24
Sep
06

That Dusty Book In The Corner

The name of this blog is “In His Father’s House.” Now lest you think otherwise, the title refers to my “heavenly” Father’s house and not my earthly father. Although he was a good man, and provided for me and my mother, he was not a believer, so the subjects I speak of here would have been foreign to him in his life here on earth. Things like salvation, the existence of God, reading the Bible, would have all been lost on him. I’m hoping they are not lost on you.

In my earthly father’s house there was a family Bible. It must have been a gift from someone, because I really can’t say my parents were the type to buy a Bible like that. I don’t know who gave it to us, or when it actually appeared in our house. But there it sat, nonetheless, a big, ornate volume, as I recall, with gold leaf lettering on the cover: “Holy Bible.”

However I never recall seeing my father or mother open it up. It was just that dusty book in the corner, sitting there on the coffee table among the milk glass and bric-a-brac. I was never encouraged to read the Bible as I grew up, but curiosity drew me to it. It had pictures, at least a few, and that appealed to me.

It was a King James Version of the Bible, so for the first few years that I knew of its existence, that’s the only Bible I knew. What translation of the Bible do you read? Have you ever thought about why you read that particular version? As a matter of fact, is there only one true version of God’s Word? Some think so. It’s King James only! Others are a bit broader in their acceptance of what is Scripture.

And do you consider the Bible as infallible, without error? Is it really all that important? For me, it’s a resounding “YES!!!” To say that any part of the Bible is inaccurate calls God’s message and His plan of salvation for you and me through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross into question.

Read 2 Peter 1:20-21
…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

What is Scripture, but the written Word of God? In reading Wayne Grudem’s book on Systematic Theology, he points out that the earliest for of God’s written Word is found in Exodus 31:18, where God gives Moses the Ten Commandments, written in His own hand on two tablets of stone! Think of it. The God of this universe, Sovereign of all creation, wrote in His own hand, the first component of the canon of Scripture.

That’s a term that’s always sounded funny to me, “the ‘canon’ of Scripture.” Anyone who’s ever sat through one of my lessons knows I’m a fanatic about words and their meanings. And this one has to be illuminated! Simply stated, “canon” comes from both Hebrew and Greek words for a measuring rod. Thus, canon is the measurement or standard by which we evaluate all documents that claim to be Holy Scripture.

So how is that we came to even have a Bible? A simplistic, jet tour through the origins of our Bible would follow (but remember, I’m not doing an in depth analysis here, just touching some highlights). History informs us that Moses wrote the first books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) of what we consider today as the Old Testament. By about 450 BC, Ezra began collecting and arranging the Hebrew writings attributed to the Jewish faith into what became accepted as the Hebrew Old Testament (pretty much as they appear in our Bibles today). In 250 BC, in Alexandria, Egypt, a group of seventy scholars began working on a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures that became known as the Septuagint. The name Septuagint refers to the number seventy and is often referred to in writing as the Roman Numeral LXX. The Septuagint was arranged into three subject areas: historical writings, poetry, and prophecy. It also included seven Apocryphal writings. The term Apocrypha meant something that was hidden or secret and included works like First and Second Maccabees; a historical account during the 400 year period between the last books on the Hebrew Old Testament canon (Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther) and the ministry of John the Baptist. These texts were later removed as non-canonical or non-authentic works from what we know today as the Protestant Bible. They do however appear in the Catholic translations of the Old Testament.

Somewhere between 45–100 AD, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude wrote the various Gospels, Acts, letters, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The writers of the New Testament quote from all but eight Old Testament books, but nothing from the Apocryphal writings. By 150 AD, the Gospel accounts, the history of the church, the letters, and the book of Revelation had circulated enough among the churches of the day to be referred to as the “New Covenant” writings. By 397 AD, the Council of Carthage confirmed as authentic the twenty-seven books we now have in our New Testament, affirming over 300 years of use in and by the church.

Then come the translations. The Bible was written originally in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. A Latin translation was completed around 425 AD, known as the Vulgate. The Rheims-Douai Bible (published in 1609) took the Vulgate and translated it into English and became the standard Bible translation used by Catholic Church today.

In 1611, King James I of England commissioned a version of the Bible translated from two earlier English translations and the available Hebrew and Greek texts of the time. Over the years, translations like the New International Version and paraphrases like the Living Bible have come into fashion. Regardless of the versions out there, one question comes to mind: What is the ultimate goal of Scripture? My answer is to equip us, as believers, to do the work of God here and to help lead others to a knowledge of the Truth.

How does the Bible impact your life? Does it have any impact at all? For many in our world, sadly, it does not. Yet it is the one, most powerful and important volumes ever written. Even non-believers often have copies of it lying around their homes, gathering dust. I can’t really say that about the Koran or the Book of Mormon or the writings of Confucius.

If you’re a professing Christian, how does your life reflect your commitment to God’s Word? If we say we believe what’s written on its pages, shouldn’t that belief be carried out in our day-to-day lives? No wonder the world has a jaded view of us as a faith if we’re so cavalier about our God’s personal communication to us. Have you ever used the Bible to make a decision? What does it have to say about where a young man or woman should go to school? Does it have anything to say about your next purchase? Does it have any impact on whether you buy a new car or boat? I’m not being flippant here. If we believe that the Bible contains God’s wisdom for us, then shouldn’t it be consulted as we make decisions in our lives?

Finally, is reading, studying, and meditating upon God’s Word a priority in your life as a believer? Some of us squeeze out some time in our busy lives to read a passage or two from the Bible. We may even look forward to such an interlude. But what about studying it – personal study? One-on-one time with God’s Word and your intellect. What truths would God reveal to you if you honestly took the time to sit down and study it for yourself? But maybe you do that. Maybe you read all the good commentaries for yourself. That’s not the challenge. The idea is to read the Bible for yourself.

And how about meditating on what the Bible has to say? Would you reflect, concentrate and focus your thoughts upon it? Would you consider what it says to you, about your life, about how you treat others, and about how you treat God? This challenge is not for the weak or those who lack the resolve. To truly respond to this challenge means you’ll willing to embark on a life-changing journey of growth, maturity and wonder. That’s why I love the Bible and find my greatest satisfaction in studying and meditating upon its great truths and then applying those truths to my life!

Grace 2 U All!

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