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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bible Translations

Posted by Richard on August 4, 2009


Why are there different kinds of bibles?

The issue stems from the fact that the original scriptures were penned in Hebrew and Greek, when they were handed to men from the Holy Spirit.

For years, they were transcribed (by hand) in various manuscripts and pieces, often in Latin, as they were passed along. With the advent of movable type in Europe, things spread quickly. Johannes Gutenberg created the Gutenberg Bible (of the Latin Vulgate) on his movable type machine. The first complete modern English translation was compiled by Myles Coverdale in 1535. Around 1611 the official King James Bible was released, and for many years, was the standard, even long after King James’ English was no longer an active language. In the 1900s there have been many attempts at keeping up with the changes of the English language, in modernizing the Bible.

With widespread education, anybody can study the original languages, and undertake the task of translating manuscripts into the language of their choice. When you study a second language, you learn that some words don’t always have a 1:1 mapping between the languages. Often, you can choose from multiple possibilities when translating a word, and sometimes after you translate it, you might not even be able to translate back based on the word choice. This complication makes translating accurately a very difficult undertaking. The stakes increase when you take into account the dire nature of the subject matter, and the stern warning given in the end of Revelation 22:

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: ?if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

All these considered, there are many philosophies of modern translation. Some try to make the Bible as appealing as possible, to the widest audience possible. Others try to stick to accurate translations of the original languages as much as possible, in preserving as much of the original context they can. And everything in between. There are dangers inherent in watering down the Bible for the masses, in which you can lose some biblical truths, such as the TNIV has in recent controversy. Zondervan, in the TNIV, attempted to remove as much gender-specific language from the Bible as they could. This was generally considered by the scholarly community as a bad idea. Zondervan has now announced they will replace the TNIV (and NIV) in the near future with a translation they are working on, in which they will “carefully consider” all the gender-neutral changes they made. Translations such as the NIV are considered interpretations, as they don’t take a word-for-word approach to translating the bible, but take a phrase or verse or passage and rearrange it into English prose. The Message is an extreme example of this.

Modern translations that try to stick to a word-for-word approach to preserving as much of the original language nuances as possible include the NKJV, NASB, ESV, et al.

In the end, no matter the translation, it is the Holy Spirit which generates the understanding of the Word.


Ask a Question fixed!

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2009

Apparently, a wordpress plugin update broke the ask a question page. It has now been fixed!


The devil

Posted by Richard on March 11, 2009

Asked in Youth Group tonight:

Why did God create the devil? and Why do bad things happen?

Why did God create the devil?

God created his angels, and at the urging of Lucifer, 1/3 of them fell. (Rev 12:4)

The nature of sin is the antithesis of God. “Bad things” are the natural consequence of sin. Before sin entered paradise, it was perfect (Genesis 1:31) After the fall of Adam & Eve, God cursed creation. (Genesis 3:17) This is observed as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Why do bad things happen (to good people)?

Bad things happen period. Sin is in the world, and evil is its consequence. Sometimes we experience God’s grace. Other times, we are put through trials, in part to test us, and part to make us stronger. (1 Peter 4:12) “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 5:9)

(Isaiah 34:2), God’s wrath will come in full, being restrained for now (Romans 1:18)

God is sovereign even through evil deeds (Gen 50:20) “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9)

Even though we don’t always see justice apparent, rest assured that justice will be done. “Rather, each will die for his own wrongdoing.  Anyone who eats sour grapes-his own teeth will be set on edge.” (Jeremiah 31:30)


Dinosaurs, Noah, and the Loch Ness Monster

Posted by Richard on March 7, 2009

Houston asks:

Why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs? Why weren’t they on Noah’s ark? Are they all underwater, which is why we can’t find them today, and could the Loch Ness Monster be one?

I’ll start by pointing back to the previous answer on Aliens, that the purpose of the Bible is not to answer every single mystery of life, as some mysteries will necessarily remain hidden, but to reveal the mystery of God’s plan of redemption for us (Ephesians 3:8-9).

The Bible does actually reference a terrible beast, called Leviathan, in Job 41.
It describes a monster “of mighty strength … around his teeth is terror … his back is made of rows of shields … they clasp each other and cannot be separated … His sneezings flash forth light … out of his mouth go flaming torches … out of his nostrils comes forth smoke … in his neck abides strength and terror dances before him … when he raises himself up the mighty are afraid…” – you get the picture. While the Bible may not describe the appearance of what we figure certain dinosaurs looked like, remember the Bible has a very specific purpose. In fact, this passage of Job serves to illustrate that creation is under God’s authority, not to give us a template picture with which we could apply fossil record. God’s creation is validated plenty by what we can still see, we don’t need to try and validate it against beasts which are not part of recorded history.

Noah only took animals on his ark that were still alive at the time. Ever since creation had been cursed by God at the fall of man (Genesis 3), things have been dying, even to extinction. It is most likely, that anything resembling a dinosaur, except of course the crocodile which still remains to this day, would have been extinct before the flood. Species go extinct constantly, and since that time, that has been the norm.

As for Nessie, an undocumented, as yet unproved (and I’ve watched many hours of science channel footage) creature under a lake could be just about anything, so it’s hard to say.


Free Summer Camp!

Posted by Richard on March 2, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this important announcement about how you can go to camp this summer absolutely free!

Participating in fundraisers is a great way to get your summer camp experience at no cost!

The lasagna dinner will be Friday, March 20. You will need to work the dinner to get full credit for this fundraiser.

The next fundraising event will be Saturday, April 4, 2009. We will be selling See’s candy eggs for Easter.

On May 2, 2009, we will be selling tickets for a baked potato and salad dinner, which will be on Friday, May 15, 2009.

When the weather warms up, we will be looking to do a couple car washes if possible.

Check out this letter for more information!



Posted by Richard on March 1, 2009

Houston asks:

Did God create extra terrestrial life?

You’ll notice that you won’t find a mention of extra-terrestrial life in the Bible. The question becomes, why wouldn’t God put information about life on other planets in the Bible? If God didn’t write the Bible to tell us if there is alien life, why did He write it?

The Bible is God’s ultimate story of redemption. From the fall to final glory, it tells the story of Jesus. The Old Testament points to the coming savior, and the New Testament tells of His ministry. Things that don’t fit into that story are not going to be covered in depth, if at all. We can reasonably assume that the existence of alien life will not affect our salvation.

Life, in fact all of creation, is purposed for God’s redemption story. The heavens and the earth will be wiped away when it comes time to judge mankind (Rev 20:11). Do you think God would create life on other planets just to blink them out of existence when its time to judge us?

There is a recorded purpose for the stars in the sky. Genesis 1:16 says the stars provide some light at night. Jeremiah 31:35 says God “fixed the order of the moon and the stars for light by night” which enables us to navigate with them, plan harvest and when to plant based on the calendar the stars provide. The appearance and position of certain stars and constellations in the night sky accurately denotes the time of year.



Posted by Richard on February 24, 2009

An anonymous reader asks:

When Jesus comes down with his angels, and takes all the Christians and believers will other people still have a chance when they die?

First, I need to make a distinction between the event commonly called “the Rapture” and the event called “The Second Coming.” Some view those events as the same, however it would be redundant to rapture only the believers (1 Thes 4:17) and then immediately proceed to separate them in the final judgment (Rev 20:2). When the believers are raptured, they will be caught up with Christ mid-air, and that this is not his full return. Scripture tells us that believers in Jesus Christ will be kept from the time of great tribulation (Rev 3:20, 1 Thes 4:16-17). See a full discussion of the time between the Rapture and the Second Coming, at Tribulation.

The time of The Great Tribulation marks an unprecedented outpouring of God’s wrath on mankind. However, all is not yet lost. The Bible teaches us that during The Tribulation, new believers will be converted. 144,000 (12,000 From each tribe of Israel) Jewish believers will come out of the tribulation, as well as a great multitude of “Tribulation Saints” (Rev 7:4,9,14) saved during The Tribulation by the fruits of the Two Witnesses of The Tribulation (see Rev 11).
At the culmination of The Tribulation, the Antichrist will gather an army to march on Jerusalem (Rev 19:19), but they will be slain as Jesus descends (Rev 19:21) to judge mankind (Matthew 24:29-31).

The Final Judgment of mankind will happen when Jesus arrives again in all his glory, which is The Second Coming of Christ. (Matthew 25:31-46)

Mankind will be given many chances to accept the redemption offered through Jesus Christ. Definitely more than we deserve as sinners, and God has designed his perfect plan that it will be exactly what is necessary to save those that will believe.


Highway to Heaven

Posted by Richard on February 23, 2009

An anonymous reader asks:

What do we, as people, have to do to be able to go to heaven?

First, a little warm up. God is perfect (Psalm 18:30, Deut 34:2, Matthew 5:48). God is holy (Psalm 77:13). There are many other attributes of God, but we’ll focus on these two. Sin is unholy. Sin is the opposite of perfect. To be in heaven is to dwell with God. Needless to say, that God does not permit anything sinful in his presence (Revelation 20:10). In order to be permitted into God’s presence, we would need to be sinless.
This, for humans, is impossible. Ever since original sin, the very nature of man has been sinful. Even sinful thoughts in our minds are sin (Deut 15:9). The consequence of this sin is death, or more precisely spiritual separation from God. There is an unbridgable chasm in sin separating us from God.


In short, there is nothing we, as people, can do (of ourselves) to get to heaven. (Romans 3:23)

Fortunately for us, God provided a proxy (that is, someone else to take our place in the punishment due to us) in Jesus. Jesus died to pay the necessary penalty for our sin, that by accepting and embracing his gift to us, we might have eternal life in heaven.
Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24, ESV)


Why pray?

Posted by Richard on February 21, 2009

An anonymous reader asks:

Why do we pray?

Why do we pray?
First, an introduction from John MacArthur1:

If reading the Bible is like eating, praying is like breathing.

You exist when you come into the world in an atmosphere. And one of the things that the atmosphere does is put pressure on your lungs. And from the very beginning you breathe. And the reason you breathe is because of the air pressure that is exerted against your lungs, it forces your lungs to take air in. That’s why it’s much more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. You hold your breath for about a minute and you turn purple and your heart starts pounding and you get sweaty because you’re resisting the normal pressure against your lung. Well prayer is like that. When you’re born into the family of God, when you’re born again, when you become a child of God, you enter into God’s world there is a sphere in which you live. The atmosphere of God’s presence and grace exerts pressure on your life and the normal thing is to breathe and we just say that’s prayer, responding to God’s pressure and presence in your life. Prayer is as normal to the Christian as breathing is to the human. You live in an atmosphere and you respond to that atmosphere of the presence of God by receiving that presence of God and by taking it in and putting it back out again in response to Him.

Prayer activates the power of God. God moves in response to the prayers of His people. So prayer not only moves God to act but prayer is to align us with the will and purpose of God. When we pray in the will of God or in accord with God’s will we are lining up with His purposes.

We would say that prayer is simply is talking to God. You know, and one of the things that happens when a baby comes into a family is that the first thing you want the baby to do is…what? The first thing that you want out of new life is communication. You want some response, and that’s the same as a Christian. The thing that happens when you become a Christian is immediately you’re thrown into an environment with God when you have a tremendous desire to communicate with God, to respond and say the things that are on your heart. Now that’s all prayer is.

Now to address the question:

First, God wants us to pray.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus instructs us to “pray and not lose heart.”
Second, Jesus prayed so we should pray too.
We should model ourselves after the pattern Jesus set for us. In Luke 5:16, it shows that Jesus often went into private to pray to the Father.
He instructed us how we should pray with the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-15
Finally, God answers prayer.
God has ordained prayer as a means through which he accomplishes his will. In Luke 11:5-13 Jesus shows us that by asking things of the father, in accordance with his will or goals, will produce response.



Posted by Richard on February 1, 2009

An anonymous reader asks:

What signs will we have that the tribulation is coming?

WARNING: This answer is LONG! Skip to the end if you just want to know what you need to take away from the lesson.

One of the most important promises made to us, as believers, is that we will be kept from the period known as great tribulation.

Disclaimer: This post contains some topics which are very theologically salient. It also contains quite a few theological buzzwords. Don’t let yourself be bogged down by them. Don’t be afraid to look them up at There is great contention between many so-called believers as to how the clues left to us should be interpreted. The view presented here is based on two key principles: that the Bible is correct, and that the Bible is meant to be interpreted literally where it is clear that was the literary intention. Skip to the last paragraph for the most important takeaway point from this study.

The “pre-tribulation” view takes the Greek in Rev 3:10 (Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ESV) tēreō ek to mean keep from, which most exegetic scholars agree is the viable interpretation. This means that believers will be rewarded for their perseverance, and be taken up in the Rapture before the tribulation pours out God’s wrath on the world (flesh-dwellers).

HSAT, now we arrive at the particulars of the question. Prophecies all over scripture have given us a picture of what the world will look like leading up to the tribulation. As the signs increase in number and prevalence, we are reminded to be prepared for Jesus’ second coming.

More after the jump!

Click to continue reading “Tribulation”