Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2011
Page 6

Conscience Tune Up

Donald R. Fox

Donald R. Fox

My mind was thousands of miles away because of something that just happened. A friend in passing spoke to me. Understanding what he said, yet, I was preoccupied with this unpleasant thought. I acknowledged his comment with a wave of my hand. Within a few minutes, my conscience bothered me. I felt that I was impolite because I did not answer him. I tried to call him a few times to apologize, but was unable to get him. A few days later, I got a chance to see him in person. I apologized to him, explaining my mindset. He, being a fine Christian man, understood and all is well between us.

Our conscience is a gift from God. It behooves us to continue to improve its capacity as we study God’s Word and comply with His Will. We need to continue to get a conscience tune up. Our dictionary defines conscience in part as: “The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong. A source of moral or ethical judgment or pronouncement” (The Free Dictionary by Farlex). According to Farlex’s Thesaurus, “Tune up, means to alter or regulate so as to achieve accuracy or conform to a standard; to adjust, correct or set.”

Our hatred for evil, and our love for moral goodness keeps pace with our service to mankind, and our service keeps pace with our growth in knowledge of what is right and wrong. Our conscience does not bother us at all, since our daily practice is in harmony with our moral judgment. Our minds are clear; we develop no neurotic complexes; and our usefulness in this world becomes greater. Friends, our moral judgment is our guide. Before our conscience can ever operate, we must first decide, (from our fund of knowledge) what is right, and then act according to our best judgment. The thing that guides us is our moral judgment — our knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. This knowledge we must gain from God’s book, the Bible. It is our only accurate teacher in matters of righteousness. (Fred A. Amick.  Hearing for Eternity, Vol. II. 73-74)

We are unable to grasp why those who practice orthodox Islam can kill innocent people. We cannot comprehend the vile nature of those who practice evil and say they are doing the will of a god. We are thankful that God’s Word, the Bible, guides us straight unto true ethical/morale principles that have stood the test of time. May we continue to serve our God in good conscience. It is our prayer that mankind will seek the God of the Bible, a God of goodness and peace.

 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13 KJV). “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron”(1 Timothy 4:1-2). “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly” (Hebrews 13:18). “The conscience of a people is their power” (John Dryden, 1631 – 1700).

New Testament Manuscripts

D. Gene West

D. Gene West

When it comes to ancient manuscripts, there are no works of the ancient world that can equal the number of manuscripts extant of the New Testament. There are only 643 manuscripts of Homer=s Iliad, one of the most famous books of ancient Greece. We have only 10 manuscripts of Caesar=s Gallic Wars, and the oldest of these was made a full 1,000 years after the original book was written. However, there are 5,366 manuscripts of the New Testament, some of which date back to within 150 years after the New Testament was completed. No other ancient work has so many manuscripts for comparison as does the New Testament. We have many scholars who do little but compare these ancient manuscripts with one another in order to determine what is the most accurate way of expressing the words of the New Testament. These men slave over these manuscripts, examining every particle of difference in them to determine what best expresses the truth.

For example, based on the premise that the earliest of the manuscripts would be the best, inasmuch as they were made closer to the time of the original writings, these scholars compare every sentence of each manuscript with the others to determine such things as the correct word order, as well as the correct words. If there is great unanimity regarding a word, a sentence, or a paragraph in the very early manuscripts, and a variant is found in another that is three centuries later than the early ones, they work on the premise that the earlier ones are more nearly correct.

However, the amazing thing about all this is that the differences that are found in the earliest manuscripts are of little or no consequence at all. They amount to differences in word order. An example of this would be that there are five different word orders for John 1:21, in which is written, “Who are you then: Are you Elijah?” It really makes no difference how the words of this question are arranged. They all amount to the same thing. What is the difference between, “Who then, are you: are you Elijah?” or, “Are you then Elijah, who are you?” or “Who are you Elijah, if not, who then?” Two things can be said of this, the typical kind of problem found by manuscript scholars of the New Testament. (1) Regardless of word order, is not the same essential question asked? (2) Does the word order have anything to do with the salvation of man? The answer to both these is, “No!”

Another criterion used is the number of times a section of Scripture appears. For example, if you have 1,000 manuscripts that do not contain a certain event or story, and only one that does, then the scholars assume, and correctly so, that the one time this matter occurs is probably an editor=s addition. It may have been an oral tradition so long held that it was thought it ought to be in the Bible, so some editor somewhere along the way decided to insert it. However, modern manuscript scholars will omit it from the one they are building, due to the infrequency with which it occurred in the most ancient of manuscripts.

There are many little differences in manuscripts called “variants.” A variant is counted any time one copy of a manuscript is different from another; furthermore, it is counted again every time it appears in other copies. Hence, when critics of the Bible say there are 200,000 variants in the Bible, they frighten the unaware. If the spelling of a single word is misspelled in 3,000 manuscripts, then you have 3,000 variants. In fact, there are only about 10,000 single variants in all the manuscripts, and these are in such things as word order and spelling. So, do not let the critics upset you by telling you that the Bible is riddled with all sorts of errors, as the Islamic critics like so well to do. They insist that the Bible has been so fully corrupted that we do not know anything about the original, and should therefore accept the Qur’an. We have 100 percent of the Bible, and we are certain about 99.5 percent of it! Even our reliable translations are that accurate.

“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 NKJV).

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