The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
"I have read some of the recent reports linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer. Do you think one must deny himself the pleasure of smoking in order to be a Christian?" R.S., Chicago, Illinois
The United States and British Governments conducted exhaustive research into this modern medical problem. Each has issued a revealing report of its findings — and certainly no one was surprised. The facts linking smoking to lung cancer were already concretely established and well known to the public due to the research of the American Medical Association. One would have to be blind to the mountain of evidence in order to deny the truth of the matter! It is tragic to see grown men and women enslaved by the smoking habit. Of course, few people will admit that they have a "smoking habit." Most will assure you they could quit at any time — but somehow they never do! They have plenty of excuses but no reasons! Smoking has mastered them. They are ruled by their sensual lusts, instead of expending the effort necessary to rule over their bodies. To allow one's body to be conquered by a weed — and one's health thereby dissipated — is idolatry ! God Almighty has something to say in the pages of the Bible concerning this vital matter. What God reveals is made plain in a free article, "Should a Christian Smoke?" Write for it immediately if you haven't read it. In it you will find the straight-from-the-shoulder, plain truth of your Bible.
"How did we get the Bible? Can we be sure that the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures have been accurately preserved to our day?" G.P., Sydney, Australia
God works through human instruments. God worked through a human, physical nation in preserving the Old Testament. That nation was the house of Judah, the people we call Jews today. At Mt. Sinai, God gave the lively oracles to the "church [the physical nation Israel] to the wilderness" through Moses (Acts 7:37-38). Out of the twelve tribes, God chose and commissioned one tribe, the Jews, to be the preservers of His "oracles," His Word. In Romans 3:1-2, Paul wrote: "What advantage then hath the Jew? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." The Jews have carefully preserved the original, inspired Hebrew Old Testament for us to this day. The basic reason, of course, is that only the Jews have kept Hebrew as a living language. All the other tribes lost their language and do not speak Hebrew today. Matthew, one of the twelve apostles, and the writer of the Gospel of Matthew, knew the Jews had been given a commission to preserve God's Word. That explains why Matthew wrote his Gospel account first in Hebrew. (See Adam Clarke, Vol. V, p. 33). Paul, at a later time, wrote the book of Hebrews to the Jews in the Hebrew (Church Hist. of Eusebius, Bk. VI, ch. 14). Both these apostles wrote in Hebrew to allow the Jews the opportunity to preserve the record of Christ, the Messiah. But the Jews as a nation rejected both Christ and the record of His Gospel and life. Although the Jews were willing to preserve the Old Testament, they wanted no part of Jesus Christ. "...Paul... testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they op' posed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean..." (Acts 18:5-6). Since the Jews would not preserve the story of God' s own Son, God led the apostles to use another language — Greek — for the New Testament record. He did not force the Jews to preserve and copy the New Testament record. God inspired the apostles to use the most widespread language of their day, Greek. It was a highly developed, precise, accurate language, and known throughout the Roman Empire (New Testament Greek for Beginners, Macken, p. 2). Of all the many nations that spoke Greek in New Testament times, only the Greeks speak their native language today. That is why for many long centuries, the inspired original New Testament was copied and preserved in the Greek world for us today. God has made it His responsibility to see that both Jews and Greeks have carefully copied the Scriptures from generation to generation. God has not left it to men to decide what is His Word. Now, in this twentieth century, God has raised up a Work in the house of Israel — in the English-speaking world — to carry the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations. Neither the Jews nor the Greeks were willing or able to fulfill that commission. To carry out His Work through The World TOMORROW broadcast and the pages of The PLAIN TRUTH God has had His Word translated into the leading modern languages from the original Hebrew and Greek. Now all may hear and — if they are willing — understand!