"Continue in what you have learned . . . You have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" -- 2 Timothy 3:14-15
"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." -- Psalm 119:11
My friend Steven Troutman shared with me this page from a Bible given to him by his parents when he was a small boy.
I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's holy Word, and will make it a Lamp unto my feet, a Light unto my path, and hides its word in my heart, that I may not sin against God.
We do not treat the Bible as if it were Aladdin's lamp or a magic amulet, talisman, or fetish. The Bible is a collection of documents written by forty different authors over a period of 1500 years. Amazingly, there is a coherence of thought and unity of message that the Bible can feel like there is one author behind it all. Indeed, so much so that one Jewish scholar called the Old Testament "a love letter from God."
Someone recently asked, "Is it a sin NOT to read the Bible?"
The question may grow out of a misreading of Psalm 119:11. Here's how two other translations render that verse:
Both of those wordings make clear that the point of the verse is that the Bible is a guide to keep me from doing wrong things. "Sin" in this verse refers to running roughshod over God's design for life. It is not laser-focused on how often we read or do not read the Bible.
Actually, if the Bible is really a "love letter from God," why would Christ-followers not want to read and re-read it?
Not long ago, a friend who uses the King James Version of the Bible wrote to me asking what she should say to friends who tell her the KJV is "inaccurate" Here is how I answered her:
I grew up when the King James Version was the dominant Bible translation for the English-speaking world. As a result, most of the Scripture verses I can quote by memory are from the KJV. However, the New International Version is now the English version I use most often in my personal reading and study as well as in the pulpit when I preach.
It would be wrong to say the King James Version is inaccurate. That makes it sound like there are significant mistakes in it. There are not. That translation was done by the best Bible scholars of that day. It is a masterpiece of literature. When read aloud, its passages sound majestic.
However, we need to recognize that King James Version may not always communicate well to the non-believer today, given that in the 400 years since it was translated, the English language has undergone many changes.
Certain verb forms are no longer used (thinketh, hath, goest, and loveth are examples). Pronoun forms such as ye, thee, thou, and thy have disappeared. Some words, such as "gay," that is used in the book of James, have shifted in meaning. When Jesus spoke of what was "meet" in Mark 6, He meant what was proper or fitting. Other words have disappeared from use while new ones have taken their place. Words like "bade" (ask or tell), "ere," and "dryshod," for instance, are no longer used by English speakers.
For this reason, I encourage people who love the King James Version to also have a newer English translation (either in print or online using sites like Biblegateway.com and Biblehub.com) to compare the wording when the meaning from the KJV is not clear or when you want to communicate with a non-believer.
My wife and I served as missionaries for ten years in Italy and then for five years in Haiti. I have read the Bible all the way through, not only in English but also in Italian, French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish. I can testify that God has spoken to me through each of those language translations of Scripture. There is something alive about the message of that collection of sacred documents we call the Bible.
-- Howard Culbertson,
Text of 10 Commandments Questions answered by the Old Testament Why I believe the Bible is authoritative Crossword puzzle: Three dozen women of the Bible 66 books of the Bible at a glance Word search: Most mentioned names in the Bible Introduction to Biblical Literature course materials