Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Precious Gift of The Inspired Version of The Bible

Today in the world there are many Bibles, to many to mention. New versions roll of the press every couple of years. each new version proclaims to be the definitive Bible, the one we should use to understand God. Today more than ever men seek greater understanding of the nature of God and many want this to come in a popular language. Perhaps in light of the new translations of the Scriptures many Mormons all over the world from all different sects are wondering whether they ought to give a sacred priority to the Inspired Version. I think they have every reason to think this was. We as a church have embraced the Inspired Version and it has led to countless benefits and a wondrous, deeper understanding of God and his Son Jesus Christ. In understanding the origins of the Inspired Version of the Bible one gets an deeper, more meaningful love and appreciation of the work that went in to protecting the manuscript through the years following its completion until its first printing. In June of 1830, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon continued the revision of the Scriptures which had begun previously by Joseph. on his own, knowing he needed greater help in this work he sought out the help of a man that would stand by him all his life, Sydney Rigdon was instrumental in helping bring forth this great work. They found a quiet place to work at Hiram, Ohio, about thirty miles from Kirtland, away from the hustle and bustle and the visitors and the every day life that Kirtland was. Sidney  would prove to be the most valuable assistant in this great work.
 
However in early November the work on the Bible translation was temporarily halted while Joseph Smith hurriedly tried to prepare material for the soon to be  published Book of Commandments, this was done by the middle of November, and the work of translation of the Bible resumed and continued all through the winter. The task of this great work continued through intervals on and off until the original manuscript of the Inspired Version of the Bible was completed. Joseph Smith wrote of this and said:- 'I completed the translation and receiving of the New Testament, on the 2nd of February, 1833, and sealed it up, no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion' (Times and Seasons 5:723). Any one who thinks that the work of the Bible was never finished are sadly mistaken, we have written proof that it was in a letter sent from Kirtland, Ohio, to the brethren in Zion and dated July 2,1833, by Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jr., and F. G. Williams, it contains the following statements concerning the work:- 'We this day finished the translating of the scriptures, for which we returned gratitude to our Heavenly Father.... Having finished the translation of the bible, a few hours since...' (Times and Seasons 6:802) As an interesting side note is interesting to know that the New Testament was completed first and the Old Testament five months later.
 
Several years passed, and in 1839 the Saints were driven from their homes in Far West by mobs and expelled from the surrounding territory. James Mulholland who was acting as the secretary for the Prophet Joseph, was in Liberty Jail on spurious charges, and knowing the value of the translated document entrusted gave them to Ann Scott, his wife's oldest sister, believing the mob would be less likely to molest her. However have seen many atrocities committed by the mobs on women she took no chances, and in turn made two cotton bags large enough to contain the papers of the Inspired Version of the Bible, once secured she sewed a band around the top ends, tied them about her waist, and carried them under the folds of her dress in the daytime and under her pillow by night whenever the mob was present. in order to preserve these great documents.  My mind reflects upon this story and i ask myslef, if these early saints looked upon these documents with so much importance how much more important is it for us, who have the full edition printed today to cherish and use this great work. The answer is very important. When the time came and the saints took the perilous journey from Far West to Illinois Ann Scott gave the cotton bags with their precious contents to the wife of the Prophet Emma Smith, upon receipt of the precious cargo Emma continued to carry the documents in the same manner across the state of Missouri and over the icebound Mississippi River, with two infants in her arms and two small children tugging at her skirts. Emma knowing how much work went in to bringing us the Inspired Version and knowing how important it was carefully guarded the work all through the years of her life. On May 2, William Marks, W. W. Blair, and Israel L. Rogers of the Reorganised church went to Nauvoo to see Emma Smith with a view to procuring the manuscript. The only payment Emma wanted for her careful watch of the precious manuscript over the years was a copy of the book when it came off the press. The Reorganised Church was in a poor state, much like the church today, but funds were raised through the consecration of the Saints. Finally, in a1867 the IVB was finally published.
 
It must not and should not be overlooked that the Scriptures bear divine evidence of themselves. Possibly the greatest purpose in scripture is to reveal God to man. We are told, 'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me' (John 5:40). This would  lead any concerned person to seek for as accurate a translation as possible. If this were not so, the world would not have seen the biblical and language scholars of the past and present. Joseph Smith was directed by the Spirit of revelation when he began the Inspired Translation. Its need was emphasised in a revelation received in June 1830. In this revelation the Lord said to Moses, 'And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto you concerning this earth upon which you stand; and you shall write the things which I shall speak. And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught, and take many of them from the book which you shall write, behold I will raise up another like unto you, and they shall be had again among the children of men, among even as many as shall believe'. (Revelation to Moses IVB).
 
The Book of Mormon, which by this time had already been published, declared that 'many plain and precious parts' had been removed from the Bible: 'For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away; and all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord ... because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them'. (1 Nephi 3:168–170,175) The importance of inspired scripture is emphasized not only in content, but in the fact that it shall be preserved by the power of God:- 'Thou shalt ask, and my Scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety; and it is expedient that thou shouldst hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until thou hast received them in full. And I give unto you a commandment, that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people'. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:15–16).
 
Today there are many fine translations of the Bible, these include the King James, the New English Translation, the New American Translation, the Moffatt edition, the Goodspeed New Testament. All of these are valuable for study and comparison. In them many quotations questioned through the centuries are given a clearer interpretation. However it must be remembered that as biblical scholars of the past have declared, early manuscripts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek differ somewhat in text, and consequently obscure any positive interpretation. There are some manuscripts of ancient origin that have been found that are of either the Old Testament or the New Testament that have been found today, some we call Gnostic and extreme therefore the same problems, plus additional problems due to language changes, face the modern translator to get to the truth Our first and only assurance for the most accurate revelation of scripture, and most definitely for the fulfilment of the "precious parts removed," is in the content of the Inspired Version of the Bible, which was given through divine providence and not the work of scholarly man. With this in mid we should never have a problem in using this great work in our missionary endeavours.  Let us never forget that God has seen fit to restore those lost precious parts that were removed, he would not have done this unless it was necessary for us to have them restored. In our homes the Inspired Version of Bible should take the place of the  King James Bible or other version, we should not hesitate to use the Inspired Version over and above all these other works, as the Lord God has seen fit to give us, so let us not regard this work with lightness of mind and heart but rather embrace it and use it. As a people we should have no difficulty accepting the Inspired Version of the bible when we are in full knowledge of the marvellous manner in which the Bible was brought forth. In my own case I have found little problem in using the Inspired Version from the beginning, but rather it has enhanced my love of God the father and His Son. The Inspired Version has allowed me to more fully understand the nature of the Gospel as a living entity, Gods relationship with us his children and our relationship with His Son. I can not stress the importance of this great work in our lives and because of this at no time should the Inspired Version be replaced in the pulpit with any other Bible. Others Bibles  may be used in making comparison in order to emphasise the greatness of the Inspired Version and in helping us understanding of the Inspired Version, but never to replace it in our church meetings.
 
In closing today can I say again to this church, which is Gods church. The Lord has emphatically commanded its use among all nations, kindred's, tongues, and people, this command given as early as February 1831.  Let us make no mistake that while other churches continue to be led astray with other limited versions of the Bible we stand with God and we substitute nothing and we use only what God has commanded, and so the Inspired Version takes pride of place in our cannon of scripture and will remain there until the great and glories day comes. Amen
 
Prophet Matthew P. Gill

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