Friday, November 15, 2013

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Years of labor culminated in 1516, when under the direction of Pope Leo X (the same pope who railed against Martin Luther five years later), a Dutch monk named Erasmus of Rotterdam cranked out the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament. Over the next century this Greek text and its subsequent reproductions and revisions would become the anchor for the Biblical resurgence of the Protestant Reformation. 
This Reformation was unstoppable. It was an insatiable thirst for truth. It was a driving return to Biblical Christianity. This reformation was not a one-time anomaly. A fierce, raging tide of reaction always occurs when truth-malnourished people are granted access to the Truth. Truth is uncontrollably infectious, and while it may have challenged the status quo, by its very nature it brought millions out of the gloomy shadows of the Dark Ages.
Now, with Bible in hand, we celebrate the greatest Truth brought to us by centuries of a loving God’s Providential preservation. We can celebrate the grace of God as we turn to His wonderful, hope-giving, life-breathing text. That we, like the believers of 1 Thessalonians 2:13 can be transformed by the Spirit of God as we read the text, understanding fully that it is not merely “the word of men,” but rather the very “word of God.”
Peter gives the following textual confidence in his second epistle, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” What we hold in our hands is not the work of overly ambitious truth-twisters, it is the very testimony of eyewitnesses.
Furthermore, the textual evidence for these eyewitnesses is staggering, especially when compared to other ancient historical texts. For example, everything we know of the history of Julius Caesar’s conquest of Europe is found in a text known as the Gallic Wars. There are only 10 ancient manuscripts of this text that have been discovered, the oldest one dating back to the A.D. 900’s, nearly one thousand years after Julius Caesar lived (50 B.C.).
In comparison, there are over 5,000 ancient manuscripts (hand-written copies) of the New Testament. The original, inspired, eye-witness accounts were penned in the last half of the first century (A.D. 50-A.D. 100). The oldest manuscript fragments that have been discovered date back to c. A.D. 125, only 3 decades after the originals were written. We do not have a sketchy, unpreserved text. We have the most reliable text that has ever been composed through the history of the human race.
The preservation is supernatural. The preservation is Divine. God has not left His people without a Bible. Rather, He lovingly preserved His Word, and has used it to transform His church. Like the church in Thessalonica, we too should value the Scriptures. The preservation alone should indicate that this is not merely a book containing the “word of men,” but rather the very “Word of God.” Now, let’s learn to value it as such, and to listen to the voice of God as He speaks to us from His Word.   

Food For Thought: Read 2 Peter 1:15-21. What phrases does Peter use to describe the miraculous work of Divine preservation?