One of the questions most often asked of Pastor Miles is, “Which translation of the Bible do you use?” Whenever you study God’s written Word, it’s a good idea to look at many translations and compare them to enhance your understanding. But rather than focusing on a particular translation or getting hung up on the exact words, Pastor Miles says it is much more important to focus on the message of the Scriptures. There is no original biblical language, for even the “original” Greek and Hebrew are simply human language translations of God’s sentiments. The original words are God Himself!
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 an over-arching importance that believers know Christ and have Christ in common, regardless of the precise words used:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
The Bible is designed to communicate that the Father loves us and desires to have a relationship with us.
The Bible represents God’s story of His relationship with humankind. It is designed to communicate that the Father loves us and desires to have a relationship with us, so every application of the Bible should be filtered through that message. God’s Word should never be used to shame people, beat them over the head, or drive them away from God! Rather, it is a book of encouragement that should draw people to God.
A Holy God, who is a Spirit, dwells in approachable light. John 4:24, 1 Timothy 6:16
Imagine God who is Spirit, a good Daddy. If you were with Him, you would not need a book to tell you about His glory and grandeur and love. No words would be necessary at all! You would sense His presence, fall on your face, and cry. You would simply experience the things that make Him who He is.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:16
The Bible is only one of the translations of God’s message, but however God’s message comes to you, it will be translated in a way you can understand. He wants to communicate to you and He has chosen various forms or translations to communicate His message.
1. The written translation is called the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16
God wants to communicate to everyone how much He loves you, wants a relationship with you, and wants to fill you with peace, joy, patience, and the fruit of the spirit. One way He chose to communicate this message is by inspirationally breathing Scripture into life. As we learned last week, God’s Word is His Word not because people have determined it to be, but because that is what He did. Pastor Miles likened this to his relationship to his mother: she bore him and gave birth to him and he is her son because of that, whether or not anyone believes it to be true.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
2. The incarnated translation is Jesus. Hebrews 1:1-3, John 1:14
God also took the teachings and principles of the written Word and made it into the person Jesus. He is a living version - a moving, breathing translation of God’s communication to us.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Him Hebrews 1:1-3
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Jesus enacted the concepts of God. He was the living example of God’s forgiveness and love. In order to fully illustrate God’s message of love and seeking out His lost children to bring them back to Himself, Jesus even sacrificed Himself unto death on a cross.
3. The real-time translation is done by the Holy Spirit. John 16:13
The Bible was not written to you, but it was written for you. Paul wrote to a church in Philippi, not to Christians in San Diego, so the words do not tell you whether you should buy a house in Clairemont or in Mission Valley. Rather, the Word tells us general messages that God wants us to understand in our situation, such as to trust God, not to be greedy, and to be generous. But the Holy Spirit guides us in real-time, to speak to us specifically in any given situation.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13
God is never going to tell you everything. But when we trust in His character, His love, and His will, then don’t need to know everything; we just need to know Him.
4. He also communicates with slang translation. Luke 14:26
In the Bible, there are different literary genres (poetry, gospel, apocalyptic, legal, prophetic, narrative) and each is written and read by its own rules. For example, if you read a science fiction novel, you understand that it is not real, but you can still enjoy it in its own context.
Pastor Miles’ term “slang translation” refers to the use of hyperbole (exaggeration) to relay a message. If you saw a friend at the mall and he said, “Hey, what’s up?” you would not stop in your tracks and gaze up in the sky to find out what was overhead. Similarly, the Bible has some statements that are way out there, not meant to be taken literally, but to be an exaggeration so that we may understand a concept.
For example, in Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Jesus doesn’t literally mean that you should hate your family. He means that God wants you love Him so much that you will love Him no matter what anyone says or does. Your love should be so great that your love for your family pales in comparison.
In Matthew 5:30, Jesus says, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
This doesn’t mean that if you are addicted to the internet, that you should cut your typing hands off and throw them in the river, but that you should do whatever you need to do to remove sin from your life. Maybe you need to cut off some relationships and stop hanging out with certain people who drag you down. Maybe you need to add an app to your computer that will alert your spouse if you visit an inappropriate website or simply get rid of your computer altogether.
Whatever the translation of His heart, God’s message is consistent. He simply desires for you to understand His love for you, draw you into a relationship, and give you abundant life that you can’t experience without Him. Today is the day to get the message and take a step toward Him!