Saturday, December 13, 2014

No Room for Him

Each time I read the Christmas story, I marvel that the Son of God, the promised Messiah, left His throne in Heaven and came to us in human flesh (John 1:14) to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Yet the birth of Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), happened in the most lowly of circumstances. He was not born in the comforts of a royal palace, but in a cold and drafty stable, among the odors of barnyard animals, laid in the scratchy hay of a feeding trough (Luke 2:7).

Why? Because there was no room for Him and His parents in the inn (Luke 2:7). Each time I read that, I cringe to think what it means to have no room for the Saviour. What blessings did the innkeeper miss because he did not joyfully relinquish his best room to the Holy Child? What blessings did God’s chosen people miss because they did not recognize or receive Christ, their Deliverer? (John 1:11-12; 5:43)

What blessings will our nation lose because we no longer have room for Him in our schools, our courtrooms, and our public squares? Even those churches will be held accountable that no longer have room for Him and His Word. Instead, they are devoted to preaching a prosperity or social gospel, to false doctrine (Matthew 7:15; Ephesians 4:14; 2 Peter 2:1), to entertainment, to ostentation, and to social networking, all in the name of building their numbers while falling away from the One Sure Foundation (Luke 6:48-49; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11).

What blessings did I miss in those many long years before I was born again (John 3:3-8) by turning away from my sins and believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven? (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). Before I was saved, my life was strangely empty, yet so filled with pursuing wealth, status, and other worldly treasure that I had no room for Him. What blessings am I missing now when worldly distractions (Hebrews 12:1) take up valuable space in my heart -- space that should be completely dedicated to Him?

So many today are like the fool whose chief concern is that he has no room to store his great accumulation of stuff, and decides to build a bigger storehouse for it all, failing to realize that he can’t take it with him (Luke 12:15-21). When death comes knocking, he who has the most toys does not win, but only he who has Christ living in his heart (2 Corinthians 1:22). All others will slip into eternity only to spend it in hell (Luke 16:22-26), forever separated from the God Who would have saved them had they found room for Him (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).

But yesterday, as I reread that there was no room for Jesus in the inn, I realized something new to me -- that was a good thing! With God, there are no accidents and no surprises, for He works all circumstances together for the good of those who love Him, to His glory (Romans 8:28). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-6) to fulfill the prophecies that the Christ, the Deliverer and Ruler of Israel, would be born there (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4-6).

The town was packed out because Caesar commanded that all who hailed from there should return to be taxed (Luke 2:1-5). But had God the Father wanted His Son to be born in the best room Bethlehem had to offer, surely that would have happened, despite the overwhelming crowds and the modest means of His earthly parents (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 19:26).

But how would that have changed the course of history? Had Jesus been born in the privacy of a secluded, comfortable room tucked away in an inn, how would the shepherds have worshipped Him?

In those days, shepherds were on the lowest rung of society – outcasts and vagabonds who traveled about with their sheep, and not above stealing one another’s animals, food or possessions if they could get away with it. That was one reason why they had to keep watch over their flocks by night (Luke 2:8) Like all of us, they were sinners (Romans 3:23), but unlike many, they admitted their sins and longed for the change of heart only a Saviour can bring.

No wonder they were terrified when the angel of the Lord appeared to them (Luke 2:9). Yet the angel came not to condemn them, but to bring them the great news that their Saviour was born! (Luke 2:10-11) How like Jesus, Who came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), to send His first birth announcement to lowly sinners who knew they needed Him!

Immediately the shepherds made peace with one another and agreed to leave everything behind and to rush off to worship the Son of God (Luke 2:15-16). The angel had told them they would recognize their Lord, for He would be wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger (Luke 2:12).

True, the angel could have said, “He’s at the inn on Main Street, second floor, first door on the left.” But how would even one shepherd have made it past the innkeeper, let alone the whole throng of shepherds visited by the multitude of the angelic host? Even if they had, how would they all have fit in a small room?

No, it took an open, vast, unguarded space for the King of glory to be adored by all those who wanted to fall down before Him. We tend to think of the stable as a small but cozy wooden enclosure, but it most likely would have been built into a cave on the side of a hill. The mouth of the cave would have been open, allowing the hillside and adjoining fields to be filled with hordes of shepherds worshipping Him.

Not only were the shepherds the first souls to be born again, but they were the first missionaries! After they witnessed the Child with their own eyes and found room for Him in their hearts, they told everyone who would listen what the angel had told them, that Jesus was their Saviour, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11,17)

As a result, many considered this testimony and no doubt were born again themselves (v. 18). The shepherds' testimony was a confirmation to Mary (v. 19), strengthening her for the difficult journey she faced mothering the Son of God, and their praise and faithfulness brought glory to God (v. 20).

So, had there been room for Jesus and His earthly parents in the inn, many would not have known of Him at that time, because there would have been no room for the shepherds to worship Him!

Later, Jesus continued to have the problem of “no room,” because news of His teachings and miracles caused great throngs of people to crowd around Him (Matthew 5:1; 13:2; 14:14-21; 21:9). Often, there was “no room” for those desperate for His healing word or touch, yet that often emboldened those in need.

The woman with the issue of blood fought her way through the crowds, risking being condemned as unclean, just to touch the hem of His garment (Luke 8:43-48). The friends of the man with palsy cut a hole through the roof of the house where Jesus was, having no doubt that He would help their sick friend (Mark 2:1-12). In every case, Jesus rewarded the faith of those who would not accept “no room” as their final answer.

God is not stingy in doling out blessings. Instead, He loves to shower blessings on His children, answering our prayers exceeding abundantly beyond what we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20; 1 Timothy 1:14). If we seek Him first, He heaps good things on us until we have no room to store them up inside, and they overflow to all those blessed to be in our path (Luke 6:38; 12:29-32).

May His Living Water flow through us like a river nourishing the parched soil around us! May His Light shine through us so that it cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:15), but illuminates the lives of all we meet! May we give Him all the room in our heart, so that we have no room for worldly cares or sorrows, and not enough room to contain all the joy and peace He gives us!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
children's ministry blogs

Top 1000
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Why Do Men “Translate” God’s Word?

Photo by John Snyder 2008

If God’s Word is forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89), what right does man have to change it? Obviously, when missionaries visit a remote tribe where there is no Scripture yet translated into the native language, this is an essential goal. The Holy Spirit will ensure that His Word is accurately translated into new languages, provided the translators pray for wisdom and have their hearts right with God (Matthew 5:18).

But the numerous English language “translations” of the Bible, with new versions coming out faster than the older ones enter the public domain, are actually revisions of God’s Word.

If we believe that the King James Bible (KJB) is the inerrant, unchanging Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), how can subsequent versions, with their many changes and omissions, also be God’s Word? The KJB was first distributed in 1611 as the first complete English language Bible and remained unchallenged for nearly 300 years. Did God ensure that the KJB translators got it right in the first place, or did He allow an incorrect version of His Word to circulate for nearly three centuries?

The new versions delete verses altogether; they delete key portions of other verses; and they frequently omit the Name of Jesus, Christ and Jesus Christ. This is shocking, because God's Word tells us that there is no other Name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). The English Standard Version (ESV), for example, removes the precious name of Jesus 18 times, Jesus Christ 51 times, Christ 39 times, the Lord 66 times, and God 38 times!

These omissions make it easier for those of other religions to apply the altered verses to their personal notion of god. In 1 Timothy 3:16, for example,  the KJV states “ And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

The ESV changes the word “God” to the word “he,” totally destroying the mystery of incarnation, as every person on earth is manifest in the flesh! According to the ESV, therefore, each of us can be a god!

The list of heretical edits goes on and on, such as denying the incarnation altogether in 1 John 4:3. The KJV states: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God…, whereas the ESV changes this to: and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

Even the Mormons and Muslims “confess Jesus,” meaning that they believe that such a person walked the earth. But their “Jesus” is altogether different from what the KJB teaches. Jesus Christ of the Bible is fully God; part of the Trinity; eternally Self-existent; and the only Redeemer; saving man from his sins by taking on human flesh to be the perfect Sacrifice. The Mormons believe that Jesus was a created being and brother of Lucifer; and the Muslims believe he was a human prophet eclipsed by Mohammed.

Philippians 2:6-7 in the ESV is even worse. The KJB describes Jesus as being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, meaning that Jesus is God the Son and therefore rightfully is equal in power and glory to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The ESV distorts this verse completely to: though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. In other words, Jesus could not possibly aspire or claim to be equal with God!

The new versions omit many phrases emphasizing Jesus' divinity and miracles, and references to the saving and cleansing power of His blood shed for us (e.g., Romans 3:25), to wash away our sins. They omit many references to hell, Satan and demons (the ESV removes “hell” 40 times and “devil” or “devils” 83 times). They often lack clarity and specificity.

For example, in Isaiah 14, which is a key passage explaining how the created angel Lucifer fell from heaven due to his sin of pride and rebellion, thus becoming Satan, many newer versions substitute "morning star" or “day star” for "Lucifer."  Yet Day or Morning Star is one of the names for Jesus Christ Himself (1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16), so the casual reader might think that it was Jesus Who sinned and became the devil!

By key omissions, even the “Lord’s Prayer,” or model prayer (Luke 11:2-4) is transformed in the ESV to an ambiguous prayer that could be referring to Satan rather than God the Father, for the father in this prayer is not in heaven and is not asked to deliver us from evil.

Another example is the substitution of "young girl" for "virgin" in reference to the virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus, God in the flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:27-35). Clearly there is nothing miraculous or even extraordinary about a young girl getting pregnant!

A key omission in the ESV that undermines the very importance of God’s Word itself is Luke 4:4. The ESV has Jesus telling the devil merely, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” Yet in the KJB, Jesus clearly tells Satan “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ The secular world has adopted "not living by bread alone" to justify their desire for a lavish lifestyle beyond basic needs, accompanied by drinking, sexual immorality, wealth and power. How far removed is that concept from God's true and complete Word!

Many changes are extremely subtle yet insidious. By changing the grammatical form of the verb “saved,” to “being saved,” for example, the ESV implies that salvation is an ongoing process (Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 1:18), presumably taking place by our own works, rather than the instantaneous, completed, once-and-for-all salvation that occurs by God’s grace through our faith at the moment we are born again (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:3-8).

Many of the newer versions attempt to be gender-neutral, substituting words such as "human" for "man." This is particularly dangerous when referring to Jesus Christ, Who came in the flesh as a man, equally Son of God and Son of Man, not as a sexually ambiguous "human" (Philippians 2:8).

You may be wondering why the other English versions of the Bible came into being. Some say it is because the KJB is in the public domain, meaning that it cannot be copyrighted and that publishers cannot make as much money selling it as they can make by selling the newer versions.

Others suggest that each new revision further attempts to undermine the divinity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, and His perfect sacrifice for our sins. By changing, adding or omitting words or even entire verses, the new versions blur the distinctions between Christianity and other religions. 

This casts doubt that accepting Jesus as your Savior is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6), as is so clear in the KJB, and paves the way for a new global religion (Revelation 13:4). The KJB warns that as the world approaches the End Times, false prophets will attempt to distort God's Word and deceive the people (Matthew 24:11).

God rewards those who diligently seek Him through prayer (James 5:16), by keeping His commandments (John 14:15,21), and especially by reading His Word (Psalm 119:105). Anyone can be saved and accept Jesus as their Savior by placing their faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). Then the Holy Spirit enters every believer’s heart (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13) and will teach us to understand God's Word, if we pray to Him for wisdom and enlightenment (James 1:5) and spend quality time with the Word each day (2 Timothy 2:15).

Once you start a regular Bible reading plan, you'll quickly get used to the "thee's" and "thou's" that may seem unnatural at first. Like reading Shakespeare, it's definitely worth the effort!  You may find it helpful to use a Bible dictionary to explain some of the words that are not commonly used today, because the richness of meaning these words convey is lost in the modern versions.

The KJV Bible is the inspired, preserved, infallible, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). It contains no mistakes or contradictions, and it reveals scientific truths that could not have been written over 1,000 years ago unless it was inspired by God Himself.

Just as God does not change, and Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), so God's Word will not change throughout eternity (Luke 21:33). The KJV Bible provides daily bread for our Christian walk (Matthew 4:4). So come to God's table today!  

© 2014 Laurie Collett
children's ministry blogs
Top 1000

Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop