Bible Versions

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11 KJV, AV).’

There are some Christians who will never consider reading any version of the Bible other than the Authorised Version – that is the King James Bible written in English, which was first published in 1611. 

In this day there are multiple versions of the Bible that are published in as many as 683 languages [2018], and they all differ in part. In order to be the most accurate of translations, translators of God’s Word need access to the original autographs of Scripture, extant ones where possible. The more removed from them, the more opportunity there is for error.

I am no expert on Bible translations, but I understand that the King James Bible has foundational roots in the Geneva Bible, the first full copy of which was published in 1560. [The New Testament in 1557.] This was the Bible used by John Calvin, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, John Dunn and John Bunyan. It was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, and it included the Apocrypha which was translated from Greek and Latin.

In recent times there’s been a plethora of published Bibles, all written from different viewpoints for various reasons. Presenting God’s Scriptures in this way can be traced back to the Great Bible published in 1539. Henry V111 wanted passages from the Bible to be read aloud during services of the Church of England. So the king’s secretary, Thomas Cromwell, was authorised to commission the publication of a Bible acceptable to the clergy, and he directed them to provide “one book of the Bible of the largest volume in English.” These very large Bibles were placed in churches where they could be read by parishioners.  

Similarly the King James bible, first published in 1611, was sponsored by the monarch, James V1 (1), and written at his request, specifically to be inline with the ecclesiology of the Church of England, and the structure of the church. [More in-depth information about this can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version].

Dilemma – What Bible should I read?

In view of the above, perhaps we should be astute, and give due consideration as to what Bible is best for us?

Those searching for God’s ‘truth’ are left with this dilemma. 

Much will depend upon the fluency and level of a person’s understanding of their mother tongue. For example, one who can barely read may possibly understand some elements of God’s truth by persevering with a Contemporary English Version [CEV]. The *Bible Gateway says it is not a paraphrased presentation of God’s Word – rather it is an accurate and faithful translation of the original manuscripts. The great thing about it is, people with minimal reading skills stand a chance of understanding parts of it, even children of a young age.

The New Living Bible contrasts with the CEV, in that it is written to convey the ‘thoughts’ of the original writers of the Scriptures, and to present them in everyday English, particularly with a view of motivating readers to live their lives in accordance with its doctrines. This Bible is not a ‘word for word’ translation, as is the case with the Berean Literal Bible [BLB]. Instead, it is a ‘dynamic equivalence’ rendering of the Scriptures, i.e., a ‘thought for thought’ presentation. The emphasis is not on words, but rather a meaningful representation of what they express for bringing about understanding. 

When I first started reading the Bible with the endeavour of discovering God’s truth (John 14:6) I chose the Good News Bible. It is similar to the CEV, in that it sets out a ‘thought for thought’ or a ‘sense for sense’ presentation of the Scriptures. 

As my knowledge and understanding grew, I wanted a Bible with a more precise rendering of the original scripts, and the New International Bible [published in 1978] met my needs. It translated the Scriptures into equivalent everyday English, which made for easy reading. [Note: I have not yet read the 2011 edition; therefore I have no opinion about it.]

Continuing my journey of discovery I fortuitously chose the New King James Bible, which I came to love and habitually use today. I would describe it as a modern English version of the King James Bible, and I believe it is an accurate interpretation of the earliest Hebraic, Aramaic and Greek scripts.

I also love the King James Bible, especially for its archaic English, parts of which are beautiful, elegant, and even lyrical – for indeed, much of it is pure poetry that was penned by the God’s chosen vessels as they were moved by His Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). They wrote of profound matters affecting them in their times; primarily their relationship with God and their relationships with surrounding nations. The Prophets were moved to speak God’s words, and to foretell of His workings – even of our own times.

More recently, I have come to appreciate the English Standard [Study] Bible [ESV], although my copy is in American English, and I’m trying to get used to some of the spellings, not least ‘Savior’ instead of ‘Saviour’. In the Introduction to my ESV it states that it is an “essentially literal” translation “especially suited for Bible study”. 

Comparisons 

If you are considering using a different Bible, I’ve set out below samples of Philippians 1:9-11 from twelve different versions. They may help you with your choice. As there are more than 450 English Bibles to choose from, you could be a while sorting out the one for you!

King James Bible [KJV], otherwise known as the Authorised Version [AV] 

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; that ye may approve things the are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

New King James Version [NKJV]

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

New International Version [NIV]

‘And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.’

English Standard Version [ESV]

‘And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

Good News Bible [GNB]

‘I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.’

New English Bible [NEB]

‘And this is my prayer, that your love may grow richer and richer in knowledge and insight of every kind, and may thus bring you the gift of true discrimination. Then on the Day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, reaping the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

New Living Translation [NLT]

‘I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.’

Contemporary English Version [CEV]

‘I pray that your love will keep on growing and you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day, Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God.’

Amplified Bible (Standard Edition) [AB]

‘And this I pray: that your love may abound more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognising the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble]. 

Berean Literal Bible [BLB]

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment, for you to approve the things being excellent, so that you may be pure and blameless unto the day of Christ, being filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’

Greek Interlinear Bible [GIB]

‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’

New Revised Standard Version [NRSV]

‘And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.’

Conclusion

If we are to be ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘discerning’  (Philippians 1:9) we must immerse ourselves in God’s Word (Joshua 1:8). We must ‘hear’ and ‘understand’ it (Matthew 13:23), and we must take it to heart. Through faith we must live to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and by His grace (Ephesians 2:8) He will enable us.

“Praise His holy name. Amen.”

*Bible Gateway

https://www.biblegateway.com 

Note

For more about the Bible, you may like to visit my article:

The Unchanging Word of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/02/28/the-unchanging-word-of-god/

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God’s Power

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven (Mark 13:26, 27).”’

There’s much in the Bible about the power of God; indeed the significance of God’s power is mentioned in 49 of its 66 books. In the book of Exodus we see a demonstration of God’s great power when He brought upon Pharaoh and his tyrannical regime the ten plagues (Exodus 7:14-12:36). In fact, one of the reasons why God acted as He did was for His name to be ‘declared in the all the earth (9:16).’

After the Israelites had been saved from the clutches of Pharaoh, and they were safely on the other side of the Red Sea, they feared and believed the LORD (14:31). Together with Moses (15:1) they acknowledged His ‘glorious’ power and sang: “Your *right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces (V.6).”’

Paul the Apostle on God’s Power

Paul wrote, ‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).’

Paul elsewhere spoke of the power of God in His work of salvation through His Son:

Romans 1:16 ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.’

1 Corinthians 1:18 ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’

2 Corinthians 13:4 ‘For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we are also weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.’

 The Relevance of God’s Power Today

God’s power is particularly relevant today, as the Day of the Lord approaches (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6), and the time of judgment draws ever nearer (Revelation 20:11, 12). ‘The power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16) as evidenced by Christian **persecution and martyrdom is there for all to see. In these unsettled and fractious times, more and more believers are living out their faith, and by the power of God’s Spirit in them they boldly testify to the saving grace of our Lord.

They tell of God’s mighty power, and demonstrate His power through their transformed lives (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are living testimonies to Paul’s words, ‘and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at ***His right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:19, 20).’

God’s power is at work in them, and they testify with the writer of Hebrews:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even the division of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart (4:12).’

The Challenge

Dear reader, do you know of this power? Have you been transformed by it? If your have, you will live with God forever (John 6:51).

In your weakness you’ll receive His power of life (2 Corinthians 13:4), and you will have life through His Son; for Jesus said, ‘“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).”’

Kind David said of himself: “God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect (2 Samuel 22:33).”

Is this true of you?

*Does God Really Have a Right Hand?

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/01/28/does-god-really-have-a-right-hand/ 

**The Persecution of Christians

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/03/09/the-persecution-of-christians/ 

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/09/06/persecution-of-christians/ 

***At the Right Hand of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/06/10/at-the-right-hand-of-god/ 

Other Texts Referring to God’s Power

Exodus 9:16 ‘“But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”’

Exodus 15:6 ‘“Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces.”’

Deuteronomy 8:18 ‘“And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”’

2 Samuel 22:33 ‘God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.’

Matthew 9:6 ‘“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”’

Matthew 10:1 ‘And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.’

Matthew 22:29 ‘Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”’

Matthew 26:64 ‘Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”’

John 10:17 ‘“No one takes it from Me, because I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. This command I have received from My Father.”’

John 19:10, 11 ‘Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”’

Acts 1:8 ’But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

1 Corinthians 1:18 ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’

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Paul, the Redeemed Sinner

‘To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory (Ephesians 3:8-13).’

Christ, the Example

Paul wrote: ‘Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).’

Christ was Paul’s example, and he wanted the Corinthians to be like him by following Christ.

As with Paul, Jesus is the One we follow (John 12:26; Matthew 10:38). He is our Redeemer who lives forevermore (Job 19:25) – the One who gives us life in Him by His Spirit (John 3:3-8).

When He walked on the face of the earth, the Son of God was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He was sent by His Father (John 12:49), and He lived a life of perfection in obedience to Him. Voluntarily He subjected Himself to the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17), and not once did He sin.

After his conversion Paul regarded himself as ‘the least of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9),  yet he had the enormous privilege of being personally commissioned for service by the risen Lord (Acts 9:1-9). He understood he had been ‘born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:8).God used him to reveal the mystery (Ephesians 3:9) that had been prophesied beforehand by His prophets, i.e., Jesus was the Messiah who would redeem a people (Revelation 5:9) to God. They would be a people of ‘faith’ in the likeness of Abraham, who metaphorically was their father in faith, just as he is ours today (Romans 4:16, 17)!

Paul was uniquely chosen by God for performing the role he was predestined to carry out (Ephesians 1:1-12). Originally he was a Pharisee of Pharisees (Philippians 3:5) devoted to destroying people of the Way (Acts 22:4; Philippians 3:6). He was scrupulous regarding the keeping of the Jewish laws and traditions (Acts 22:.3). It’s fair to say, he hated Christians, and believed he had been called by God to eliminate them.

Paul’s Conversion and Calling

He was shocked and blinded (Acts 9:9) through an unexpected encounter with the risen Lord. While on the way to Damascus, with the purpose of arresting and binding people of the Way for them to be taken to Jerusalem, suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. A voice spoke to Him saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to knock against the goads. Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what to do (Acts 9:4, 5).”

In obedience to the command of Jesus, Paul arose from the ground where he had fallen (V. 4), and he and those with him went to Damascus. From thereon his life was utterly transformed. He became an ardent follower of Jesus, and he did more than any other disciple (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10) in establishing the church by planting (1 Corinthians 3:6) local assemblies in towns and cities throughout the Roman Empire.

Paul wrote letters to these assemblies in response to their different needs. They required guidance and encouragement (Colossians 2:1, 2; Acts 20:2) in their walk with God, and by the power of the Spirit (Romans 1:4) they took onboard what Paul had to say to them (1 Corinthians 2:4-16).

Paul’s words are preserved in the Bible, and Christians are taught and encouraged by them (Romans 15:4).

Common themes in his writings are the overcoming of sin (Romans 6:1, 2; 8:10) and the exercise of faith by grace (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Of the words ‘faith’, ‘grace’ and ‘sin’, the most mentioned is ‘faith’ [138]; the next is ‘grace’ [89], and the least is ‘sin’ [59].

Surprisingly, although the resurrection of Christ is fundamental to the Christian faith, Paul only mentions the word ‘resurrection’ nine times – four of them in 1 Corinthians 15. Just once he wrote the word ‘ascend’, and that was in Romans 10:6. He quoted it from Deuteronomy 30:12. He wrote the word ‘ascended’ three times (Ephesians 4:8, 9, 10). Again, this was within the context of a quote from the Old Testament – specifically Psalm 68:18. Incidentally, the word ’ascension’ is not found in the entire Bible!

The Importance of Faith

Paul clearly states that ‘faith’ is ‘the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8), and no amount of work can earn a person a place in heaven (V. 9). It is by ‘grace’ , i.e., God’s unmerited favour, that people are saved ‘through faith’ (V. 8).

Paul states: ‘for whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23b).’ Therefore faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is required in all our living. We need to exercise our God-given faith (James 2:18) at all times.

Paul wrote of himself, ‘“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).”’

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Chance

‘Then Jesus answered and said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side (Luke 10:30, 31).”’

In this example of the use of the word chance the meaning of it according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words is:

 “the meeting together with, a coincidence of circumstances, a happening. But concurrence of events is what the word signifies, …”

Chance, as understood by the world, can be positive or negative; for example, if a man happens to be in a particular place at a particular time, and he ‘accidentally’ bumps into a particular lady who subsequently becomes his wife; if she turns out to be a faithful and dutiful spouse (Proverbs 18:22; 31:10-31), the chance meeting was positive indeed! But if she turns out to be unfaithful and lazy, the chance meeting which began their relationship was one the husband would rather not have been involved in. It was a negative outcome for him.

Years ago in 1960 I had a chance meeting with a beautiful lady who subsequently became my wife (Genesis 2:24). The Lord God had prepared that particular meeting and our marriage. It was later, when I became a Christian, that I realised God’s providence was the crucial factor in our ‘chance’ encounter. He knew all about us and He predestined the meeting (Ephesians 1:5, 11). He has looked after us ever since. My wife has been faithful and dutiful. I could not have desired a better partner for helping me (Genesis 2:20), caring for me, and for bearing our children and bringing them up (Proverbs 31:10-31). She continues to this day to support me and our family in our fifty-ninth year of marriage.

So, basically, there is no such thing as chance when it is defined as ‘good or bad luck’; for all happenings and all events are predestined. God’s Word states: ‘To those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).’ 

God in His providence, our Jehovahjireh (Genesis 22:14 AV), governs all ‘chance’ situations. He rules over all (Psalm 47:8) – even the evil works of satan (1 John 3:8; 5:18, 19). He does not condone his evil works, and He is not the author of them, but He allows satan to use his power for carrying them out (Job 2:7), ultimately for the benefit of the elect (John 8:28) : ‘And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1, 2).’

As the above verses point out, all of us, at one time, were under the sway of the evil one (2 Timothy 3:26; 1 John 3:8, 10), and some never escape from serving him (Matthew 13:19).

God provides a Way (John 14:6) for escaping the tyranny of satan and entering into the kingdom of His Son (John 3:16). He sets aside a time which is ‘now’; for today is the day of salvation:

‘For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).’ 

If you have not confessed your sins and asked God for forgiveness, ‘now’ is that very ‘chance’, so that you may enter into the realm of His rest (Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 4:3).

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Leadership in the Land of Hope and Glory

As I write this, our new prime minister, Boris Johnson, is travelling around the UK endeavouring to promote his policies, and to whip up enthusiasm for togetherness in a post-Brexit era. He has an unenviable task, and what seems to be an impossible mission. The concept of togetherness, i.e., working together for a better Britain cannot be faulted; for every citizen wants to improve their prospects and the prospects of generations to come.

There are many worthy causes worth fighting for, such as a low carbon economy that respects the world’s ecosystems, and one that helps those who are less well-off, the needy and those who are unable to help themselves.

Finding a leader who can inspire, guide and safeguard our land has always been a problem.

There are exceptional, talented, and gifted people in politics, but those qualities are insufficient. People will get behind a leader who clearly has their interests at heart; one who understands their situations and one who not only empathises with them, but who is able to fight on their behalf, and to bring about changes for the better.

Moral and ethical considerations in political leadership are important; I would say they are more important than any other qualities of leadership.

Our new leader would do well to consider the state of the nation’s mindset, and ask if it is on the right course for achieving unity, and togetherness. The prosperity a leader should seek is not an amassing of riches and possessions, but a prosperity measured by the inward contentment of its citizens (Philippians 4:11, 12), a satisfaction gained from healthful living (1 Timothy 4:8), respect for others (Titus 3:2), compassion (1 Peter 3:8), harmony, cooperation and the seeking of good for others (Titus 2:7).

Jesus, the Leader

When you consider the great leaders of history, none of them are comparable to the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9). He has influenced and changed countless millions by His personal example of humility and service (Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:1). He turned the tables upside down. The whole of the world’s values have been shown by Him to be worthless (Cf. 1 John 2:15). The only thing that counts is being united in Him. Only He can bring peace (John 14:27) and prosperity (10:10) – not worldly peace and so-called material prosperity, but His peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a peace that brings to His followers the perfection found in Him (Hebrews 5:9). Their prosperity is in the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7), the experience of His love (John 15:9. 10), forgiveness and mercy.

All who follow Him have a sure future (Hebrews 6:19), a future in the real ‘land of hope and glory’; a future of inexpressible, eternal joy. Citizens of His kingdom will reign (2 Timothy 2:12) with Him for evermore.

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Artificial Intelligence

‘For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (1 Corinthians 1:19).”

We live in an entirely different age to that of the writers of the New Testament – people like Paul, Peter and James. Our ways of thinking are different, because of our so very different culture and the increase of knowledge in our times. Computers and technology have changed everything; not just our understanding of the universe, but the ways in which we live.

In the time of the Roman Empire an extensive network of roads enabled rapid travel between the provinces and the seat of government at Rome. They facilitated the movement of military forces for maintaining law and order, and they greatly helped with the transfer of strategic information.

In our age, particularly in the Western World, the majority of people are literate, unlike those who lived in Israel at the time of Christ. Today loads of people read the Bible, and as they do, they exercise their grey cells for gaining insight into the scenarios presented in the books of the Old and New Testaments. If they are like me, they try to imagine what life was like for the biblical characters; for example, what was the reaction of Philemon after reading Paul’s letter which asked him to receive back into his keeping, the slave Onesimus. Did he feel like forgiving him for absconding to Rome, where in God’s providence he met and served Paul, and subsequently became a Christian?

Both Paul and Philemon intelligently applied the teachings of Jesus to good effect. I have no doubt whatsoever that Onesimus and Philemon were amicably reunited.

Intelligence is a requisite for both understanding the Scriptures and for applying them. It’s not just a matter of the Holy Spirit doing the work. Yes, the Holy Spirit is a necessary Helper (John 14:26) for understanding God’s Word. Those who do not have Him as their Helper are unable to comprehend the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:6-15).

Intelligence and Biblical Application

My dictionary defines intelligence as the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings. etc..

Well, you can be intelligent and apply logic; you can take in facts and learn from experiences, but that does not make you a child of God (John 1:12). Indeed, Paul states: ‘But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27).’ Therefore, even the least able, the weakest and the feeble can become believing children of God.

Although the above is true, Paul exhorts Christ’s followers to transform their minds (Romans 12:2) – that is to exercise their grey cells for bringing about behaviour that conforms to the will of God, i.e., to live in accordance with the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9) and to obey His law (Galatians 6:2) of love (John 13:34).

We have to do the ‘thinking’ and we have to do the ‘learning’. We have to apply our knowledge and wisdom for accomplishing good works (Ephesians 2:10); for being lights to those in darkness (Matthew 5:14-16), and for preaching the gospel, and for carrying out Christ’s command to make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

Intelligent Applications, Systems and Machines

In this space-age when men have set foot on the moon and intelligent probes have been sent to remote planets, an increasing number of Christians are making use of mobile phone applications to help them understand the Scriptures.

I have three very useful ones, but, as with all things, they have to be tested for their accuracy and truthfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:21). At all times I must intelligently examine what they teach.

As these gismos become more sophisticated we must be vigilant, because their ‘intelligent’ input influences our ways of thinking, and hence, our decisions and actions. As a man thinks, so he is.

Intelligent machines have their limitations, but technology is evolving rapidly, and innovative and creative designers are constantly improving their machines’ capabilities. Some machines can mimic ‘cognitive’ functions that are similar to those of the human mind; i.e., they ‘learn’ and ‘problem solve’. A quite frightening development is machines that are capable of understanding human emotions, and they can be programmed to react to them; therefore they can influence a person’s decision making.

Nano technology gives the real possibility that these machines can be integrated into the neural systems of a human – into the brain itself. It is even possible for a machine to have an understanding of ‘self-awareness’, and the ability to interact with similar machines.

There’s no doubt that these humanised, robotic machines will increasingly play a part in the way we conduct our lives in the future. In God’s predestined plan they may be tools of satan.

The Bible appears not to make any direct reference to them, but of the ‘end time’ Daniel 12:4 states: ‘“… you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”’’

Perhaps this points to an age when men and women no longer think for themselves; instead they are controlled by machines that do the thinking for them. They travel to and fro under the direction of implanted, so-called mind-enhancing machines, and they have mechanical extensions fitted to their limbs, like those of fictional ‘cyborgs’.

Their desire is to live forever, but it is God who has the last word: “Surely I am coming quickly (Revelation 22:20).”

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The Song of Solomon

There are numerous interpretations of the Song of Solomon, and apart from God, who knows which is the best? – if, indeed, any of them are correct!

It is important to recognise that the Holy Spirit was the Author of the Song of Solomon. King Solomon was His instrument. As with all Scripture, it is God who speaks through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16) to those who are born again (John 3:3-8), i.e., those who have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

God speaks to His own (Psalm 85:8), and He addresses them individually. Consequently each believer has a personal *relationship with his Lord (Jeremiah 31:34) – not unlike the relationship mirrored in the Song of Solomon between the Shulamite and her Beloved. Their relationship was intimate and beautiful. So too, is that of the believer and his Lord; not in terms of physical attraction or sexual intimacy, rather a spiritual (John 4:24) relationship through and by the Holy Spirit.

God first gives His love to the believer (1 John 4:19), who in turn receives it with great joy (John 15:11). In response the believer shows his love by being obedient to his Lover (John 14:15).

There is no finer love than that of the Father for His Son (John 5:20) who is the Groom betrothed to His bride [the church] (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27), and at the right time their love will be consummated at ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9).’

I find there are parallels between my relationship with the Lord and the relationship of the Shulamite and her Beloved.

When you delve into this ‘Song of Solomon’, what does the Spirit say to you?

Does He confirm that you have a very precious and deep relationship (6:3) with your Lord?

Does He assure you that you are a ‘seal’ (8:6) on your Lord’s ‘heart’ and ‘arm’ for evermore?

What the Spirit Says to Me

I am totally amazed to learn that my Lover, the Lord Jesus Christ, loves me more than I can comprehend; since, in my estimation, I’m flawed beyond redemption. I am gobsmacked when I take in the extent of His love, in that He suffered on the cross and died for me, so that I may live eternally with Him – even more amazing, He gives me an **inheritance in Him.

The Song

When the Beloved gazed upon the Shulamite he saw none of her flaws (Song of Solomon 1:6); instead he saw her as perfect, pure and most beautiful (v. 8, 15; 2:2; 4:7). This is how God looks upon His loved ones. He sees them as flawless and perfect, just as He sees His Son.

When the Shulamite gazed upon her Beloved she saw his perfection (2:3; 5:10-16). Believers, too, gaze upon their Lord, and by the eye of faith they see His absolute perfection (Psalm 18:30).

The lover’s desires were for each other (7:10, 12). The Shulamite expressed her longing to be sealed together in marriage (8:6, 7). Believers likewise, long for ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9)’ when they will be fully wedded to their Lord. All day long they cry aloud, “Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

The lovers’ courtship did not go without its hiccups; for the Shulamite made mistakes along the way (1:6), and she had to deal with distractions (2:15), but her Beloved responded with love and encouragement (1:8-10). Isn’t that the case with the Lord and those He loves?

Protocol demanded a right time for the couple to be joined together in their love (2:7; 3:5; 8:4), i.e., on the day of their wedding (3:1-11). Their union was sensuous and passionate (4:9-5:1).

The Spirit speaks to those who have ‘ears to hear (Mark 4:9),  and this song of love tells of much more to come.

*God/Man Relationships

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/17/relationships/

*Jesus is Personal

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/07/12/jesus-is-personal/

**An Eternal Inheritance in Christ Jesus

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/01/14/an-eternal-inheritance-in-christ-jesus/

Note

I recommend you get hold of a copy of ‘Solomon’s Song of Songs – Pure Intimacy’ written by John Barber. He offers 31 daily readings that give insights into this rich resource of God’s Word.

Details can be found by clicking this link:

https://jrbpublications.com/2019/07/16/solomons-song-of-songs-pure-intimacy/

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