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Warnings about Changing the Bible
Bible Series, article 4.0


Luke Mounsey
June 26, 2009
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In Psalm 12:7, God promised to preserve His Word from “this GENERATION for ever.” Preservation served to prevent accidental corruption of the text during transmission. Also, this divine preservation counters the deliberate, concentrated war on the Bible by Satan and his agents. This conspiracy to pervert the Word of God is world wide, and dates to the most ancient of times. The Word has been under attack since the serpent deceived Eve. The enemy of mankind, knowing that the scriptures lead to salvation, causes man to doubt the Bible, reject the Bible, and even alter the Bible. The corruptions are as numerous as the heresies which spawned them. God has strengthened and purified His Word, that it may stand against this assault. Martin Luther once said, “The Bible is like a lion; it does not need to be defended; just let it loose and it will defend itself.” God has preserved His Word, and it can defend itself. Despite the opposition of devil and man, God's Word remains pure, inspired, and inerrant. How do we know that heretics have attempted to change the Word of God? God has given us warning about heretics bringing perversions of the gospel.1 The Lord takes His Word very seriously. He has preserved it for us. He has commanded us not to change it in any way. He has also given us warning about those who alter it, and to those who alter it.

Thou Shalt Not Change My Word

God has commanded us to not change His Word. As He is the author, He holds the eternal copyright. He allows us, nay, commands us, to copy and spread His Word to the entire world. However, He strictly forbids the addition or removal of anything from His Word.

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)

If you add to His Words, you make yourself a liar: “Add thou not unto [God's] words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6) Prohibition on altering God's Word is not limited to the Old Testament. The closing verses of the New Testament contain a very strong warning against tampering with God's Word:

Revelation 22:18,19

18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

God has a very high opinion of His Word. He inspired it perfectly, and He forbids us from polluting it by adding to or subtracting from it.

Warnings about Corrupters

To keep us from accepting a counterfeit Bible, God has warned us of those who change it. The primary culprits include Satan, hardened sinners, heretics, false prophets, false teachers, and false apostles, along with their followers (ignorant as they may be). The war on the Word of God began with the devil in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:16-17

16. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The old serpent challenged this command, saying “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). Calling God a liar, he removed SOME of His Words: “Ye shall not surely die:” (Genesis 3:4). Next, Satan added his lie to the Word: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5). The devil cannot touch the Word of God without corrupting something. When he was tempting the Lord Jesus Christ, he misquoted Psalm 91:11,12. Note the following changes.

God's truth: Psalms 91:11,12

11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Satan's perversion: Luke 4:10,11

10. For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
11. And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

The dragon REMOVES “in all thy ways” and ADDS “at any time.” These corruptions give the reader the impression that we can do things that we know are foolish, and the Lord will always get us out of it. Jesus Christ is not deceived, and responds with “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Luke 4:12). It is the devil that takes the Word of God out of the heart, lest the sinner be saved. “...then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word...” (Luke 8:12). Satan has always sought to do away with the Word of God.

The devil is not alone in his attack on the Bible. His human agents are fast at work to change and discredit God's Word. The Bible clearly exposes the human element in perversion of the Word, from the false prophets of old to the false teachers of today. We are strongly admonished to separate ourselves from these individuals and their message. (This does not mean that we are not to seek to bring them out of their error unto repentance and the true gospel. But we are not to have fellowship with them as Christians, but unbelievers.)

Romans 1:21, 25

21. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

These people, having rejected God, have “changed the truth of God into a lie.” They are hardened sinners, who love their sin, who want nothing to do with God and His salvation. They go beyond rejecting the Word of God in their own lives. They want to change the Word, that they may be justified in their sins. Being convicted by scripture, but being hardened against God, they have pressed for legislation effectively banning the preaching of the convicting passages; passages which could lead to their salvation. This is done through “hate crimes” laws that forbid the “intimidation” of protected groups. These laws typically don't ban specific Scriptures, but forbid the “offending” of Jews, Moslems, homosexuals, and other groups. If a member of a protected group is offended by the reading of Scripture, they can press charges, accusing the reader of a hate crime. They, being convicted by Scripture, fight the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and seek the conviction of the preacher.

Chief among those who alter the Word are Christ-rejecting Jews and homosexuals. Jewish groups have argued that the reading of Isaiah chapter 53 needs to be re-translated, because of it's strong witness to Jesus as the Messiah. Some of these groups, including the American Interfaith Institute, are also insist that translators even remove so-called anti-semitic passages from the Bible.2 Homosexual groups have protested reading of passages against their practices as hate crimes. Some of these alterations are de-facto perversions, the scripture remains intact but is ignored or outlawed, and some are outright mutilations of the text. However, the unregenerate man has no knowledge that the Bible is a spiritual Book, and that it cannot be changed by human hands and human decrees. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

More crafty than the unsaved in their alteration of Scripture are the heretic and false prophet. Also known as false brethren, false teachers, and false apostles, these come in by stealth, professing themselves to be Christians. The heretic takes inspired Scripture, and “adjusts” it to match their own twisted teaching. The false prophet produces his own Scripture, conjuring up false dreams, false visions, and false words, and then stamps “Thus saith the Lord” on it as if it were the Word of God. The inspired apostle Paul warned of many, which “[handle] the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2) and “which corrupt the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17). Paul reproved the Galatians for falling into “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6), a false gospel, and warned them of those who “pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:7). The apostle Peter gave a very blunt warning about false teachers bringing false words:

2 Peter 2:1-3

1. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

The false teachers will come bearing “feigned words,” fake words, false words, words that appear to be the Word of God, but are not. Their words are but a perversion of the inspired writings. The motive? Covetousness! They lust after wealth, they lust after fame, they lust after followers, and they are willing to make a mockery of the Word of God to satisfy their lusts. Peter continues his warning against those who use “great swelling words of vanity” (carefully crafted lies) and the “lusts of the flesh” (2 Peter 2:18) to draw followers. We are repeatedly warned because many will get caught up in the deception. “...MANY shall follow their pernicious ways...” If these would take heed to the Word of the Lord, they wouldn't fall for the deception. We are to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3). The faith was given to us ONCE; God will not send another with a new faith that contradicts the old. If any preach another faith, they need to be corrected. The Bible makes it clear, that if someone comes in bearing an unscriptural doctrine, and won't consent to correction by wholesome words (1 Timothy 6:3), that person is to be rejected and expelled. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;...” (Titus 3:10).

Therefore, the heretics produce their own version, or perversion, of God's Word, in agreement with their heresy, to lead others astray. “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30). The Bible is full of warnings and examples of false teachers and false prophets corrupting the Word of God, and bringing forth “another gospel.” Therefore, it is correct to acknowledge that altered scriptures have been produced, and passed off as genuine. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses have produced their own Bible translation, which, among other perversions, renders, John 1:1 as “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”3 Also, the Mormons have taken portions of the Bible, added more to it, and produced their own Bible, the Book of Mormon. The eight article of faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) states: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”4 The telling sign of a false prophet is a prophecy that does not come to pass. If a prophet wasn't 100% accurate, they were declared a false prophet, to be stoned under Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Have the apostles of old given us a false prophecy, in their warning of heretics perverting the Word of God? No, indeed history has confirmed them, as will be explained in #6 - History of the Bible. Truly, alterations of the Bible text have been made. God has warned us, and it has come to pass. However, despite these attempted alterations, we still have God's pure Word.

Warning to the Corrupters

God gives a severe warning tho those who would tamper with His Word. He ends His holy Word with this warning:

Revelation 22:18,19

18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

For those who add to God's Word, He will punish with the plagues of Revelation. However, those who take away from the word are threatened with removal from the book of life, literally the loss of their salvation. All which add to the Word are declared liars (Proverbs 30:6). Jeremiah chapter 23 proclaims judgment on false prophets.

Jeremiah 23:31,32,39,40

31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
32. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
39. Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:
40. And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

Therefore, if you are guilty of willfully changing God's Word, be aware that He will punish you. Attempts to change, rewrite, outlaw, and destroy His Word will come to naught. God has kept His word pure, your modifications are but a counterfeit. Repent of your deeds, and God will forgive you.

In conclusion, God's Word is under attack. He has preserved His Word to thwart this attack. However, counterfeit gospels and counterfeit Bibles do exist, God having warned us in His Word of them. These forgeries have been produced by sinners and heretics, wanting to be justified for the error of their ways. God has threatened with the severest of judgments those who would dare alter alter His Word. God has preserved His Word, this is evidenced both in the original languages and in translations. The devil and his minions have produced their counterfeit words, and these are evident both in the originals and in translations. Despite Satan's attacks, we have the preserved, inerrant Word of God today. How can we tell the pure Word of God from a counterfeit? How do we know that the Bible has been preserved? Where is the preserved Word of God? This shall be covered in the next article.


 

1For the textual and historical viewpoints on preservation and corruption, see #5 – Text-types and Translations, and #6 – Bible History, respectively.

2http://www.americaninterfaith.org/articles08l

Note: Just because a passage has been misinterpreted to incite genocide is no reason to change the Scripture.

3New World Translation

4http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,00l





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