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Hot Button Questions
Q: The Bible has been edited and transcribed so much over the
past 1800 years—how is it still an accurate account?
A: The Bible hasn’t been so much edited or transcribed over the
past 1,800 years as it has been translated from the original
languages of Hebrew and Greek, as well as paraphrased.
Any Bible you hold in your hand is either a translation or a
paraphrase. Now, this person wants to know how, after all the
translations that have taken place, it is still an accurate account
of what was originally written. Great question!
First, let’s look at how the original NT writings were faithfully
Not just the Bible, but all ancient manuscripts were written on
papyrus, which didn’t have much of a shelf life. So people hand
copied the originals to maintain the message and circulate it to
others. Over time the copies multiplied.
Now, the more extant (still in existence; surviving) copies we
have of an ancient writing that agree with each other, the more
confident we are that we have what was originally written. On
the other hand, if we had say 10 surviving documents all claiming
to be copies of an ancient writer, but they were very different
in content, we’d have little confidence that we had what
was originally written.
For instance, few people doubt the Greek philosopher Plato’s
writing of “The Republic.” It’s a classic. It was written by Plato
around 380 B.C. Yet the earliest copies we have of it are dated
900 A.D., which means 1,300 years passed from the time he
wrote it to the first copies we have. And there are only seven of
those copies in existence!
Yet with only seven copies in existence, that’s enough for colleges
and universities the world over to teach it with confidence
as the writings of Plato.
Another example would be Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” that were
written around 100-44 B.C. The copies we have today are dated
1,000 years after he wrote it, and we have ten copies. But do
modern scholars believe we have the original words of Caesar?
But when it comes to the New Testament, written between 50-
100 A.D, we have more than 5,000 copies! Not 7, not 10, but
5,000 copies. And all of them are within 50-225 years after
their original writing, not 1,300 years or 1,000 years!
Further, when it came to the copying of Scripture, scribes
(monks) were meticulous in their copying of original manuscripts
for they feared God. They checked and rechecked their
work to make sure it perfectly matched.
The bottom line is that what the New Testament writers originally
wrote is preserved better than any other ancient manuscript.
We can be more certain of what we read about Jesus’
life and words than we are certain of the writings of Julius Caesar,
the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, and the Greek
writer Homer who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey all combined!
Now, let’s talk about translations and paraphrases. There are
about 120 English translations of the Bible as of today. Some
good ones are the KJV, NASB, NIV, and NLT. A couple of paraphrases
you will recognize are the Living Bible or The Message.
But there is a big difference between a translation and a paraphrase.
A translation is where you begin with the original language and
translate it word for word into another language, like English.
The translator is not putting into it what he wants it to say or
wishes it said, but faithfully translates as closely as possible
what the original writer said.
On the other hand, a paraphrase bible like The Living Bible or
The Message is written to produce a bible that flows in a manner
similar to a novel: it makes the bible more pleasant and
easy to read. But in the process, significant changes are made
to the original text. It is NOT a word for word translation.
Let me show you a couple of comparisons between the original
Greek language, a translation, and a paraphrase using the first
six words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world...”
In Greek it looks like this:
Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον,
A ‘word for word’ translation would read:
‘Thus indeed loved God the world,’
Most translations like the KJV or NASB accurately translate
those words into, “God so loved the world.”
But the paraphrase Message Bible puts it, “This is how much
God loved the world...”
Notice it departs from a word for word translation and paraphrases
it for easier reading!
Another example would be the last 3 words of 1 John 4:8 in the
“The one who does not love does not know God, for θεὸς γάπη
The last 3 words translated word for word are, “God love is.”
The KJV, NASB, and most other translations translate it correctly
into “God is love.”
But the Message Bible paraphrase puts it, “My beloved friends,
let us continue to love each other since love comes from God.”
Notice how the ending is changed. Not “God is love,” but “love
comes from God.”
Now, the truth John wanted us to get in his original writing is
that God doesn’t just love, He IS love, His very essence is love.
So with the paraphrase Message Bible, an important truth
about God is watered down.
You might read a paraphrase for pleasure, but I don’t recommend
a paraphrase for your study Bible. You want to use a
Again, some of the best translations are KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV,
or the NLT.
And if you really want to grow in your understanding of Scripture,
buy a good Study Bible. Some good ones are—the NKJV
Study Bible, The ESV Study Bible, and the NIV Study Bible.
So in answer to the original question, we know that we have
faithful copies of the original writings because of the thousands
of existing copies that all agree with one another. And the multitude
of Bible translators have simply translated from the
same reliable Greek and Hebrew Bible text to give us the various
Q: I'd like some clarification regarding tithing. I know the Bible
teaches tithing, and I do. I do not have an issue with that.
What I do not understand is why the church as a whole does
not teach tithing as a personal, private relationship between
the tither and God. We pass a plate, or something similar, so
others cannot help but see that we have given, if not how
TPC has the "deposit" boxes in the wall, or we can give online
or text. Why do we put the cards in the offering buckets to emphasize
we've given? I don't mean to judge or be rude in
any way. I just don't understand.
A: This person is concerned about the issue of giving in secret
where Jesus promises to openly reward us, and giving where
others see us give via the offering bucket, the giving cards, etc.
The answer is that the Pharisees had morphed into people who
ONLY did what they did—praying, fasting, and giving—for the
praise and recognition of men. It had reached a truly disgusting
place. So Jesus nipped it by encouraging His true followers to
do those things privately as unto God and not unto men.
That said, the envelopes with the personal information on them
are for those who give cash and want a record of it for end of
year tax purposes. And I would guess that most checks are
folded so as to avoid name recognition.
So, giving anonymously is no doubt what happens at TPC.
Q: If a Christian commits suicide do they go to heaven?
A: Having performed several funerals in my lifetime for Christians
that committed suicide, I have seen the pain of it, and
have been asked every time by family and friends if they went
I believe that once a person is genuinely born again, their salvation
is secure. My view is that a person who takes their own
life is not thinking clearly. They are desperate, feeling hopeless,
sometimes in unbearable pain, and their minds are often
clouded by medication.
In these cases, I have to stand on the words of Jesus who
promised, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they
follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has
given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them
out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
No one can snatch them away. And that includes the suicide.
Now, here’s the flip side. We have one life in which to serve
God and store up riches in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20). The person
that takes their own life short circuits the time God has allotted
for them. Eternal rewards will be lost. Precious time granted by
God to serve Him, reach others, love their loved ones, and to
“finish the course” given them is aborted. So...there will be
Secondly, Suicide is a very selfish act. The pain that a suicide
inflicts on loved ones is lifelong. I have seen parents and children
never get over it. And it also sends a message to them—
suicide is the way out.
So in short, though I don’t believe you lose your salvation, lost
eternal rewards and a troubled legacy are not worth it!
Q: Since we have been learning about covenants and the difference
between a conditional, general and unconditional
covenant, my question is this: What criteria do you use to determine
if a covenant or promise is directed solely at Israel or
at the church?
A: One way is to look at the CONTEXT of the biblical passage.
For instance, God tells Israel through Moses, “When you beget
children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and
act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything,
and do evil in the sight of the Lord your God...the Lord will
scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in
number among the nations where the Lord will scatter
you...” (Deut 4:25, 27). This is clearly for Israel only, not the
NT believer. The context tells us so.
Another way to tell whether an OT promise is for NT believers
is if it’s carried over and repeated in the NT. For example, the
promise of Isaiah 54:10, “My unfailing love for you will not be
shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” was written
with Israel in mind, but the Holy Spirit has used these words to
comfort many Christians today, because essentially the same
promise is found in the NT where God says, “I will never fail
you, nor forsake you...” (Heb. 13:5). And Jesus’ words, “Lo, I
am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matt.
28:20) say the same thing.
So context, and whether the promise is repeated in the NT are
two keys to know whether it’s just for Israel, or includes NT
believers as well.
Q: Just wanted to know if we are living in the days when the
sixth seal has been opened?
A: I don’t believe so because the sixth seal spoken of in Revelation
6:12-17 releases cataclysmic cosmic judgments we’ve not
yet witnessed. This seal, along with the Trumpet judgments
and Bowl judgments are reserved for the Great 7 year Tribulation
period yet to come.
Q: Do Christians need to vote? If so, why? Is it choosing the
lesser of the two evils? Is praying better than voting?
A: I believe it is the duty and responsibility of every Christian
to vote and to vote for leaders who promote Christian principles.
In Bible days there was no democracy. No voting republic.
They didn’t have that option. But we do!
No candidate will be perfect. They may not even be Christians.
But if their platform embraces Christian/Biblical truths, to vote
for them is to help propagate those truths.
As for those who say, “Well, God is sovereign and in control of
His world, so voting won’t do anything to help Him. He doesn’t
need my help.”
God is most certainly in control, but that does not mean we
should do nothing to further His will. We are commanded to
pray for our leaders in 1 Tim 2:1-4, “First of all, then, I urge
that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be
made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions,
that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and
dignified in every way.”
Though they had no vote, they could pray. We can do both!
Why? Because righteous rule leads to “a peaceful and quiet
Much of the suffering on earth is because of godless leadership.
Proverbs 28:12 says, “When the righteous triumph, there is
great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go
into hiding.” In other words, when the wicked rule it brings
fear, unrest, and oppression.
Scripture gives Christians instructions to obey legitimate authority
unless it contradicts the Lord’s commands.
Acts 5:27-29 says, “And when they had brought them, they set
them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,
saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet
here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend
to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the
apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
They could not and would not obey a wicked law.
So how can a Christian, for instance, vote for someone that will
support abortion? Sexual perversion? Godless education? As
born-again believers, we ought to strive to choose leaders who
will stand for Biblical truth as much as possible.
Q:This week in watch my best friend pass away. My question is,
does the spirit leave the body with the soul? Do the spirit and
soul stay as one?
A: The Bible teaches that when a Christian dies, their spirit immediately
goes into the presence of the Lord. Paul states that
he is confident in his eternal destiny and longs for the day
when he can be “absent from the body” and be present with
the Lord he loves and serves.
To be “absent” from one’s body simply means to die because,
at death, the spirit is separated from the body and moves into
its eternal abode—either heaven with the Lord or hell, separated
from God for eternity.
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