I respect and love God’s Word. Anyone who knows me would not question that. So before you go ballistic with the title of this post, I said, “Tearing up a bible,” not “tearing up the bible.” All too often we see and hear the latter but we seem to get more upset if the former occurs.
One Sunday morning our pastor who is very demonstrative (some days he could legitimately be called weird) did something as an example and in doing it he accidentally tore a page out of his bible. I know we had some gasps. After all he just stood at the front of the church and tore a page out of the Holy Word of God.
But how often do we tear a page out of the Word of God or allow someone to do so without challenge? When we allow someone to say, “Where was God in all of this?” aren’t we saying that Jehovah is not able? When we allow someone to say, “I have no one,” aren’t we saying God is not there? The following is from the evangelbaptist web page. I like it because if we allow God to be less than this we are tearing pages out of the bible. This shows some of the attributes of God. This shows what He should mean to us.
Jehovah/Yahweh (the self-existent one: I AM)
Jehovah-jireh (the Lord will provide)
Jehovah-rapha (the Lord who heals)
Jehovah-nissi (the Lord our banner)
Jehovah-Shalom (the Lord our peace)
Jehovah-ra-ah (the Lord my shepherd)
Jehovah-tsidkenu (the Lord our righteousness)
Jehovah-shammad (the Lord is present)
Jehovah-Elohim (the Lord God)
Jehovah Sabaoth (the Lord of hosts)
El Elyon (the most high God)
Adonai (our master)
El Shaddai (Almighty God, the strength giver)
El Olam (everlasting God)
As the songwriter said, he is El Shaddai. He is more than enough. And He is. But we all too often question if he is enough for us. If we allow Jesus to be less than Lord, master, savior, returning king (and a few more) then we are allowing more pages to be torn out of the word. And when we allow this, all we have left is a book of wisdom and history which is good but we do not have the Word of the living God. There are many books of history and wisdom. But what makes the bible unique is that it is the word of God. It’s time we quit tearing out the pages.
I am not convinced our pastor will be more careful about tearing a page out of the bible in the future, but that doesn’t bother me. I know he will not tear a page out of God’s Word. Let me tell you how much a bible is worth and you will understand why I take this approach…
The value of a good study Bible
As a new book on a Book store shelf $60
As a used book in a second hand store $5
As scrap paper for recycling less than .01
To the person who is seeking for God, Priceless.
Allow me to emphasize this. God’s word is valuable. But the bible is not to be worshipped in any way.
Over the years I have had questions about disposal of used bibles. I will answer it this way. There are many people who would be blessed by a used bible. I have given all of the ones I have retired to someone else to use except one that totally fell apart and one that had notes in it that could have been a problem. Today I would not even throw one away that is falling apart, I would be sending it to a young pastor in Ghana I know. He has people who would tenderly and lovingly hold them together to read them. That is how they value God’s word. It is not the paper and ink, it is the words that are life. Let me tell you how to find someone worthy of sending help to them. See what they ask for. This young pastor only asked for bibles, tapes, CD’s and books that would help his people. I have a witness that he is worthy of help.
But what if the bible is in such bad condition that it is unusable, I mean really unusable? Throw it away. It is paper and ink. We do not worship the book. We worship God. Anything that raises the value of the book beyond the words on the pages borders on worshiping the book.
I believe in treating the bible with respect. Here again, the words on the pages are important, the book is not but at times the handling of the physical book is an indication. Please understand, I will not purposefully or carelessly damage a bible. But my bible is a tool. I have lots of tools in a box in my garage. I use them to do various things. I don’t abuse them but I have broken a drill bit, bent a screwdriver, or nicked a chisel. In some cases it was normal use, in some stupidity. My bible is treated the same. I carry it. I flip through it. The pages wear. It is not something that is put on a shelf to be displayed. I do not treat it like the Muslims do the Koran which cannot be handled without gloves and cannot be handled by an infidel. As an aside the complaints about the handling of the Koran from Gtmo were not flushing it down a toilet. Think about that, the Koran is about the size small bible. Can you imagine flushing a small bible? That must be some toilet! When they close Gtmo I want to buy the toilets and sell them as “Flush Anything Toilets.” (Just kidding to get the point across.)
There are some who worship bible versions, generally the KJV or the Geneva bible. Let me be frank. Most of the study bibles I have used are KJV. I have used it extensively. However, it was “authorized” by King James of England, a secular king, not King Jesus of Heaven. It wasn’t even used by Paul. I love the impressive and powerful language but I have learned that only those of us who have grown up with it or have studied Elizabethan English really understand it. When the scripture says:
Hab 2:2 KJV And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
How can we insist on people using a version of the bible that is about as understandable to the average person to read as the Latin was to the average person in 1611? Let us face it. That is what we do when we worship the KJV. We need to worship God, not a bible version. Please don’t respond to me with the lies that there are 6400 words missing in the NIV. It just isn’t so. If anyone has a question on this write me. Should we insist that German, French and Spanish speaking people read only the KJV?
It is crucial that we spread God’s word. I don’t care what version you use. Just don’t put a yoke of bondage on someone else. And if your theology goes away if you use another version, it is not the bible version but your theology that is not of God.
Let me give you a perspective. The version to hate in the 1950s was the RSV. It isn’t a particularly good or bad translation but preachers spent a lot of time talking about it rather than presenting God’s word. We lost a large portion of that generation for a lack of the word. Will we loose another while preachers play games at the foot of the cross preaching bible versions instead of the God’s word?