There have been three or four headlines that have caught my attention from across the world over the past few weeks… In amongst all the other “big” stories vying for our attention, was the amazing announcement from the Wycliffe Bible Translators that the Bible had been translated into it’s 700th language!
That’s incredible! That means that an estimated 5.7billion people all over the world all now have access to God’s word in their own language! And it means that we take another step forward towards Jesus’ call:
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
Alongside that amazing milestone, was the equally amazing news was that one of the newest translations of the scriptures was a full version being released for deaf people for the very first time! A group of deaf Bible translators have been working for the past 36 years(!) to make a version available in American Sign Language. What a marathon of a challenge, but what a huge gift to the world!
Of course, though the Word of God is more accessible to more peoples now than ever, that sadly doesn’t make it welcome everywhere.
Another news story that you probably will have missed in the national press is that of a governmental agency in China, who (according to UCAN) have released a textbook to be used in all state run schools that reinterpret (or misinterpret) the Bible. For example, where Jesus proclaims forgiveness for the woman caught in adultery in John 8 – their version has Jesus stoning the woman to death, and puts the words: “I, too, am a sinner!” into Jesus’ mouth.
Of course, Jesus neither did nor said any such thing – and this latest attempt to discredit the character of Jesus and distort His message should wake us up to the very serious spiritual battle that rages all around us, all of the time.
The Bible tells us there have always been those who have “distorted” the truth (Acts 20.30, 2 Co 4.2, 2 Peter 3.16), and isn’t joking when it says:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 TIMOTHY 4.2-5
And it’s not like Jesus’ sinless perfection is a minor detail in the story – if Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was not perfect, it would not have covered our sin – and the righteousness (“rightness before God”) we receive through Him would be forever tainted and tarnished! The consequences are unimaginable.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 PETER 1.18-19
The last headline that caught my attention was, in some ways, just as alarming. In a poll carried out back in January by the Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University, 52% of American Evangelicals claimed not to believe in “absolute moral truth.” That is: an “absolute moral truth that applies to everyone, all the time.”
The influence of moral relativism (i.e. that what be wrong for one person is right for another”) has clearly had a deep impact on those of us living in the Western culture. Undoubtedly linked to that were the more alarming results. Of the 2,000 evangelical Christians surveyed:
- 43 percent believe Jesus sinned.
- 43 percent do not believe that there is a common, God-given purpose to humanity.
- 42 percent seek moral guidance primarily from sources other than the Bible.
It strikes me that for those of us who live in the West being able to buy and own a Bible without legal consequences, and reading and believing it are two very different things.
When Jesus faced off against the enemy in the wilderness (as I wrote about on Monday) He was ready (even after a lonely 40 day fast in the wilderness) to fight off deception with the Truth. And this was so much more than an exchanging of “proof texts”, Jesus’ grasp of the Truth is obvious here.
If the Word of God is our weapon against the devil’s lies (as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6) – then Jesus kept that sword sharp in His mind, close at hand and ready to use. We will need to too.
I’m always challenged when I read these words:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Do I allow the Bible further than just my mind? Does it go deeper into the thoughts and attitudes of my heart?
I guess the real point is not just “do I read the Bible?”… but do I allow the Bible to read me?
Not just “how deep into the Word have I gone?” but: “how deep has the Word of God gone into me?”
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