The Importance and Essence of Scripture
Jesus Christ did not quote from the Scriptures because Moses and the prophets wrote them, or because they were revered by the Jews, or because they were the foundation of Judaism, or because men said they were holy, or because they were written in formal or impressive, religious language, or because they came in the form of a specially bound and crafted book, or for many other reasons. He quoted from the Scriptures because He knew the intrinsic Godly, spiritual Truth of them. They did not just make sense or accurately reflect preferred religious doctrine; they expressed infallible Truth.
Truth does not need to be expressed in one certain way to be infallible. Indeed, Truth is everywhere, in all of God’s creation, and can never be contained in its entirety in any one thing, not even a Bible. That is the very glory and power of Truth, which God is. As Jesus said:
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6 MKJV).
Truth is ever present and ever vindicated in its own right, by its very nature, even by its contrasting circumstances. It can be recognized or expressed by anyone knowing the Truth, by virtue of what it is, whether by a saint, prophet, Jew, Gentile, child, man, or woman. It can be and is expressed by any thing, like a star, sparrow, lily or blade of grass. God’s natural and spiritual laws constantly declare His Truth, or Him, and even those He alters and uses to express Him, His mind, and His will in any way He chooses, as, for examples, in the cases of Balaam’s ass and the ravens that fed Elijah. God reigns Supreme over all. Not only is He the Designer and Engineer, He is the Conductor of all things at all times, including the times. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and Finisher of our faith, all glory and praise to Him! As it is written:
“All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3 MKJV).
And: “For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17 MKJV).
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
With these things in mind, we want to let you, the readers, know how we use various translations or related materials. We have been criticized for not using the KJV; we have been criticized for using it; we have been criticized for not solely using other versions; we have been criticized for using Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, and for using other translations and paraphrases. However, we do not use the Scriptures by the letter, though the letter must express the Truth or we would readily choose not to use it. If the Truth is not expressed acceptably in translation, transliteration, paraphrase, or any other expression, we reject it, whether it be the King James Version, the MKJV (which we often use), NIV, BBE, GW, HNV, Good News, Taylor’s Living Bible, Peterson’s The Message, or any other writing purported to be the Bible or a translation of Holy Scripture (“Holy” not because of the letter but because of the Truth contained therein, and therefore “set apart” from the error of man and of the world).
No Man Is Good and Faith in God Alone Is the Key
We should know that man corrupts anything he touches, the Bible included, though even corrupt man is a testimony to the Truth (Romans 3:5). Contrary to the presumptions of some, we do not know of one perfect translation that is alone designated by God as the Word of God. The key then is knowing the Truth. We can only know the Truth when we know Jesus Christ, personally, having His Spirit. Our trust must be in Him, not in man. It must be in His Truth and not in man’s translation, opinion, or expression of what is His Truth, which, in the final analysis, is what all translations are. There is no other way. Only by His Spirit can we judge all things, whether they be true or not:
1 Corinthians 2:9-16 MKJV
(9) But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,” nor has it entered into the heart of man, “the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
(10) But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.
(11) For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit of man within him? So also no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
(12) But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.
(13) These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(14) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(15) But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.
(16) For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
I do not use the MKJV (from which I just quoted) as the authority. I do know that the Truth is accurately expressed in these particular passages, not because it is the MKJV, or because the apostle Paul is purported to have written these words, but because I know God through Jesus Christ, and His Spirit bears witness with my spirit that what is said therein is Truth.
If we worship God in spirit and in truth, we are safe and secure; if we have any other god before us, our eye is not single, the darkness we think to be light is great; we do not discern the Truth, and we will contradict ourselves, all the while deceiving ourselves into thinking we are worshipping God. This deception becomes particularly powerful when we worship those things we relate to God, like the Bible (or some version of it), or “church,” or prayer, or a minister, or “Christian” faith or testimony. God’s Law holds true. He is a jealous God and cannot countenance other gods. There are consequences, as sure as the sun rises and sets each day.
Truth Is Truth, No Matter the Vehicle
In using translations and paraphrases in our letters and writings, we often compare many and choose from them the ones that express most accurately that which we know to be the Truth. We have found that, at times, the BBE is better than the KJV, or the KJV is better than Peterson’s, or Peterson’s is better than the KJV, and the reverse can also be true in others.
So we either worship a god with its misleading blemishes or worship the Truth anywhere we find it.
We judge all things, not by a translation or by the letter, but as given us by the Spirit of God. This is not the case with those who trust in the letter. Those trusting in the letter insist upon their own understanding and preferred form of the letter. To them, nothing is pure. They are idolaters, serving themselves and adding sin to sin in serving themselves in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We Come To Restore All Things
The serpent did not question what God said but why He said it. He defiled that which was good and True. “Good” words became “bad” words, not because of what they were but because of how they were interpreted, nor because of what they are so much as why or how they are used.
As the serpent came, took that which was God’s, and defiled it, thus bringing mankind, His creation, to the grave, so we, by His Resurrection power now come and wrest from the serpent’s hand that which belongs to God, and we cleanse and restore it entirely. We will let the enemy have nothing because nothing is rightly his. He is a liar, thief and murderer. He has deceived all those who have believed him and who have allowed him to steal and to destroy.
Accuse us not of what we use or do not use, but consider why and how we use it. Do not tell me to forsake the use of a hammer, simply because a thief once stole it, put his trademark on it, and used it to build a brothel. I will take that hammer away from him, return it to God, Whose I am, and use it to build a mansion for the worthy. If you accuse me of evil simply because I use the hammer, then you are not worthy, and the mansion I build is not for you. By letting the enemy keep the hammer, you build his brothel with him.
“To the pure all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15 MKJV).
Praise God for the Truth
I will now conclude with the Word of God, not because it purports to be the Bible, not because Peterson wrote it in contemporary language, not because it is a “perfect” word-for-word translation (there is no such creature), not because I reverence the translation or paraphrase as the pure Word of God, but because it is true and well and accurately spoken. There are those who will consider the following usage anathema:
“I’m convinced–Jesus convinced me!–that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it” (Romans 14:14 MSG).
There are some blatant additions and corruptions in the Book of Matthew. Why should anyone be surprised that the enemy sows tares in the good field, an illustration given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ? We need to recognize what is not of God and not let it interfere with what is.
Why does the Gospel of Luke report a repentant thief on the cross with Jesus, when Matthew and Mark report both thieves railing on the Lord? The answer is simple: The Book of Luke has suffered the machinations of men who would subtly persuade their fellows to believe fables that deceive and enslave.
If Satan can sow tares among the children of God in order to sift them, why not a false story in the Word of God to do the same? Here is such a story, identified for what is by its nature and the fruit it produces.
Men have corrupted John’s writings in two major incidents. Though a small amount in the overall text, it only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump. Those who put their trust in the Lord, however, obeying Him and His commandments, will be kept in the truth.
Are transliterations wrong? Did Peterson compose The Message with a New Age agenda, purposely perverting the Scriptures to support paganism? What does God think and what does He reveal to us through the mind of Christ? How are we, in His sight, to view and use the Bible? These important matters are discussed in these letters, along with addressing the particular spirits and attitudes of our correspondents. It is ever about our attitude and brokenness towards the Lord; it is not about having a perfect Bible or even perfect understanding of it:
“What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others” (1 Corinthians 13:2 CEV).
Addressing idolatry of the KJV:
There are those who believe only in the King James Version of the Bible. They declare that all other versions are corrupt or fall short in some way. Many of these declare that the KJV is perfect to the letter, without error. Such a notion is the result of nothing more than religiosity, ignorance, and pride. This writing will show that those who so revere the KJV as being the perfect Word of God are in idolatry of the Bible, offending in the Second Commandment, and therefore, as James declares, all the Commandments.
It is a strange thing, but common and true, that many worship the Bible rather than its Author. Men have chosen to adore the literal Word of God instead of the One of Whom it is recorded in the Gospel of John that He is the Word (God) made flesh. “If the Bible is the Word, and Jesus is the Word, then the Bible is Jesus,” goes the logic. The King James translation happens to have the most obsessive following of this sort. In this writing we answer the spurious arguments of one given over to this form of idolatry.
It is not an easy or light thing to question an established and famous (albeit highly controversial) portion of the revered Gospels. Nevertheless, if we believe it does not belong in the Bible, it is our responsibility before God to speak up. The matter should be addressed by those who know better, for all our sakes.
Has anyone heard or known of a Biblical parable, particularly in the Gospels, which has created even nearly as much controversy and confusion as has this one of Lazarus and the rich man? There is good reason for it. The parable is not of God, but of clever, mischievous men. Herein we present the interpretation of yet another writer, who is among millions or perhaps billions of people taken in by the allegation that it is true and, moreover, that Jesus Christ Himself authored it. We identify some of the contradictions L. Ray Smith presents in his interpretation and defense of the story and address them.