Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Commit to Perfection

Once you have committed to a translation you trust, commit to it all the way and memorize it perfectly, exactly as it is translated.

Every word and every letter contributes to the meaning of the text. Any change will alter the meaning of the text. Sometimes a change to one letter of one word can have significant theological implications and even eternal consequences.

When I was in AWANA Clubs, we would have a few verses per “section” of our handbooks to learn. With a goal of completing 2-3 section per week of the school year in order to finish our handbooks, we were allowed 1-2 “helps” from our leader per section in case we got stuck with our verses. Depending on the age of the clubber, that works out to about 1 help per verse. It was a practical standard for elementary age children with a goal for them to learn essential verses for understanding the Good News of Jesus Christ.

If one needed, on average, one help per verse in reciting a chapter of the Bible, that would make the text more disjointed than reciting it with verse numbers. This standard is in no way practical for reciting chapters or books of the Bible. The alternative is reciting with a lower standard that makes for a recitation filled with potential inaccuracies and uncertainties for both the hearer and the speaker as to the accuracy of the text recited. For these reasons, committing to perfection is especially important with long passages of Scripture.

Considering that a practical standard of one help per verse means a person is still committed to a high standard of learning most of the text perfectly anyway, then why not go all the way and have it down perfectly leaving no questions about potential lost or distorted meaning of the text? Similar to when one commits to a translation, there is a similar sense of freedom in committing to knowing the text perfectly. It is much less work to determine if one has recited it perfectly than if one has or has not sacrificed too many words or letters that potentially alter significant meaning of the text.

Every word and every letter, and counts. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). Every single mark on the page matters.

Paul tells us “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The writer of Hebrews tells us “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (4:12). If one is going to put in the effort to memorize a large passage of Scripture, committing to perfection ensures that one is accurately hiding the very living inspired words of God in his heart.

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