03 Nov There is a Big Difference Between “Is” and “Contains”.
Dr. Earl Jessup
This issue of The Cultivator is being dedicated to the use of John/Romans for the planting of churches and the impact the Word of God has in cities and homes where we use them. We are so thankful for ministries that have helped us by printing and preparing them for the church plants in which we are involved.
I want to take this opportunity to explain our position on the Bible. Recently a new pastor called me regarding a conversation he had with a mission board here in the United States. We had helped with the planting of the church which he pastors and he was talking with this mission board about helping with a building. This board wanted to know if his position on the Bible was the same as the position of BCPM on our web-site. This pastor told them that it was and they were concerned that some of their staff may not be able to attend the church since they used a different version. He assured them that many people occasionally come to their church using a different version. This board was under the assumption that we would not let people attend if they used anything other than the King James Version of the Bible.
Our doctrinal statement says, “The Word of God is supernaturally preserved in translation and the translators of the Authorized King James Version were used of God to give us the Word of God in the English language. It is to be used exclusively in all teaching and preaching.” Basically what we are saying is, “The King James Version of the Bible “IS” the Word of God.” This is exactly what we believe. We do not believe that the KJV “CONTAINS” the Word of God we believe it “IS” the Word of God. There is big difference between “IS” and “CONTAINS.”
There are those who have chosen to no longer use the King James Version in their churches and ministries. These pastors must honestly tell their people that the KJV only “contains” the Word of God but they cannot trust it when they are at home because they cannot be sure what is and isn’t correct. They believe that the Word of God is preserved in the soup of the manuscripts and that God is not capable of preserving His Word so that each person can be sure they have the Word of God. They also must tell their church family that they must come and let the pastor, who knows Greek and Hebrew, tell them what is and what isn’t correct. They believe that knowing the original languages allows them to know what the Bible says. This is clearly the position of the Roman Catholic Church and not Baptists. We believe in the priesthood of the believer and that every believer can know exactly what God intends for us to know.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word.” Why was Timothy told to preach the Word? The answer is because we will be judged by the Word. Would God judge us by a standard which we cannot know on an individual basis? Would God leave it to those who know the original languages to tell us exactly what the Word of God says? The answer is absolutely no. If God intends to judge us by the Word then He is powerful enough to give us His Word and He didn’t wait until the NKJV or the NASB or the NIV was completed to do it.
Some will accuse me of being a “Ruckmanite”. Nothing is further from the truth. I would not walk across the street to hear Pete Ruckman and I do not hold to a “double inspiration” of the Scripture. We believe as preachers we need to study and be prepared to expound the Scriptures. We must do as Nehemiah and Ezra did in Nehemiah 8:8, “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Our position on this does not lend itself to a lack of study and dedication to giving the sense of the Scriptures. We must be men of the Word of God but there is no place for undermining the trust believers have in the Word of God.
For the past 40 years now I have been preaching from the King James Version of the Bible. I’m just simple enough to believe that God is able to take care of His Word for the common Christian. I believe He left us a version that we can stand in our pulpits and say, “This Bible IS God’s Word and mean it from the depth of our heart.” I believe that version is the King James Version of the Bible. If someone believes it is another version and believes it with their entire heart they should stand in the pulpit and say it with confidence. However, they should stand by that version until they die because when they switch, it will cause some to say, we cannot trust our pastor any longer. He is not sure about the Bible. If you cannot say it, then simply say, “I believe this Bible “CONTAINS” the Word of God.” The Neo-Orthodox crowd has been saying that for years.
I believe that the King James Bible “IS” God’s Word and I also believe that every other version “CONTAINS” God’s Word. When I preach about this, I simply say that other versions contain God’s Word but they cannot be trusted like the King James Bible can be trusted. Can someone be saved by reading from another version? Absolutely! I have yet to have someone be offended by my position. I make it clear to them that the Bible they use must be tested against the KJV in order for them to know whether it is correct or not. I tell them that we are not mad at anyone that uses another version but the church we are helping to start will use the KJV because we believe that it “IS” the Word of God.
In the past 25 years I have been involved in helping churches reproduce churches. Nearly every year we see people come to a new church for one reason. They come because their church stopped using the King James Version of the Bible. They want to be in a church where the Bible is not questioned and treated as a human manuscript where God has no control. They want a pastor that honestly believes the Bible “IS” the Word of God. When I am questioned on this issue my response is always the same. I simply say, “I believe that the KJV ‘IS’ the Word of God. What do you believe ‘IS’ the Word of God?” We must believe that one “IS” and that all the others “CONTAIN.” There is a huge difference between “IS” and “CONTAINS”.