For as long as I have been a Christian, there has been controversy regarding which version of the Bible is holy and true. For many, there is no other Bible than the one used by their father’s father’s father. Even today, there are some who believe if you don’t use a particular version, you are endangering your lives and filling your minds with false doctrine.
There are no apologies from me for my personal preference being the King James Version (KJV). I love this version, and always have. There is no doubt some of the words are no longer used in today’s world, but that doesn’t bother me in any way. The text flows smoothly for me, and seems to be alive, which it is. This version still has an enormous following today, and will continue for a long time to come.
While browsing the net a few months ago, I came across an interesting site and began reading some of the posts. It wasn’t long before this became a daily reading necessity. Mark Bertrand’s Binding Design and Binding Blog offers a wealth of information about high-end Bibles, along with some other offerings, such as high quality journals and out of the ordinary Bibles. If you have never visited this site, do yourselves a favor and drop by. Be forewarned, though, as you might just be tempted to acquire one or more of the Bibles he has so ably reviewed.
Winding my way through the afore mentioned blog, I came across a Bible version that was totally unfamiliar to me. The English Standard Version (ESV) seems to be quite popular, and after reading several important passages on the ESV site, I began to see why. There is an Introduction to the ESV Bible that should answer all your questions about this wonderful version. From the introduction:
The English Standard Version (ESV) Bible is a new, essentially literal Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and depth of meaning.
A pastor friend of mine showed me another version I had not read before, the New American Standard Bible (NASB). This version is published by The Lockman Foundation. He told me he had been using this version for quite a while in studying the scriptures and preaching, too. Again, after looking at several key passages, I found this version quite pleasing and readable. There is some useful information about the NASB on the BibleGateway.com site. You may also look up scriptures there, and read to your heart’s content.
While talking with another pastor friend last night, I discovered one more version that really appeals to me. The New Century Version (NCV) is easy to read, and suitable for young readers, too. There is some excellent information at the Bible Research site relating to this version. As my pastor friend pointed out, this version reads so beautifully, specifically including grandchildren in the promises of God. Look at how Psalm 103:17 is rendered: “But the Lord’s love for those who respect him continues forever and ever, and his goodness continues to their grandchildren.”
I know children’s children is the same as grandchildren, but the NCV makes the connection very plain. My wife and I have grandchildren and we make sure they are included in our Bible discussions. They are our heritage, and the Word of God applies just as much to them as the rest of us.
Now, what is so significant about reading and studying versions other than the time-tested KJV? I have been a Christian long enough to be grounded and settled in God’s Word, and can read the others without confusion. The other versions mentioned in this post have their own personalities and unique features; it’s not difficult to find a sense of joy and satisfaction in each of them.
There is a book called God Only Wrote One Bible by Jasper James Ray, which is an apology for the KJV. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that book; I’ve bought and given away more copies than can be recalled now. I’m not sure the book is still in print. Anyway, at one point in my life, I believed like the author. “If it’s not the KJV, you better not read it” There are some interesting points brought up by Mr. Ray, and if you can find the book, you would probably enjoy reading it.
We are to go into all the world, making disciples of all people. There is no telling the number of people who have come to know Jesus Christ as Savior through the power of evangelizing with the KJV. I can remember a man witnessing to me as we were both working at a department store in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He quoted scriptures using the KJV. After coming to Christ at an old established church one Easter Sunday morning, I was presented with a brand new Thompson Chain KJV Bible. I still use it today, though the print has somehow shrunk a little.
If I can use the ESV, NASB, NCV or KJV to effectively speak the message of the Cross, then I have done my part. Certainly, the Lord has already anointed His Word and expects us to speak to others, declaring His love for mankind. I don’t want to use a watered down version that destroys the majesty and deity of God; there are some versions that seem to do just that. We must be discerning in what we read and what we speak.
I may just begin using one of these other versions as I preach the glorious gospel of Christ; there is no doubt, however, the KJV will be my main Bible. My aim is to speak the truth in love with the power of God’s eternal Word. What do you think?