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August 18, 2006

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Q/A Topics:
Bible origins and false manuscripts?

READER QUESTION:
Recently, I am studying the origin of the Bible, both OT and NT where I stumbled unto a question. You probably already know this but to recap, the OT was found near the dead sea (hence the dead sea scrolls) in couple of caves. The dead sea scrolls were written by prophets, etc. The NT was found in North Africa and the Middle East in the form of parchment and papyrus Greek testaments. Along with the findings, there were other types of writings in addition to the Gospels, Revelation, etc. There were also Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Judas, and other gnostic writings which were probably blasphemeus. My question is, how did the compiler of the Bible knew which books to use and not to use. Of course, your answer is going to be that they were Spirit led but I guess I would like little bit more details on this issue if you can help?

VW ANSWER:
A good website on this topic is wayoflife.org They do have a 'problem', in that although they have done such good research, they take and assume that the KJV is the best English translation. I've even read in the past that they feel the KJV is "without error"....which is simply not the case. But their research on 'manuscript' issues is very good.

I haven't studied the dead seas scrolls issue. As for the manuscripts coming out of Alexandria region....consider that it was Jews who were commissioned by God to preserve the Scriptures (Rom3:1-2) But also consider that -Egypt- is where the rebels went, during the time of Jeremiah, who insisted that they would continue worshiping the Queen of Heaven (Jer44) The Queen of Heaven being a precursor to Roman catholicism's "Mary"; and they continue to call her "queen of heaven"

But, "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Ac11:26) The early Church also being 'Jewish' As Alexandria was a kind of 'center' of agnostic thought, Antioch was the 'center' of the early Church, as persecution chased them out of Jerusalem. (Ac11:19)

As best as I understand it....the 'canon' of the N.T. came to be 'understood' by all the churches through regular use. The early Believers 'knew' which epistles were inspired as Scripture, and which were not...merely being 'letters'. And so... those that were in greater use also had more copies copied. And when the big-wigs of Rome got around to "canonizing" things, it was already known which books were part of the Scriptures....through regular use, and multiplicity of copies.

But of course....Rome, being apostate since its inception....they also took from Alexandria for the Apocrypha.

Do we trust Antioch or Alexandria? The scholars claim Alexandria is 'older', thus alleging to be closer to the original. But Antioch provides 'hundreds' of manuscripts. Does not a higher "sampling rate" provide greater "accuracy"? Antioch provides that sampling rate....Alexandria does not. Not to speak of the blatantly anti-God, anti-Christ nature of much of that garbage from Alexandria....trying to turn Jesus into a sexually rabid pervert and womanizer, and every other bit of filth that comes out of those manuscripts!

But.... check out www.wayoflife.org and you'll find tons of stuff there. Just beware of their "KJ-onlyism".


READER follow-up QUESTION:
So as a Christian teacher, should I pick and choose whatever supports the Christian way of life. I mean, as responsible teachers we are to teach both sides of the story not just one side, right? If I was to mention to others about the other Gospels and gnostic writings that were found in addiation to the compilation of the Bible, am I being a stumbling to their faith? That leads them to question the Bible, or their faith, etc, etc, etc. I have learned that knowledge is good and all but also a curse when it comes to faith.

VW ANSWER:
Paul exhorts,

    "But sexual perversion and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks." (Eph5:3-4)

    "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will proceed to more ungodliness." (2Tim2:15-16)

    "Now I exhort you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and snares, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom16:17-18)

And to Israel God warned:
    "...take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise." (De12:30)
To Thyatira Jesus exhorts:
    "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come." (Rev2:24-25)
As Israel went into the land, and were smashing down the pagan altars and chopping down the groves, they certainly got a -glimpse- of what paganism consisted. But when the priests read the Law to the people, and made them "understand the reading" (Neh8:3,7-8), they did not teach paganism, but God's Law.

We might know enough about catholicism to understand that Mary is their intercessor, and that they are the ancient pagan sun-worship. We might understand that Mormonism seeks to become little gods and goddesses. But we also know that catholicism, if given a choice between Scripture and tradition, will hold to tradition. Mormonism, while having the Bible, relies on their "additional testament" of Jesus given from an (alleged) angel. It is "accursed" (Ga1:8-9) It is not necssary for us to go to catholic seminary, or mormon institutes to become deeply versed in their paganism, to know it's evil....and to stay away from them.

Similarly, since these artifacts exist, we -know- they exist, and that they proclaim blasphemies. But we do not need to invest in copies of the documents so we can study them to the Nth degree.

There are certain ministries whose sole purpose seems to be to dig, delve and investigate, at great length, into all the pagan cults and false teachings. They write books and post websites. And they seem to do little else. While I appreciate them as "reference" resources, I am a little concerned about them.

Jesus praises those in Thyatira who did NOT investigate the "depths of satan". But exhorts, to "hold fast what you have till I come"

The other day I set up a little training course in the parking lot, with old soda cans (for 'cones') to help a young man learn to ride his new motorcycle. Loaned him an old Motorcycle Safety course book I had from years ago. When he arrived for the session, to see if he had read the book asked him a question from something the book says: When operating a motorcycle where should the rider be looking? Correct answer is: WHERE YOU ARE GOING.

When the professional teachers teach that little nugget, they use examples. Supposing a person is navigating next to a ditch, where does one look? At the ditch? No. If one looks at the ditch, that's where you will end up. But rather, you notice the ditch is there, but -look- 'where' you are wanting to go....and that's where you will go.

Same way regarding spiritual matters. If a person immerses themself in "doctrines of demons" (1Tim4:1), that's the direction they will go.

But the Christian is exhorted:

    "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; think on these things." (Php4:8)
A person might realize that perverse documents and manuscripts exist, but our focus and direction is fixed on Jesus Christ " let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so persistently harasses us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Heb12:1-2)

The -document- for Christian living is not everything the world throws at us. They know that if they can just get us to "dialog" about it, eventually we will/might soften and be 'accepting' of it. But what God has provided is the Scriptures...

    "All Scripture is breathed by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2Tim3:16-17)

    "But the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it." (De30:14)

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what is: Preserved Word of God?

READER QUESTION:
I have often heard it preached or I have said myself that we hold in our hands the inerrant, infalliable, inspired, preserved Word of the Living God. Do we mean our KJV bible or the TR?

VW ANSWER:
If you read some older doctrinal statements of some seminaries, or churches with Godly Bible -teachers-, years ago before they went apostate, they would add to the list you just mentioned, the words: "in the original autographs" or "original manuscripts"

When Jeremiah was dictating to Baruch (Jer36), they were speaking/writing in Hebrew. When Paul says, "See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand" (Ga6:11), that was Greek. Daniel wrote in Aramaic. But primarily, we consider that the Bible was written originally: OT in Hebrew, and NT in Greek.

In our computer age one can understand 'preservation'. What is the best way to "preserve" something? When data is "backed up", what is the most sure way to do so, keeping the data in tact? To -duplicate- that data onto other storage devices. It is -copied-. The more discs and/or flash drives it is copied onto, if there were ever catastrophic events intent on destroying the data....the more copies there are, spread out here and there, the more likely that the data is preserved -somewhere-....in tact.

Now, what happens when data is 'manipulated'? I have a collection of photos (nature, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, meadows, such things) that I use for my computer screen background wallpaper. I've written a batch file that, every time Windows boots up, the batch file 'rotates' the files so that a different image appears each time the computer is booted. Some of those graphics come from online sources that offer them as free downloads and they are already of the correct screen resolution. But in some cases I might see something someplace, right-click and 'save' it; or might scan pictures from calendars. The image I start with needs to be cropped and "fit" to the screen. Sometimes I even have to make adjustments to color tones and such things.

So, I take an 'original' (to me) and resize it. Supposing I decide to resize the altered file back to 'original'? It is never quite the same. Pixels that got lost in the original re-size can never be retrieved. Same with color shade/hue doctoring. A modified file never quite goes back to 'original'.

The only thing that can truly preserve an 'original', is a -direct- 'copy' of it.

The KJV (or any version) is a "translation" of the Hebrew & Greek. In computer terms, it is a "resize" and "doctoring" of Heb/Grk into English. A graphic needs to be resized to 'fit' a user's preferred screen resolution. In a similar way, the Scriptures need to be -translated- to 'fit' the language of the one reading it.

When a graphic is manipulated, how good is the modified file? That depends on the quality of the software, and the user-adjusted option parameters.

How good is a translation? That depends on the translators and their 'integrity' and 'purpose'.

A couple of calendar photos I have, must have been taken with a red filter for special effects. I wanted to have them more 'realistic', so did some adjusting to put some more blue back in, and take some of the excessive red out.

Many translators like to wear "rose-colored" glasses when they translate, and so their translations come out looking too "red". With the VW-edition my purpose was to take out some of that red, and put some blue back in.

In some cases, the scanner/software would not produce an exact duplicate of the calendar in terms of color hues, so I would start manipulating the file, with the calendar in front of me, trying to match the screen to the calendar. In similar fashion, the base text might have been inaccurate, so I would compare it to the Heb/Grk, to make the English match as close as possible.

But anything we have in English....as good as the translation might be, is still, nevertheless...a 'translation'. And no matter how good the translators are, no two will be identically the same.

Case-in-point. When the recent Israel/Hesb'allah war began, I had this hankering to find the Israeli national anthem and know its words. I went online and found various sound files, and posted text. The English spelling of the Hebrew words was pretty much universal, wherever I found them...but the English translations were not word-for-word the same, from posting to posting. They all said basically the same thing...but with different words, the 'flavor' feels different from one rendition to the next. One might say Jewish "spirit" where the other more correctly said "soul", and they couched the "2000 year hope" differently. If I want to preserve the Israeli National Anthem "Ha Tikvah" (the Hope) I will do it in Hebrew. But for my own understanding, in English, I selected one of the ones I found.

God has seen to it that His Word has been preserved in the multiple "copies" of the Hebrew and Greek. From there it has been translated into English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc.etc. I would suspect that English is likely the only language that has so many different translations. Of those, there's only a handful that are more 'faithful' (not having been red-filtered). Of the ones out there you've got KJV, NKJV, LITV, MKJV. And around here, there is the VW-edition....which I believe surpasses those four...because it was done without the biases of doctrinal 'filters'. Those four include certain amount of doctrinal leanings, this way and that.

Some who prefer the KJV do so because it "fits their doctrines" (from the reformation, or Roman traditions). Some of them, also, try to 'correct' the Heb/Grk by making them say what the KJV says.

But doctrine should -originate- 'from' the Scriptures, not the other way around.

"All Scripture is breathed by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2Tim3:16) "The Words of Jehovah are pure Words..." (Ps12:6)

So, to finish answering your question....

God's Word has been preserved in the multiplicity of 'copies' of the Hebrew and Greek. And insofar as anybody is reading a translation, done by "faithful" (1Co4:2) translators, that translation is also God's preserved Word, to that reader, in their language.

But the Heb/Grk came first; then, the translations.

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Are there Apostles today?

READER QUESTION:
Are there apostles today? Acts 1:21 -26 says they have to be a eye wittness to the resurrection.I need to know please.Thankyou very much.

VW ANSWER:
By dictionary definition an "apostle", once a person gets past the "christian" and "mormon" definitions, is: "one who pioneers an important reform movement, cause or belief" In other words, an apostle is one who takes something 'new' and runs with it in leadership; one who forges new territory.

Are there apostles today? Certainly there are. There are all sorts of 'new' things being proclaimed and practiced.

But if by your question you mean: Are there "Biblical Christian apostles"? what does the Bible say? You already referenced Ac1:21-26. A Christian apostle was one who had witnessed Jesus Christ on this earth, and who had been appointed by Jesus, personally. One thing those in the upper room missed, which is why I believe their appointment of Matthias was wrong...-they- appointed Matthias, not Jesus. The one Jesus appointed, to replace Judas, was S/Paul. (Rom11:13, 1Tim2:17, 2Tim1:11, Ac9:15, Ga1:15-17)

Is Biblical Christianity 'new' today? Do we have 'new' revelations, for which reason apostles would be necessary? There are those creeping in introducing new doctrines, but we are told that the "faith" was "once for all delivered to the saints" (Ju1:3-4) Paul goes so far as to say that anybody who would bring along new doctrines, that were not already given, are "accursed". Even if the source is angelic. (Ga1:8-9)

There are a lot today claiming visions from angels and spirits, who from those visions proclaim new doctrines that are different/contrary to the already-given Scriptures. They certainly are "apostles", but they are not of Christ. They are "accursed".

    "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder; for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." (2Co11:13-15)

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