During the past couple of months we have all had to learn to live without corporate worship. It’s been rather strange not to meet together in the House of the Lord. This has especially been true as the Covid-19 health crisis hit us during the Lenten and Easter seasons of the church. By the time we gather again together for public worship, we will be in the Season of Pentecost. All of us have missed each other. We have missed the sacrament of Holy Communion and we have missed the beautiful song Liturgy of the church. As you know, most of our Sunday morning Liturgy is a sung Liturgy and I have really missed the beautiful music provided by Norman each week and the joyous sound of your voices as we praise the Lord our God together. However, this is one vitally important thread that has encouraged me, strengthen me, and calmed my anxious heart. That, of course, is the all-important and sufficient Word of God. Can you imagine what it would it be like if we did not have God’s Word to speak to us? Consider how frustrating it would be if we did not have Bibles in our native language? Throughout the health crisis that has captured us, it is the Holy Scriptures that has comforted me. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17, ESV); Peter put it this way, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21, ESV). As to the all-important and sufficient Word of God, Martin Luther said: "The Word of God is the greatest, most necessary, most important thing in Christendom." In 1545, the year prior to his death, Dr. Luther said with resounding forcefulness, “Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scripture.” Archbishop Thomas Cranmer of the Anglican Church, the Church of England, wrote: "If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God's Word; and if we be uncertain of God's Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan." The importance of God’s Word cannot be underestimated. It was given by God to us. It is His word to mankind. It is our only rule of faith (those things we must believe) and practice (the standard by which we must live). It is His all important and sufficient Word given to you and me for our good. Several years ago, while reading the March/April 2013 issue of Connections, I was drawn to an article by Dr. James R. Edwards. Dr. Edwards’ article was “The 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible.” In this article Dr. Edwards provided an amazingly condensed summary of the early historic development of the English Bible. Most people do not realize the King James Bible of 1611, officially known as the Authorized Version, was not the first translation of God’s Word into English. The King James Version (KJV) was actually built upon the foundation of seven prior English translations, the Tyndale (1530), the Coverdale (1535), the Matthews (1537), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishop’s Bible (1568), and the Douay-Rheims (1582). William Tyndale’s methodology of translation was inspired and modeled on the work of Martin Luther. As you will remember, it was Dr. Luther who translated the Holy Scriptures into his native German for the edification and instruction of German speaking peoples. Tyndale is known as the father of the annotated Bible. That is, it was Tyndale who not only translated the sacred Scriptures into English but also included such “helps” as footnotes, cross references, short commentaries, and a glossary that are common in so many English translations of our day. The Geneva Bible, produced by Calvinist exiles led by John Knox, was the first English Bible with an appearance similar to English Bibles of today. Geneva was printed with Roman rather than Gothic type; it italicized words that are not present in the original Hebrew and Greek but were inserted for clarification of thought; it signified paragraph divisions; supplied subtitles, headnotes, brief annotations, and most important, the Geneva Bible was the first English Bible divided into numbered verses. All of these innovations were retained in the King James Version. By the way, it was the Geneva Bible which came to America aboard the Mayflower. The KJV of 1611 did not immediately supersede the prior English translation. However, by 1700 the acceptance of the KJV was “…so complete that its text acquired a sanctity properly ascribable only to the unmediated voice of God; to multitudes of English speaking Christians it has seemed little less than blasphemy to tamper with the words of the King James Version” (S.L Greenslade, The Cambridge History of the Bible, 3.168) Sheltering-in-place has been difficult. It has been hard to go without corporate worship, the sacrament, and the beautiful music and singing of the Liturgy. But can you possibly imagine what it would be like without the all important and sufficient Word of God? The Holy Bible, is nothing less than the written revelation of God to mankind. It is too easy for us to forget the significance of this eternal truth. The Holy Bible, the Word of God, is the basis of our faith. It contains all we need to know about God. It reveals to you and me His Law and His Gospel. As Archbishop Cranmer said, “If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan." Therefore, as we look with eagerness at our “Target Date” of June 14 to resume our public worship, let is not neglect the gift our Heavenly Father has given us. Let us read His Word. Let us meditate daily upon it. Let us develop a hunger and a thirst for righteousness; a righteousness that comes to us through Christ as He is presented in the Holy Scriptures. As Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me” (John 5:29). Amen! Blessings, Pastor Jim

Pastor’s Article June 2020

The All Important and Sufficient Word of God

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