A Living Word
This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us, Acts 7:38.
I heard a message this last Sunday given by our Pastor Emeritus Roger Hain in which he explained the difference between a sacerdotal system of worship in which priests have supernatural powers given to them to dispense grace to participants through sacraments, and the simplicity of keeping the ordinances as delivered by Jesus Christ and expounded upon by the Apostle Paul. As I listened to the message I was reminded of my early days of reading the bible in which I was often confused and hesitant as to how to believe the bible and what to believe about it.
As I listened, I reflected upon a realization that helped me in those days. The bible is a coherent story of God, his creation and his dealings with man. Until I got that through my head, I viewed the bible as a collection of truths written in a rather haphazard form and collected in an arbitrary way. In those days I still wondered if pseudepigraphical books such as the Shepherd of Hermas or the Revelation of Peter belonged in the bible.
As I became more comfortable with the history of the bible and the proofs of its authenticity, I was still plagued with wondering how to understand it. I can look back now and see my early errors. In those days I was still wont to take a passage and to try to justify some particular doctrine with that passage. Since then, I have learned that just about any doctrine that a person wants to espouse can be justified with scripture if they don't view the bible as a cohesive book.
I remember reading behind Catholic priests who would emphasize the words of Christ when he said concerning the bread at the last supper, Take, eat: this is my body, Mark 14:22. Suddenly, men who for all of my lifetime had been warning me not to take the bible literally found a passage that they insisted was literal. Yet when it came to the wine, Jesus said no such thing. This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, Luke 22:20. He never called the wine his blood. He said the cup was the new testament in his blood.
I remember being tortured in soul by a Church of Christ proponent who asked if I had been baptized for the remission of my sins. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, Acts 2:38. He assured me that I would burn in hell if I had not been. I brought up the thief on the cross and he quickly dismissed the account. "That was Old Testament" he said. "That happened before the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
When I asked my Evangelical, (any old bible goes) friends about it, they laughed. They gave me different set of verses that indicated that I was ok. This of course is the pattern in evangelical circles. They have no exact authority so they juggle seemingly contradictory verses and go with whichever set they find weightier. "You have ten verse but I have twelve, therefor I am right."
Eventually, I was so troubled over the issue that I visited the only man I knew that believed in the inerrancy of the King James Bible. I didn't like him and he had once called me an ass when I had tried to explain the Greek of John 4 to a mutual friend. I was desperate.
He laughed and brought up the thief on the cross. I told him what the man had said about the thief having died in the Old Testament. He thought for a few moments and he quoted Hebrews 9:17, For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. He then asked, "who died first, Jesus or the thief?" "Jesus died first" was my reply. "Then the Old Testament ended with the death of Jesus Christ", he said. "The thief died in the New Testament."
I remember the relief that swept over me when I realized how believing the bible exactly as it is written will sort out the kinks in our various theologies. It was then that I began to realize that the bible was a complete unit put together by God and could be trusted to tell us exactly what God thinks if we read it in its context, keep in mind to whom it is speaking, and keep in mind the time period for which it is intended.
As a rule, the goofier a person's theology is, the more that person will not want an exact bible. Why would a person who is pushing a sacerdotal system want a perfect bible? Such a system would be quickly exposed for what it is, the machinations of men. The great body of bible college professors would need to submit their favorite theologies to God if they had a perfect bible.
The King James Bible can pass the test of historical accuracy. It can pass the test of translational accuracy. It can pass the test of inward cohesion. It is impossible to read a passage in a King James Bible in its proper context, keeping in mind to whom it is written and to what period of time it is intended and to teach a heresy. It is impossible when being mindful of the parameters that I just used for any passage in a King James Bible to contradict another passage.
There is no revelation from God that God wants man to know that is not either discoverable by the laws of scientific discovery or by revelation in a King James Bible. There is nothing written in a King James Bible which the entire Godhead would not endorse. Knowing these things about a King James Bible has not bound its adherents in fetters. It has made them free. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, John 8:32. Those of us who have partaken are like Jonathan who tasted the honey and was cursed by Saul. We have tasted what Saul has forbidden and our eyes are enlightened. We have strength unto the battle.