Guarding Your Sword
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
In the world of global economy we live in, we are surrounded with a wide array of products and goods for the maintenance of life and its quality. As prudent buyers, we make sure that we only use or consume a product that meets the best industry standards. These standards are shared publicly for the purpose of public awareness and a means to check if these standards are being implemented by the manufacturers or suppliers of these goods. This practice of transparency in businesses is one way to win the trust of the people using and is thinking of using their products.
Guarding our Physical Well Being
Let's say for example, you go to a pharmacy to buy some medicines and they hand you a small bottle inside a rectangular shaped colorful packaging with some instructions and other info about the medicine. As a typical person, probably you won't bother reading all the printed info. But let's say you asked for a paracetamol syrup for your kid that has a fever and the pharmacist handed you the same sized bottle inside a packaging box without the usual printed information you normally see on such products. Now you will start to question in your mind what a product this is, even though you specifically ask for a paracetamol syrup, right? Trust is gone if there is no transparency. Point made.
Transparency is one of the best way of winning trust in any aspect of human life, but not all do this because most of the time its not easy. On the other hand, others do an easier way of gaining trust through sly marketing by using colorful pictures, celebrity ads, and BIG attractive words but doesn't hold up when tested.
Guarding Our Faith
If there is such a battle of honesty/integrity in the temporal aspect of life, how much more should we be involved in the same parallel arena regarding spiritual matters of life. The arena I am referring to is the Church and its spiritual aspects. For example, let me ask this question for all believers: Do we really trust someone with our spiritual life and finances given by God to a spiritual leader whose character and lifestyle are not known to us? This is not a question of doubt but of plain good sense. Should we make the effort to know and not just hear the leaders we follow as the apostle Paul exemplified,
"For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed," - Rom 15:18
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." - 1Tim 4:12
And there are many other aspect of our faith that we need to be diligent in guarding, but most especially, the very Words of God we are hearing in our Churches and in our homes. We have to make sure that what we hear and read are the Scriptures and not just a message from a mortal man. Let us heed the examples of our early Christian brothers and sisters in Berea.
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." - Acts 17:10-11
Faithfulness of Our Bible Translations
The arena of Bible Translation is almost never mentioned anywhere in our nation today, probably because a lot of our leaders are ignorant or just don't care to study Church history and take action. There is a battle in preserving the Word of God for our Lord himself warned us that our adversary's work is to "steal the word" from us as soon as its planted. But God promised that He will preserve His Words.
"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." - Psalms 12:6-7 KJV
Also, it implied in the same promise that people would try to corrupt the "pure words" of the Lord. Notice that God said, He will preserve them (the Scriptures) from this generation (wicked people)...
Translators are Copyists
The work of the translator is not just to translate words and thoughts on the pages of the Bible but to make sure all the words and ideas in the Book is accounted for; meaning, every word or thought in the original text must have an equivalent word or phrase on the translation - no more, no less. In essence, translators are copyists in addition to being interpreters of the Scriptures. This is no new thing. A group of Jews in ancient times excel in this practice. They are called the Masoretes and one of the unique things they did was apply a simple mathematical analysis on their work which was done by counting all Hebrew characters vertically and horizontally across their writing canvas and comparing the sums with the original canvas. This ensures that there was no letter or character left out in the process.
Modern Method of Translation
If we should get anything out of our Jewish brothers, that is their strict discipline of making sure every word (Old Testament only) of the Bible is accounted for. Sadly, this is not the story for the modern Church. More than a century ago, a couple of Cambridge scholars named Wescott and Hort started to indirectly remove portions of our Greek New Testament amounting to 2,971 words from the well known and accepted NT Greek Textus Receptus and created a new Greek New Testament text which was known then as the critical text. After more than a century it has now reached this generation by the name of Nestle-Aland or NA28 New Testament Greek and is used by most modern translations of the Bible in English: NIV, ESV, NRSV, NAB, NLT, and Tagalog: Pinoy Bible, Magandang Balita Bible at Ang Biblia - Tagalog. I don't say that the Bibles we have today are bad, but I should say this, that they are less in substance and meaning. Our English-speaking brothers and sisters have fought this for over a century now, but it seems that no one is sounding the alarm in our own nation - the Philippines. Lets go back to the ancient ways for there is nothing new under the sun. Let's rise up in preserving the Words of God from this generation.