The Day of Pentecost exploded onto the ancient world with such power that it forever changed the work of scribes and the production of books. The overwhelming demand for the written account of Jesus had no precedent in world history. As a result, the New Testament numerically eclipsed all the combined works of Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Euripides, Homer, and other ancient writers. The explanation for this phenomenon can be given simply: The book revealed Jesus as the access to God. While other writers informed the reader, the message of Jesus changed the reader.
The New Testament is not merely a book; it is a Covenant. In the same way Moses sanctified the Book of the first Covenant by sprinkling it with the blood of bulls and goats so the Book of the New Covenant was sprinkled with the blood of the Messiah himself (cf., Heb. 9:11-15). Of both Covenants it may be said “You shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deu. 12:32). Two thousand years after the presentation of the New Covenant, the book continues to breathe into readers the miraculous revelation of Jesus Christ. Observe these facts:
1. According to the late Dr. Bruce Metzger, Princeton University Professor, there are 5,686 ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts still surviving.
2. Only 7 ancient copies of Plato survive, 49 of Aristotle, 8 of Herodotus, 9 of Euripides, etc. All of these were copied at least 1,000 years after the original.
3. Portions of the gospels go back to the First Century, and a fragment of the Book of John was written about 29 years after the original. None of the secular books can make such a claim.
4. Besides Greek copies, there are some 19,000 ancient New Testament transcripts in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages.
5. This support-base of 24,000 historic New Testament manuscripts gives scholars opportunity to compare them for accuracy.
6. These books are about 99.5% textually pure. No other ancient writing has such a record. Not only so, but these copies are better preserved than any other document from the past.
Keep in mind that when the original documents were written there were numerous people still alive who had personally heard Jesus, and would have protested loudly had the writing been inaccurate. No such complaints exist. None of Plato or Aristotle’s hearers were present to edit the copies, yet the public now accepts them as valid. The New Testament should be given the same respect.
Consider this important question: If thousands of New Testaments survived the ravages of time when secular ones did not, how many thousands more New Testaments were written that also perished? We know not. What was the motivation behind such an explosive demand for books about Jesus? The answer is this: Pentecost impacted the ancient world with such cataclysmic force that there was a frantic demand for thousands more New Testaments.
For example, only 30 years after the death of Jesus, Christians in the city of Rome had become so numerous that when Emperor Nero set fire to the city, he blamed it on the disciples of Jesus. In the frenzy that followed, thousands of believers were slaughtered — many were crucified. Instead of eliminating them, the number of Roman Christians multiplied greater than before. They too experienced the same baptismal-power of the Holy Spirit that had come upon the disciples in the Upper Room. With that anointing, some preached from their crosses, and more pagans were saved. Bibles were desperately needed. Today, Pentecost is still bringing people into personal encounters with the Holy Spirit — and intensifying the need for more copies of the New Testament.
The Books Selected For Canonizing
In 367 A.D., Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, and others working with him, codified the accepted list of New Testament books. Today, we refer to that as the “canonizing” of the New Testament. Once canonized, no additional text could be added; none of the teachings could be deleted or changed. Qualifications for being included in the canon were two-fold: The writing had to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and the author had to have been a personal eye-witness to the ministry of Jesus. No exception was allowed. Christians today who foolishly claim that First Corinthians 12-14 lost its validity after being canonized need to repent face-on-the-floor before saintly Athanasius. He would be horrified at such a claim.
The Story Behind The King James or “Authorized” Version of 1611
The version of the Bible that made the greatest impact on the English speaking world was the “Authorized” or King James Version of 1611. King James came to the Throne in 1603 when England was gripped in the fiery contest between Puritan “renewal” and Anglican “resistance.” Of himself, the King had little to recommend him. By London’s standards, he was crude and untrustworthy. The French King referred to him as the “wisest fool in Christendom.” Upon his appointment to the English Crown, King James left Stirling Castle in Scotland and by horse-drawn carriage started toward London. But things did not go as planned. On reaching the English border, he was immediately stopped by a group of Puritan ministers who presented him with a list of grievances. The urgency of their cause would not allow them to wait until his Coronation. Puritans demanded change; they were God’s preaching voice in that day.
The Church of England, of which King James was titular “Head,” adamantly held to ritual and tradition. Though he responded favorably to the Puritan request that day at the border, King James was far from being their friend. Soon after his arrival in England he said of them, “I will make them conform or I will harry them out of the land — or else do worse.” This was not an empty threat. In that day, dissenters were still being burned alive at the stake, having their ears or noses cut off, imprisoned, and abused in other horrendous ways. But in spite of King James’ threats, the Puritans had a temporary reprieve and God used the opportunity to bless humanity.
As a result of that event on the English border, the King called for a meeting, later known as the “Hampton Court Conference,” which convened for three days, January 14-16, 1604. At that Conference Dr. John Rainolds, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and leader of the Puritan party, requested the King to authorize a new English translation of the Bible. This angered many Anglican clergymen, the majority opposed the request, and the measure would have immediately failed, except for one thing: the King approved. Seven years later, in 1611, as a result of the session at Hampton Court, and the work of fifty-four of England`s best Biblical scholars, the King James Bible was presented to the world.
The Persecuted Puritans Emigrate to America
That Book has since lighted millions of English-speaking homes in every nation, helped push back the darkness in remote parts of the earth, and advanced the movement of civilization. But, it had little effect on the King. In 1620, after abandoning all hope for renewal in the Church of England, the first band of Pilgrims came to America. True to the threat of King James, they had been “harried out of the land.” It may have been for that reason they did not bring the newly published King James Version with them. Instead, they brought the older Tyndale translation.
Their escape was well-timed. A mere 35 years later, 1655, Parliament slammed the door on the Puritan movement in England, expelling more than 2,000 pastors from their pulpits and university professors from their posts. Thankfully, this did not happen before Puritan insistence had safely given Christianity the blessing of the “King James Bible.” This Bible has had critics as well as admirers, but probably no one spoke with more authority than did the Catholic scholar, Alexander Geddes, in 1786, when he said, “If accuracy and strictest attention to the letter of the text be supposed to constitute an excellent version, this is of all versions the most excellent.”
Today, many defenders of the King James Version mistakenly assume their current Bible is exactly like the 1611 original. That is not so. Today’s public would have great difficulty, if not impossibility, in comprehending that antique English text. Since its’ first edition, the King James Version has undergone several necessary revisions as the English language has changed. Today’s edition which retains the original message without cumbersome the Anglo-Saxon dialect was revised in 1769. In July, 1981, the “New King James” was presented to the world.
Interestingly, the final drafting of this newest edition was completed at St. Andrews University in northeast Scotland, a short distance from King James’ ancestral home of Stirling Castle. This is the version I now use and enjoy. Christians today who insist that the old King James is the only valid translation need to know that the 54 translators did not make that claim for it. Their aim was to use the previous ones and make them better. They had no intention of making an exclusive or final one.
The Need For Divine Revelation From the Holy Spirit
But there is another factor of immeasurable importance to Bible students. It is this: Unlike Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, et cetera, whose understanding requires nothing more than an astute mind, no one can grasp the true message of Scripture apart from the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And that is true regardless of which translation we use. Academic knowledge can never replace Divine revelation. Paul expressed this clearly in 2 Corinthians 3:6: God has “made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
If the New Testament is preached apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit even it produces confusion and killing doctrines. Regardless of the translation we use, we must realize that the spiritual message of the gospel is not achieved by human wisdom. Spiritual truth comes by God’s revelation.
We are to “study to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15), but Paul goes on to explain: “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-13). Seminaries, bible schools are important, but their efforts are in vain if the student does not receive his own personal anointing from the Holy Spirit.
Much “denominationalism” is birthed and sustained by “letter of the law” preaching, which lacks revelatory understanding. Personal anointing was necessary even for Jesus. Scripture says He:
“came to Nazareth…And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel.” (Luke 4:16-20)
Both with Christ and us, kingdom-preaching is inseparably connected to anointing. The words “Christ” and “Christian” — from the Greek word chrios — are designations of anointing.
This anointing — which speaks through the preached Word — is able to bring light into darkness, cast down demonic strongholds, transform fallen humanity into Christ’s divine nature, and bring men to salvation. Today, as it was anciently, the Holy Spirit breathes power into the message that honors Jesus. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit” (1 Thes. 1:5). Paul further explained, “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:19-20). The proof of the gospel is the “mighty signs and wonders” which accompany it. Where there are no “signs” there is no full gospel.
Fully presented, the gospel produces the same results today as it did in the First Century. The modern church is woefully ignorant of this vital truth. Unbelief handicaps the length and breadth of Christendom. You, me, everyone else, is affected by it. The point is this: Bible literature remains as “print on the page” until the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks through it.
In the intent of God, the “Gospel of the Kingdom” is the only gospel; ageless, unchanged, eternally the same. Any lessor gospel is insubordination to the Kingdom. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s anointing is to empower redeemed men and women with Kingdom authority to preach that gospel with all its original, miraculous manifestations. The authentic gospel is therefore an extension of Kingdom power through the human voice.
When Peter preached to the household of Cornelius, “The Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the word” (Acts 10:44-45). Today, as then, the empowered gospel can invade the physical realm, reconnect it to the spiritual by changing natural circumstances with supernatural manifestations. Peter’s presence as a messenger of the Kingdom was essential but the man himself was not the source of power — it was the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon him.
Jesus said to the first disciples:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mat. 28:19-20)
Jesus was emphatic. His instruction, “teach them all things,” referring specifically to the church at the “end of the age” is unmistakably clear. He expected the 21st century church is to be taught precisely what He taught the first century church. There is no change. In spite of the obvious intent of Jesus, the modern church claims that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn.
Why is this claim made? To acquit itself of failure and to justify the absence of miracles, the modern church blames God for the power’s disappearance.
But hear Paul’s rebuke to the Galatian Church about such changes:
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:6-10)
How could language be more plain? I know not! According to Paul, any “gospel” which claims to be different from the original is a perverted gospel. Scripture severely warns against our preaching a different gospel. In the intent of God there is only one, the original gospel endorsed by and in tribute to His Son. How dare we edit what holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit!
Can the modern church reclaim “first century” power and operate in it? Yes! Jesus promised to be with the Church until the “end of the age.” The power is absent because the masses of Christianity have replaced faith in Bible truth with doctrines of denial. Jesus established one church for all time; there is no such thing as an “apostolic” and “post-apostolic” gospel with different teachings, different powers, and different expectations. Search the Scriptures! This idea is not there!
As Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8), so His gospel is as unchanging as Himself. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). Thankfully, new winds are blowing! Millions of believers are returning to faith in the full gospel message. In a worldwide Christian population of two billion, more than 500,000,000 believers now acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s gifts and power. The Bible you hold is God’s amazing gift! Love it. Believe it! Be thankful for it! Protect it!###
CHARLES CARRIN’S ministry spans the final half of the twentieth century. He was ordained in 1949 and in his youth traveled with men who preached in the 1800s. For the first twenty-seven years of his ministry, Charles was a hyper-Calvinist Baptist pastor and Presbyterian seminarian who denied the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit. Mid-way in his ministry that abruptly changed when personal crisis forced him to acknowledge Scriptures he had previously ignored. The truths he saw could potentially destroy his denominational ministry and at that point he had no hope that another, more wonderful ministry awaited him. As a result of his submitting to God in that crisis, Charles emerged with an amazing anointing of the Holy Spirit. Today, his ministry centers upon the visible demonstration of the Spirit and imparting of His gifts. He, R.T. Kendall, and Jack Taylor travel together holding Word-Spirit-Power Conferences. He travels as a guest minister, teaching believers how to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. His ministry website is: CharlesCarrinMinistries.com.
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