IT'S THE SUBSTANCE
Don't Miss Important Opportunities in Your Spiritual Life
The Expensive Cook Book
There was once a man who had a wife who loved cooking. So one day, whilst traveling, he came across an old recipe book in a market. It contained recipes which he knew she had never seen before and which he felt sure would stimulate her curiosity. It was very expensive, but because he loved her, he bought it nevertheless.
When he returned home he told his wife, who loved cooking, that he had bought her a very rare recipe book from the city he had just visited. She was very excited at first. But when she opened the gift and saw the name of the author, with whom she had had a disagreement many years before, the joy in her face vanished. She turned the pages hesitantly and instead of being exicted at the prospect of making new dishes, which she normally would have done, she remained sullen, criticising the layout of the book, pointing out spelling mistakes, and saying that she had seen better recipes. Her husband was sad for he had had such great hopes of pleasing her and bringing joy into her life. She never looked at the book again nor ever discovered some of the most exciting dishes ever devised.
All Because of Prejudice
Brethren and sisters, you will find, in the annals of human affairs, thousands of similar stories. Time and time again intelligent people miss golden opportunities for spiritual and material growth because of some prejudice. People have ruined their lives over the most stupid and petty things because they have allowed their judgment to be coloured by feelings.
I remember about twenty years ago a man who was searching for a Christian community that he could make his home. He had discovered that Jesus in Hebrew mighty have been Yeshua, and since this was the Messiah's proper name, and not the Greek Iesu, that any true Christian church would also use this name. In his blindness he judged and rejected every Church which did not use the name Yeshua, missing all the spiritual treasures they could have given him. There is an entire church today which will not read a Bible that calls God "Lord" instead of Jehovah. There is another Church who will not read a Bible translation produced by its founder because a rival break-off Church has the copyright. My own father would have nothing to do with religion because his first wife was the daughter of a minister and she was unfaithful to him. There are many Christians who will not touch the literature of other denominations because of one or two doctrinal differences even though that literature is of superb content as a rule. I know a Polish lady who, though born long after the Nazi era, will have nothing to do with Germans or anything German. I knew a white lady who would not walk on the same side of the road as a black man because her church was racist, but who changed her behaviour when that church abandoned its racist policy. I know Korean and Japanese children who will not talk with each other because of their parents' experiences during the last world war. And in many nations there is racial hatred because of events which took place centuries ago.
A Demon Called Pride
Aren't people stupid?! Yet we all do it! How many times have you refused to take some good advice from someone because you felt that would lower your self-image or prestige? Be honest. We have all done it. Yet what is astonishing to me is that people are willing to gamble their eternal salvation on such silliness.
I remember how many years ago, when this Church work first began in Europe, how the first revelations were received. They were hailed by former members as containing insights and truth that they had never seen before, which had caused their souls to swell with joy and new hope. They testified that no man could have brought them forth and shared the light they had obtained. Yet today we find some of these people picking away at them for every linguistic error they can find, supposing that they can discredit the whole because of some undotted i or uncrossed t. They failed to realise that the revelations, like the Bible, is not some giant balloon which will explode at the slightest needle prick. They conveniantly forget, in the days of their unbridled hostility, that all scripture is a partnership between man and God, having a divine content with human outer forms. They forget that the One whom they claim as their Saviour, Jesus Christ, was both God and man, and not a transcendant spiritual being divorced from human realities. Yet these same critics come with their own floating, ever-changing theologies based on mere feelings for the most part, and say that they have found a "better" or a "higher" way.
A Glimpse into the Past
If you were able to go back in time and take sample photographs of Christians over the last two thousand years, you would discover tens of thousands of people all dressed differently yet all bearing witness of the same truth. You might find a Roman soldier, a Greek peasant, a German prince, an African farmer, an American Indian hunter, a Chinese nun, and so on. All would look radically different from one another in terms of their dress. Yet just as God places His Word in the hearts of people who dress and talk differently, who have different eating habits, different ways of farming, different ways of expressing themselves, so also he clothes eternal truths with different words, different syntax, and different forms. Just as a cup of wine from the same bottle is the same whether it is poured into a crystal glass, a plastic disposable cup, or a clay mug, so also is the truth of the Gospel the same whether it is written in exquisite Victorian English or in modern colloquial English. It could even be expressed in a totally different medium like a painting or a collection of symbols.
Of Scriptures and Revelations
We have recently edited our revelations and changed the wording here and there in order to convey the original sense more accurately. This has been done by the original author who knows the spiritual substance of what he wrote. But he may do more than change spelling, punctuation or word order. From time to time he may take out entire phrases or sentences that are superfluous or which have been superceded.
Let us take an example from the Bible. The Greek episkopoi, which implies a congregational leader, has been translated in numerous ways in English translations, such as elder, pastor, bishop, overseer, presbyter, presiding elder in order to reflect current denominational termninology. Naturally, Catholic translations favour bishops, presbyterians presbyter, Jehovah's Witnesses overseer, baptist churches, pastor, Mormons presiding elder, and so on. Are any of them wrong? Or should all translate episkopoi literally and render it "Bishop"? The problem is that episkopoi has many different meanings, and it really doesn't matter what word you use so long as it conveys the original sense of a congregational leader. It is for this reason that the New Covenant Church feels at liberty to alter the titles of Priesthood officers in its revelations, as it has done in some cases, and not because it is trying, as some have accused, to falsify the revelations. Otherwise we may find ourselves being forced to reject the Bible because Jesus isn't called Yahshua/Yeshua, Christ isn't called Mashiach (Messiah), James isn't called Yakov, Judas isn't called Yehudah, New Testament teachers aren't called Rabbi, and so on.
What about taking out some parts of the revelations? Or even entire revelations? A comparison between various Old Testament texts -- the Masoretic (Hebrew), Septuagint (Greek), Ethiopic, Aramaic, etc., reveals some important differences in content, not to mention canon. Paul was also adept at misquoting the Old Testament in his writings yet Bible-believing Christians do not fault him for perverting the Tanakh. The Spirit was conveying ideas -- pictures, if you will -- and he was often struggling to render them into words. The first generations of Christians threw out many scriptural books both spurious and genuine, some by the original apostles and some by charlatans.
The Bible is translated again and again as theologians try to convey the sense of the original languages. Christians are even today embroiled in great controversies over which translation is the best. Some, like New Covenant Christians, recognise that no one translation conveys the purity of the original, and so employ many. And one translation, the Amplified Version, offers multiple renditions.
What, then, shall we do? We shall accept that in this mortal sphere that perfection cannot be found and adapt ourselves accordingly. We do not deny that we can approach it, and that indeed there was One -- and one alone -- who achieved it, namely Yahshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ, Iesu, Yeshua, Y'shua, Yeheshua....) in this world. In Him we may safely trust -- not in the spelling or pronunciation of His Name (who am I, by the way -- Chris, Christopher, Kris, Krees, Kreesh, Kristoffer...?) but in His personhood. However you may write or pronounce His Name, He is still the same Saviour and bequeathes the same Spirit to the faithful.
This page was created on 10 April 1998
Last updated on 10 April 1998
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