John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Peter had been paying attention! It took more than some difficult teaching to scare him off. Jesus had just said (verse 63) that His words were spirit and life, and Peter knew in the depth of his being that was true. A major problem today is that many church members aren’t totally convinced of this. Since about a hundred years ago it has seemed “smart” and erudite to question the veracity of the Bible in various ways. Advances in archaeology and the like had turned up differing manuscripts that called into question what was the most authentic version (even though the over-all thrust of the content wasn’t changed significantly). Textual analysis showed that editors were probably involved, and it became all the rage to consider the Bible as literature, rather than as the Word of God. The devil was certainly delighted with that! As a result, far too many churches today pick and choose what they want to follow, carving loopholes for whatever their favorite sin might be. How tragic! We need to be like Peter, knowing that nowhere else will we find the words of life. As a man said to me after attending a Bible class for a year, “This book wasn’t created just by people, and if God caused it to be written, then I’d better believe it!”
As I am frequently reminded, I grew up immersed in the Bible, and am deeply grateful. I’m from a very scholarly family, with my father and my maternal grandfather both teaching Biblical Greek, so the assorted textual and translation issues were something I was aware of, even as a teenager. However, that didn’t detract from the conviction that this Book was (and is) God speaking to us through human instruments. I too can recognize different literary styles among the different writers, but there is an amazing unity of truth across the whole Bible. Growing up in Japan, difficulties of translation were understood far better than they would be in any monolingual household. As a result, I have always been interested in new translations, particularly since I don’t personally handle either Greek or Hebrew. That said, my desire is always to hear what my Lord is saying to me through the printed page. Comparing different translation often helps with that, and in my case, I compare the English with the Japanese, and sometimes differing translations in each language. I recognize that each writer/translator has their own style and even bias, but God is greater than all of that, and He can and does speak to me through it all. I’ve got to keep in focus that these are the words of eternal life, just as Peter said, and so seek both to live by them and to communicate them to others, so that they too may gain eternal life.
Father, thank You for the Bible. It is nothing short of miraculous that it exists as it does, but then, that’s who You are! Help me use it as You intend in every respect, so that Your Word may indeed accomplish that for which You send it, (Isaiah 55:11) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!