Pre-existent Truth Preserved
The Dean Burgon Society's 2004 Annual Meeting
Pastor J. Paul Reno
Given at the Dean Burgon Society
We are fighting a real battle over the issue of the Word of God these days. There has been a battle ever since the Garden of Eden when Satan said to Eve, "Yea, hath God said..?." There has been much questioning of the accuracy of the Word of God and knowing that we could actually trust what we have.
I Thessalonians 2:13 reads, "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." When you hear the Word of God you are to hear it as the Word of God for it is not the word of men. It will not work in you effectually unless you hear it as being, literally, God's own words to your soul. You need to hear what God says.
We have a coalition of people teaching that it is God's thoughts in man's words. I will be showing you from the Word of God that such is not true. Many are trying to correct and change it, but the Apostle Paul, after writing the majority of the New Testament scriptures, could say that what he gave them was God's Word, - not man's word about God, but actually God's Word. They had received it as God's Word and not man's word, and that is why it worked in them effectually. When you wander on the Bible issue the Word of God will not work in you as it would have if you had stood right.
The second passage we will consider is Psalms 138:2 which says, "Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." God has magnified His Word and given it a place of higher respect and higher protection than even His own name. He said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." We need to be very cautious what we do with His Word because He magnified it. We need to understand something particular about Scripture - there is a power in the naked sword of the Scripture. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4). He did not say thoughts, concepts, principles, or man's words, but "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The Scripture is literally the words that God gave. It is by this we are to live. Those who do not have that do not have a proper basis for Christian living.
The Word is the Sword of the Spirit according to Ephesians 6. In Psalm 119:11 we are told, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee." The Word has an ability to keep us out of sin, as well as an ability to cleanse young men in their way. In Hebrews 4 we are told that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword dividing asunder of soul and spirit. It can deal with those two subjects that some people mix together.
We live in a day when people have a problem with the Word of God. There were two men, Wescott and Hort, who were heretics and damaged the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, by changing the Greek foundation of our New Testament. Some say they just clarified, updated, and made a few improvements but that they didn't actually change anything. That is what they told me when I went to Cedarville College. Towards the end of my time there I was disgusted with their explanations because they contradicted themselves from time to time. I wished that as a freshman I had taken a cheap Bible and every time they had made a change in chapel or in class I would have torn that page out of that Bible. If I would have made it to my senior year I would have presented what was left of the Bible to the President of the College when I received my degree.
I didn't do that, but in this
past year I asked a fellow who attends our services to do something
similar by comparing the differences between the so-called new and
improved Greek foundation used by Nestle-Alland and the United Bible
Society with the Received Text. The latter is the one God used and that
has been used down through the ages. I gave him an inexpensive King
James Bible and asked him to go through and cut out every page in the
New Testament if they made a change on either the front or backside of
the page. He did that, cutting some, - and some more, - and some more.
Not everything on the page was wrong, but he cut the page out if there
was something on the front or the back of that page that they had
changed. He told me, "I found a change on both the
front and the backside of every one of those pages." He added that it would be possible to reformat this so that you might be able to get one page that didn't have an error, but in this particular Bible that is how it was. How much of the New Testament was left unchanged? None. Every page of the New Testament had a change. People say there are few changes and they are insignificant and not to be worried about. But there was nothing left, not one page of the New Testament which they would let you trust.
I know what the scholars say, but remember this illustration. This is the reality of what they do to your New Testament as far as being able to know that it is the Word of God and not the word of men. God has magnified His Word above His own name and He does not want anyone trashing and cutting up His Word.
To better understand this, consider that either the Word of God judges us or we end up judging it. Today we have the scholars judging the Word of God, which is backwards. We either submit our logic to God's revelation or we will use our logic to try to change God's revelation. That is what they do. They say, "This does not make any sense to me. This does not look logical." That has nothing to do with it. God said it and that settled it. We need to understand that it is what God said, not what we think. Our brains are too small to be able to judge God and His Word. Either the Word will change you or you will end up trying to change the Word. That is the problem.
I want to give you five words that deal with this subject. The first word has to do with the pre-existence of the Scriptures, the second, inspiration, third, preservation, fourth, corruption, and fifth, translation.
Psalm 119:89 is David writing before the time of Christ, "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." In other words, the word of God was already a settled issue in David's day, including the New Testament. It had not been written on earth, but what was going to be written was already settled in Heaven - every word of it. Not only that, but it had been settled forever. That is, Genesis was settled before Moses was ever born, before Creation ever occurred. The Word of God existed in Heaven before it was written here on Earth. It has always been a settled issue in Heaven. People may be unsettled down here but it has always been settled in Heaven in the mind of God. The very Word of God that we need and that works effectually in those that believe has always been a settled issue in Heaven. It pre-existed its coming to Earth. Just like the Living Word, Jesus, pre-existed His coming by means of the virgin birth, so the Scriptures pre-existed their coming by means of inspiration. What was written in the Bible was no surprise to God. He had already worked that out long before and had it settled in Heaven.
Psalm 119:152 says, "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever." Not only are they forever settled, but they have been founded forever. How the very words would read was established and locked down in Heaven. John 3:16 has been forever founded and settled by God in Heaven. It didn't just happen when the Apostle John was writing. There was not any question how that verse was going to turn out.
Psalm 119:160 reads, "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." It was there at the beginning. I want you to see that God had His Word in Heaven long before He had it here on Earth. That is important to understand because that will help you to understand what the process of inspiration really was.
II Timothy 3:16 reads, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God...". Of course it was given, for God already had it in Heaven. How did He give it to us? He gave it by inspiration. Inspiration was the process by which God gave what He had in Heaven to us here on Earth. Just as He gave us His Son by the process of the virgin birth, He gave us the Word of God by the process of inspiration. That was the process by which God took what was forever settled in Heaven and moved it down to have it recorded here on the face of the Earth. That is inspiration.
It is not that God put thoughts in people's minds, they thought them over, tried to figure them out, and wrote them down the best that they could. That is commonly taught in most of the so-called fundamental schools of America. The reason they taught me that at Cedarville in the 1960's was that they had been taught that at Dallas Seminary, Grace Seminary, Bob Jones University and other such schools. They were just walking the party line. Most of the students believed it. My problem was that I had read too much Scripture and found out that God already had His Word and He gave His Word by process of inspiration. If it was already in Heaven, He was not going to have something different down here than He already had up there. He was not taking a chance on how men might write it down. He was putting it down here like He had it up there.
People mock and ridicule that and say it doesn't make sense, but that is their problem. They are trying to get revelation to make sense to their logic. Our minds are not big enough. You better believe it rather than try to figure it. You can read on through to see the purpose and usefulness of this inspiration, but if you will remember in II Peter 1:21 the Bible tells us that God had holy men who were moved by the Holy Ghost and that is how prophecy came in the old time. In other words, inspiration involves God taking over a holy man and moving him to write here what God had already recorded on High. It was forever settled, forever founded, lasting forever in Heaven and He was just getting it recorded and released down here for our benefit. That is inspiration.
We have the Scripture explaining this. I remember a pastor asking me why I believed certain things about the Bible. I said, "Let me tell you what I believe about inspiration." I had hardly covered pre-existence and inspiration when he said, "We can stop right here. What you say makes sense but I just don't believe those things." He had been taught the party line and believed it. Eventually, he also wandered on other doctrines.
In I Peter 1:10 we read, "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you." They prophesied about it, God had them record it, and then they went around asking questions like, "What does this mean?". Don't tell me that God put the thoughts in their mind and they put it down according to their understanding, - they didn't understand what they wrote down. They just recorded what God told them to record and then they went about asking what it meant. They did not understand it. Verse 11 continues, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things." God said, "I had you write it. You don't understand it but it really is not for you. It is for the people that come after you." The verse continues, "which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven: which things the angels desire to look into." The Holy Ghost, who was sent down, came to explain the Word that was sent down from Heaven by process of inspiration. It all originated in Heaven.
I Peter 1:23 says, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." In other words, you can't corrupt the Word of God. People are working at it, but they cannot destroy it because God only uses the incorruptible seed for people to be born again. You can't get saved by a corrupted Scripture; it takes an uncorrupted Scripture for a person to be converted. Verses 24 and 25 say, "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever." It has never been lost. We don't need to find some old manuscript to correct what was ruined somewhere along the way. "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." The gospel and the Word and its effectiveness in converting people is tied to the preservation of the Scriptures. That is why it says in Proverbs 30 that every word of God is pure. That is why Psalm 119:140 says, "Thy word is very pure." That is why Jesus said in Luke 21:33, "Heaven and Earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." That is why He said in Matthew 5 that Heaven and Earth will pass away but not one jot or tittle of the law will be changed. Not even the little markings on the letters will be changed. He is going to preserve it and keep it pure. We have a guarantee of the Savior Himself and promises throughout the Scripture that the Word of the Lord endureth forever. That is why Isaiah 40:8 says, "The word of our God shall stand forever."
That which pre-existed and then by inspiration was released to man here on earth in its pure form, is kept pure by God so that we will always have here on earth what He has in Heaven. Psalm 12:6 says, "The words" (Notice that is plural, not thoughts, not word in general but words, the very words) "of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." Man does not have to keep them pure, God has promised He will do that. When God gave His Word from Heaven, He did not leave it here for man to destroy. He said that He would preserve it and there would always be His pure Word here on Earth. God's preservation is a guarantee that He made on this issue of the Scriptures.
If we understand that, then we have the problem of where did this corruption and the matter of corrupted Bibles come from? We have many of those around, but if the Scriptures can not be corrupted then how do we explain these? You can study history. Know the past and who has stood for what is right and who has tried to destroy the Word of God. There are infidels, heretics and theologians who have banded together to try to destroy the Word of God. There was an infidel in France who made an effort to try to destroy every Bible in the country of France. The humor of the point is that after his death his house was purchased by the French Bible Society for their headquarters. He thought he was going to do one thing but God turned it around and made it almost a laughing stock.
II Corinthians 2:17 reads, "For we" (the Apostle Paul and his group) "are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God." In other words, there are many out there who are corrupting the Word of God. There are those who hold the words pure and preserved, but there are others trying to corrupt it. This was written before the New Testament was completed. This is part of the New Testament revelation. God had recorded in Heaven the fact that people would try to corrupt the Word of God. We have pre-existence, inspiration, preservation, but we also have a movement of corruption. God is preserving His Word but there is another crowd trying to corrupt His Word. Paul said, "We are not of that crowd that corrupts the Word of God." The verse continues, "but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." Those that are right will hold to that which is right and pure and preserved. One of the marks of those that are not right is that they will try to change or corrupt the Word of God. They will find some way to change what God actually said to something else similar, or maybe even different.
My children learned that when I gave instructions for them to pass on to someone else, they were not free to restate those instructions according to their whim. They were to tell what I said. Otherwise, the instructions might not have the same force or may not have had the same details. And yet, man dares to do with the Word of God what he would never allow others to do with his own word.
Maybe man is trying to make God's Word logical. But we are told in Corinthians that the natural man understandeth not the things of God for they are spiritually discerned. The Word of God is not written for a lost man to understand. Any attempt to get the Bible understandable to lost people is wrong and doomed to failure. The Bible is to bring revelation to the soul not understanding to the intellect. We need to grasp that concept. This is a book of the mind of God, not of principles for man. You can gather a whole library of books of principles for man but this is the Word of God. It is what God's people are to live by. There are those who have set out to corrupt the word of God. You say, "You mean corruption goes all the way back to the early apostolic age when the Apostle Paul was ministering?" It certainly does. Corruption started before the Bible was complete. Folks think that the oldest manuscripts must be the best, but you can have a corrupted manuscript that had been corrupted before the book of Revelation was ever written. That is what this passage will tell you.
I am going to carry this a bit farther. We have these nice clichés that may convince people, but if you will read your Bible enough you may see through them. If you listen to the Holy Ghost within you will see through these sayings. A person must be educated into the foolishness of our day. Jeremiah 23:29 says, "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord: and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor." Any preacher who sets something in front of the people that is different than the actual words of God - just thoughts, principles, paraphrase, equivalents, or whatever - God is against them. That was going on in Jeremiah's day and that was hundreds of years before the time of Christ. 2600 years ago they were stealing the very words of God from the people. The preachers were leaders in this. We are not talking about the people living in wickedness, or the atheists in a school system, we are talking about the prophets of God, the preachers, who were stealing the words of God from the people. They said, "You must listen to me. I have all this education and I know this and that.." and they are literally stealing the words of God from the people. They do it in the schools, the seminaries, and the churches.
I received an e-mail letter forwarded to me from the country formerly called Burma from a man that has a church and a Bible college where he trains Independent Fundamental Baptist preachers. He has over 80 students studying for the ministry and is fighting the battle against many of the others in the country who are trying to go to these other things and steal the literal words of God out of the Bible. He is battling that issue and was asking for help. This battle is not just local, - it is an international war on the matter of stealing the words of God. It is not just something the liberals do. It has gotten into the fundamental ranks and grown until that has become the accepted way and people look strange if you go the Bible way.
The passage continues in verse 31, "Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith." They say, "Well, this is really what God said." The verse continues, "Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness." (They just make a joke of the whole matter and ridicule those that hold right on the Bible. They are light and laugh over it.) "Yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord. And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house." If you don't treat the Bible right God will punish you. You can talk about being burdened by God, but if you don't treat God's Word right you are open to the punishment of God. Quit talking about the burden of the Lord and what God said if you can't treat His Word right.
Verse 36 continues, "And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man's word shall be his burden;". God says you will end up with just your words and claiming it is God's words. "For ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God." What they have done is that they have twisted and perverted the literal words. They have made the adjustment and treated it lightly. Let me say that if you take this position you will lose many friends and get cut off some places. But the Lord was cut off too. Paul was cut off and he said, "I am not of that crowd.". Jeremiah was cut off and said he didn't want to be in that crowd. It is all right for you may get cut off from them, but they are being cut off from the Lord and sooner or later it will show up. This is not a minor matter. God has magnified His Word above His own name. If these people treated the name of the Lord the way they have treated the Bible can you imagine the judgment that would fall? But they lightly do this and that angers God.
Revelation 22 says that if anyone adds to the Word of God that God adds to them the plagues written in this book. If they take away from the Word of God He will take away their rewards in the future. Those are the closing verses of our Bible. The Bible hardly starts, Creation is hardly completed, when the Devil shows up and the first words the Devil spoke to man was, "Yea, hath God said..?". He said, "You think that you have final revelation. You think you have the actual words of God. You think you have it straight?" Then he started working to get Eve to adjust. He added a bit and took away a bit. The same concept but not the same words, not the same preciseness, not the same sharpness, and before long she fell into sin. Adam walked right behind her and fell into sin and the curse came down on man. It started with Scripture tampering, - that corruption of the Word of God. If you start on that path you will end up in terrible shape.
Let me give you a quick testimony. I went to Hagerstown in 1972. For a number of years there was an older gentleman who would come to the Sunday night services. He was an officer at a local Lutheran Church. I kept praying that he would get out of that. One day I was talking with him and saw that he was not going to leave them. He had left with his heart but was not going to leave with his feet. He told me how they used to have gospel preaching and evangelistic meetings where people were converted, their lives were changed, they sang about the blood of the lamb and all when he had been a deacon in that church. Then he had seen it change and by 1972 they did not even believe in getting saved and born again. It grieved his heart. I asked, "When did the change occur?" He said, "Along about 1950 or so." I asked, "What do you think brought the change?" He replied, "When we changed Bibles from the King James Version to the RSV. We lost our whole view of the gospel, of Christian life, evangelism, and our burden. We headed in another direction." That was his testimony. I can site historical examples again and again. When you move to something that has been corrupted you lose and lose drastically. Adam and Eve lost and according to Revelation 22, everyone will who makes that move. What God had pure in Heaven, He brought pure to Earth through inspiration and promised He would keep it pure. Any one who wants to tamper with it is in trouble with Him.
The fifth word is translation. Inspiration is how God moved His Word from Heaven to Earth. Translation is how God moves His Word from one language to another. He sent it to earth by inspiration. He sent it in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Old Testament is Hebrew with only a bit of Aramaic. The New Testament was in Greek. Then it was translated into Syriaric, Coptic, Old Latin, later into newer Latin, eventually into German, French, Czech, Slovak, Spanish, Portuguese, English and so on. If translation is done properly, the purity that was in Heaven and by inspiration came pure to Earth can be carried over as purity into the translation. You can have God's pure Word. I don't have any problems with this book. I have read it and reread it and studied it. I have listened to the arguments and the accusations but I find nothing wrong with what I use, the King James Version. Of course, Wescott and Hort would tear the whole New Testament out. Not every verse, but they find something wrong on every page and on some pages many things are changed.
We must understand how translation is to be done. God gave us not only His Word, but literally His words. If you are going to translate, you must take God's words and move them over, word by word, into words in another language. You must make sure that the meaning carries over and linguistically fits. If you have learned another language you will know that word order is not always the same in a sentence. We have young people who must have been exposed to a bit of German because for a while they would make statements and at the end say, "not". Then you would have to think back to the whole sentence that they said and realize that they put a negative on there. That is how the Germans do. They put an "nicht" on the end and you had to think back over the whole thing. If the Scriptures did that you would find it a bit awkward in the reading. But if you were translating into German you would do that because that is the format and the way they structure their sentences. You must understand something about languages to properly translate.
I know of one translation into Spanish that is word for word from our King James but does not make good sense in Spanish. The word order is bad, as well as some of the words were not translated properly. It needs to be a word for word translation so that for every word that God gave, we have a word with explanation and understanding. This is what you find in the King James Version.
We have a generation who are not interested in starting with God's words but they want to start with some other text like Wescott and Hort's text. They were heretics. They denied the new birth, they believed in infant baptism, they believed that worship of Mary was the same as worshipping Jesus, they were spiritists, they were members of the Ghostly Society in England, they were Revolutionists, they were Socialists, they hated American democracy, and on and on. They were the ones who made these changes and they are lifted up as scholars. They didn't even know the Lord of the Book. Wescott didn't even believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. He disguises that very cleverly in his commentary on the book of John, but it is there. He didn't believe in some of the miracles either. They butchered up the text terribly and many translations are translations from the wrong words. You must start with God's words. If you want purity in the end you must start with purity. You can't start with a corrupted text and end up pure.
There is also the way they are carried over in translation. The NIV doesn't even try to do word for word. They say that in the front. They hold to dynamic equivalence, - God gave thoughts and as long as the thought is still there that is fine. They turn nouns into pronouns, pronouns into nouns, drop some words out and add other words in, and some verses disappear. They start with a wrong foundation, use a wrong process, and can't possibly come out right.
The New American Standard Bible is a word-for-word translation. The process is right but the problem is that they started with a wrong foundation. They started with a corrupted one, translated it using the right process, but if you start with corruption and translate right you will end up with corruption.
The Living Bible was paraphrased. Ken Taylor said that he thought the Bible needed a rewrite job. That was in Time Magazine. The NEB did not believe in the Deity of Christ. There were Unitarians on their board. They made a big mockery of some of the passages of the Old Testament such as that in Zechariah about seeing the wounds when Christ comes. They say that they were scratches on His chest he got at a party or something like that . It is almost blasphemous, - what they turn that passage into. They had a bad foundation and used a bad process.
The New King James Version has a wrong foundation and sometimes uses a wrong process. That is why you will find the book of Revelation a tragedy and will find difficulties in the rest of the New Testament and some of the Old Testament. These are issues on the matter of translation.
You can count on your King James being accurate. It was done right. It has been proved through the test of time to be right. When it comes to readability it is as easy or easier than any of them, according to the testing they use to determine readability for school materials. I have a friend who studied that. He was a schoolteacher and spent hundreds of hours of computer time and showed that it is easier to read according to reading level than some of these other ones that claim to be easier reading. He has this written up if you want to look through it.
I am here to tell you that you can trust this Bible and it will speak to your heart. It will work effectually in those that believe if you will receive God's Word as the Word of God. Don't go for man's corrupted versions. Get God's Word, treat it as God's Word, and it will work in you as God's Word.
Five words: pre-existence,
inspiration, preservation, corruption, and translation. These will help
you sort out the confusion caused by the many English translations in