The Preservation of the Bible
September 12, 2021
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (1Thessalonians 2:13; 2Timothy 3:16)
A. Last week, the Inspiration of the Bible
1. It matters whether these are only the words of men, or of God…
2. 1Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
3. Evidently, all the Scripture that Paul was preaching from were the very words of God, not the words of Paul
4. Because they were given by the inspiration of God (2Timothy 3:16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
B. This morning… We are going to learn about the PRESERVATION of those words
C. What it means to preserve something…
1. To keep something from being lost, ruined, soiled, broken – to protect it
2. To keep something fresh, and good and pure
3. We still use this word today
a. Jam Preserves
b. A Forest Preserve
c. We often say we do things to “preserve the peace”
d. And when we find something ancient and fragile, we do everything we can to preserve it from decaying and disintegrating, and falling apart!
D. When we pick up and read the Bible, we are reading ancient words from long ago
1. These are words from long, long ago
a. Job lived in Mesopotamia nearly 4,000 years ago, at the same time as Abraham
b. When Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, he was wandering around in the wilderness of Jordan with almost 2 million Jews, 1,450 years before the birth of Christ
c. David wrote many of the Psalms from caves when he as hiding from king Saul, 1,000 years before the birth of Christ
d. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, etc all wrote nearly 2,000 years ago
2. Are they still the same today?
E. Can you imagine someone seriously saying, “I have good news and I have bad news”
“The good news is that God wanted to talk to us and give us answers, and hope, and faith, and so He caused a book to be miraculously written called THE BIBLE.”
“The bad news is that God didn’t have the power to PRESERVE that Book, and therefore we don’t know what it said!” “It has been lost. And we are on our own…”
1. You see, miraculous Inspiration without miraculous PRESERVATION is of no value.
2. And yet many Christians today, and most pastors believe God’s words have been lost.
F. So, How can we know that what WE are reading is the very same as what God spoke and wrote so long ago? (Psalm 12:6,7)
1. Did the ‘catholic church’ preserve God’s words? Did hermits and monks keep it from being lost? No.
2. GOD alone promised to miraculously preserve the words that He spoke forever! He promised that His words would be around 2,000 and 3,000 and 4,000 years after they were written!
3. THAT is the miracle of preservation.
4. It is the great Doctrine of Preservation. It teaches:
a. That God has kept and will keep His Word intact through all time, untouched, undamaged, and complete!
b. That God has actually preserved His Word from the moment He gave it until this present day, and will do so for at least as long as heaven and earth exist.
5. Psalm 12:6,7 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.
A. Jesus Promised to Preserve Whatever He SAID Forever (Matthew 24:29-35)
1. A strong Warning about the future! (Matthew 24:29-34)
a. Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
b. Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
c. Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
d. Mat 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
e. Mat 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
f. Mat 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
g. Jesus was not just talking to people – giving His opinions – not podcasting!
h. No. He gave a strong Warning about the future!
i. He said A time is coming called the Tribulation – it is not here yet, but very near
j. Things would rapidly start winding up as we approach the end of this age – it is no joke folks! This is not fake news, or conspiracy nutjobs!
1) Don’t count on the sun to keep shining forever folks – it will go dark soon
2) Don’t count on all the space junk and asteroids staying up in space
3) A lot of it is going to start falling from the sky
k. Soon the Son of man (the Messiah) will blaze across the heavens (Matthew 24:27) For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
l. It will terrify the entire world “then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn”
m. Every eye will see it (Revelation 1:7) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
n. There will be a rapture of God’s people out of here before any of that happens
o. Everyone else will have a front row seat to see the end – not a good thing!
p. That’s why we preachers preach loud and clear, Get out before all of that begins!
2. In the midst of all those warnings, Jesus says something incredible (Matthew 24:35)
a. Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
b. Jesus warns that God is about finished with this world, and is about to burn it up
c. But even though this universe will pass away, Jesus’ own words, His often gentle words, precise words, eternal words, will NEVER pass away
d. They will always be here, to be heard, and read, and studied, trusted, and enjoyed!
e. The words in this Book will outlast the entire universe!
B. Four Big Things God Preserves and Keeps Around
1. The Universe He Made (Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:17)
a. Neh 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
b. Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
c. Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
d. Col 1:17 And he [JESUS] is before all things, and by him all things consist.
e. So Jesus continually preserves, and governs this universe
f. The only reason why this universe is not flying apart right now is because God is holding it together
g. Evolution has ruined people’s ability to trust that God is in control and not accidents!
2. The People He Called – the Jewish people (Jeremiah 30, 31)
a. The Assyrian Empire tried to destroy the nation of Israel in 700 BC
b. The Babylonian Empire tried in 600 BC
c. The Greek Empire tried again in 300 BC
d. The Romans in 70 AD under Titus – remember Masada?
e. Later Emperor Hadrian tried to exterminate them starting in 117 AD
f. Throughout the Crusades, the Catholic Church attempted to take over Jerusalem and forcibly convert, and then slaughter the Jews all over Europe and the Middle East
g. Since 1066, the Muslims have sought the destruction of the Jewish people
h. England ran all the Jews out of its nation from 1290 to the 1500’s
i. In 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France and starved to death
j. Spain tried to exterminate them during the Inquisition, and later in the 1400’s
k. World War I and II drove almost all of the them once again out of Europe onto death ships that were never allowed to dock anywhere except in Palestine
l. Hitler slaughtered 6 million of them
m. And yet… they are still around today as a people!
n. Why??? Because… God promised to preserve His people, Israel
o. Speaking to a rebellious and idolatrous nation… Jeremiah 30:11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
p. Jeremiah 31:35-37 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.
q. But that cannot happen, so Israel is still His people and will be preserved as a nation!
3. The Words He Spoke
a. God has promised to preserve ALL the words He has spoken! The Scriptures!
b. Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
c. Psalm 12:6,7 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.
4. And the Souls of Sinners He Saves - The BEST part!
a. Jesus says, John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
b. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
c. John 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
d. 1Peter 1:4,5 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
e. Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called
f. Jude 1:24,25 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
g. Every believer is SECURE and SAFE because our souls are kept by the power of God, not by our own ability to live right! AMEN!
C. The Process of Preserving His Words (PRESERVATION GRAPHIC)
1. God spoke HIS words into men’s minds and hearts – Inspiration
2. They wrote it down – also part of inspiration
3. It was preached to the people of Israel, and then into all the world - Proclamation
4. Hand Copied and given to people far away, and to churches world wide
a. Deuteronomy 11:18-20 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates
b. Copied by Christians and thousands of churches all over the world
1) Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
2) The New Testament Scriptures were being passed around from church to church and being hand copied as fast as possible
5. No one kept the original hand written books or letters
6. Just copies of copies of copies – and that was okay!
7. It has been said that “The New Testament alone is the most copied and recovered piece of literature from antiquity” There is no other historical evidence as well documented as Bible History!
D. Yet These Words Should Have Disappeared Long Ago!
1. Worn out by handling
2. Lost with all the persecution of Christians who had to flee from city to city
3. Burned by Roman emperors, an later by Roman Catholics
4. Most modern historians and scholars believe we do NOT actually have the same words – just best guesses
a. They believe that the word of God existed ONLY when the letters and books were originally written. So, When those pages were lost, then so was God’s word
b. But that would make God into a liar, and that would make our faith in vain
E. So, How Do We know what WE are reading is the same as what God spoke and wrote so long ago?
1. God promised He would keep His words around forever! I think HE thinks they are important enough to KEEP around!
a. As much evidence as I can give you, you still are going to have to have faith in the promises of God
b. They would never disappear
c. They maybe might be hard to find, and might be hard to translate, but they have to be here somewhere because PROMISED they would always be here!
2. The Jewish Scribes were amazing
a. Ezra was a very famous copyist
b. Ezra 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.
c. Counted every Hebrew letter (each one represents a number, like Roman Numerals)
d. Added up each line down to the end of a strip, and if it did not match, it was burned, and started over
e. Very tedious, tiresome, and exact – but it was their job! They took it very seriously
f. You should try it!
3. But we don’t rely on the efforts of the scribes and churches to preserve God’s words
a. Because there are many who constantly seek to corrupt and change God’s words
b. 2Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
c. Removing words, entire sentences, and some removed entire books from the Bible, inserting other ones!
4. We trust that GOD has kept His promise and oversees His words to this day (Psalm 12:6,7)
F. Proofs God Can Preserve His Words, and KEEP His Promises
1. The existence of the Jew (Jeremiah 30:11)
a. God preserves His people (Jeremiah 30:11) For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not [EVER] make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
b. They are STILL around after 4,000 years of history since Abraham
c. Still speaking Hebrew
d. They are even in their own land again
e. God preserves His people! That one fact alone should humble us!
2. The existence of this entire universe – every cosmologist has concluded that IT SHOULD NOT EXIST, yet, as big, and complex and vast as it is, is no problem for God to have both created it, and keep it going!
3. The fact that over 70,000 ancient Hebrew manuscripts exist all over the world – in spite of the fact the Jews for most of their history have been hated and hunted and slaughtered and forced to move around. How do you KEEP huge Torah’s?
4. The fact that 5,220 ancient Greek manuscripts and portions exist all over the world – called the Majority Text of the Greek New Testament
5. The Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946
a. Hundreds of copies of many different books and writings
b. But especially dozens and dozens of copies of all but one book of the Old Testament
c. They date back to 100 BC
d. And I will give you one guess how many differences there are between the Hebrew Bible we have today with what they found in those caves!!! Zero!
e. No other book has as many source documents as the Bible does
6. One more proof that God can preserve His words, is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!
a. It PROVES that there is nothing impossible for God!
b. Jesus, the LIVING Word, could not be lost, and Neither can His written word be!
c. God miraculously spoke and wrote His words through feeble people onto vellum and paper…
d. And He has miraculously preserved His words in spite of people into OUR hands!
G. Why It Matters
1. We need EVERY word of God! Not just most of them or a best guess (Matthew 4:4)
a. Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
b. We need to know who God is, and what He thinks, and how to live and be saved
2. Faith only comes by having and knowing and believing the written words of God (Romans 10:17), not from a church, or anything else
a. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
b. No one gets faith from science or history or math
c. We get it from God’s words – so we have to have them!
3. God calls His words ‘perfect’ – so they have to stay that way (Psalm 119:140)
a. Psalm 119:140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
b. Very pure means perfectly perfect! No errors.
4. If God miraculously inspired/gave us His words, and yet cannot keep His words, then He is a failure, and cannot be trusted with our souls! Why trust Jesus with our souls if He can’t preserve His words?
A. If THIS Book actually IS the truth… (John 17:17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
B. Then we had better do the following…
1. Believe it with all our heart and mind and soul (Luke 24:25-27)
a. Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
b. Luke 24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
c. Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
2. Search and study its pages for all the answers that we need – they are in here!
3. Do it (James 1:22) – live all these words! But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
4. And Enjoy it (as the words of life). Only these words can free you and keep you free!
a. Romans 4:20 He [ABRAHAM] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
b. Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he [GOD] had promised, he was able also to perform.
c. Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
d. Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
e. Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead
C. Hymn: Wonderful Words of Life