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WHY BELIEVING IN THE KJV IS NOT ENOUGH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, March 23, 2003


"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" (John 3:10).


The Scofield center note tells us this means that Nicodemus was "the teacher of Israel." Dr. John R. Rice said:

How could one understand all the Scriptures…without seeing that the wicked heart must be changed, must be forgiven? Nicodemus was wrong not to have found all that in the Old Testament (Dr. John R. Rice: John: The Son of God, Sword of the Lord, 1976, p. 72).

The Scofield note emphasizes the fact that an article appears before "teacher" in the original Greek - making it "the teacher" literally. Nicodemus was the leading Bible scholar and teacher of his day. This man knew the Hebrew and Aramaic perfectly. This man had memorized by heart whole books of the Bible. He could quote chapter after chapter from memory. He had studied the words of Scripture all his life. And yet all he knew was the Bible! His religion went no farther than that! His religion began and ended with knowing the Bible! That's why he said, "How can these things be?" (v. 9) when Jesus spoke of actually experiencing what you read in the Bible! The Pharisees like Nicodemus, in Jesus' day, were rationalists. That means they thought that mentally knowing the Bible was the same as experiencing the truths taught in the Bible. Knowledge had replaced experience.

Dr. A. W. Tozer said:

There is today an evangelical [and fundamentalist] rationalism not unlike the rationalism taught by the scribes and Pharisees. They said the truth is in the word, and if you want to know the truth, go to the rabbi and learn the word. If you get the word, you have the truth. That is evangelical rationalism, and in fundamental circles we have it today…We have it among us. It is a doctrine that "if you learn the text you have the truth" (A. W. Tozer, Faith Beyond Reason, "Revelation is Not Enough," Christian Publications, 1989, p. 20).

The Fundamentalist rationalist is just like Nicodemus and the Pharisees. He comes in and says, "The KJV is the truth. If you believe the preserved and perfect KJV, you have got the truth!" But he is wrong. And he is wrong for precisely the same reason Nicodemus was wrong - there is nothing supernatural, there is no faith beyond reason, it's all mental. This is not Biblical faith at all! It is soul-damning rationalism!

"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"
    (John 3:10).

Make no mistake, Nicodemus was a fundamentalist rationalist. He believed every word of the Bible - but he had no living faith in God and no new birth. There are three main things wrong with people who think believing the KJV is enough.

I. First, believing in the KJV is no substitute for believing in God.

One of the root problems of the Pharisees was that they had no connection to the living God. All they knew about God was second-hand, from the doctrines of Scripture. They believed the Bible - but they had no living, active, interaction with God. When they prayed, they were not really praying to God. They were just saying words to themselves.

"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself [to himself], God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are…"  
    (Luke 18:11).

The Pharisee prayed to himself because he had no connection to the living God. He believed the Bible - every word of it - but he had no connecting faith in God Himself.

"But," someone says, "isn't believing the KJV the same as believing in God? Isn't faith in the KJV the same as faith in God?" No - they are not the same. Turn in your Bible to Hebrews 11:6,

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is…" (Hebrews 11:6).

Real faith doesn't merely believe that God exists. Real faith believes in God Himself! You must come to God! Believing Bible verses is not the same as believing in God.

"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" 
    (John 3:10).

As a good Pharisee, Nicodemus believed the Bible. He believed it to be the preserved, inerrant, inspired Word of God. But he did not have living faith in God, Himself!

Many fundamentalists believe that the KJV is the preserved Word of God. But they have no prayer life. They do not ask God for things and receive what they ask for. They do not know God as David did when he said he loved "to behold the beauty of the Lord" (Psalm 27:4). Oh, David knew God personally in prayer, in a way that many KJV believers do not.

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).

What good is a dead, dry faith in the KJV without a living faith in God? Like the Pharisee, many pray to themselves. No wonder there is so little prayer, and so few answers to prayer! Faith is pointed to the KJV instead of God!

Don't get me wrong. I believe that the KJV is the only reliable translation in the English language today. I am convinced that the KJV was translated from the preserved text. But I am saying that believing those things about the KJV is no substitute for living faith in God that includes vital prayer to God, and worship of God. As Dr. Tozer said,

I believe that the Bible is a living book, that God has given it to us and that we dare not add to it or take away from it. It is revelation. But revelation is not enough! There must be illumination before revelation can get to a person's soul. It is not enough that I hold an inspired book in my hands. I must have an inspired heart. There is the difference, in spite of the evangelical [and fundamentalist] rationalist who insists that revelation is enough (A. W. Tozer, ibid., p. 22).

Believing in the KJV is no substitute for believing in God.

II. Second, believing in the KJV is no substitute for Christian charity.

I'm afraid that too many who believe like I do, that the KJV is the best, make this a substitute for Christian charity.

Someone will undoubtedly say, "Mush! We're supposed to contend for the faith!" I agree. I have contended for the faith for more than forty years. I lost my denomination and many friends. Yes, I know what it means to contend for the faith. But I think that a lot of so-called "contending" is really just old-fashioned meanness.

Turn in your Bible to Galatians, chapter five, verse twenty-two:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…"
    (Galatians 5:22-23).

Make no mistake, a belief in the KJV is no substitute for these - for they are "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). Now look at verse 20, half-way through it:

"…hatred, variance [strife], emulations [jealousy], wrath, strife [disputes], seditions [dissensions], heresies [factions], envyings" (Galatians 5:20-21).

These are some of "the works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19).

I don't care what a man says about so-called contending for the faith - if he steals money to build up his own ministry, he is not a good Christian - whether he believes the KJV or not! There are KJV "contenders" who think it is spiritual to display these works of the flesh - given in Galatians 5:19-21. Poppycock!

You cannot counterfeit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Christian charity, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, etc. come only from a converted heart. They are "the fruit of the Spirit." The reason some people are so mean is simply that they do not have the Holy Spirit in their souls. Thus, they think that the meanness of the flesh is the fruit of the Spirit! They simply can't tell the difference.

We brought a Jehovah's Witness to church for three Sundays, not knowing he was a member of that religion. We picked him up and drove him home. We fed him a lovely lunch each time. We treated him like a prince. But when I gave him John R. Rice's booklet on eternal damnation, he threw it on the floor and screamed at us.

There are KJV promoters who have the same mean spirit as a Jehovah's Witness. They push their doctrine ahead of all else. They are interested in nothing else but their doctrine - just like a Jehovah's Witness. They split churches, divide fellowships, and treat each other like dirt - just like Jehovah's Witnesses.

Why are we supposed to believe that KJV promoters who act like that are any better - or any more saved - than a Jehovah's Witness?

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (I Corinthians 13:1-3).

And though I believe in a perfect, preserved, inspired KJV and have not charity, I am nothing!

"Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions… they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:20-21).

Believing the KJV is no substitute for Christian charity!

"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" 
    (John 3:10).

III. Third, believing in the KJV is no substitute for conversion.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He believed every jot and tittle of the preserved Word of God. But he had never been born again. He talked like a fool about the new birth. When Jesus told him he must have this experience, he said, "How can these things be?" (John 3:9). And Jesus said to him,

"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" 
    (John 3:10).

He believed the Bible word-for-word - but he was unconverted!

You see, believing in the KJV is no substitute for a real conversion. Dr. Tozer said:

Yes, it is possible to see and yet not perceive. Paul says, "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (I Corinthians 2:5).
    Now, the theological rationalist understands that in this way: He says that your faith should stand not in the wisdom of man but in the word of God. But that is not what Paul said. He said that your faith should stand in the power of God. That is quite a different thing (A. W. Tozer, ibid., p. 25).

Again, Dr. Tozer said:

A man will go along in a church and believe Bible texts and memorize them and quote them and teach them…Then one day…he suddenly feels terribly in need of God and, forgetting all his past history, he goes to his knees…Then he…testifies, "I have been a deacon in this church for 26 years and never was born again until tonight!" (A. W. Tozer, ibid., pp. 27-28).

What happened? The man had been trusting his King James Bible! Suddenly, the Holy Spirit convinced him. He shuddered under conviction, and then trusted Jesus Christ. Instead of trusting Bible verses, he trusted the Son of God! Christ is alive - at the right hand of God - in Heaven!

Turn with me to II Timothy 3:15,

"And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).

Timothy knew the Scriptures from childhood, but that didn't save him! The Scriptures were given to point him to Christ! The KJV is here "to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).

My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Saviour divine!
Now hear me while I pray, Take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day Be wholly Thine!
     ("My Faith Looks Up To Thee" by Ray Palmer, 1808-1887).

My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary!

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" 
    (Acts 16:31).

Jesus said,

"Search the scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39).

Faith in the Bible never saved anyone. The case of Nicodemus proves that. "They are they which testify of me." It is only faith in the living Christ that saves you! Christ Himself must be the object of faith.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" 
    (Acts 16:31).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 3:1-10.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"My Faith Looks Up To Thee" (by Ray Palmer, 1808-1887).

THE OUTLINE OF

WHY BELIEVING IN THE KJV IS NOT ENOUGH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" (John 3:10).

I.   Believing in the KJV is no substitute for believing in God,
Luke 18:11; Hebrews 11:6; Psalm 27:4, 8.

II.  Believing in the KJV is no substitute for Christian charity,
Galatians 5:22-23, 19-21; I Corinthians 13:1-3.

III. Believing in the KJV is no substitute for conversion,
John 3:9; I Corinthians 2:5; II Timothy 3:15;
Acts 16:31; John 5:39.

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