WORD OF GOD
God's direct speaking to man in present tense.
The God-breathed scriptures containing past words of God and man.
Christ: the EMBODIMENT of God's communication to and into man.
This article is here because of my having published a Version of the New Testament file on my site with the books of the New Testament (which I shall abbreviate as NT in this article) placed in one file in the order in which I believe they were actually written. (For the FREE downloadable .pdf version click here!) I have used without altering the words or sentences in any way Robert Young's "Young's Literal Translation" because I believe it is the most accurate and true to the original languages and the meaning. Although it is written with 'thees and thous', that is OK with me because the Lord is the Lord of all languages of all times even our english language back when thees and thous were used. As to the order, I am mostly here in agreement with Gene Edwards who's recent books give the reasons for this order.
Brother Gene Edwards will soon print the NT (You will have to buy this version), hopefully, without the bothersome chapters and verses that get in the way of a clear understanding of what's being read. I hope you will understand that chapter and verses were introduced by man's tradition long after these works were penned and it has led to some rather serious problems. The first time I put a NT online before this one it had chapters and verses because it is so hard to remove them, however, it is possible to do this work of removing them if you know how to use a word processor to hang the first line of each verse then use 'Alt' and select the verse numbers for removal. So this time I think this is the only NT you'll find online without chapters and verses. You ask "why would you do such a thing?" ... Well, because this is a war against the private interpretation of man! When it appears like it does on this site, and also in the order written, there is not much room to take the scripture out of context! Also, it makes it harder to add your own meaning into it.
Why this version?
It is ironic to me that when I did the original version, I chose the Darby version to use. On the positive side I believe it is one of the most accurate versions ever made except for Witness Lee's Recovery Version and even more accurate: Young's version, which I now have employed. But on the negative side, John Nelson Darby was probably the main figure in history who used the "cut and paste" method. (I borrowed this term from Frank Viola who used it on his great article on this subject entitled "The Bible is not a Jigsaw Puzzle.") Anyhow Darby proposed this method before computers were ever invented. Now, what is meant by "cut and paste", of course, is that common practice of taking a verse from here and a verse from there and by this method you can literally prove anything! No wonder there is so much confusion today! If there had not been chapters and verses introduced through the passages of time to the Bible, it would have been much harder to do this. Wow! So did the enemy Satan have something to do with all this? Yes, I do believe so. So where does Darby come in to this picture? Well I believe he took the lead in his teaching to take "proof texts" to prove his teachings. One of the biggest teachings he propounded was that the answer was in Bible study and "getting into the Word," but now you will find that our focus is not on Christ but on scripture as a result. But scripture can't change your life or deliver you, brother, you need a Person: Jesus! Amen! So, now the practice of using "proof texts" in today's preaching and teaching has become commonplace. This is one of the abundant fruits of the creation of chapters and verses. This has been one dubious and devious plan of the enemy.
I went to a Bible school (yuck! I thought I was supposed to) right after high school. The more I studied the scriptures as it was presented there with all the theological books and commentaries and "proof texting" the more confused and darkened I became. There was so much death in my experience there that it caused me to become cynical of what I heard rather than building my faith because there was too much head knowledge. (Remember what I have written in other articles of this series that faith comes by really hearing Christ speak and this may not always happen when reading the scripture.) It also seemed to be killing everyone around me and now I see that indeed it was doing just that. As a result I turned more and more to the Lord in prayer. One day the Lord led me into the school library down the aisle where I found Finney's "Revival Lectures." As I thumbed through it's pages I was so endued with the power of God I was practically not able to stand up. Eventually I realized that there was so much death in this "Bible School" situation that we desperately needed revival so I started praying for it and eventually it came to that school, but I learned the hard way that the new wine was poured into old wineskins that could not contain it ... and all of it was lost.
On another occasion I found an old version of Jeanne Guyon's book "Spiritual Torrents." Again I was floored, but this time it was about the fact that she was so way deep and the experience around me and in me was so shallow. Again I did not understand why at the time. All I knew was that it was so.
Eventually after reading more of Gene Edward's books, I understood that when we read the books of the NT in the proper order and with their proper historical background, then you are limited by reading the entire book or letter in it's setting and direction with an understanding of who it was written from and who it was written to, when it was written and why it was written and then all the ideas of the book are taken in their proper context. You are hemmed in, so to speak, and you are far more likely to arrive at not only the author's intended meaning, but the Lord's as well. Of course, as I have mentioned elsewhere this should be done very prayerfully with a vital living contact with the Lord Spirit Who is the breath of God's speaking.
One of the examples that has been used by Gene is that if you go to school and take a course on math and there is 5 volumes that build upon each other line upon line and precept upon precept (which is a direct quote from scripture from the book of Isaiah by the way), you are going to have radical difficulties in learning the subject if you do not start with volume 1 but like to jump around to the fun stuff to suit your taste and start with volume 3 and skip the chapters you don't like. This is not only undisciplined, it is stupid. But don't get too heavy on folks here. Almost all the theologians and preachers of America do exactly this when it comes to the Bible. Other lesser scholars only know to follow their example. As a result there are volumes and volumes of commentaries and theological works written trying to explain the scriptures, but understanding still eludes them.
An Example in My Life
The Bible School I was in belonged to a denomination that leaned towards the doctrine of Armenianism. This is the belief that after being justified by faith and forgiven of your sins it is possible to get lost, lose your salvation and go to eternal hell. On the opposite side of this belief is Calvinism, the belief that it is impossible to lose salvation because it is based on faith not on works of law. However they take it too far teaching that one can do anything and get away with it. Much of this confusion would not exist if things could not be taken out of the context in which the scriptures were originally written. As a result we have not "rightly divided the Word of truth" as Paul told Timothy to do.
It was Witness Lee who helped me get clear on this through studying the notes of the Recovery Version concerning the "chastening of the believer in the next age" and how it applies towards not our justification but rather our sanctification. This truth of the "chastening of the believer in the next age" is all over the NT! So how did so many preachers miss it? Obviously they did not study the scriptures in their context like Bro Lee did. But I'm sorry to say even Bro Lee used "proof texting" although his conclusions may have been better. The point is when I saw the "chastening of the believer in the next age" I got clear and all the scriptures on punishment of backslidden believers to correct them in the next age made sense. Can you see I was dealing with a jigsaw puzzle in the first place and so are most other Christians?
Then I Read it in Order
You will find Gene's NT will be different from this version of mine online. Instead of presenting it in the order in which it was written (which cannot totally be done since the dates of some books are not actually known), he will be presenting it in the order in which it happened. See http://www.geneedwards.com/newtestament.shtml to find out why this approach makes sense. First he will have the four gospels and Acts woven together in their historic sequence and when you read Acts there will be notes as to when Paul's letters were penned so you get the historical background of events and will be able to put the whole picture together without such a big struggle. There exists a book on this subject by Gene Edwards at this time so you do not have to wait for his NT. It is called Revolutionary Bible Study and it does exactly what I have described in this paragraph (except it does not weave the 4 gospels together - only his NT or another rendering can do that). In fact I would go as far as Gene does to say it is the ONLY book written on Bible study that you ought to read and the others should be thrown out!!! Why? Because the others are based on cut and paste methods, but this one is based on historical order, background and context. It is that simple. It is that profound.
I actually have read the NT both ways - the way presented here and Gene's prescribed method. After doing so it all became crystal clear!! One thing is for sure: today's Christian practices are NOT the way they did things back then! Today's Christianity is a whole different ball of wax and even a different color! (It's a pretty drab color if you ask me.)
In the meantime, before Gene's NT gets published, I recommend you read the one I have online alongside the book of Acts and you may at least get somewhat clearer on things. There is also another order presented by a brother who does not exactly agree with my order online at http://theoldtimegospel.org/helps/help_orderN1.html but it is pretty much the same in that you are not placed in the position that most new believers are placed in (for example) of being led to believe that the first Pauline epistle they should read is Romans (which was written to believers who had been mature believers for several years).
Another point that must be observed is this: many of these letters were written not to individuals but to groups or assemblies of believers and when you assembled in the reality situation of the reality of the body of Christ, there is a whole new context for receiving these writings because it is about what you are really experiencing not mainly individually but corporately as the letters were written to groups mainly. Well I hope with these brief words I have given you the basics of a winning way of prayerfully approaching the scriptures that you might receive the light of His truth to answer Jesus' prayer and prophesy that you might be led into all truth as that is one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit to perform in your life if you let Him do so.