A fatal mistake

“Some of us are tempted to stop with doctrine, and to feel that when we have come to the end of [Romans] chapter 11, we have all we really want out of the Epistle to the Romans. That is fatal. We must take the whole of the Scripture, otherwise we shall miss its balance. And here in this whole section, as we have seen, the apostle is concerned with our practical, daily living.
Why should we be so concerned about this? One great reason is that the glory of God in His great salvation is involved. If we say that we are people who believe what we read in the first eleven chapters, and then live in a manner that is opposed to that teaching, we bring the very doctrine in which we claim to glory into disrepute. People–particularly today – are much more concerned with what we do than with what we say, so the glory of God and of His great salvation is, in a sense, in our hands and people will judge it by what they see in us. If we talk learnedly about justification, sanctification, and glorification but still live like everybody else in the world, then men and women who observe us will inevitably react by turning away from the gospel. But not only that, these truths are so interrelated and intertwined that we can never enjoy the benefits of our great salvation if we do not obey its precepts.” – D.M. Lloyd Jones, Romans 12, p 426.

Dr. David Martin Lloyd-Jones is every bit as correct today in 2017 as he was in October 1966 when these words were first spoken. In an excellent article in the blog–Towards Conservative Christianity, the author explains:

Orthodoxy is right doctrine. Orthopraxy is right actions or practice – the works or fruit that are evidence of orthodoxy in the heart. Orthopathy is right affection – ordinate affection toward God, self and the world around. Each of these exists in a mutually dependent relationship towards the others. Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is the dead faith James described. Orthodoxy without orthopathy is dead formalism or even legalism. Orthopraxy without orthodoxy is undirected pragmatism or innovation. Orthopraxy without orthopathy is dead Pharisaism and hypocrisy. Orthopathy without orthodoxy is sheer enthusiasm or fanaticism. Orthopathy without orthopraxy is sentimentalism and pure emotionalism.

“Faith without works is dead being alone.” Yet, we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Let no one say that we must preach grace without a call to works, for such a grace is no grace, and such a gospel, is no gospel. God’s redemptive plan redeems the entire man–body and spirit, transforming our thinking, our volition and our emotions. Let us be Holy as He is Holy. Let us not be conformed but transformed. Let us put off the old man, and put on the new. Let us be salt and light that “they may see [our] good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”

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Articles on Bible Translation, Preservation, Inspiration, Textual Criticism

In response to a good deal of confusion and contention over Bible translation I thought it helpful to address this issue. I have done so in two extended articles which I have attached to this post. The first article is titled: Where the Bible Came From–How it Came to Me– & Considerations for Choosing a Bible Translation. It beings this way:

This paper is for the person that has his heart bent on truth. Bible translation is an area where passions run deep, where bias is common, and where many have a deeply entrenched position. Yet those passions, and those biases, and those positions are not always historically and theologically well grounded. This paper has two objectives. First, it intends to present a truthful and as unbiased as possible look at where the Scriptures came from, and how God has preserved them to our day. Secondly, it intends to address the question,—“Why would someone consider changing from their traditional use of the King James Version?”, as well as the question,—“Why would they consider changing to the primary use of the English Standard Version?”. While certainly not a comprehensive treatment of the subjects, it is intended to inform the reader regarding this vital basis for our Christian faith—God’s Holy Word.

The second article was spurred when I was asked–“are there those who disagreed with the facts of my first paper, and how do I answer them?” Shortly after being asked that question I found a document on the internet by another local pastor titled Ten Reasons Why the King James Bible is the Word of Godwritten by pastor Terry Fenton. I decided to address his ten reasons and did so in A Response to: “Ten Reasons Why the King James Bible is the Word of God”. I sent a copy of my article to Pastor Fenton for his review but received no response. This article introduces itself this way

In fairly assessing any issue it is important to consider both sides, for every issue has at least two sides. This is certainly the case with the controversy surrounding English Bible translations. Conservative Bible believers hold the Bible as the sole and exclusive basis for their faith and practice. It should not be surprising then that passions run deep when discussing such an important topic. Some argue that the King James translation holds exclusive claim as being “God’s Word,” while others believe such an exclusive claim is unmerited. This subject provokes controversy when misrepresentation or miscommunication occurs, often from both sides.

In this paper it is my intention to respond to a paper written by Pastor Terry Fenton. Pastor Fenton is the pastor of Seneca Bible Baptist Church. His paper is titled Ten Reasons why the King James Bible is the Word of God. I would encourage the reader of this response to read Pastor Fenton’s article in parallel so that each perspective is communicated by its strongest advocate. From his paper it seems clear that Pastor Fenton holds the exclusive King James position. This paper intends to address Pastor Fenton’s Reasons as fairly and as clearly as possible. This will permit a reader to hear both sides of this important topic.

It is my intention in both of these articles to dispel some of the confusion regarding Bible History. It is not my intention to defame the King James Bible, or undermine its authority in any way. I have the utmost respect for its beauty, and its faithfulness to the underlying Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. God has used this translation for 400 years for His glory. However, I also believe there is a strong argument to be made for using modern translations, particularly the English Standard Version. I am glad to answer any sincere questions, and to engage in dialog, and to be taught, but I have no time for intransigent debate. I hope you find these articles informative and helpful. Grace.

Philippians 4:13 – “Him” vs “Christ”

I was recently asked why the English Standard Bible (ESV) translates Philippians 4:13 as follows: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” The specific question regards the use of the pronoun “him,” which differs from the King James translation’s use of the noun “Christ.”

First, let me say that both readings resolve to the same interpretation. Reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians and understanding Paul’s life as revealed in his writings, there can be no doubt Who it is that empowers him (see Eph 6:10; 1 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 2:1; 4:17). In the context of this passage, Paul is exhorting the church to seek contentment in Christ regardless of the circumstances they may face. In v12, Paul is referring to his own life, explaining that he has learned how to be abased (brought low) and to abound, and to keep rejoicing regardless. How can he do this? He does this through the One that is strengthening him–Jesus Christ (v7). Christ is undoubtedly the One who enables such a spirit within him or any true believer. Noun or pronoun, the meaning of the passage is not changed.

Yet the question remains, “Why the difference?” The short answer is because the underlying Greek records a textual variant. If we consider the textual evidence, technically, the Greek word Χριστῷ (Christos) does not appear in any text prior to the 19th century. Now to be fair, a common abbreviation for Christos does occur, but only in revision to a earlier manuscripts and other than that, not until the 9th century.  So in reality, the first reading that included “Christ” rather than “him” is 900 years after the autograph, whereas the reading “him” has support from the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries, which are some of the earliest manuscripts available.

In A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition by Bruce Metzger, he writes, “In order to identify who it is that strengthens Paul, the Textus Receptus, following several of the later uncials and many minuscules, adds Χριστῷ. If the word had been present in the original text, there would have been no reason to omit it.” Gerald Hawthorne in Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 43: Philippians comments, “א2 D2 and the Majority Text add Χριστῷ, ‘Christ,’ to make clear who it is who strengthens Paul. If ‘Christ’ had been part of the original text, however, there would have been no reason to omit it, except by accident or possible haplography, i.e., unintentional omission, given the similarity of sounds in the case endings.” The notes to the New English Translation for this verse state, “Although some excellent witnesses lack explicit reference to the one strengthening Paul . . , the majority of witnesses . . . add Χριστῷ [Christos] here (thus, ‘through Christ who strengthens me’). But this kind of reading is patently secondary, and is a predictable variant. Further, the shorter reading is much harder, for it leaves the agent unspecified.” Phillip Comfort in his New Testament Text and Translation Commentary writes “The variant is clearly a scribal addition . . . intended to make it absolutely clear that it was Christ who empowered Paul (see 1 Tim 1:12). But Paul hardly had to say this. Furthermore, he may have been thinking of “the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” because Paul had previously referred to him as the one who supplied all he needed.”  These four scholars, trained in textual criticism, believe the proper reading is the one that is more difficult and leaves the pronoun unresolved. From these men, and others like them who have compiled the critical texts used in translation, the pronoun has been chosen—hence the difference.

God has preserved His Word. He has done so in the totality of the manuscript evidence, as well as in faithful translations of many languages. When we are considering differences between translations, we must be sure to look at the evidence, to seek and search for truth. Simply advocating one translation as better because it conforms to our own preconceived standard does not make it so. The King James is a faithful translation and has been faithfully employed by the church for centuries. However, the English Standard Version is also a faithful translation. While it has not yet served as long as the KJV, its language is faithful to the text, yet rooted in language that contemporary readers use day to day. Both are God’s Word. Let us not provoke “doubtful disputations”—or might we say “not to quarrel over opinions.” And let us live the truth of His Word.