“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17,18)
Here we have an amazing promise of God’s miraculous power.
This has to do with the word of God. Specifically, it has to do with God’s concern that His word would always remain available to all of His people in all generations.
The Bible is filled with promises God has made to His people that He would preserve His word.
The question is whether we believe Him or not?
Preservation or Restoration?
Many Christians today do not believe that God has kept His word intact down through history. Instead, they believe that the word has been lost somewhere along the way.
Consequently, they believe that we must be in a restoration process that has been going on for almost 2000 years. And that is just in relation to the New Testament words. The Old Testament has been around for almost 6000 years; think of what that restoration process must be like!
So how do they answer the verse above with its promise of preservation?
The hard reality is that many Christians believe God has only preserved the thoughts or ideas or truths of God. Not the actual words themselves. They think that only the “essence” of truth has been preserved.
And definitely not in some “perfect” state or form.
Such as perfect copies supernaturally preserved down through the ages containing the absolutely perfect words that God originally inspired.
They are more likely to believe that God has preserved His word in heaven. But physically, here on earth? Not so much.
So let’s take a look at this illustration of what a “jot” and “tittle” really are.
Notice how small the tittle is. It is almost imperceptible. One could easily miss it if it were not seen in large print.
And yet, the Lord Jesus Christ said that He would preserve His words down to this level of detail. This miniscule level of detail.
But there is another amazing reality here. That this preservation has to do with the written, visual word. It has to do with words on a page. Words with incredible levels of detail.
Not just spoken words. Not just words once “God-breathed” in perfection and then left for the world to lose and corrupt.
Inspiration without Perfect Preservation is Meaningless
This is a big problem for those who deny that God has supernaturally, providentially, in His amazing sovereignty, kept His words intact through perfect copies. Note that I am saying copies here. Not the originals kept intact.
We have no way of knowing if any of the originals still exist. Those would be the original parchments, stones, skins on which God’s perfectly inspired words were written.
Maybe they still exist somewhere; and maybe they don’t.
But it had been God’s method all through the history of the Old Testament to preserve His word through the meticulous copying skills of faithful Hebrew people. That is how we were able to have the Hebrew Masoretic Text down through the millenia.
And it was also God’s method to preserve the Greek Textus Receptus or “Received Text” down through these last 2000 years. Faithful people meticulously copying His word so that the common people had the Bible in their hands through all history.
And He kept His word for us with around 5200 manuscripts pieces still in existence today. That is equal to about 99% of all manuscript evidence that exists anywhere. All supporting the Textus Receptus.
And the Lord did this even during those times when the Catholic Church and other powers shut the Bible away from most of the common people or kept it in Latin; in a language that the people could not read nor understand.
Bottom Line: The Lord kept His promise. He has always kept His word perfectly intact for all generations. Just as He promised.
So that faithful, accurate translations could be made from His perfectly-preserved written words.
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12: 6,7)
December 3, 2017 at 7:01 pm
This is an important point. I’ve always said that the written word was perfect and infallible “in the original manuscripts”, but if God preserved His Word only up to a certain point, how can we depend on the truth of the version we currently hold in our hands? And what would it say about the power of God?
December 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm
Good point, Shiny. Why would God go to such unimaginable pains to breathe-out a perfect word, “purified seven times”, as the scriptures say, only to let it slide into corruption? And how can a man be made “perfect” and “throughly furnished” by every word of God if we don’t have every word of God? Or if we are uncertain about having it? Thanks for your comment.
December 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm
I should add a question, though: What translation is the most God-preserved in English?
December 4, 2017 at 8:09 pm
Hi Shiny, well, your phrase, “the most God-preserved” relating to a translation in English demands a lot of explanation and some deep and sound arguments. I believe that the KJV is the most accurate translation that exists in the English language. Not the New KJV, but the 1611 after the apocrypha was removed. The reason for this is that only the KJV, out of all the versions available to us, is based on the Greek Received Text and the Hebrew Masoretic Text. And it was translated using the Formal Equivalence method. Which means that words were brought over from the original language from Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic to English as literally as possible. A verb would remain a verb; a noun a noun; an adverb as an adverb. Translation was not to become interpretation. Dynamic Equivalence, which is the method used in the new versions, is about interpretation instead of translation. Interpretation must be left to the believer as he reads and is taught by the Holy Spirit. That is the only way to know what God has really said to us.
This is no small deal. The versions you see today: The RSV, ESV, NIV, NASB, etc. are all based upon the text created in private by Westcott and Hort in 1881 – 1898. Since that time, they have been edited and revised over 30 times in what is now called the Nestle / Alland Text. All of this based on a small number of textual manuscripts — about 47 or so that do not even agree with one another. But they fit the doctrinal bent that these two theologians liked and so forced them all together and called it a better text.
There is so much more that must be said about this. And I have been planning to go into this deeper in future posts. I don’t call the KJV “perfect” in the same sense as the originals. There is no scriptural basis to do that. But, having read the accounts of how the KJV was brought together in full daylight by 50 + men who believed in inspiration, loved the Word, and whose intellectual pedigrees in Greek and Hebrew dwarf all experts today, I believe that God was sovereignly protecting His Word and supervising the process that brought it into the common tongue so that men could read it for themselves and have unity in His Word and not in the Catholic or other traditions that kept the world in darkness for centuries.
Thanks, Shiny for asking this question. You have no idea how I have longed for someone to ask it!