(The following article I wrote about 2007. I have been down with a cold, and cough for several days, and I was looking through my files for some already written material. It is true that I could have sent something by another writer, but I haven't written anything in over two weeks, so I looked carefully to see if there was something that would work. Then I came across this article, which I don't think many of you have read. So, I share this with you, and pray it will be a blessing. I did some slight revision on it. Please comment if you like it. Thanks. (cw))
Recently my youngest son, Mark, built some nice bookshelves for my office. Before this, I had quite a few books that couldn’t be found, because of lack of display room. Mark did a great job, and much of the problem has been remedied. In going through books, which had been stored for quite a while, it has been necessary to discard a few of them. I did come across two books that were extremely hard to throw away. They were both Bibles; a Russian one and an old KJV. Both were in pretty bad shape with missing pages. Both were ordinary Bibles that had long ago seen their best days.
You may not realize, my dear friends, how difficult it was for me to discard those two Bibles. You see, I remember well that Christians in Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and other former communist countries had great difficulty in obtaining a bible. I know this first hand. I have been in these countries. When I worked with ECL/Door of Hope, and later, Russian Bible Society as a missionary representative, I made several trips overseas, and each time Bibles and Christian books were secretly taken in by me and others.
I remember being in Kiev, in the Ukraine, in the home of Georgi Vins in 1978. At the time he was in prison for preaching the gospel contrary to the registration laws of the government of the USSR, so we met with his mother, Lydia, and his wife, Nadezhda. As a leader of the Evangelical Christian Baptists of the USSR (the unregistered church in that era), he and others such as Gennady Krychkov were severely persecuted for their faith. In good conscience they could not yield to the state controlling Christ’s church.
Later when Georgi and his family were released in an exchange worked out by the Carter administration, they came to the USA. I met him in Syracuse, NY and interviewed him for the Bible Journal. He told me at that time the greatest need in the USSR was for Bibles, especially in the languages of the smaller Soviet states. This need still exists today for some of those areas. Russian Bible Society is endeavoring to meet that need. More about Georgi Vins: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgy_Vins
I remember in 1985 traveling by train from Budapest, Hungary to Arad, Romania, with about 20-25 Bibles hidden in my luggage. At the Romanian border, the female guard searched my luggage and found about six of them. I pleaded with her, with tears in my eyes, to let me keep them for friends, but to no avail. She made out her little report, gave me a copy, and said I could pick them up at the border when I came out. I knew I wasn’t coming back that way, and even if I did, likely would not have gotten them back. I went on my way, praising God that she did not find the rest of them which were in my other bag that had food items, and film, and some things I had bought in Budapest.
Of course, the ones I took in were quickly given away in the churches that Dorin Motz and I visited in Romania. Toward the end of the trip, all I had left was my personal Bible in English. When a brother asked me if I had Bibles, I told him all I had was my own Bible in English. He said “Brother, please give me that one. I can read some English, and you can easily get another one”. He was right you know, and I gave it to him gladly!
Do you recognize how important the Bible is? In Christianity, in its broadest sense, a Bible is very necessary. I do not care if you are Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Adventist, Episcopal, Orthodox or even Catholic. You can be Calvinist, Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, Conditionalist, Absolute Predestinarian, Modernist, Neo- Evangelical, Fundamentalist or whatever you call yourself. You’ll be hard pressed to practice your faith without a Bible! We take the Bible for granted in the west. There are many places in the world today where they do not. For instance, China, North Korea, Cuba, and the Muslim nations. There is still a need today.
I am willing to help anyone get a Bible, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. I saw too many people who I believe were genuine Christians, who did not have Bibles under communism. In many cases, perhaps most, how will people know the truth, if they have not the written word of God? Remember in Nehemiah’s day revival among the Jews came as God’s word was rediscovered and publicly read (please see Nehemiah chapter eight). Read and meditate on verse eight which says: “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading”. Also: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16,17).
So, beloved, you can see how difficult it would be for a true Christian to function without the scriptures. Not impossible, but difficult. Haralan Popov and Simion Motz, who both served many years in harsh communist prisons, each personally told me how Christian prisoners had no Bibles, but shared the word from memory with one another when they could gather. There in prison, one page of the Bible was precious.
It may come to that here in America if the socialist God haters have their way. I think here a greater problem is a watering down of the true gospel through liberal and cultic preachers, and also continual re-translating and watering down of the pure word of God. That is a great danger. This is the reason I will not endorse just any translation of the Bible. In English now we have-- how many? So many it is ridiculous! Many of them are not sound, and are based on faulty theories, and faulty manuscripts. We do not have the original autographs. In the Providence of God, it is best we do not, for some liturgical types would likely worship the parchments themselves!
Call me old fashioned, obscurantist, whatever you will, but I believe the Masoretic text in the OT, and the majority text (received text = Textus Receptus), in the NT, is God’s settled word. In English, only the KJV, NKJV, Darby, and a handful of other translations are based on TR. The rest are Westcott and Hort variations. In English, I have seen nothing to surpass the KJV in spite of the Elizabethan language. Study it and you will be really richer for it. There are many study aids to help you grasp it. But, use whatever version you prefer, but I will stick with the old book ‘til Jesus comes or I go home!
The Russian Bible Society is a reliable distributor of Bibles in the languages of the former Soviet states. Their address is: Russian Bible Society, P.O. Box 6064, Asheville, NC 28816. Phone: (828) 681-0370- Dr. Bob Doom, Director. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org