The Danger of Altering God’s Word

Bible, lying, sin No Comments

Aubrey Johnson states, “It is no small matter, therefore, to modify a divinely established institution or practice” (Music Matters in the Lord’s Church, p. 58).  Johnson was addressing the attitude that some have towards the Word of God that they can modify it in order to suit them.  Consequently, they add to it or take away from it in order to support their views.
However, we cannot change what God has said and still be pleasing to God.  Mankind does not have the authority to alter God’s Word, yet, this is attempted almost daily.  There are false claims made by individuals who say that God spoke to them and gave them additional information different from God’s Word.  There are false teachers who alter the meaning of the words of the Bible and the grammatical context in order to make the Scriptures say what they want them to say rather than understanding what God meant by what God said.  Then, there are false Bibles that alter the very words of God in order to convey the doctrines that support a particular religious viewpoint.
God Has Protected His Word
God protects His word by expressing the severest penalties for altering it in any way.  The severest penalty is to be eternally damned.  Consider the following passages:
1.  Deut. 4:2, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
2.  Deut. 12:32, “What things soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”
3.  Prov. 30:6, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
4.  Rev. 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book.”
God Empowers His Word
If we alter God’s Word, we render it powerless.  Unbelief results in condemnation, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  The unbeliever is lost.  If we do not believe the truth, then we believe a lie and will be damned (II Thess. 2:10-12).  Altering God’s Word produces “lies” that cannot save.  God’s Word imparts life (John 6:63; James 1:18; I Pet. 1:21-23).  God’s Word saves (James 1:21).  If we alter God’s Word we change it and negate its spiritual power.
God Will Vindicate His Word
Paul states, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18).  His Word is infallible.  To alter God’s Word is to call God a liar.  Satan did this in Gen. 3:4 when he contradicted what God had plainly stated in Gen. 2:17.  Satan added one word–the word “not.”  The statement Satan made was a lie.  Eve believed the lie, while rejecting the truth, and sinned against God.  When we call God a liar, we blaspheme.
God vindicates His Word in life.  Paul writes, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).  When we choose to disobey God in this life, we will suffer the consequences of our sin.  When we obey God, we shall receive a just reward.
God vindicates His Word in judgment.  Jesus taught in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”  This means that we must know the truth and not alter it in any way lest we be found to contradict God and fall under His condemnation.

Clarity of Scripture

Bible, Clarity of Scripture, Truth No Comments

The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture, also called the perspicuity of Scripture, teaches that the meaning of a biblical text can be clear to the ordinary student of God’s Word.  God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His nature and His will to man.  The mind of God is revealed to the mind and heart of man through the inspired Word of God.  The human mind is fully capable of knowing and understanding God’s Word.  In John 8:32, Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”  In Eph. 5:17, the apostle Paul wrote, “Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
While some passages of Scripture are more difficult to understand than others, these more difficult passages are also capable of being understood (II Pet. 3:16).  Peter recognizes that Paul wrote some things that are difficult to understand.  However, he did not say that they were impossible to understand.
Satan used various means to obscure the truth.  For instance, he is the father of lies (John 8:44).  He uses false doctrines and false ideologies to deceive men (Matt. 7:15; II Tim. 4:1-5; II Pet. 2). Knowledge of the truth is the only way to distinguish the lies of Satan from the truths of God’s Word.  We must study God’s word and interpret it correctly in order to understand it properly.
Consider the following passages that affirm the clarity of the Scriptures.  Moses states, “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deut. 30:11-14).  “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psa. 119:18).  “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17-18).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16).  Other passages for your consideration are: II Cor. 4:6; Phil. 3:15-16; and II Pet. 1:3-4; 16-21).
The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is a safeguard against the Roman Catholic Church which asserts that Scripture is unclear apart from the interpretive framework of the Catholic Church and its traditions.  It also safeguards against Postmodernism which asserts that subjective experience should be preferred over knowing the originally intended meaning of Scripture.  We do not create our own reality as postmodernists affirm.  God defines reality both by His creative work and His special revelation given in the Bible.

The Bible-None Like It!

Bible, Bible versions No Comments

How many books are there in the world?  A few years ago, Google Books Library Project came up with a number.  According to Leonid Taycher, a Google software engineer, who at the time, worked on the project, there are 129,864,880 books in the world.  And we’re talking about number of titles, not number of copies of all titles (Josh McDowell, God Breathed, p. 113).  Out of these almost 130 million books, there is one that is truly unique.  It is the Bible.  Consider the following:
1.  The Bible is the world’s best-selling book of all time and best-selling book of the year (every year!)  Fifty Bibles are sold every minute.
2.  The Bible was written over a period of 1,500 years by more than 40 individuals from many backgrounds (prophets, fishermen, kings, philosophers, scholars, poets, shepherds, herdsmen, etc.) who lived in 10 different countries on 3 different continents (Asia, Europe, Africa) writing in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).  They wrote about God’s interaction with 2,930 characters, from more than 1,550 different places.  Yet, every book in the Bible focuses on one theme: the Scheme of Redemption.
3.  Worldwide, there are 80,000+ versions of the Bible with full Bibles in 530+ languages and portions of the Bible in about 2,900 languages.  A full Bible translation in a person’s native/heart language is available for 70% of the world’s population.  In whole or in part, the Bible is accessible to 98% of the world’s population in a language in which they are fluent.  The Bible is the most translated book in the history of the world!
4.  After three years of constant printing, the 1454 Gutenberg Bible (Latin language) was the first book to be printed on a movable metal type printing press (China invented woodblock printed books during the Tang Dynasty).  Johannes Gutenberg, after whom the Bible was named, printed about 180 copies without any printing errors (major parts of 48 copies exist today).
5.  There are about 900 printed English versions of the Bible (complete or incomplete translations and paraphrases).  The first hand-written English manuscripts were written by John Wycliffe who translated from the Latin Vulgate in 1384 A.D.  In 1525-1526, William Tyndale’s New Testament became the first printed English edition of the Scriptures translated from the Greek.
6.  The King James Version (1611 A.D.) is the most popular English translation in the world.
7.  Between 1815 and 1975 an estimated 2.5 billion Bibles were distributed with more than 100 million new Bibles printed every year since, making a staggering total of 7.5 billion in print.
8.  The most shoplifted book is the Bible!  Thousands of Bibles are stolen from hotels every year.  The Gideons, founded in 1899, distribute about one million Bibles, free of charge, every week (about two copies every second).  By 2015, the Gideons will have placed 2 billion Bibles and New Testaments in schools, hotels, prisons, hospitals and among the military.
9.  The use of online Bibles continues to increase.  In 2014, Bible Gateway had 1.5 billion page views by more than 150 million unique visitors.  The YouVersion Bible App offers more than 1,000 translations of the Bible and has been downloaded more than 150 million times.  The App offers the Bible in full or in part in more than 1600 languages.
10.  The largest Bible factory is located in China.  The Amity Bible Printing Company in Nanjing, China has produced millions of Bibles while the Bible is not allowed to be freely distributed in China.
11.  It takes 70 hours to read the whole Bible aloud at “pulpit rate.”  Reading the Bible silently with an average reading speed of 250-300 words a minute takes 54 hours.  People who read 800 words per minute can read the Bible in a day.  If you’re short on time, read Philemon, it only takes a minute!
(All of the facts above were taken from:  Twenty Interesting Facts About the Bible, Dr. Lawson Murray, May 5, 2015).

Was Jesus Married?

apologetics, Bible, faith No Comments

A recent internet article titled, “Nine Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jesus” affirmed the notion that Jesus was married.  The article referenced an ancient papyrus scrap found in 2014 that referred to the wife of Jesus.  We will examine the evidence for this papyrus fragment
An article published in Biblical Archeology Review (BAR-May/June, 2015) by Harold Shank examined the evidence for the papyrus fragment that stated that Jesus had a wife.  Here are some of the findings and facts:
1. Karen King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School (she currently holds the oldest endowed academic chair in the United States) drafted a lengthy manuscript on the little papyrus fragment, the size of a business card with eight incomplete lines on one side and six illegible lines on the reverse.  This fragment is referred to as”The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” and was given to King anonymously.  It is the only text from antiquity in which it is stated that Jesus has a wife.
2.  King was careful to say that the fragment supplied no reliable historical evidence that Jesus was married, but that some Christians depicted him as married.  King believed the fragment was dated in the fourth century, but was of a composition earlier in the second century.  However, the fragment, dated by Carbon-14 methods, was found to be an eighth century document.
3.  Since the fragment was received by King from an anonymous donor, there is no provenance (historical background) for it.
4.  At first, King submitted her analysis of the fragment to the Harvard Theological Review for publication.  It was accepted and scheduled for publication in January, 2013.  But, it was not published then.  Information about the fragment was also posted online where other Coptic (a form of late Egyptian) scholars could evaluate it.
5.  Leo Dupuydt, Copitc scholar at Brown University, examined it and declared it to be a forgery.  He said, “It stinks.”
6.  Francis Watson at the University of Durham also declared the fragment a forgery.  Other scholars seemed to think it was authentic.
7.  The Harvard Theological Review decided not to publish King’s analysis of the fragment.
8.  After more tests and other scholars weighing in on the controversy, HTR decided to go ahead and publish King’s findings in April, 2014.
9.  The Smithsonian Institution in Washington made a television program about “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” before January, 2013, but after HTR decided not to publish the findings from King, they decided not to air the program.  When HTR published King’s analysis of the fragment, the Smithsonian aired the television program.
10.  Within days of the publication of the new evidence and analysis in HTR, a bombshell dropped on the scholarly world.
11.  The anonymous donor of the fragment had given King another slightly larger fragment from the Gnostic Gospel of John.  It was also in Coptic as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment.
12.  Another scholar, Christian Askeland, an American Coptic scholar associated with Indiana Weslyan University, and who had recently completed a Ph. D. on the Gnostic Gospel of John knew of another Gospel of John fragment in Coptic called Codex Qau.  He compared it to the fragment of the Coptic Gospel of John that had been given to King.
13.  Askeland found that the text of the small fragment of CGJ replicated every other line from a leaf of the Codex Qau (discovered in 1923 and known to be authentic).  CGJ was a forgery of Codex Qau.
14.  The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” fragment was written in the same hand and with the same writing instrument as the Coptic Gospel of John (CGJ) which was given anonymously to King.  The conclusion:  if one is a forgery, so is the other.
15.  The overall conclusion:  the fragment, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is probably a forgery and since it is the only text from antiquity that states that Jesus’ had a wife, that notion is completely false.
16.  Karen King acknowledges that this evidence is weighty.
Many have attempted to prove that the Scriptures are unreliable.  None of the Gospels indicate that Jesus was married.  Here are a few facts about the reliability of the Scriptures.
1.  Fact:  archaeology has yielded more than 25,000 finds that either directly or indirectly relate to Scripture.
2.  Fact:  The historical existence of some 30 individuals named in the New Testament has been proven.  Jesus is one of those historical individuals.
3.  Fact:  The historical evidence of nearly 60 individuals from the Old Testament has been proven.  BAR lists 52 of these individuals.
4.  Fact:  Only a fraction of possible biblical sights have been excavated in the Holy Land.  There is much more information to be discovered.  (God-Breathed, Josh McDowell, pp. 158-159).

Camels and the Veracity of the Bible

apologetics, Bible, camels No Comments

A recent article appeared in the National Geographic magazine claiming that there were no domesticated camels at the time of the biblical patriarchs (Abraham, Job), therefore, the Bible has to be in error.
John Noble Wlford calls the mention of camels in Abraham’s day (Gen. 12:16) an anachronism. An anachronism is a statement that represents a person, event, or thing in a historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed. It is a chronological inconsistency. Wilford writing in the New York Times, states, “These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history” (, 2/13/2014). Research was published recently by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, archeologists from Tel Aviv University in Israel based on radioactive-carbon dating techniques which they claim shows that camels were not domesticated until hundreds of years after the events documented in the book of Genesis. The authors suggest the domestication of camels in the eastern Mediterranean until 1000 B.C. ( article by Mike Krumboltz, 2/13/2014).
Archeologits have known for quite some time that camels were domesticated in China/Mongolia around 3500 B.C. and that they were domesticated in the Middle East somewhere around 2500 to 3000 B.C. (see the chart on domestication provided at There are two references that should be consulted on this matter that are very helpful to the Bible student.
The first is The New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas, organizing editor (1962) p. 181-183. The article on camels was written by K. A. Kitchen. Kitchen cites the archeological evidence for the domestication of camels in the partricarchal period. First and foremost, he mentions a reference to the domestication of the camel in a cuneiform tablet from Alalah in North Syria (18th century BC) as GAM.MAL; see Wiseman, JCS XIII, 1959, p. 29 and Goetze, ibid., p. 37…). Next, he mentions the kneeling camel-figure from Byblos of similar date, Montet, Byblos et l”Egypte, 1928, p. 91 and plate 53, No. 179. A camel’s jaw was found in a Middle Bronze Age tomb at Tell el-Fara’ by Nablus (c. 1900-1550 B.C.), de Vaux, op.cit., p. 9, note 8. In the Etyptian Fayum province was found a camel-skull dated to the “Pottery A” state, i. e. within the period c. 2000-1400 BC, the period from the patriarchs to Moses (see O. H. Little, Bulletin de l’Institut d’Egypte, XVIII, 1935-6, p. 215). From the Memphis region comes a figure of a camel with two waterjars (clear evidence of its domestication in Egypt) datable by associated archaeological material to about the 13th century BC, Petrie, Gizeh and Rifeh, 1907, p. 23 and plate 27.
A second resource is Approaches to faunal Analysis in the Middle East, edited by Richard H. Meadow and Melinda A. Zeder (Peabody Museum Bulletin 2) 1978, pp. 93-103. The article is titled, “The Camel: Its Distribution and State of Domestication in the Middle East During the Third Millennium B.C. in Light of the finds from Shahr-i Sokhta, pp. 93-103. (Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, New Haven, CT). The Peabody Museum is associated with Harvard University. The authors date the domestication of the camel before 2500 BC.
These resources help to establish the veracity of the Scriptures. Camels are mentioned in Gen. 12:16 and Job 1:3. The time of Abraham and Job is given as around 2100 to 2200 BC. The archeological evidence proves the truthfulness of the statements in God’s Word. Let God be true and every man a liar! (Rom. 3:4).

50 Real People in the Bible

Bible, Bible history, Truth No Comments

In the March/April issue of Biblical Archeology Review, there was an article titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. A feature of BAR is “how many.” How many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically? The answer is 50!
Kings of Judah confirmed through archeology include: David, Hezekiah, Uzziah, Ahaz, Manasseh and Jehoiachin. Kings of Israel that have been confirmed through archeology are: Ahab, who angrily called the prophet Elijah “Thou troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17), Omri, Jehu, Joash (short for Jehoash), Jeroboam II, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea. That’s a total of fourteen kings!
Foreign kings are also mentioned, including: Sennacherib (Assyrian ruler who shut up king Hezekiah “like a bird in a cage” mentioned on Sennacherib’s prism), Tiglath-pilesar III, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II and Esarhaddon, all Assyrian kings mentioned in the Bible. Adrammelech, the son and assassin of Sennacherib has also been confirmed.
Babylonian monarchs mentioned in the Bible include: Nebuchadnessar (destroyed Solomn’s Temple in 586 B.C. and took the Jews to Babylon for 70 years captivity), Merodach-baladan II, Evil-merodach and Belshazzar. Belshazzar is featured in the book of Daniel and Daniel read the mysterious handwriting on the wall to him.
Persians kings mentioned in the Bible and corroborated by archeology include: Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great who issued the decree allowing the Jews to return to Palestine (written on the Cyrus Cylinder), Darius I, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I and Darius II. Xerxes plays a prominent role in the Book of Esther where he is called Ahasuerus. Xerxes is Greek and Ahasuerus is Hebrew.
Egyptian rulers include: Shishak, So, Tirhakah, Necho II and Hophra.
Mesha from Moab is mentioned in 2 Kings 3:4-27.
Rules in Damascus include: Headadezer, Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer, Hazael, Beh-hadad, son of Hazael and Rezin.
In the Southern Kingdom, there were royal officers and priests that have been confirmed through archeology. These include: Hilkiah (priest during Josiah’s reign), Shaphan (scribe during Josiah’s reign), Azariah (high priest during Josiah’s reign), Gemariah (official during Jehoiakim’s reign), Shelemiah, (father of Jehucal the royal official-Jeremiah 37:3), Jehucal or Jucal, (official during Zedekiah’s reign), Pashhur, (father of Gedaliah the royal official), and Gedaliah, (official during Zedekiah’s reign).
This completes the list of 50. The list shows that Bible history is real/authentic. The list helps to verify the truthfulness of the Bible. Contrast this information about the Bible with the Book of Mormon which is not verfied by a single historical fact and you can see that the Bible is the more reliable and trustworthy document.

The Word of God and Truth

Bible, God's Word, Truth No Comments

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).  This is one of the most profound questions ever uttered by man.  The answer to this question is vitally important.  Jesus makes it clear that the Word of God is truth (John 17:17).  He affirmed that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  He promised that the Spirit of Truth would guide the apostles into “all truth” (John 16:13-15).  The words of Jesus Christ and the apostles constitute truth.  These words are found in Scripture (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Consider the following aspects of truth.

The Bible is completely true.  All of its affirmations and denials conform to reality (this is the correspondence theory of truth).  Truth conforms to reality as God defines reality.  We do not create our own reality.  If we created our own reality, then truth would be subjective rather than objective.  We do not create our own truth.  God’s Word (objective reality) is truth!  When you destroy the foundation of truth–the Word of God–you eliminate God’s will from consideration in the everyday events of life.  This means that man is free to pursue the lusts of the flesh without restraint.  The result–anything goes!  Lies multiply when truth is suppressed or rejected.  When God speaks, His word is truth.  It matters not whether that reality is historical, factual, or spiritual.

The Word of God is the result of inspiration and revelation.  The Holy Spirit superintended the revelation of God’s will to holy men of God (apostles and prophets).  “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretaion.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:20-21).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Tim. 3:16).  “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All  things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-15).   The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16) is the Word of God (I Pet. 1:25).  In God’s Word, we have an objective reality, an eternal reality, and an authoritative reality.

Truth and inerrancy are synonymous.  The statements of scripture are always without error.  Skeptics look for errors in the Bible in vain. Error stands in opposition to truth.  The concept of inerrancy must be qualified.  Consider the following areas of study.
1.  Modern technical precision.  The Bible records numbers–size of a crowd, or the size of an army, or the number of years between one event and another–by rounding them.  The rounding of numbers does not constitute errors of facts.
2.  Irregularities of grammar or spelling.  For example, New Testament authors sometimes give a different spelling to Old Testament names.  These are not errors.
3.  Observational descriptions of nature.  The Bible speaks of the sun rising or the sun setting.  These are descriptions as they appear to the observer on earth.  They are not errors.
4.  Reporting falsehoods.  The Bible records the lies of Satan and the fradulent teachings of false prophets.  But, it reports them as lies and not the truth.
5.  The use of hyperbole.  Hyperbole is a figure of speech where exaggeration is used to make a point.  When the Bible says that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven–it does not mean every single person, but that the preaching of the gospel was pervasive in the world (Col. 1:23).
6.  The use of free citations.  The New Testament writers frequently quote from the Old Testament.  About 10% of the New Testament is made up of Old Testament quotations or allusions.  But, the New Testament writers adapt many of these Old Testament quotations to their intended purpose.  These are not mistakes or errors.
7.  Arrangement of material.  Sometimes chronological arrangment of material is used by a writer and sometimes it is not.  The author may have a different purpose and so arrange material to fit that purpose.  However, these are not errors.

The Bible is not full of contradictions.  Alleged contradictions in the Bible can be answered by showing that two statements, that seem to be incongruous, can be harmonized.  The law of contradiction is as Aristotle noted, “that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect.”   “In other words, if the same thing is said to be and not be (1) for the same person, place, or thing. (2) at the same time, and (3) in the same sense (respect), then a genuine contradicton exists” (Eric Lyons, Dealing Fairly With Alleged Bible Contradictons Part II, Reason and Revelation, Nov. 2013, p. 122).  The Bible has been falsely charged with contradictions.  If the Bible contradicted itself, then it would not be true.  If it is not true, then it is not believable.

The Holy Spirit affirms, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2, see also Heb. 6:18).  God’s Word reflects His truthfulness.  The Word of God reflects the very nature of God Himself!  The Word of God does not lie.  But, any doctrine that contradicts the plain teaching of God’s Word is a lie.  Thus, we have a truth test and can try the spirits to see if they are of God (I John 4:1 and II John 4).  Why not put your own beliefs to the test of truth and see if they endure.

« Previous Entries