September 29, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship
The Word of God is the Spirit’s weapon to sustain us in these last days. It was the weapon used by our Lord during the temptation in the Wilderness and it is what the Holy Spirit will call to mind as we are brought before those who will accuse us. But how well do we know the Word and how familiar are we with its use? Join us this week as we continue in our study of the weapons of our spiritual warfare and examine “The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God”.
Word On Worship – September 29, 2013 Download / Print
“And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Have you ever been asked how you have confidence that the Bible you have in your hands is accurate to the original texts when the originals no longer exist for comparison? Even biblical scholars agree there are more variations in the existing copies than words in the New Testament, so how confident can we be? Has the Bible changed in 2,000 years of copying and recopying the original texts? There may be variations but we can have confidence in the Bible we hold because of how the original texts are reconstructed to determine the original.
Pretend your Aunt Jane learns in a dream about a magic elixir that preserves youth. She jumped out of bed and immediately wrote down the recipe word for word and then dashed off to the kitchen to mix up a batch of “Jane’s Juvenile Juice.” Within days she was the picture of vibrant youth. Aunt Jane was so excited she wrote down three copies word for word and handed them to her bridge partners at Game Night. They in turn, at seeing the remarkable results, made 10 copies each and shared them with their friends. All was glorious until the day Aunt Jane’s cat ate the original recipe. In a panic, she calls her bridge partners only to hear the terrible news that all three friends lost their original copies of “Jane’s Juvenile Juice” on the same night. How will Aunt Jane recover the original recipe or is it lost for all time and eternity?
May it never be! Aunt Jane would recover as many of the remaining second generation copies as she could and reconstruct the original recipe. Let’s assume she recovered 24 out of the 30 second generation copies and spread them out on the kitchen table. The first thing that would jump out would be all the variations that can be seen in the copies. But after closer examination, she finds that 19 of the 24 copies are virtually the same, except for minor misspellings and abbreviations for some of the measurements (qt. instead of quart). Of the five remaining copies, three list the same ingredients but in different order, one has operations inverted when compared to the other copies (chop then mix instead of mix then chop) and one has one ingredient that none of the other recipes contain.
Do you think Aunt Jane can reconstruct her original recipe with this evidence? Of course she can. Misspellings and abbreviations are variations, but not changes in the recipe. The inverted operation is easily corrected (you can’t mix something that has not been chopped) and the one recipe with a brand new ingredient can be eliminated because it is far more likely that 1 person added an ingredient than 23 people omitted the same ingredient. Given the number of copies and a little common sense, the original can easily be reconstructed. This very simple example demonstrates how scholars do textual criticism and how it was done for all writings of antiquity including Scripture. Given the current count of more than 5,500 copies of Scripture from before 900 AD including 24 complete copies of the New Testament and portions of books (such as the first 7 chapters of John from a scroll written in 200 AD or a fragment containing John 18:31-33 dated to 117 AD – only 40 years from original composition) we have extreme confidence we are holding the inspired Word of God upon which orthodox Christianity is based.