The online edition of the Quarterly Record, the magazine of the Trinitarian Bible Society.
Throughout the pages of the New Testament, and especially in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit reveals a little of the persecutions the early church had to endure. In writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, the Apostle Paul recounts some of the difficulties he had suffered, and observes, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3.12-13). Thus he clearly indicated that the days of suffering for the people of God were not confined to the days of the Old Testament, nor only to the formative years of the Christian church in the New Testament, but something that was also to be expected down through the centuries by all who are “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1.22).
Whilst the great majority of the readers of the Quarterly Record will have had to endure many conflicts, afflictions and distressing circumstances for their adherence to the Truth, very few (as far as we are aware) will have had to suffer the great and harrowing persecutions many of our godly forebears suffered in earlier centuries. However, there are many today in different parts of the world who suffer severe hardship, imprisonment, torture, banishment and even death for their adherence to Biblical Christianity.
In earlier days in Europe (as well as elsewhere) much of the persecution came through the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church and other systems of iniquity allied politically or doctrinally with them. Generally speaking, however, Rome is today far more subtle in its progress for dominion. Gone may be the days of open opposition to the Bible and death by the sword or at the stake for those who dared to deny the mass as blasphemous or the worship of images as idolatry. Gone, too, may be the days when there were those who received the Word of God “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2.13), and being thus enlightened found there to be no need for mariolatry, the veneration of the saints, confessionals, candles, penances, “holy” water and the need to fear the myth of Purgatory, who defied the priests and consequently were branded heretics, excommunicated by the “church”, disowned by their families, and often forced to leave the superstitious communities in which they lived.
Today Rome believes that her goal may the more easily be accomplished through the subtle subjugation – many churches prefer to call it ecumenism – of so many of the professing churches which once staunchly opposed her and her ungodly ways. Some of these bodies were once Bible believing, Protestant churches, where week-by-week the pure gospel of the grace of God was preached with the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit. Once they were not ashamed to so distance themselves from her “damnable heresies” as to identify the Pope with the Antichrist of Scripture, but now they have themselves rejected the sole headship of Christ in His Church, and the sole authority of the infallible Scriptures of Truth, for the smooth-talking and mystical evils of the (essentially unchanged) Papal hierarchy. The “Catholic Church” (as the Roman Catholic Church is increasingly becoming known) has so very successfully rewritten history and so blinded much of the media, that many today consider anyone who disagrees with her and her unbiblical theories, practices and superstitions to be no more than extremists who do not deserve the name of Christian! It is to be feared that as soon as she sees herself to be in a sufficiently strong position, she will be no less a persecuting body than she has been in the past.
However, Satan has not only been active in persecuting the people of God through the Roman Catholic Church. He has used, and continues to use, all means at hand for his work. Wherever there is hostility to the Bible as the divinely inspired and authoritative revelation of the Triune God, there will be animosity towards the people of God by all whom it condemns. The poor and blind followers of Islam, Hinduism, communistic atheism and all the other religious devices of Satan, including “liberal Christianity” and the cults, will do all that is in their power to overthrow true Biblical Christianity, as we can clearly see and have seen in recent decades, in different parts of the world.
In writing to the Hebrews the Holy Spirit reminds us of those “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11.38) who had suffered so greatly for their faith in Christ and His Word in former days, and exhorts the people of God in all ages to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13.3).
Throughout its history the Society has had a concern for those who live in areas where there has been open hostility to the Word of God, and has endeavoured to supply copies of the Holy Scriptures for distribution in these places. In the article on page 10 reference will be found to the Society and its endeavours to supply Bibles to the Soviet Union during its days of communistic rule. Today, the Society is encouraged by the opportunities that are open for the distribution of Bibles in Muslim and other countries where many still face great persecution for their allegiance to Christ. May it be our prayer that the Christians in such distressing situations may “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6.10) and prove “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4.7), and be encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul, “wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Hebrews 13.12-13)!
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5.10-12).
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by the Rev. G. Hamstra
A Vice-President of the Society
The light of love beams on every page of John’s Gospel message. The intimate manner in which he portrays the riches of the Saviour’s grace is as tender as it is powerful. The joyful narrative of the resurrection of Jesus provides light and life to those who are united to the Saviour by the bond of faith and love. The appearances of the risen Saviour furnish abundant evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we have life in his name. “The Lord is risen indeed.” The Church is founded on this vital truth. The risen and living Christ is the hope, strength, and comfort of every believing heart. He is the Life and the Life-Giver.
“Because I live, ye shall live also.” These wondrous words of comfort are contained in one of the last discourses of Jesus before His atoning death. Thoughtfully preparing His disciples for His coming departure, Jesus communicates with perfect confidence that He will triumph. He will live, even when He dies! Moreover, He will not die because He is mortal, but He will die in order that His followers may live. He, the Fountain of Life, will swallow up death. All the forces of death and hell will attack Him, yet He declares with the certainty of heaven, “I live!” and, “because I live, ye shall live also”. This is the powerful guarantee that His followers shall live. They shall share in the life of Jesus; they shall continue to live. Since they are united to Him, they shall have eternal life! By His incarnation, His atoning death, and His triumphant resurrection, Christ has become the Fountain of Life to all who are His by faith.
Life is a fruit of God’s creative power. Death is the bitter consequence of sin. It threatens to destroy all life. Death, as a spiritual enemy, is ever present in man’s heart. This mysterious foe has alienated man from the Fountain of True Life. Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man prefers darkness rather than light. By nature no human heart longs and thirsts for the living God. Apart from grace, man is dead to God. He is dead in his sins and trespasses. Therefore, he chooses death instead of life.
When in His grace, the Lord, the Spirit of God, opens the eyes of our understanding, we see death as a fruit of sin all around us and even in us. We begin to realise how deeply we are fallen. Wherever we look here below, we find no recovery from our awesome condition as sinners. The desire is born in the heart for that life that is in God. The cry of our soul becomes, “Give me Jesus or I perish!” How rich does grace appear to the heart, when Christ reveals Himself to a perishing sinner as the Saviour of the lost! How attractive is the gospel of the crucified and risen Redeemer to the soul that is found by Christ! All his hope and comfort is centered in the life-giving Christ. He is the Conqueror of sin, death, and hell. As the living Christ, present at the Father’s right hand, He is the Intercessor for needy sinners. By His Holy Spirit He witnesses to their hearts, “Because I live, ye shall live also!”
Christ’s declaration, “I live”, is not merely an intimation that He will escape death. It also implies that He will meet death and break its strength and power. By bearing the sins of His own, He has reconciled them to God and has taken away the sting of death. Therefore Christ can announce the purpose of His victory, “ye shall live also”. Christ’s victory would not be complete if it did not include and guarantee the life of those whom He bought with His precious blood!
True believers may often be compelled to complain about their spiritual infirmities. They may be sorely tried and tempted. They may have to acknowledge that they find much deadness within. Nevertheless their life and hope lies not within, but without, in the risen Christ, their Saviour and Redeemer. They live by faith and not by sight. The hope of their life is His life. His victory is their victory. Their trust is in the love and strength of the living Christ and the sure Word of His promise, “because I live, ye shall live also”.
Besides spiritual infirmities, God’s children may also experience serious physical afflictions. They may be threatened by death. The king of terrors may cause them to fear. But Christ, the living Lord, will never forsake the works of His own hands. He comforts His people in this regard with the same precious truth. He lives, and they shall live! The believer’s life does not end at death, but continues as an eternal life of communion with God. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Those who are united to the crucified and risen Redeemer by a living faith may ever trust in His gracious and powerful promise, “because I live, ye shall live also”.
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by C. P. Hallihan
Extending more than halfway round the Northern Hemisphere of our planet, from the Baltic to the Bering Sea, modern Russia is the world’s largest country. With a land area of more than 6.5 million square miles (China is 3.6 million, USA 3.5 million, in round figures), it spans eleven time zones. Five large geographic regions make up the country – the East European Plain, extending from the Baltic Sea, the Polish and Ukrainian borders, to the Ural Mountains; the Urals themselves; the West Siberian Plain, between the Urals and the Yenisey River; the Central Siberian Plateau, between the Yenisey and Lena rivers; and the remote mountainous parts of southern and eastern Siberia. The Arctic Ocean forms the northern border, but the land borders to the west and south form an awesome list – Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and North Korea. The population of over 150 million includes about fifty ethnic groups, speaking over 100 languages. Russian is the official language, and a 98% literacy figure helps give some semblance of cohesion through the thirteen Republics and eleven Autonomous Regions which make up the Russian Federation.
In early times there was an association of minor states aligned along a chain of rivers and lakes between the Baltic and Black seas. This formed a border between the Slavs, settled between Novgorod and Kiev, and the Tartars and Mongols of the East. The whole region passed under Viking control in the 9th and 10th centuries. As the Viking era waned, and also the Slavic splendour of Kiev declined, Russia fell into the Mongol Empire in the 12th century. During the 15th century Mongol power diminished, and the Russian Slavs began to form into a new nation, based in Vladimir (Moscow). Led by Ivan the Great, they threw off the last remnants of Mongol control in 1481. The following centuries saw Russian consolidation of borders with Sweden, Poland, Turkey and Persia, (‘European’ Russia) with incessant wars, and expansion to the East (‘Asian’ Russia). Peter the Great ruled from 1682-9 jointly with his brother, then until 1725 solely. He was the first Emperor of all the Russias, taking that title in 1721. From the time of his death in 1725, Peter has remained a figure of controversy in Russian history. His determined efforts to make Russia a modern European State scarcely impinged upon the ordinary lives of most of his subjects. More often, what reforms resulted seemed to be achieved at the people’s expense!
Six rulers followed in the next forty years, and it was only when the wife of Peter III secured his abdication and assumed power in her own right, in 1762, that any semblance of stable rule emerged. This was Catherine the Great, 1762-96. Catherine was, for a time, the most powerful sovereign in the European orbit, implementing and expanding the reforms of Peter the Great, at the cost of increased centralisation. From the time of the French Revolution in 1789, Catherine became increasingly conservative, reversing some of her earlier reforms, so that at the time of her death she had come to be seen domestically, like Peter, as an oppressive ruler. Her son succeeded her for a brief five-year reign and then her grandson, Alexander I, was ruler of Russia during Napoleon Bonaparte’s epic Russian campaign.
Throughout the 19th century the tensions generated by an autocratic, centralised government and the strain of industrialisation made the inadequacies of the system, and the society it produced, painfully apparent. Expansion continued, however, and there were borders now with Afghanistan and China, and extensive territory on the Pacific coast. Port Arthur and Vladivostok, and the Eastern territories generally, were linked to European Russia by the Trans-Siberian Railway, which was constructed between 1891 and 1905, mostly during the reign of Nicholas II. Eastward expansion caused trouble and hostility with Japan. In 1905 Japan attacked, inflicting a string of defeats upon Russia. This undermined even more the standing and power of the government. Concessions and reforms were granted to appease the population. When the war was over, they were taken back, serving to bring discontent to new heights.
The outbreak of the First World War found Russia unprepared militarily, industrially, and in morale. Food shortages, economic disintegration, and demoralising defeats led to riots in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in February of 1917. The stage was set for the October Revolution, and the rest, as they say, is history. By November Lenin had come to power. After his death in 1924 Joseph Stalin assumed power until his own death in 1953. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was in being as an ideological Marxist State. The history of this State until its dissolution on December 25th 1991 is very recent, and we can go into no detail here. The hostility of ‘official’ atheism towards the Gospel, the Scriptures and the Christian Church, and yet the continuance of those same things, at great cost, in Soviet Russia: these things are part of the awareness of most readers of this article. (The information panel may help recollection!)
After 1991, eleven of the constituent republics of the former USSR, including the Russian Federation, formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Since then Russia has struggled to reform the political system and to modernise its economy, but matters are far from stable or secure. So called ‘open doors’ present opportunities for the Gospel, but also allow in all kinds of other things! Russia now faces the social problems that plague the West – inflation, unemployment, a soaring crime rate – and the exacerbation of old nationalistic and ethnic tensions, as evidenced in the military response to Chechnya’s bid for total independence. Islam is a major religion in several of the former Soviet satellite states, and many cults and sects are also active now that access is easier.
Russian is numerically among the top ten languages, in terms of Mother-tongue speakers. Before the breakup of the USSR, it also figured highly in the list of ‘official language’ speakers. However, in all those countries where Russian was once an official language, there is still a continuing large number of people who know and use the language. This means, for example, that Russian language Scripture material can usefully be distributed in Ukraine.
The language is of the Indo-European family, classed as Slavic, and so having affinity with some of the East European Balkan and Baltic languages. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, named after a Greek monk, Cyril. He, together with Methodius, constructed the alphabet to bring sacred writings to Christian converts in 9th century Russia. This script is based closely on the Greek alphabet, with about a dozen additional letters needed to represent Slavic sounds not found in Greek. For several centuries it was written only in ‘ustav’ form (large, capital letters), but later flowing, cursive forms developed. Under Peter the Great the alphabet was simplified and regularised, with some letters, appropriate only to Greek, dropped. The present standard forms of thirty-three letters date from a revision of 1918. Generally the Cyrillic script is used for Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian, which are the specific East Slavonic languages, and also for Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian. Given the history of Russia, it is no surprise to learn that there are about 100 indigenous languages in use across this vast area. As regional autonomy and independence is sought, the elevation or restoration of local languages and culture follows, such as Sakha in the Siberian region.
In past articles in this series we have mentioned the massive influence of the Byzantine Church for the history of Christianity in such lands as Armenia and Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church derives its own history from the Byzantine church in Kiev, and the 10th century. For several centuries the Russian Orthodox Church was considered to be within the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but in 1448, just before the Byzantine Empire finally collapsed, the Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia became independent of Constantinople. For over a thousand years the Russian Orthodox Church has supplied a ground of unity and continuity in Russian history.
Peter the Great’s reforms did not pass by the Russian Church, and he basically suspended the Patriarchate in favour of a collective administration, the Holy and Governing Synod. This Synodal form of government lasted from 1721 to 1917. The restoration of the Patriarchate in 1917 coincided with the Revolution, and the new powers in Russia viewed the Church, and all forms of Christianity, as ideological enemies. For over seventy years one of the objectives of Communism was the eradication of all religious “superstition”. Open practice or expression of faith was forbidden, and every form of religion was rigorously repressed, persecuted, or manipulated and used to serve Communist ends.
If one enquires about Protestantism in Russia, it cannot be separated from the Bible, as seen in our next section. Inevitably there were Lutheran and Anglican congregations in the major centres, because of diplomatic and trade communities, but the beginnings of the story of Protestant Evangelicalism in Russia really belongs to the 19th century.
The Gospels had been printed in Russia in 1512, the New Testament in 1580, and the whole Bible in 1581. These were in the Old Church Slavonic language and script, a root form of the Slav language from which most modern forms are derived. It continued, indeed continues, in use liturgically, in a similar way to the use of the Latin Vulgate amongst Romanists. Official publication of the New Testament in a vernacular Russian took place as late as 1823, although it had appeared as a diglot with Old Church Slavonic in 1822. The Old Testament appeared in 1875/6 and a whole Bible in 1882. When the Four Gospels were first published in 1819, they were prefaced by an ‘Address’ from three leading dignitaries of the Russian Church. The concluding paragraph of that address reads as follows:
Christ-loving Readers! without ascribing any thing to human aid, and trusting in the power of the Word of God, we can verily say that this is a very favourable time to embrace it; and that in our days, the door of the Gospel is opening unto many nations much wider than hitherto. Read, hearken, believe, fulfil, become wise, and be saved! Pray also to God in behalf of those engaged in the work, that He may bestow and increase light and strength, so that we may be enabled rightly and uninterruptedly to continue and finish our work.1
This later work was all done under the aegis of the Holy Synod, and is referred to still as the Synodal Version. Earlier, from 1814 in the reign of Czar Alexander I, something approaching one million Bibles in as many as thirty languages were distributed in Russia. This was accomplished through 289 Auxiliaries of the Bible Society begun by Prince Galitsin in 1813.2 When the Russian Bible Society was dissolved in 1826 its work was continued in a semi-secret way by a Scotsman, Melville. All of this came at a time of profound disillusionment amongst literate Russians, who already tended to see the Orthodox Church as but a part of the Russian Civil Service. Dissent and Nonconformity, as well as Atheism, were ‘in the air’ as this unsettled society looked to all things Western for something new. To these people, already inclined to read the Scriptures for themselves, the Lord brought a ‘Philip’ from the West, to begin at those same Scriptures and preach unto them Jesus. This was Granville Waldegrave, 3rd Baron Radstock [1833-1913].3
Radstock’s ministry, conducted in French and English, was the quiet reading, exposition and application of the Bible, in a Christ-centred way, always emphasising the reality of Atonement and Justification. The simplicity of this was in stark contrast to the florid, melancholy, Byzantine rituals of the Russian Church. In his novel Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy caricatured both Radstock (“Sir John”) and the Revival. Even those who mocked the English ‘apostle-lord’ conceded that his character and life matched the Bible on which he based his teachings. Lord Radstock was accompanied by George Müller on one of his visits to Russia.
The most significant convert and disciple was Colonel Vasili Alexandrovich Pashkov, one of the most prominent figures in the establishment of Protestantism in Russia. He took on the initiative when Radstock was forced from Russia in 1878. The cumbersome name of Radstockism-and-Pashkovism began to be used for this Bible-based Protestantism. As in many other countries of similar religious history, involvement with dissenting religious movements was viewed as unpatriotic, if not downright treasonable. The whole Radstock & Pashkov work later tended to come under the name Baptist. This should not be taken in as precise a way as it might be in the West. Lord Radstock eschewed all matters beyond central Gospel teaching, so that in Russia the name Baptist should be viewed as indicating gatherings of evangelical Bible-believers, preaching and living salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. A more consistently Baptist line began in 1867 when the Lithuanian believer Martin Kalveit baptised Nikita Voronin.
Thus was a living Church, unstructured and unselfconscious, already prepared of God to endure the turbulent hostility of the Communist era. The preceding persecution by the Orthodox authorities meant that these churches were already in an ‘underground’ setting by 1917. During the seventy-four years of Communist Dictatorship all religions were rigorously repressed, persecuted, and, if possible subverted and manipulated. The story of believers and their testimony, ministry and growth through those years is magnificent. So also is the prayerful and practical awareness of many believers and Churches in the West, who attempted and achieved many kinds of aid and supply, including the provision of many Bibles.
The Society has distributed the Synodal Version of the Russian Bible for many years, together with New Testaments and smaller Scripture portions, text cards, calendars and so on. In the closed years of Communism this had to be done very carefully and discreetly so as not to compromise the recipients or the distributors with the Soviet authorities. Since 1991 the task has been much easier for all concerned, and in the year 2001 over 103,500 Russian Bibles and New Testaments, and more than 53,000 Russian Calendars (Golden Thoughts and Words of Life) were sent out.
TBS is currently engaged in the work of producing a new edition of the Synodal Version, correcting faults that have crept into the text over many reprintings. The work may be summarised as restoring the printed text to the benchmark of the 1873 edition. This task is being pursued in close cooperation with representatives of the unregistered Baptist churches in the CIS. It is through these good folk that the majority of our Russian Scripture material is distributed.
Things are indeed easier now – but away from the large cities and tourist areas the combined hostility of the Orthodox Church and the Russian authorities means that Protestant meetings are often broken up, ministers fined, buildings destroyed, and evangelism seriously curtailed. Equally distressing is the antipathy amongst Christian groups lacking any confessional (doctrinal) stability, or expository committment to the whole counsel of God. However, there is in all of this much cause for rejoicing in the Testimony of the Gospel maintained, and the plain answers to many prayers. There is also much cause for urgent prayer that the cause of Christ and the Scriptures be sustained fruitfully in this huge country, and the Gospel crowned with success under the mighty hand of our great God and Saviour. “Spasitjel mira, spasi Rossiu!” (Saviour of the World, Save Russia).
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by G. W. Anderson
When the Society begins to evaluate a new translation, one of the first passages we check is Hosea 12.4 in order to see if an important mistake is made which impacts upon both translation principles and theology. It is a crucial mistake made by liberals and even sometimes by theological conservatives. The origin of the mistake is not found in the Hebrew Old Testament text. It comes from a theological system which does not believe that the Bible is the supernatural, verbally inspired Word of God.
There are those of the liberal or neo-orthodox theological persuasion who have difficulty with the supernatural nature of the Bible. Some of them would claim that the Bible, written so many centuries ago in and to a culture so different from most today, is a closed book. God could not possibly speak to modern people through it. However, this verse in the book of Hosea speaks volumes about the way in which God communicates to us today through His Word.
Speaking of Jacob, the Scripture says, “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Beth-el, and there he spake with us” (Hosea 12.4). In the simple pronoun ‘us’ Hosea provides a key to God’s blessing.
Hosea, in chapter 12 verses 3-6, speaks of Jacob. In verse 3 Hosea speaks of Jacob’s power with God and man. The first part of verse 4 refers to Jacob’s meeting with the Man (whom Hosea calls the Angel) at Peniel, where Jacob saw God “face to face” and his life was preserved (Genesis 32.30). The latter portion of the verse refers to Jacob’s two meetings with God at Beth-el (Genesis 28 and 35). In these references we are told that God spoke with Jacob.
But Hosea takes these references further. He says not that God spoke to ‘him’, as would be expected; instead he says that God spoke to ‘us’. God said to Jacob, “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac…behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee.…I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28.13-15). Jacob’s reaction was one of fear, and of making vows to God (vss. 17,20). He met God again in Peniel where he struggled with the Man, and heard His voice a third time some years later, again in Beth-el, where God restated His earlier promises to this grandson of Abraham (Genesis 35.10-12).
Centuries later God through Hosea reminds us of Jacob’s meetings with his God. The result of these meetings is found in 12.6: “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually”. However, God’s words to Jacob were not to him only, but to us. This particular reading ‘us’, which is in the Hebrew Masoretic Text, has provided a problem for some modern translators. Many modern versions translate the Hebrew word for ‘us’ as ‘him’. Versions such as the Revised English Bible, the Good News Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, and the New Century Version/International Children’s Bible, translate this word as ‘him’, indicating that the only one with whom this Man spoke is Jacob.
The New International Version translators, who claim to be conservative, evangelical Christians, have problems in following conservative translational principles in their translation of this verse. In the NIV it reads, “He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there–”. There you have it. The translation betrays their principles. Although the Hebrew has ‘us’, and Hebrew experts do not argue with the fact that this is the actual word in the original, the NIV translators found it necessary to limit God’s speaking to ‘him’.
Dr. Walter Kaiser, who later served on the NIV translation team, rightly says,
‘Us’ means right down to Hosea’s time and audience. We can add also ourselves. Almost one millennium later, after Jacob’s lifetime, it is recorded that when God spoke to Jacob, he spoke not only to Jacob; He spoke also to the ‘us’ of Hosea’s time and to the ‘us’ of our time.’1
The NIV translators could not accept that. They put in ‘him’ and then put down the footnote ‘Hebrew us’. They couldn’t believe it, but the text in the Hebrew says ‘us’. We weren’t there, yet we were addressed in something that appeared time bound.
Hosea’s blessing is that in a supernatural book God speaks to individual people in their context in the Bible, and God also speaks to others in Bible times, using the original message given in earlier times. Not only that, but the implication is, by the way the New Testament uses the Old, that God speaks to New Testament believers and ultimately to us by way of application.
Thus the problem is not with God communicating His Word through the centuries to different cultures. The problem is firstly with those who do not see the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God, a supernatural book written to communicate His truth to His people, and, secondly, with those who translate the Bible. In a day of uncertainty, it is a rich blessing that even through a simple pronoun such as ‘us’ God provides for His people His infallible Word.
1 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Old Testament in Contemporary Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Book House, 1973), pp. 25-6.
This article was taken in part from “God Speaks To Us Today” QR Number 520
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Thank you very much for sending me a Bible. No words can express my happiness and my gratitude when I received the Holy Book. As I have seen on your web pages, your society has other very good booklets, such as ‘A Brief History of the Hebrew Bible’, ‘New International Version: What Today’s Christian Needs to Know about the NIV’, ‘The Scriptural Doctrine of the Holy Trinity’, ‘What Today’s Christian Needs to Know about the Greek New Testament’, etc. Could you grant me a special favour to send me these booklets or other books which you think are good to me free of charges? As you may know, it is very difficult to get books on Bible and Christianity in China. That’s why I ask you for a special favour. Please, please consider my supplication. I am looking forward to hearing good news from you.
Thank you for the tracts and Bibles, which we took to Mexico several months ago. The boy in the photograph is holding a copy of your Spanish “Church of the Living God”. Please duplicate our last order and send as soon as possible. God bless you.
I am a young person of twenty-two years and am in prison here. I am writing to you because I need a Bible as I do not have sufficient means to buy myself one. If you could supply me with a Bible I would be extremely grateful. I arrived in this prison totally destroyed, sentenced to ten years and one day for some robberies that I committed under the influence of drugs. However, it was in this prison that God took pity on my soul and healed my heart, filling the emptiness in my heart. He gave me a reason to continue living. This reason is that I must proclaim how great and marvellous is the love with which God loved this world, sending His Son to give His life for us who had no hope and made us heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Praised be His Name!
Thank you once again for the calendars. They all arrived in good condition. I gave a few calendars to the men who work at the Customs Office, who were surprised to receive them.
Following our recent conversation about the Sabbath School Scripture Learning Prize Fund, and the receipt of the Bibles that you sent, I now enclose a copy of the photograph that was taken of the students who received the Bibles. You can see the Bibles that you gave. The background is a mural/montage which the Friday Club did some time ago, but which we thought appropriate. We started this memorising following a visit from your Deputation Speaker, who told the children about the scheme. Every blessing in your work.
Please will you arrange for Scripture posters to be set up on Chelmsford Railway Station for 2002 and invoice me with the cost. I enclose a photograph I took in 2001. You can see that the posters were very near ticket machines and in a tunnel through which very many travellers pass. We regularly pray for the Lord’s blessing on His Word.
Thank you for the work you do, and for the Gospel verse I saw in James Street underground station when I was in Liverpool. I am a Christian myself, wanting to encourage and pray for you and your excellent work.
I am very thankful for calendars which are used in the church. The members are very pleased. They asked me to thank you. Some of them I sent to brethren in Belarus. They wrote to me that they are very grateful with the calendars. A good text for every month is very good. We haven’t anything in our country like this. We wish you many blessings in the ministry for the Lord.
It was such a big joy and blessing for our churches to receive Words of Life Calendars from you. On behalf of all our Baptist churches in Zhitomir region of Ukraine I have a privilege to express our deep gratitude for your love and care in Jesus Christ. These calendars in Russian and Ukrainian languages will bring excitement for many brothers and sisters in our churches and open the door of evangelism for many unbelieving people here. May God abundantly bless you and your families and give strength for your ministry!
I want to thank you for the work that you make with calendars. It is very beneficial thing for us and for the unchristian people. Thank you because you’ve sent the calendars to my friends and they have given the calendars to me and I want to tell how I used them. A part of them I gave to the people from the church I’m part of. Then I gave the calendars to the three villages churches where our church is involved as mission. I gave also to the factory where I work (glass factory) where most of people are unchristians and they were very happy. The Christmas was an opportunity for us to go to the penitentiary from our town and with this occasion I gave calendars to the prisoners. Thanks again for the work that you make and the workers are involved in this. God bless all of you and I want to tell that this year I will do the same thing with the calendars I will receive and I will do thing with very much pleasure.
We thank you for giving our Church the opportunity to distribute the lovely calendars printed by your Society. All the 30,000 copies were offered to local churches, other Christian communities, and were also distributed during evangelization visits to hospitals, schools and prisons. By God’s grace, this was a wonderful opportunity for us to give people a precious gift the eternal Word of God. As we believe that no word of God will return to Him without fruit, we can but thank Him for His grace and love for us, the creation of His hands.
Greetings, my precious and beloved friends. What gladness, what joy it was to receive your parcel! What prayers of gratitude we lift to our Heavenly Father! I believe that His abundance of grace is a surprise even unto you. You deserve even more for your consideration to needy, impoverished widows. My pension is $20 a month. I pray for you. May the Lord reimburse you a thousandfold for the Bibles. I have poor friends who cannot read and I simply cry because I do not have enough time to visit them all in a day and read to them the Word of God.
Eleven years ago my family and I lived in Murmansk. My husband, a sailor, brought me a Bible from England. He said boxes full of Bibles were delivered to his ship. I became a convert and that Bible of yours became my first Bible. My husband was an atheist. Shortly we moved to Belarus. He doesn’t want me to go to a church and we had a row. He had torn my Bible, which was so precious to me, into pieces. However, I put them together, glued them although it took plenty of time. Then I learned that you send out the same kind of Bibles and the same size. I was delighted at the opportunity to have a new one. I can’t wait to hear from you. I believe that God, who blesses your labour, will make me happy through you.
One of my friends has shown me the Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, Authorised King James Version, where your address was printed. Since I was sick for the Bible in English language long time ago, I decided to ask you for a favour. I would appreciate it indeed, if you provide me with one copy of the Bible. I do not know whether you sell the book, or donate it, or how is it possible to acquire it. Sorry to say, I do not know exactly whether I could buy the Bible in English here in Czech Republic. There might be a body in Prague dealing with such things. I very hope you do not decline my desire.
These calendars are being distributed by us in various manners. We have allocated quantities of them to small fellowships of Evangelical believers in the southern part of the country. Some were distributed (200+) at a recent evangelistic meeting for young people and students. The balance will be distributed to the shops, markets (open air), hospital, police station, university and door to door. We now have one family that have come to faith that help to distribute these calendars. The first contact made with this family was door to door with the TBS calendar. We also have a female doctor from the local hospital that also comes along to the church now as a result of receiving a calendar and invitation to our meetings. We also endeavour to give out evangelistic material with the calendars. The new year is a very important part of an Albanian’s life and tradition – and each one eagerly awaits a calendar for the coming year – so be assured that the calendars do not go to waste nor does God’s Word return unto Him void, but achieves the purpose for which it is sent. Many thanks to you on behalf of our church planting team.
Greetings to you from Uganda in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. This letter is to thank you very much for the English Golden Thoughts Calendars. We are also very pleased that you have sent us 3000 Bibles, 500 New Testament and 20 posters. The photograph shows them being unloaded. These are a great blessing to us and to all who will receive them. We would like to ask you to pass our sincere thanks to all donors, all in the Warehouse and the Management who make it possible for us to receive it all free of charge. We are very much aware of the great work and money involved. May our Lord bless you abundantly.
Although certain phrases and expressions used in these letters may not be doctrinally accurate or in the proper English form, we reproduce the letters essentially as received, knowing that the Lord is using His Word to the glory of His Name and the furtherance of His Kingdom as the Scriptures are distributed among the nations of the world.
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