By WALTER ALBRITTON
Once there was only the King James version. Now there are dozens of different translations of the Bible. Many Christians vigorously defend their favorite translation, but each of us is free to choose the version we like best.
We are not free, however, to view the Bible as a smorgasbord, like a buffet offering a variety of ideas from which we can select only the ones we prefer. Some people do that. They like the biblical teaching that God is love, but dislike the teaching of Jesus that some people are not going to heaven. The irony of this is that John, who wrote so eloquently about God’s love, is the same man who insisted that God’s gift of eternal life is “in his Son,” and that “no one” can come to the Father except through Jesus.
We may read the Bible for many reasons — to find comfort, encouragement, hope, spiritual guidance and to deepen our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We study it to ascertain eternal truth that can become the bedrock of our beliefs. We should be foolish to read the Bible looking for what, in our view, is “right” or “wrong.”
To believe in universal salvation, one must discount a principal teaching of Jesus that some people will be saved and some lost, eternally. Yet some insist that since God is love, and all powerful, that he will at last save everyone. That is a sentimental notion, not biblical truth. To accept the idea of universal salvation, I must assume that Jesus was a liar, or a lunatic or mistaken. But neither is an option for me. I choose to believe Jesus spoke eternal truth because he was Truth itself. It makes no sense to think that I can revise the Bible to support some belief that I wish was true.
I rejoice that John taught us that God is love. And I celebrate what else he taught. He revealed that Jesus is the Christ and that everyone who believes that he is has been born of God. He taught us that eternal life is in the Son, and those who “have the Son” have this life. He insisted that those who believe may “know” they have eternal life, thus having the assurance of salvation.
This assurance enables us to sing joyously with Fanny Crosby, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”
There is hardly anything more wonderful than to know that, saved by grace, you are a child of God. No wonder we sing together, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart to stay.” And yes, it is “bubbling” in our souls.
Thank God for the Bible, whatever the translation. It tells us the good news about a God who loves us so much that when we welcome the Son as Lord, He fills us with joy unspeakable, sends us out into the world with a glorious sense of mission, and gives us the strength to serve him until he welcomes us home to share the eternal joy of heaven. Glory!