One of my ongoing projects is to compile a history of the English Bible. When it is complete, it will forever change how we view that history and hopefully, how we view the Bible itself. Here is an excerpt from that book.
Deep within every truly born-again Christian is a desire for fellowship with God. This book will deal with one aspect of that fellowship. This book will be about believing the Bible and finding the reward and gratification contained therein. It was the Apostle John who expressed the very motives of the apostles for writing, And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full (1 John 1:4). The Bible is, among many other things, God's revelation of himself, and to the Bible believer it is the only sure way to know God and to know of God. It is the surest source of joy.
This book will speak to those already settled on the issue of the King James Bible and hopefully help those who are not settled. I think that I can pretty well guarantee that you won't be bored. In my first book, Further Thoughts on the Word of God , I dealt with the issue of our English Bible and its inspiration. I know that our times have produced many who outwardly claim to be King James Bible believers, and in my first book I attempted to settle many of those who from within the camp still had doubts as to the veracity of every English Word in our Authorized edition. This is a book for those who are settled, but I realize that many who are not settled and some who openly mock the concept of an inspired English Bible who will be reading it. Perhaps you will find some history that will surprise you and perhaps you will see the bible in a different light after reading the chapter on the numbering system of the King James Bible. What you will see is something that should expand your view of bible verse markings. You will never see them the same.
So where are you really if you believe a King James Bible? You now have what all Hell and their unwitting minions of professing Christianity fought so desperately for you not to have. You have a perfect Bible written in your own language. You have a perfect road map to the things of God. Furthermore, you can now believe it. Yet what good would a perfect map be to a lost and imperiled traveler if they had cause to believe that subtle errors had crept into the map? If at every critical juncture some warning from the past, some faulty memory or the collective wisdom of fellow travelers were to scream out against the map, even the best of maps would prove useless. It is perfectly feasible that an earnest traveler with a perfect map could sit in the middle of the road lost and in despair because they had no confidence in their perfect map. If you believe your King James Bible you are ready to begin.
Once you have seen the folly of the new versions and once you have understood that God is perfectly capable of giving you a perfect Bible, you are really at the starting block. You are on page one. You are where God intended the English-speaking world to be in 1611. You are ready to open the rich pages of a King James Bible and be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and the length, and the depth, and height: (Ephesians 3:9b). You are ready to peek at the universe through God's eyes. You are ready to have God reveal himself to you as a father would sit and explain deep family things to a son. You are about to be taught personal things about God that only he knows.
You still have enemies and among them will be yourself. It was King Solomon who said, much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecc. 12:23b). A good bout of Bible study will often tax the flesh as much as a good night of work. Perhaps more succinctly put, Walt Kelly's Pogo voiced these memorable words, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Once the issue of a perfect Bible is solved the last ditch stand to keep you from ever really learning will be fought in your flesh and heart. Every time you look in a mirror you are looking at the person most likely to keep you from ever really knowing the things of God.
After yourself comes a more insidious enemy. At my house, we laughingly call it G-Bock, the General Body of Christian Knowledge. G-Bock has become a substitute for really knowing God. It is the collected and generally accepted understanding of just about every doctrine in the Word of God. As a shadow is an image cast when light is blocked; so is G-Bock a partial image of the truth. Sunday Schools, Bible colleges, Bible studies and commentaries vie unceasingly to spread a smooth bland paste of general concepts and perceptions that have become more important to Christendom than the Word of God itself.
Over the years, Fundamental Christianity has built up a data base considered essential to being an educated Christian. When a new version of the Bible is introduced it is judged on whether the essential fundamentals of the truth can be found therein regardless of how many times it slanders that same truth. A man using the most smattering and pitiful tidbits of Greek he knows, and who regularly reinterprets any part of scripture he chooses, can be considered a perfectly orthodox and sound preacher if he subscribes to the precepts of God as found in The Pulpit Commentary, Matthew Henry, or any other of several safe commentaries. At that point, he is immune to attack. This man whether saved or lost is an enemy of God.
When I first finished Further Thoughts on the Word of God, a friend full of zeal sought to find a big-name fundamentalist who would back it and perhaps publish it. He mailed the manuscript to just such a person who promised to read it. The result deflated my dear friend. His fundamentalist hero never wrote back but instead sent out an E-mail to his subscriber list attacking the concept of an inspired English Bible. Did he use scripture to refute the biblical defense of an inspired vernacular bible? Of course not, he quoted The Pulpit Commentary. One of the contributors to the commentary had voiced the never-ending mantra that only the original authors were inspired, and this trumped anything God had to say on the matter.
One of the great earmarks of our age is that there is now such a great body of mindless pabulum masquerading for true Bible doctrine that reading the Bible has mostly become a religious activity. True study is done through commentaries. The Bible student who seeks to know the Word of God will be endlessly plagued by preconceived notions that in almost all fundamental circles are more highly regarded than the Word of God itself. This is his second great enemy to ever really understanding the scriptures, this is G-Bock.
The fundamentalist of our day carries a King James Bible. It is as intrinsic to his image as his three-piece suit. It functions far more as a measure of his orthodoxy than it ever will as a template for his faith. One of the great curiosities when comparing modern fundamentalists with their cross-town rivals in Evangelical or Neo-Evangelical circles carrying the new bibles is that there is no measurable difference in their doctrine. The fundamentalist is distinguished in his own mind by a stricter dress code, conservative music, and the independence of his church, but pound for pound he believes exactly the same things. Whereas both camps will trumpet the Bible as their final authority, the careful observer will note that the only true standard to which they adhere is accepted commentaries, peer pressure, their alma mater's creed, and above all, the orthodox expectations of their paying congregation.
Just such orthodoxy has destroyed modern Fundamentalism. Today's Fundamentalist preacher is all too apt to substitute commentaries, old sermons from The Sword of the Lord, or outlines purchased from a Fundamental bookstore for the daily fresh bread of the Word of God. Such a man is a hireling. He is the product of cookie cutter institutions. He was mass produced to conform to standards deemed sufficient by men but found lacking when examined by scripture. He has little or no power with God.
Many years ago, I made the acquaintance of a veteran of Massachusetts's penal system. He was as rough cut an individual as I have ever met. Through the grace of God, he had been soundly converted and after a few years of true Bible study he went back to his native Massachusetts. He spent some time visiting Fundamental churches in the area to see if he could find a moving of the Spirit of God in any of the local churches. I'll never forget his keen observation. When asked what the churches were like he said this, "Ya know, these guys make a stand against cloning as being an abomination before God, but when you see the preacher boys coming out of their silly little colleges, they're nothing but clones." Such men cannot shepherd their people to God.
When Israel worshipped God in accordance with the law they were only allowed into the most holy place once a year. And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat (Lev 16:2a). The church of Jesus Christ is under no such prohibition. We are told, Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
The goal of all Bible study and all preaching should be the same. The goal should be to take the hearer of the Word of God into the very presence of God. When the sinner is carried into the presence of God he is made ashamed of his sin. The backslider becomes ashamed of his backsliding. The Christian, who truly walks in the presence of God, walks clean and pure. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Good preaching and good Bible study will carry people beyond the vail. They will usher them into the very presence of God for God to work on the hearers howsoever he pleases.
Modern Fundamentalism has for the most part lost this power. Preachers who can truly carry their hearers beyond the vail have become so rare that they are mostly in evangelism and even then, they are spread so thin as to be of little real help in recovering the churches. What is truly needed is a ministry of local pastors who have God's power on their lives. Having a firm grip on the fundamentals of the faith and conforming to a rigid dress code have proved ineffectual by themselves.
To understand what is lacking, let us allow the law to illustrate. Before the high priest could ever go beyond the vail he had to pass by four things. He had to go through the first or outer vail symbolizing that he had to leave the world behind. This is as far as many professing Christians ever get. They come into the local church, they conform outwardly to the standards and morals and they are content to stay there. True testimonies of those who have gone beyond the next vail are so rare, that few church members have any inward desire to pass through.
Within that first vail are three things that the high priest had to pass to pass through into the presence of God. These had to be in order. There must be a candlestick and it must be lit. The light was made of pure olive oil and the candlestick had seven branches with three lamps on each branch. This was a symbol of the Holy Ghost. Most preachers (not all) have the Holy Ghost through salvation. Yet this has not been enough to carry them past the vail.
There had to be an incense altar and there had to be incense burning upon it. This is a picture of Holy Ghost assisted prayer. We know this from the Book of Revelation. And another angle came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand (Rev 8:3-4).
To his credit, the average Fundamentalist preacher has tried fervent prayer. He has left the world behind. He has the Spirit of God and yet his ministry bares no evidence of carrying his flock beyond the vail into the presence of God. With that in mind, let us look at the table of showbread (Ex: 25-30) The bread upon the table is a picture of God's Word. It is laid out in two rows of six loaves each. Side by side in rows of six and six they make up the 66 books of the King James Bible.
If a high priest under the law had every other aspect of his approach to God correct, and he did not have fresh bread on the table, he did not do it right (Lev 24:6). There were certain things such as Aaron's rod that budded or the pot of manna that Israel kept from antiquity, but the bread was not one of these. It was to be fresh. A priest could not rummage through a storage bin and bring out loaves baked by a former generation regardless of how great that generation had been. Likewise, today's hapless Fundamentalist preacher cannot approach God with commentaries and old sermons. He must have fresh bread. He must have a relationship with God that is refreshed through daily immersion in the Word of God itself.
Herein is the great stumbling block of modern Fundamentalism. They have no fresh bread to offer. They pray, they seek God, they try to cloister themselves from the world, but they prepare sermons from stale bread. A young man feels fully equipped so long as he has a few books of sermon illustrations, a good set of Bible commentaries, subscriptions from the right preaching journals, and countless recordings of other men preaching.
If young men of this stripe were cast away on a desert island with only their Bible, they would feel inadequate to preach. A man who reads his Bible but cannot reach into his daily life, his understanding of history, and his worldly experience to find rich and appropriate illustrations to bring the Word of God to life, is a man with no understanding of what he reads. He cannot get beyond the vail and he for sure cannot carry his congregation there.
Many preachers have pulled out Jonathan Edward's famous sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God and tried to preach it. It falls flat. Yet when Edwards merely read it from a prepared script it sent his flock into agony for their souls and launched revival. It was fresh bread to Edwards. It was something wrought on his knees in study and prayer with a holy God.
The sermons of Moody, Spurgeon, Jones and Sunday were all captured by expert newspapermen using shorthand. When Sam Jones preached he not only launched revival like a young boy casting matches onto dry leaves as he walked down the street, his sermons were reprinted daily in major newspapers across the country. A young preacher today can re-preach every one of them and they will fall as flat as if he were reading the TV Guide. It is not fresh bread. When Sam Jones and the Spirit of God kneaded and baked these messages in Sam's daily walk with God they were fresh and they wrought revival.
I have watched barely educated goobers walk into a pulpit and drive the first pitch far over the outfield fence with nothing better than a fresh insight to an old verse. The bread was fresh. God was pleased, and the Spirit of God moved mightily. With awkward English and homey illustrations, they touched a cord with God and with their hearers. The surest way to destroy such a moving of the Spirit of God is to force them into a mold composed of cheap three-piece suits, approved commentaries, and choreographed hand movements.
If any of my readers want to spend a carnal unproductive afternoon, attend a typical local Fundamental Baptist preacher's fellowship. Just observe as a fly on the wall. Listen all day to hear if any two preachers discuss a verse of scripture other than verses on dress codes or divorce. Strain with all your might to catch any conversation about Jesus Christ or what he has done for anyone. Instead they will discuss whatever is deemed relevant to being orthodox. They will discuss church projects, attendance figures, preachers they know in common, their alma maters and upcoming meetings. An attendee who tries to discuss the inner things of God is viewed oddly.
Great movements of God have fallen in time past. For 200 years, the Congregational churches of New England preached and lived the uncompromised words of Jesus Christ. First formed in 1620 by our Pilgrim forefathers, it celebrated its bicentennial in 1820. Even after 200 years the vast majorities of Congregational Churches were sound in doctrine, fervent in preaching as well as separated in life. God moved in their services. Today's fundamentalist will often pay homage to such divines as William Bradford or Jonathan Edwards and the memory of the first pilgrims is as cherished a memory as can be found in fundamentalism.
Today a Congregational Church is more apt to be a bastion of liberalism. Women preachers are the norm and sodomy is accepted and even defended. The deity of Jesus Christ means little and the authority of the Bible is slight. The second 200 years of Congregationalism has not been kind to the faith of the Pilgrims. In 1829, a Congregational preacher Jowl Hawes catalogued the beginning of that fall in a series of lectures later compiled in a book entitled A Tribute to the Memory of the Pilgrims .
History does not really repeat itself. Instead history is filled with fascinating parallels. The events described by Joel Hawes deserve a moment of attention here. Pastor Hawes related the various schisms and heresies that periodically plagued the churches. Just like in our times, there were church leaders who advocated watering down church membership and allowed the very tenets of the faith to be challenged from their pulpits. In his research, Hawes expected that each generation's sins would be sufficient to destroy all power with God and yet he noted the great outpourings of God's Spirit that continually revived the churches from generation to generation.
When Joel Hawes finally found the one trait from which no church ever really recovered the result is disturbing. It was not a heartfelt pull to heresy invading the pulpit that snuffed out God's power. It wasn't a mixed multitude in the congregation. Pastor Hawes found that God could consistently recover the churches from such and even visit with revival until subsequent generations could worship God in Spirit and in truth. It was a dull orthodoxy that destroyed Congregationalism.
In describing the slide to apostasy Hawes said,
"The mischief, in all these cases, commenced in the ministry, and showed itself first in a cautious, concealed manner of preaching the truth. The ministers were not themselves heterodox. They believed the essential doctrines of the gospel, and occasionally preached them; but 'not in the whole'-'not in their fullness' - not in their undisguised simplicity and plainness, nor in a close and fearless application of them to the heart and conscience. There was in their discourses a wretched sterility of evangelical sentiment and feeling. They were afraid perhaps, that a plain and full exhibition of the truth would give offence; and, therefore, kept it back, or presented it in such a disguised, partial, pointless manner, as to deprive it entirely of its power to awaken and convince." (pg. 190-192)
Hawes tells us that no church survived such a generation. From that point on the slide to apostasy was irreversible. It is not liberalism that destroys churches. It is not lax dress standards. It is an entirely orthodox and fundamental ministry devoid of any fire in their bellies. The Word of God does not command men to contend for the faith, it commands them to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3b). The common theme between modern fundamentalism and Neo-Evangelism is that both are content with the stale bread of their forefathers. Neither is preaching from the cutting edge of their wrestlings with God.
They count their power in attendance figures and offerings, not in changed lives. They build their churches through a bizarre game of musical chairs in which Christian families migrate from church to church. The rarest thing in Fundamental Christianity today is the pastor who has any mature Christian families in his flock that he found in a lost condition, wooed them to Jesus Christ through a selfless love and an uncompromising preaching of the cross, and has had the joy of seeing Christ fully formed in them. Most ministries are composed of Christian families who migrated from other ministries as conditions changed in their last church or something better was going on in the receiving church.
What distinguishes the Fundamentalist from the Neo-evangelical is that the Fundamentalist feels obligated to play the game with a more conservative dress code, old fashioned music and by carrying a King James Bible. Yet the rules of this game can only be discerned in the church building itself. Should the United States of America be totally covered with hot ashes as was Pompeii 2000 years ago, it is highly doubtful that a trained archeologist could tell the difference between a household that attended a Fundamental Baptist church and a Neo-Evangelical church by anything in their wardrobes or by their choices in entertainment.
Should the parallel continue in our day (and I see no reason it would not), the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement is on its last legs. More and more churches will eventually go liberal because they are mired in a dull spiritless orthodoxy today. There are almost no preachers left who preach from the heart those doctrines and truths revealed to them personally through a holy and separated application to the Word of God itself. There is instead a wandering body of believers who wander from ministry to ministry and have learned to content themselves with programs instead of power. They are ministered to by a bland but orthodox band of preachers who long ago settled for a well-paid mediocrity. They boast of soul winning but have no changed lives to back up their boasts. They pay homage to evangelists and preachers of old, but practice none of their tactics. Instead, they are the replicas of the very pastors who destroyed the Congregational Churches of the 19th century.
This book is for any person who would learn the Word of God if he could. This book is for anyone who desires to be a student of God's Word. The doctrines and history contained in this book are not really the point of the book. The doctrines that will follow in subsequent chapters are there to open the eyes of all who are willing to see. They will use the simple words of the King James Bible to bring the Word of God to life. All too often those students who would yearn to know the Word of God feel inadequate. Even if they were to perceive something new or exciting, there is fear that they are straying beyond orthodoxy. The common perception in churches today is that commentaries and Bible colleges are the path to knowing scripture. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Bible colleges take great pains to organize the generally accepted understanding of Bible doctrine into measurable credit hours. What makes a Bible college different as a form of study is not new material; it is the organization of that material and the superfluity of it. When surveying the difference between Bible doctrines as taught in Bible studies and Bible courses offered in the average Bible college I am reminded of my experience shopping for food in the Philippines.
After a few months of a scant choice of goods in my local village store I longed to get to Tarlac where I was assured there were some very big stores. My local store had only a few shelves filled with canned fish, Ramen noodles, and duck eggs, bottles of coke, rice and toiletries. When I climbed off the bus in Tarlac I could barely suppress my excitement about seeing the big store. When I entered the big store, I stood confounded. Instead of one shelf devoted to canned fish there were four. There was shelf after shelf of Ramen noodles, shelves for rice, coke, duck eggs and toiletries. There was almost no new product to be found. There were just lots more of same old fare and it was better organized.
Bible colleges offer little new material for the would-be student but this book will be different. We will look at the history of the English Bible as I am relatively sure it has never been viewed before. We will judge that history with doctrine. We will act as detectives who scrutinize every clue and seek for the truth. When we reach a conclusion, we must be prepared to set it before a jury who must see it as we have discerned it without any reasonable doubt. It will not matter to us whether the jury believes our conclusions, what we seek is the acknowledgement that what we have stated is exactly what the King James Bible says on the matter.
If a Unitarian is confronted with the entire weight of the King James Bible on the deity of Jesus Christ, it is not our fault if he refuses to be persuaded. That is his choice. The King James Bible is firm on the matter. If he chooses to disbelieve passages, wrestle context or search other versions for relief, we are absolved from all blame. We delivered the goods and he has chosen his fallen intellect and preconceived notions instead. No Unitarian has ever accepted the King James Bible as the final authority.
The evidence in this book is presented to you the reader. We will take every verse exactly as it is written. We will examine other verses in other passages that cover the same topic. We will be ever more cautious when we see that other versions have obscured a passage or outright changed it. This is always the work of Hell and we will of course want to know why Satan was so worried about a verse as it stood. A detective investigating a crime scene should pay close attention to any clue that has been altered or hidden.
For a doctrine to be deemed true as it is presented, it must meet two rules.
1. The doctrine cannot contradict any passage of the King James Bible in its proper context.
2. The doctrine must be what the King James Bible says, not what we think it means.
If any readers of this first chapter were to take it upon themselves to examine the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Paul's 14 Epistles and in the Book of Acts they would slowly realize that the map commonly published as being representative of Paul's three missionary journeys is inaccurate. Almost everyone has seen this map. It shows a swath of the world from Italy to Palestine and there are usually three different colored lines representing each trip Paul made. It has been published in the back of Bibles from time immemorial and yet it is wrong.
A person learning Paul's journeys and confining himself to clues found in a King James Bible would quickly alter the map. Clues painstakingly gathered by believing every verse exactly as it is written will show deviations and eventually paint a different map. Of course, it is the time-honored map in the back of our Bibles that is taught in Bible colleges. A student of the scriptures who dared to openly side with the King James Bible when G-Bock said something different would be viewed suspiciously. He would be out of step with contemporary orthodox Christian teaching.
One truth that will be clear when this book is finished is that the King James Bible itself is out of step with contemporary orthodox Christian teaching. A person who quits waving it to prove his orthodoxy and begins to study it and believe it to prove his orthodoxy will be forever changed. Jesus Christ is indeed God. The King James Bible is his word to the English-speaking world. It is the study and preaching of that Word which will carry the preacher and hearer into the presence of God and forever change their lives.