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ that affects every part of the body, soul and spirit including the emotions. Show me a Christian who says he trusts in the Lord but is not emotional about the things of God and Ill show you a dead Christian who has swallowed the traditions of men and not the Living Word of God!
True faith will bring tears of great joy. True faith will bring an exhilaration that makes what the world calls exciting look quite dull. A Spirit-filled Christian life should be exciting, adventurous, holy, full of compassion, full of joy, full of love and great peace. True, we should not trust in our feelings. Feelings can be misleading, but when the faith of Christ truly comes into our hearts, there will be indescribable joy which is a feeling. And if these things are not a part of ones Christianity, they really should seek Christ again in a fresh way and seek out fellowship with other hungry believers who express the Life of Christ. True faith really gives one the ability to lay down their life for the gospels sake.
Im not talking about ritualized hype. Raising hands, jumping up and down, falling over, etc can be just as much a ritual as standing and rising to sing hymns in more traditional churches. However, when the real faith comes and the Holy Spirit stirs within there will be a natural tendency to want to physically express what is going on on the inside. Raising hands, jumping up and down for joy, screaming Hallejujah is as natural to one baptized in the Holy Spirit as it is for a baby to smile.
The Pharisaic Spirit (hypocritical), which is produced through legalism, whether in Jews, Christians or Moslems will produce two conditions in a person; it will produce a blinding pride from self-righteousness and at the same time it will produce a hidden self-loathing because the conscience will convict the soul that it has fallen short of the standard the person has set up for others. The law (legalism) works wrath. Fear has torment. When we are in this condition we become tormented and in turn torment others. We turn that wrath towards our perceived enemies. However, as we judge, we judge ourselves and will ultimately reap the bitter fruit of our judgments. (Rom. 4:15) As you sow, so shall you reap. (Gal. 6:7) In the same measure you give out, that same measure will be given back.(Luke 6:38) If we use the law to condemn others (as a self-righteous legalist always does), condemnation will come back to that person but through a different form or person. When we become self-righteous, we exalt and glorify ourselves by putting other people down. Thats one of the short-comings of the Law of Moses. The glory of the Mosaic Law is condemnation. Paul even called the Ten Commandments, which was the highest part of Mosaic Covenant, the ministry of death and the ministry of condemnation. One might ask how condemnation can be considered glorifying. Lifting ourselves above other people by judging them as below ourselves through standards other than Gods own standard lifts us above them in our own eyes. This is how glory is used in 2 Corinthians chapter 3. We temporarily feel good about ourselves when we can put other people beneath us through judging them. I am writing about this nasty judgmental spirit as a person who is personally very familiar with how it works because I have been seduced by it on more occasions that I care to admit. It is a spirit that is constantly looking for an opening in ones heart. Unfortunately, once weve been seduced by it, the first effects of it are blindness. We cant see how self-righteous we have become. We think we are merely being holy when, in fact, we stink of self-righteousness, legalism and hypocrisy.
The Law in the Bible usually refers to the books attributed to Moses, especially the part that contains the Mosaic Covenant. Understand, however, we all really do set our own laws. We pick and choose religious laws from various places to fit our own lifestyle. We pick churches that fit our comfort zone. We will also twist or tweak laws in systems we join to fit our own standards. The Jewish Pharisees were experts in twisting the Mosaic Laws in their favor and against others, especially against the poor, women, the sick and Gentiles. Jesus rebuked this behavior more than any other. One does not have to be an adherent to the Mosaic Law or portions thereof to play the hypocrite.
The Wrath of God Abides
One may rise to great heights in religion, business and politics by stepping on other people, but there is a spiritual cost. If we become greedy and judgmental, we will not enjoy the love of God, the peace that passes all understanding and the unspeakable joy the Holy Spirit brings to us when we are humble. Yes, we may attain high positions in this world, but we will abuse the power and destroy many peoples lives. We may gain many houses, much money and power and fame, but our inner being will become a living Hell which will spill over into many other peoples lives. We may become presidents, prime ministers, and officials in high places in government, business, and institutions of all kind including educational and religious ones; we may even become dictators ruling almost the entire world. Even though on the outside we may put on the display of absolute confidence, on the inside we will be full of self-loathing. Much of that self-loathing may fester below the conscious level for quite some time but eventually it will rupture up to the conscience like a boil. Many world leaders go through this experience. They look so confident and righteous in the media, but behind the scenes lurks a self-loathing monster of huge proportions. Romans 1:18 through all of chapter two has something to say about this.
These people are miserable in the inside. The wrath of God abides on them. (John 3:36) But his wrath is not something God imposes upon them, it comes as a result of not having the love of God in their hearts. To be deprives of the goodness of God is to experience wrath. God is not actively bringing circumstances into these lives to make their life miserable. They bring the misery upon themselves because they are cutting themselves off from opportunities of receiving love and kindness.
Darkness in Traditional Christianity
Having been in hundreds of churches in dozens of different denominations, I am convinced that millions of Christians today are in exactly the same condition Luther was in before he got his revelation. Through Sunday School and Bible study material written at denominational headquarters, through training church leaders at seminaries, Bible colleges and text books, every denominational headquarters injects traditions of men and doctrines of demons, and definitions, creeds, articles of faith, catechisms, etc. which render the word of God of no effect. I have had many scales placed over my eyes through various Christian institutions but far less than the average Christian who was raised in church because I was an atheist for much of my life. These Christian traditions of the elders do the same thing to modern Christians that they did to the Jews 2,000 years ago. The common people couldnt recognize the Messiah because the leaders taught the Messiah would be a political/military man. When the Messiah showed up, they wanted to kill Him. The Christ many Christians have been taught to expect at any moment will be to many modern Christians as different as Jesus was to the image of the Messiah the Jews were expecting.
The very best Bible translation, which may be a perfect transference of the original languages to our own language, may become an instrument of death unless the Holy Spirit opens its truth through the Spirit of Truth which Jesus promised to send to his disciples. Dear friend, please spend some considerable time in prayer and contemplation over what I am stating. It is possible to have an accurate translation of the original and still have a false understanding of the text. Not only is it possible, I submit that this is the norm of the typical Christian in a typical mainline church. The state of Martin Luthers mind prior to his seeing the light is the state of the average Christian in this part of the twenty-first century. Of course few of us actually believe this because we are quite comfy in our dark little corner. Our pastor is nice, went to Bible college or seminary, the church is well-established in the community surely we are on safe ground. And as long as we refuse to step outside the boundaries of our church or denomination, we will feel quite secure in our beliefs. In America, there is security in numbers. But remember in the Bible, the majority was usually against the Spirit of God.
I have spent a great deal of time in prayer and study learning about the traditions of men which have been injected into the minds of the modern Christian which render the word of God of no effect. There are countless thousands of them. (The books Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and The Way Church Ought To Be by Robert A. Lund are excellent sources for information about how far the church has strayed from the teachings of Christ and His apostles.) I have been forced to step out of my comfy zones many times. While in the short run it has been very discomforting, in the long run having to be forced to compare teachings and traditions among many different denominations has been extremely beneficial to my spiritual growth. I only gave one example in Martin Luthers life to illustrate the power traditions of men have over our minds and hearts. This one revelation on the righteousness of God made Martin Luther one of the most influential men on the face of the planet. This single revelation was a major source of light that began to dispel the Dark Ages. A single person being freed from religious darkness can literally revolutionize the world. Who knows, perhaps you are the next one.
The Dark Light of Legalism and Traditions of Men
Law works wrath! (Rom. 4:15) When I speak of legalism, I mean any human tradition, laws, ordinances, rituals, moral codes, etc. created by human institutions which are joined to the righteousness of God found in the Bible. Legalism is much more than just using laws in the Bible mercilessly. Legalism encompasses much more than Bible laws whether found in the Old or New Covenants. Gods true righteousness is in the Living Person of Jesus Christ. Even as the understanding of the Scholastics hindered Luthers ability to see what was plainly written, even so, many borrowed laws and traditions from societies which Christianity conquered have been brought into the church. Mosaic Law, English Common Law, Teutonic customs, Greco-Roman laws and culture these and many more have been combined with the righteousness of God to create a Western Christian moral code much of which has nothing to do with Gods righteousness.
I was shocked when years ago I attended a huge anti-abortion rally in Washington D.C. Constitution avenue was closed off for the marchers. I lived in the Washington D.C. area for a number of years but never really saw the buildings. For the first time, saw the buildings as they really were. They were all Greco-Roman architecture. The Roman Pantheon of gods was on one building. Gargoyles guarded our National Archives building. Almost every major government building copied the styles of ancient Rome and Greece. The Washington monument was borrowed from the ancient Egyptians, the needle of Horus, a Phallic symbol. Americans have no idea how much of our society has been borrowed, not from the Bible, but from ancient pagan societies. What was remarkable to me is that I had never seen this connection until that day even though I drove into that area and visited these buildings for business purposes many times before. This was another one of those Have you ever read the white? days.
It is easy to add human inventions to Gods righteousness:
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God helps those who help themselves. Women should not be ministers. Children should be seen and not heard. In Germany the slogan Arbeit machts frei (work makes free) was a slogan often used in Church thus connecting it to Gods demands upon His people. The Protestant work ethic has more to do with Northern European tradition than with Scripture even though the Bible does emphasize honest work. Church buildings should have steeples. On and on it goes thousands upon thousands of traditions and laws which make the word of God of no effect. There are scores of traditions and rituals in every church which are not found on the pages of the Bible but were Christianized, that is, borrowed from pagan religions and cultures. These all become blinding agents.
It is the doctrines and traditions of fallen men, especially religious fallen men -- that sends us into outer darkness into ignorance. However, we must be mindful that it is not doctrine that saves, or enlightens or empowers, even true doctrine -- it is the very Spirit of God Who seeks to move through us and teach us all the mysteries contained in Jesus Christ, the TRUE WORD OF GOD. Please understand that there is essentially nothing wrong with many customs and laws created by various societies around the world. It is when these extra-biblical laws and traditions are subtly or sometimes not so subtly joined with Gods righteousness, Holiness or requirements that causes the problem. Of course, in addition to the teachings of men, our own prejudices, racism, bigotry, biases, resentments, anger, jealousies, etc. can have a profound effect on what we think we see in the Bible as well.
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you. (Luke 11:34-36)
After over two decades as a Christian, I have found that a person can and will find whatever they want to in the Bible to justify themselves or condemn or judge others. If a person is a racist, he/she can find a verse or two to justify their racism. Ku Klux Klan literature is full of King James Bible quotes. If a person is a sexist, he can find scores of verses to support his bias. If greedy people want to justify selling or buying slaves, they can find support in the Bible. Jews, Christians and Muslims have throughout the last 2,000 years used the Bible to support countless abominations which they have done in the name of the Lord. But those verses were read with dark light, not with the light of the Holy Spirit. An evil person will project their own evil upon those they hate. They will also project their hate onto the pages of the Bible. If we are filled with things like nationalism, racism, prejudice, jealousies, greed, unrighteous anger, blame-shifting, self-righteousness, biases, denominationalism, cultural biases, resentment, unforgiveness, etc. -- these things are dark light which will cause us to project onto the pages of the Bible and on other people our own darkness of soul. We will end up forming God into our own image through what psychologists call projection. We also project our own short-comings onto perceived enemies through this same technique.
For example, some Jews in former times and even in modern times believe the Bible teaches that they are the only true representatives of God, that the rest of mankind are not true Adamites, they are not true human beings. They say that Arabs and those who think like them or support them are Amalakites who Jews are commanded to wipe off the face of the planet. Where did they get such teachings? From the tradition of the elders found in the Babylonian Talmud, the foundation of modern Judaism. The Talmud is a collection of commentaries of supposedly the wisest of Jewish Rabbis of ancient times. Modern Judaism is directly descended from the Pharisees of Jesus day. The Jewish Talmud is filled with all sorts of racist and elitist material which lends support to the kind of things carnal minds are filled with.
I have also come across Christians who believe that white Christians are the only true representatives of God, that darker skinned human beings are beasts of the field, not really human beings. And they use certain verses and certain interpretations of those verses to prove to themselves they are correct. Neither Jews nor Christians who teach these abominations are correct!
The Holy Spirit: A Doctrine or Life
As I have stated, the Bible, regardless of the translation (or even in its original languages) is NOT the true word of God. The true Word of God is a Person. His Name is Jesus the Messiah of the whole world. If we truly have Him and give His Holy Spirit pre-eminence in our life, then we have life indeed. But if the traditions of men and the doctrines of demons cloud our conscience or we live in the flesh and allow our base appetites to have their way, then we will reap from our lives and our Bible reading corruption and death. Remember, the letter kills, it is the Spirit that gives life. Again, keep in mind, even the Ten Commandments regardless of how well they are translated are a ministry of condemnation, a ministry of death. (2 Cor. 3: 7-18) I am purposefully repeating myself here because these false doctrines have been so deeply ingrained in us that it requires repetition to break through the thick crust. Sometimes it takes a jackhammer, spiritually speaking, for breakthrough to occur.
The driving force behind a Christians life in the Holy Spirit. But even He has become nothing more than a doctrine or creed in many denominations and churches. Even the best doctrines or teachings or creed about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, are as dead as fallen trees. The Holy Spirit is alive and must be alive IN US if we are going to be effective in the Kingdom of God. He is not a concept He is not a doctrine or a statement of belief even if the statement is perfectly phrased. The Word must be quickened, made alive by the Living Presence of the Living Word of the Creator. Inspiration, revelation, impartation, intercession, travailing, quickening, prophesying, manifesting, etc.these are the manifestations of the Spirit of Truth. It is a great travesty that these very things are often utterly rejected by much of the church world -- and we wonder why the church is so spiritually ineffective. The Holy Spirit must pour out of us in great power like rivers of Living Water in a dry parched desert. Nothing less will do.
For the Spirit of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of prophecy. (Rev. 19:10) Do not despise prophesying. (1 Thess. 5:20) Oh foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:1-3)
In short, Paul was saying that any attempt to try to relate to God via our own efforts, our thinking, our concepts, etc. is utterly foolish, useless and actually contrary to Gods way. Gods way is by HIS Spirit. The love, power, the word, the truth, the gifts, the fruit of a life of righteousness all come via His Spirit they do not come from our intellect, our efforts, our theology, etc.
It seems natural for man to fall back into the old way even when one has received the Holy Spirit. It is not only possible, but quite probable for a Christian to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit and to miss or bury the things He gives us. To grieve or quench the Holy Spirit is as natural as succumbing to the power of gravity. The very forces of this world are arrayed against the power of the Holy Spirit within a person. Satan does not go after Christians who talk a good talk but are useless in the kingdom of God. Those individuals are already under his power. He goes after those who are still full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan is not upset there are Christians in the world. Names mean nothing to him. It is the power of the Holy Spirit residing in a Christian who has learned how to maintain a living vibrant relationship with God through Him that is a danger to Satans kingdom. The book of Acts is an example of what every church in the world should look like regarding the power of the Holy Spirit and how He can change things through His Body. To the degree our church does not look like the body of Christ in the book of Acts, to that degree it has grieved or quenched the Spirit.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30) Quench not the Spirit. (1 Thess. 5:19)
Paul, nearing the end of his course must have been deeply grieved as he watched much of his work return to darkness:
Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto you keep by the Holy Spirit which dwells in us. This you know, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Tim. 1:13-15)
The Great Falling Away Occurred Long Ago
If much of the church was falling away from what Paul termed my gospel during his own lifetime, imagine how far the modern church may be from Pauls teachings which he honestly believed was the only true gospel to be preached. Paul told Timothy to hold fast the form of sound words heard from him from which many were turning away. The church plunged into the Dark Ages because it turned from Pauls gospel. Being led by the Holy Spirit was replaced with thousands of traditions of men and doctrines of demons. Those traditions and teachings have filled the earth. The natural course of human kind seems to gravitate towards religion instead of an intimate relationship with God. It seems the greatest effort or work on our part once we have received the faith of Christ in our bodies is to keep the Spirit of God within us stirred and active. Paul uses the analogy of fire to describe how we can become spiritually ineffective: I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Tim. 1:6, NIV)
Friends, regardless of how studious and faithful we think we have been, we have all drunk from the fount of religion, a fount of deadly poison. And this poison has polluted our minds. Martin Luther is no exception to the Christian life. The traditions he swallowed prevented him from seeing what was plainly there all along. We all have our filters, our religious baggage, our traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect that hinder us from receiving a true word of life from our Scripture reading -- all of us, including you and me.
Translating the Scriptures
All I have shared is not to say there is no need for newer and better translations of the Bible, there certainly is. Most of the popular English Bible translations are still riddled today with Dark and Middle Age theology which entered into the Reformation Bibles. These early English translations still have a negative hold on modern day translators who are still translating according to the tradition of the elders instead of being inspired by the Holy Spirit and using sound translation techniques. There are key Dark Age doctrines which have crept into the pages of our modern Bibles through translators whose minds are still bound by false teachings about God and His plan for the of salvation of mankind. This article cannot go into all of that. Suffice it to say, while weve come a long way from the time the church did not allow lay people to read the Bible a time in which the only official Bible was the corrupt Latin Vulgate which Jerome translated in the fourth century AD -- we still have a long way to go regarding purer translations of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Scriptures into current languages. (The reader is encouraged to subscribe to our Tentmaker Bible Matters Email List for helps with Bible translations. Past articles appear at http://www.tentmaker.org/Biblematters/bible-index.htm) Even popular English Bible translations such as the following ones have serious errors in them which greatly misrepresent the God of the Bible and His plan of redemption of mankind: King James Version, New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, New American Standard Version, New English Translation, Complete Jewish Bible, International Standard Version, New Century Version, Good News to Modern Man, Amplified Bible, Living Translation, New Jerusalem Bible, Third Millenium Bible, New King James Bible, Modern King James Bible, Twenty-first Century King James, Scofield Reference Bible, The Message, and many more.
Methods of Bible Translating
I just want to lightly touch upon an important subject regarding Bible translations. There are several different methods for translating the Hebrew and Greek into common modern languages. Various scholars use different terms to describe these methods. Ill use John A. Kohler IIIs terminology:
1. Concordant method - This is the woodenly literal, word-for-word method. It is based upon the idea that each Hebrew or Greek word should be translated into an equivalent English word. It also attempts to follow the grammatical structure of the original language texts. Examples of translations produced by this method are Youngs Literal Version and Rotherhams Emphasized New Testament.
2. Mildly Concordant Method - This is the literal, word-for-word method. It is not as extreme as the Concordant Method, but it tends toward a choppy style of translation that does not flow smoothly in the English. Also, it translates Hebrew and Greek idioms very accurately, but they do not always make good sense in English. Furthermore, it makes excessive use of conjunctions at the beginning of sentences, which makes for very poor English. Besides these weaknesses, most translations of this kind are based upon inferior Hebrew and Greek texts. Examples of translations produced by this method are the American Standard Version and the New American Standard Version.
3. Static Equivalence Method - This is the word-for-word, idea-for-idea method. It attempts to follow the original Hebrew and Greek text word-for-word as long as this results in good idiomatic English that accurately conveys the intention of the Biblical writer. It does not always attempt to follow the grammatical structure of the original language texts and is concerned about the readability of the English text. Examples of translations produced by this method are the King James Version and, to a lesser degree, the New King James Version and the Revised Standard Version.
4. Dynamic Equivalence Method - This is the idea-for-idea method. It is not concerned with literal, word-for-word translation in most cases and often paraphrases Gods Word. It does not seek to translate the actual words of Scripture as much as it attempts to employ idiomatic equivalence. Examples of translations produced by this method are the New International Version, New English Bible, and Todays English Version.
5. Free Paraphrase Method - This is the extreme idea-for-idea method. It simply attempts to restate the gist of the Biblical text in the translators own words. It is not at all concerned about word-for-word translation of the Biblical text, but seeks to express Biblical content in popular, readable, contemporary language. The leading example of a translation produced by this method, though there are many others, is Kenneth Taylors The Living Bible. (Petersons The Message is another example.) Endquote.
Personally, I do not believe any of these five methods will produce the best Bible translations. But that subject is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, there are a variety of ways to translate the Bible, each with its own problems and short-comings. Some methods, however, are clearly more likely to reproduce the meaning the original writers had in mind when they wrote.
The early Reformators had very few resources with which to determine the true meaning of the texts before them. The Hebrew and Greek scholarship at that time was greatly lacking in the Church due to the fact that Latin had become the sacred language of the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, there were many words, phrases, concepts, persons, places and things in the original languages with which translators were unfamiliar. However, even Jewish Biblical Hebrew scholars in modern times have difficulty determining the actual meaning of many parts of the Old Testament. The modern Jewish Publication Societys Tanakh (a recent translation of the Old Testament) notes hundreds of words and phrases of which Jewish Hebrew scholars even today do not really know the meaning. This kind of integrity is greatly lacking in the Christian publishing industry.
The Inerrant Bible is a myth that still covers the Christian Bible translating community and prevents them from being as honest as they should be with those purchasing their translations. For example the original 1611 King James Bible contained many marginal readings which revealed their lack of understanding of certain words. These marginal readings have since been removed from modern printings of the KJV to bolster belief in the Biblical Inerrancy Doctrine. The Translators to the Reader preface found in the original KJV has also been removed. Why? Because their statements clearly contradicted the idea that their translation was original and without error. (See The English Bible From KJV to NIV by Jack Lewis, Baker Publications)
Are Bible translations needful and important? Absolutely! I believe Christian Bibles are the most important literature in the world. But NO translation is The Word of God, especially the Inerrant Word of God despite thousands of preachers holding up their favorite translation and saying, Lets look into the word of God and see what God says about this. The True Word of God is a Living Word anointed by the Holy Spirit. It is a word from THE WORD, the Son of God and the Son of Man and Anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
On Hearing Our Heavenly Father
Let me give you another example of how the Anointed Living Word works. Richard Wurmbrandt was an atheist Jew (now deceased.) who was converted to Christ through the love of a German carpenter in Romania. He became a Lutheran pastor.
During the Russian invasion of Romania, Wurmbrandt and his church handed out many Bibles to the Russian soldiers. The demand was so great they ran out of Bibles. So they started tearing apart the Bibles and gave each soldier only one page.
One day Richard considered whether handing out a single page of the Bible in Russian would have any effect on anyone. So he asked a Russian named Ivan whether he gained anything in the reading of his Bible page. Ivan related to Richard that the page he received had the name Jeremiah in the title. He understood practically nothing he read. The page contained information about names and places Ivan knew nothing about. But five words on that page leaped out at Ivan: And God spoke to Jeremiah. Ivan thought this to himself as he pondered those words:
This Jeremiah must not have been a very important man. Ive never heard of such a man. Stalin, Lenin, these are important men. Ive heard of them. Now if God would speak to such an unimportant man like Jeremiah, perhaps he might speak to me.
And from that moment on, he related to Richard Wurmbrandt, he has heard the still small voice of God in his heart which brought him joy unspeakable! This voice within began to teach him the ways of God. When tempted to steal, he would ask the Word within whether it was ok or not and he would hear clearly that it was not ok. He didnt need to read Thou shalt not steal in Exodus. Why? Because the Living Word of Jesus was washing his conscience clean. He was being washed by Living Waters, not dead letters on a page made of a dead tree. He was eating from the Living Tree of Life, Jesus, the Living Word from the Father of all Creation.
Speaking of Washings
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
As is often the case, stories in the Bible contain much deeper truths than what one finds on the surface. Jesus washing His disciples feet holds a special place in many peoples hearts. (John 13:3-17) The surface lesson is that we should humble ourselves, take the lowly position, and care for your brothers and sister in the Lord. But there is something much deeper here. When Peter realized he made a mistake with his comments, he asked Jesus to wash all of him, not just his feet. But Jesus told Peter that only his feet were dirty they were what needed to be cleaned. Feet speak of walking. This world, spiritually is dirty. Jesus prayed not that His disciples be taken out of this filthy world, but that they be protected from the evil of it. (John 17:14-20)
We are Jesus feet in the earth. Jesus must clean His Body, which we are, because we live in a dirty world. Jesus told Peter he could have no part IN HIM, unless he allowed Jesus to wash his feet. In essence, Jesus was saying that His feet (his disciples which we are) must be washed clean by the washing of the word every day. Sanctification is connected with being washed by His Word. If we are going to represent Him in His holiness, we must allow Jesus to wash us daily. We are bombarded with sinful images and foul words and ideas every place we go. Watch a couple hours of television while allowing the Holy Spirit to show you what He sees. Our walk, His feet must be cleansed daily for our sake as well as Jesus sake.
A Word about The Word of God
It is important to note that the Word of the Bible is far more encompassing than an audio voice through ones ears or a still small voice in ones heart or conscience. The Bible begins, In the beginning, God
The book of John in what is commonly called the New Testament or Covenant begins,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-4)
Paul, the apostle, adds the following in his letter to the Colossians:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible, and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the ekklesia, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth, or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Col. 1:15-20)
As one can see from the above two verses, it is impossible to get a complete handle around the word of God. The universe and every book and human being combined cannot hold the Word. We must greatly enlarge our understanding of what the Word of God found in the Bible is all about especially when it comes to communicating with this Word.
Do not think the Word of God is limited to hearing Him audibly through your ears and interpreted by your mind. Occasionally, God speaks to someone like that. Often He speaks to someone in a still small voice which seems to come from the conscience or the heart some inner place. But He uses many other means to communicate even as we, human beings, use many methods of communicating ideas besides written or spoken words. We must open our minds and hearts to the many different ways the Word expresses himself to His disciples. These other means of communication are also part of the Word. He may enlighten words on a page of the Bible or another book by His Holy Spirit whereas we may normally be reading through our carnal or natural mind which Paul says is at enmity with God. I am touching upon a very sensitive area here. Paul wrote:
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, I follow Paul, and another, I follow Apollos, are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-- as the Lord has assigned to each his task. (1 Corinthians 2:11 - 3:5, NIV)
Paul is stating quite plainly that it is quite possible for someone who calls himself a Christian to still be quite carnal to think with the natural mind instead of the mind of Christ. Denominationalism (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Luther, I am of Wesley, etc.) is NOT spiritual. Therefore, if a Christian is doing carnal things like dividing the body of Christ into denominations and sects or participating or supporting such behavior can they possibly be using the mind of Christ? What would Paul say if he were alive today about the tens of thousands of different denominations of Christianity in the world today? Can anything spiritual come from such carnal divisions? Can such sectarianism handle the solid food of which Paul speaks? Judge yourself before He has to make the judgment.