So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. –Romans 10:17
Last Sunday we kicked off our Missions Emphasis for 2018 earlier than we have ever done here at LifePoint. Our “official” Missions Emphasis is set for September 9 and 16 this fall, but we believe that the cause of Bible translation is so important that we want to get as many people on board now as possible. The Missions Planning Team has committed $20,000 toward the completion of an entire Bible translation in the Ketengban language (along with other translation projects that we will talk more about in the future), a task that Andrew and Anne Sims, longtime LifePoint missionaries, have been laboring over for many years. It was just a few years ago that we celebrated the New Testament translation for the Ketengban people group of Papua, New Guinea. We are now collaborating with the Sims on this final push to get the entire Scriptures into their hands.
Just this week a famous pastor in America declared that it was time to “un-hinge” the New Testament from the Old. Although he said he believed the Old Testament is the word of God, he immediately cut the legs out from underneath that statement by saying the stories of the Old Testament are a hindrance to people coming to faith in Christ. Allow me simply to comment that I believe such a statement is incredibly short-sited and muddleheaded. If we “un-hinge” the New Testament from the Old, we un-hinge the gospel from its foundation. The Old Testament leads to the New, and it is the Bible that Jesus, and everyone else in the early church, utilized to lead pagans to salvation (see Jesus’ own use of the O.T. in Luke 24:13-27). We want to get the Old Testament into the hands of the Ketengban people because it is vital to their understanding of the faith, it is the foundation to the gospel they have heard, and it will allow them to hear and sit under and obey the whole counsel of God.
This Sunday evening I will take about an hour to walk through how we received our Bible in English. It will not be overly academic. I will not touch on every single event that led to the blessing we now enjoy in having so many translations and commentaries at our disposal. But I do think it is important for us to see how much pain, suffering, and effort went into our reception of the Scriptures in English. I will leave some time at the end for questions and answers.
It is true that people can and do come to faith in Christ without the Scriptures in their heart language. That only happens, however, when people who do have the Scriptures in their heart language share the story with them (and of course, not without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit). You may have taken the time this past Sunday to flip the card over that you found on your seats in the Worship Center and read the short story of Kostan, a Ketengban man who heard and responded to the gospel many years ago, devoted himself to being a preacher of that word, and recently had the joy of receiving the New Testament in his own heart language. This event was made possible in no small part to LifePoint’s support of Andrew and Anne Sims and a large donation from the church to get that New Testament to print. We now hope to get the Old Testament into Kostan’s hands as well.
The global cause for Christ and his gospel marches on. It does so regardless of our participation or lack thereof. However, isn’t it good to know that we have played a part in it? Join us Sunday if you are able as we learn about our own Bibles, and then continue to join with us as we journey together to our fall Missions Emphasis.
God has communicated his word to us, and by his blessing and the dangerous and laborious work of his people, that word has been written down and preserved. It is of utmost importance that all the peoples of the earth have the opportunity to see it, read it (or have it read to them), and respond to it.
Grace and peace,