To the Word

Reflections on the call to live by the Word of God

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Friday, September 17, 2004

On Putting Our Trust in God Alone

In my spare time I've been developing a course in church history for Nation's University. One lesson in that course is no the history of the Bible—how the books were brought together, copied, and translated. Studying those processes can be a little troubling, because we see how human beings confuse just about everything we put our hands on, including the sacred Scriptures.

For example, we no longer have the original manuscripts of the Bible, but only copies. Before printing presses, scribes sometimes made mistakes in copying books of the Bible. Now it takes lifetimes of scholarship simply to decide which of the many hundreds of ancient Bible manuscripts are the most accurate. Once scholars do find the best copies, we still have to depend on other scholars to translate the Bible into a language we can understand. Even then, translators have to find the balance between literal and readable translations.

Yet despite all the minefields the Bible has had to navigate for the past three thousand years, we can be assured it represents the Word of God for us. We have more reliable information on the Bible than on any other ancient document—more copies, older copies, and copies closer in time to the originals than any other book of antiquity. We also have the testimony of the saints in every age who have struggled and sometimes died to bring the power of the Word of God to us. Whatever version we read—KJV, NIV, NRSV—we do well to immerse ourselves in the Word which leads us into all truth.

Most importantly, we have a risen Savior. The Bible clearly proclaims the story of Jesus–the Word who was in the beginning with God and was God. No matter how many times the Bible is copied or translated, it still bears the Good News of hope and salvation. Jesus is ultimately the reason why we can depend on the Bible’s testimony: not because Christians have copied or translated the Bible perfectly, but because God loves us perfectly and provides everything we need for salvation—even his own son, our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen.

Copyright 2004, New York Avenue Church of Christ


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