Anniversary Greetings To Each of You
James W. Knox
June 1, 2011
It is the spring of 2011 and around the world many, though far too few, are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Authorized Version. Those of us who have studied its production and preservation, its history and its fruit, its language and its accuracy rejoice greatly to know that God has given us this blessed Book. Those of us of have known its soul-saving and life-changing power, and have considered its majestic march to the ends of the earth glory in our Lord for placing into the hands of man this perfect, purified treasure. We watch while in the same hour another foe hurls his feeble intellect at its power and another desperate man follows its light to salvation in Christ Jesus. We note that on the same day that a professor mocks its outdated wording another tribe comprehends its truth and receives the Son of God. We observe as it casts its proud opponents into derision and exalts those who humbly submit to its Author to royal seats in heavenly places. We thank God for giving us His perfect word.
My purpose today is to appeal to those who are convinced our English Bible stands without error and bears no need of revision. I want us to consider whether or not the Lord gave us this most precious gift so that we could merely possess it and boast to others of what we possess, or was there some greater purpose for the giving of this perfect word preserved.
In Revelation 1:5-6 we read of three things the Lord Jesus is and of three things He has done for us. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. To think that the only faithful witness has loved us is remarkable. To meditate on the first begotten of the dead washing us from our sins with His redeeming blood fills the heart with wonder. To think of this King of kings allowing us to reign and minister with Him is almost beyond comprehension.
We see the door opened and hear the call to come up (Revelation 4:1) and as our wondering eyes are directed to the throne in heaven what we see fills us with awe. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10). The redeemed from every corner of the earth are praising the One who bought and kept them and rejoice with exceeding joy to finally fully comprehend what He has made them.
What connection could link making believers kings and priests unto God and the treasured Authorized Version? When Moses traveled up Mt. Sinai to receive a perfect, inerrant copy of the words of God after the originals had been destroyed he returned and delivered those words to the people. We all know that the Lord did not give those words to Israel so they could brag about having inspired scriptures. We all know those precepts were not given so the nation could boast in having the very words of God without error. Jehovah’s intent in giving His statutes to the Hebrews was so they could live in accord with those commandments and please their Holy One.
Look closely at what that law said with regard to kings. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
The Lord was rightly concerned that a king might fall victim to pride, or that he might depart from the narrow road for the folly on either side. The remedy for such sin was a simple one – the king was to make the word of God his governor. Was it enough that David lived in a land with God’s words, while he committed adultery with Bathsheba? Was it enough that Solomon had access to the inerrant scriptures while he engaged in idolatry? Did it matter that Jeroboam and Ahab were blessed to have perfect words never given to the Gentiles? I say not.
My fellow kings, tell me, has an inerrant Bible freed you from error? Have the perfect words of God brought you closer to perfection? It seems that many live as though possessing the scriptures is the end of the matter, not the beginning. While it is wonderful to know that Jesus Christ has made us kings, and while it is comforting to know that He has given us our own copy of the scriptures, this carries with it a grave responsibility. It seems that far too many have correctly concluded that our A.V. is the pure word of God without desiring the purity of life it was intended to produce.
The histories of Kings and Chronicles give no monarch credit for living in a land that had God’s written word. They only tell the tale of whether or not those men walked in the paths of righteousness. With you, I am thrilled to be among the people blessed with the preserved words of the Alpha and Omega. But when we stand before the Author of the sacred volume what will matter is whether or not we obeyed the words He gave us.
Ponder well what God said regarding His priests. If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left (Deuteronomy 17:8-11).
The priests were not to lead and intercede according to their whims or fancies. They were not to guide to people based on the acceptable standard of the day. They were to deal with every matter in accord with the holy words given them by a holy God upon the holy mount. Every decision was to be made, every point of contention settled, and every strife was to be resolved by an appeal to the word of the Lord.
When God the Son became Jesus and walked this earth He was met with the Pharisees and scribes who had kept and preserved the scriptures. They had them. They taught them. Jesus said that both their text and doctrine was correct (Matthew 23:2-3) but He censured them for their failure to live in accord with the words they safeguarded and proclaimed.
My fellow priests, I ask you, are any of us as bold as the Pharisees? Do we suppose that as long as our version is the right one and our doctrinal statement does not deviate from orthodoxy that our bitterness, gossip, laziness, carnality and pride are acceptable? Do we wink at strife, fornication, covetousness, and tolerate a lack of charity, grace and compassion, supposing that waving the right text above our sin makes it less offensive to Christ Jesus? The Pharisees were correct in their prophetic views. They were right as touching angels, resurrections, spirits, giving, and self-denial. Jesus did not find them engaged in idolatry. But He rebuked them soundly for their conceit, their haughty spirits, their lack of love and concern for others, and for their elevated sense of importance and entitlement because of the place God had given them.
My brothers and sisters, we are saved and others are lost – but we owe that to the grace of God. We see the truths of sound doctrine, right division, prophecy and the like – but we owe that to the mercy of God and much of it to the labor His people invested in the word and in us. Away with this arrogant, despising, self-exalting spirit. Away with this justification when charity, joy, gentleness and temperance are lacking. Away with the notion that transgression is less offensive to the Lord because we hold the proper text.
Are there those who are objecting to my reaching back into the Old Testament priesthood or citing the throne of Israel or the hated Pharisees to speak of New Testament Christianity? Then allow me to put before you a beautiful verse where those of us who believe and love the A.V. have long planted our flag. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16). Praise the Lord. I believe those words with all my heart. I do not believe the scripture was given. I believe it is given. I do not believe parts of it were given, I believe all of it was given by inspiration. I do not believe in inspired men but in inspired scripture. I believe our English Bible is the word of God.
For every man who labored to preserve it I am thankful. For every drop of blood that was shed to defend and pass it on I am thankful. For every hour of labor to copy, proofread, set type, pour ink, man presses and stitch binding I am thankful. For every woman who risked life and limb to hide a single fragment from Satanic hands I am thankful. For every dollar given to support a translator or printer, to purchase paper or hire a wagon master or ship’s captain to transport the sacred word I am thankful.
Yet, to erect our standard over 2 Timothy 3:16 is careless and insufficient, for that verse ends not with a period but with a colon. It is a complete sentence but it is followed by another complete sentence. The two are so inseparably joined that the translators of our A.V. placed a colon, a double period, between them so that we would not separate their truths.
Second Timothy 3:17 says, That the man of God may be perfect… We were not given a perfect Bible so that we could have a perfect Bible. We were given this blessed Book so that its contents could make us perfect. Having the Bible is not the end. Being brought to the full measure and stature of Jesus Christ is the end (Ephesians 4:12-13). …throughly furnished unto all good works. The triune God had a purpose in mind when He gave us the inspired, inerrant scriptures – that our lives should be completely and entirely filled with good works.
I believe it is safe to say that Jehovah was disappointed when He saw the failure on the part of the kings and priests of Israel to make proper use of the truth He had given them. I am certain the Lord Jesus was saddened by the misconduct He saw on the part of those who had preserved His written words. Let Him look upon His church and be pleased to see that we not only possess, defend and proclaim His inerrant scriptures, but that we have allowed them to completely perfect us and make our works good in His sight.
Perhaps those of us who believe the A.V. to be perfect will always have our foes and critics, but let us force them to say that we are the most Christ-like, holy, gracious, spiritually-minded people they have ever encountered. Perhaps our family, friends and job mates will never come to trust our Lord and His words, but let us so live that they will know that who and what we believe has made us the most peaceful, temperate, sanctified, longsuffering, merciful people they have ever known.
We love our great God. We love our Lord Jesus Christ. We love our precious Bible. May we honor them by living the life they alone make possible. Let us yield ourselves fully so that a Holy Spirit and a Holy Bible may make us a holy people. Amen.