[Editor’s Note: The letter below is the first in a series of letters written to my children urging them to continue in the true faith. The letters may also prove helpful to others who wish to read and consider their message.]
My Dear Children,
The first and most important thing I can encourage you to do is to read your Bibles. I know that there are so many other things to keep you busy that finding time to read and study the Scriptures is difficult, but this is so essential to your well-being, both here in this world and hereafter in eternity! In fact, if you do this one thing and continue in it, you will learn the rest of what I intend to say to you without my letters and instruction.
St. Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-17): “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 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: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
You see, the Bible tells us that, when we study its pages, we will learn of the salvation which is ours through faith in Christ Jesus. We also learn that the Scriptures are useful and beneficial to us – indeed necessary – to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and instruct us in righteous living. When we diligently read and study our Bibles, we will learn of our salvation in Christ Jesus and be thoroughly equipped to follow Christ and live for Him. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Now, the Bible is no ordinary book. While we are flooded every day with books and articles to read, coming from all sorts of different human authors and groups, the Bible is different. It is the Word of God to man! It is the revealed word and message of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven, earth and all things; and it is written and recorded for you and for me.
Why do I say this? Because the Bible itself tells us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16)! Peter also writes: “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).
The Bible is God’s Word because God moved men to write and guided and directed them in their choice of words. St. Paul wrote: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). And, so we see that all of the Bible, and each and every word of the Bible, is inspired by God, or God-breathed!
David, the human author of many of the psalms, also spoke of this when he said: “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1,2).
Since the Bible is not man’s writing but God’s Word, it is not surprising that the Bible, which is made up of 66 books and was recorded over a period of about 1600 years by over 30 human authors, says and teaches the same things throughout. Nor is it surprising that even the minutest points in the Bible are accurate and true. In fact, since God cannot lie and is always faithful (cf. Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:13), we could simply conclude that everything in the Bible is true and accurate and without mistake. But the Scriptures themselves also clearly teach that they are in all points true and without error.
Jesus said, in His high priestly prayer, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). In another place, Jesus stated, “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Therefore, we hold not only to the inspiration of the Scriptures, but also to the truthfulness and accuracy of every word of Scripture; for it is not man’s word, but God’s! Furthermore, the Scriptures say: “Every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5); and, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160).
Now there are many who say that the Word of God has been lost and corrupted down through the centuries and that what we have in our Bibles may not actually be the very Word of God. This too is false, for there are more copies, translations and quotations supporting the authenticity of our Bible than for any other ancient historical book or writing.
But we also have the word and promise of God to faithfully preserve His Word as a witness to all the nations down to the end of time. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14); and, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The Scriptures also say: “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89); “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8); and, “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25).
It is true that we only have copies of the original Hebrew and Greek writings, but these copies were made with the greatest of care and precision to ensure that nothing be changed or lost. The vast numbers of manuscripts which still remain and their remarkable unity and agreement testify to this care and to God’s hand in preserving the Scriptures for us today. The Old Testament books were copied and preserved through the work of Hebrew scribes. Their work was preserved through the work of the Masoretes. Thus, the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures have been preserved for us in what is known as the Masoretic Text.
Thousands of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament remain, along with ancient translations, lectionaries and citations. The vast majority of these manuscripts agree throughout. They have come to be known as the Majority or Received Text.
Since all of the Bible and each and every word of the Bible has been given to us by inspiration of God, and since God has faithfully preserved His Word for us down through the centuries, it is both beneficial and important for us to use great care in choosing a Bible translation which accurately translates both the thoughts and words of the original languages. In fact, God Himself warns against adding to or taking away from the Word of God in any way.
The Bible says: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). Jesus Himself said: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [smallest Hebrew letter] or one tittle [smallest part of a Hebrew letter] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18-19).
The Bible closes with the warning: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
This is why I continue to use, teach from and recommend the King James Version of the Bible (or the New King James Version, the Modern English Version, or the Revised Common Version for those who need a more modern translation), for this English translation is not only beautiful to read and easy to memorize; it very accurately and faithfully translates the Word of God from the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Texts – in my opinion, it is far more accurate than any other. In contrast, many of the other modern English translations are poorer translations, rely upon only a few less reliable texts, or both.
I hope this helps you to see the importance of reading and studying your Bibles. Remember, the Bible is the Word of God, your Maker, your Redeemer, and your Judge. He has given it to you to teach you of Him and to show you the way of life through faith in Him. Please, I plead with you, take the time to read and study its pages! Read a few verses or a chapter a day. Pray about it, apply it to yourself, and meditate upon it.
I close this letter for now, praying that our God will give you the desire and willingness to read and study His life-giving Word. God bless and keep you all!
Until next time, with all my love,