FAQ: Why are there so many translations of the Bible? Which One should I use?

There are many translations of the Bible because if you’ve studied ancient languages, it’s difficult to take foreign words and phrases and translate them into another cultural context. Plus, our language has changed just over the last 50 years in this country.  So the King James Version was the most popular English translation for centuries. But most people, even with a college education, find it difficult to understand it today. So scholars have created new translations so that we can understand the original Bible.

And the reason even modern translations look different is because the teams of scholars behind each translation have different philosophies on how to translate the Greek and Hebrew. Some teams lean toward “dynamic equivalence,” which means translations that fit the idioms of our language today. Others lean toward more “word for word” translations which make the translation more accurate but more difficult to understand. So the goal is to find a happy medium.

Example, if we were translating the phrase “I ate a hot dog,” into Chinese would we translate that literally, word for word? Thank about it. I ate a hot dog. Your reader might think that you light canines on fire and devour them. Or would you translate it so that the reader understood that you were eating some kind of “cooked sausage?” And those are the difficult choices translators have to make.

For all practical purposes, all of the English translations that are readily available are good. In other words, they reflect what the original languages meant. But depending on what you’re trying to do with the Bible, that may impact which translation you use. So I would choose a translation that is easier for you to understand. So the Revised Standard Version and the New International Version have been popular in the last generation. Recently I have seen a huge swing in the usage of the English Standard Versaion. I often recommend the New Living Translation because it’s easier to understand.

I typically use the New American Standard Bible if I want a word-for-word translation and I’m really going to just a study a verse or two. But I don’t do that often. So for sermon preparation and devotional time I use the NIV & NLT. But if I want to read big chunks of the Bible at a time, like reading through the Bible in a year? Then I use something even easier and different like The Message. So what I’m saying is that you ought to own more than 1 translation and consult them from time to time so that you can keep God’s word as fresh as possible.

Are We Living in the “End Times?”

Are we living in the “end times?”

Yes.

But I take that to mean that we are living under GOD’S PROMISES that “all things are being made new.” For me, living in the end of times does not mean that creation will soon cease to exist, but that it will be fully restored. I believe it means that all the signs of the end that Jesus mentions are already with us: wars and revolutions, conflicts, earthquakes, plagues, famines and persecutions (Luke 21:9-12).

Jesus describes the events of our world as announcements that this world as it is IS NOT our final dwelling place and destiny but that Christ WILL come to bring us into full freedom and all of creation will be redeemed and restored and reclaimed.

Luke 21:28, Jesus says,

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Spiritual Maturity is Listening and Doing God’s Word

Spiritual maturity is listening and doing God’s word. It first requires listening. How much listening (or reading) are we doing to God’s voice within us and in the Bible? God did not simply reveal Himself as “I Am” in the past but is actively present in all moments of our lives. Our God cares, heals, guides, directs, challenges, confronts, connects, loves.

Spiritual maturity means I am first of all listening to God, paying attention to God’s active presence, and obeying God’s prompting, direction, leading, and guidance.

Colossians 1:9-10,

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

 

4 Ways Believers should be Different from Unbelievers

Ephesians 4:17-19 says,

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

  1. Different in your mind. You can live in futile thinking or purposeful thinking; darkened understanding or the mind of Christ.
  2. Different in your spirit. You’re either separate from Christ or a child of God. The difference in your spirit is seen in the new way that we relate to and understand God.
  3. Different in your heart. Before Christ, we have a hard heart but as we follow Christ we have an open heart. You can either have a hard heart that has lost sensitivity or you can have an open heart that is sensitive to the sin in your life.
  4. Different in your soul. Either you’re giving yourself over to sensuality or you’re giving yourself to Christ; either a lust for more of what the world offers or a hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God.

Adam’s Sin vs. Cain’s Sin

The sin of Adam/Eve stands in stark contrast with that of their son’s, Cain.

The serpent talks the parents into sin. God can’t talk their son out of it.

God is absent in the sin of the parents. God is the object of worship that sets off their son’s death.

There seems to be no real human victim in the sin of the parents. Cain murders his own brother.

The parents reluctantly confess their sin and accept punishment. Cain does neither.

Look how easy the cycle of sin revolves. From temptation to the flesh/world having a grasp on us. From blaming others to pure denial. From a “victimless” sin to one with grave consequences for others. From without God to even in front of God. Sin is indeed a cancer.

The Day is Coming When God Will No Longer Need the Ministry of Pain

Isaiah 35:10,

And those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Revelation 21:4,

 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

The day is coming when God will no longer need the ministry of pain. But that day cannot come until all the causes of pain have been removed. Christ came not to cleanse the leper’s scab, nor to make every lame man walk, nor to call the dead back to life.  He would not have skipped his own hours of weeping. He came to deliver us from pain by quenching the bitter sources from which its streams issued. He came to redeem the world from that curse, of which pain is only one consequence. He came to vanquish the wrong and to cancel the long inheritance of evil which lies behind all pain.

Mature Christians and Churches Give Control to Christ in 3 Areas

Ephesians 4:15-16,

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

  1. Communication: The way we talk to each other. “Speaking the truth in love.” False teachers don’t speak the truth in love. They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.
  2. Direction: The way we make decisions. “…grow up in every way into him who is the head…” This means that Christ should be managing partner in our decision making.
  3. Service: The way we serve each other. “…the whole body, joined and held together with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”