Prayerful Wisdom from a Prudent Elder 

By Robert R. Taylor Jr. 

In a northern city where I was scheduled to preach on a Sunday morning a number of years ago there was an elder in the Lord's church who also was a very successful attorney. He was widely known in his profession. He led the prayer just before my sermon. I remember one specific sentiment that he uttered, but I remember it as though he had just prayed it while writing and typing this article. The petition was, "Lord, help us not to tamper with thy Word." 

He frequently dealt with wills in his profession. He knew the "wills" of men are to be respected and the provisions carried out to the letter of their every mandate; said wills were not to be tampered with to any degree. 

Even more importantly, he was courageously aware of the fact that the last will and testament of Jesus is not to be tampered with by the hands of men and lips of church leaders. I was included in that prayer. He did not want me to tamper with God's Word in the presentation of it; he did not want his local preacher to tamper with it; he did not ever intend for the eldership of which he was a part to tamper with that Word; he did not want the congregation to tamper with the New Testament. 

Had you heard him pray this prayer, would you not have remembered this petition also across the years? Every reader of the Firm Foundation, would answer yes. 

Surely this petition is part and parcel of the prayers and practices of everyone of us. 

Some Practical Applications

Without exception every creed maker or manual manufacturer has tampered with God's Word by addition, subtraction, alteration, substitution, or modification. Those with anti sentiments have tampered with the generic of the gospel; those with liberal tendencies have tampered with the specifics of the gospel. 

The former binds where God has not bound; the latter looses where God has bound. The former group would destroy the work of the church; the latter group would destroy the church itself. 

Advocates of the new hermeneutic have tampered with the Word of God. The bottom line of this new movement is a rejection of pattern authority, a nullification of the authority that inheres in God's inviolable Word. The change agents among churches of Christ are notorious in tampering with the Word of the Lord. To them culture is more important than the Christ. Pleasing the unchurched is more important than pleasing the Lord. Making sure we keep the baby boomers and baby busters is more important than making sure we respect the will and wish of The Timeless Trinity. Making sure that we are not offensive to our denominational acquaintances takes precedence over a strong desire never to offend Deity. 

They tamper with the doctrine of the Godhead, the authority of the Bible, the basics of the gospel, and the noble nature of the Lord's church. The church is his and not theirs

With few exceptions those who have put out new Bibles have tampered with God's Word. They have done so by additions (Amplified, Easy­To­Read); they have done so by subtractions such as The Reader's Digest, which axed about 40 percent of the words of the Bible; they have done so by inserting modernism (RSV, NRSV), denominationalism (TEV, NEB, NIV, LBP), premillennialism (nearly all the modern ones), Catholicism (NEB), irreverence (LBP), mechanical music in worship (NIV, Amplified, Beck's) and a host of other unauthorized teachings. 

Scriptural Reminders

In Psalm 119 we read, "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.... Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word." David said in Psalm 138:2, "[F]or thou hast magnified thy word above thy name." In John 10:35 Jesus declared that "the scripture cannot be broken." In 1 Corinthians 4:6 (ASV) Paul warns us not to go beyond the things which are written. In Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Jeremiah 26:2; ant Revelation 22:18­19 we are solemnly warned lest we add to or diminish from the Word of the Lord. 


"Lord. may we never tamper with thy Word." 

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by Curtis A. Cates



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Published February 1996