If what the Lord did and said is in accord with all that is written in the larger scriptures, then this work is truly a concentrate. If there are differences, then this will be a guide for identifying what was truly inspired, separating it from what was added by men who believe our Lords witness to be inadequate or lacking.
Derivation of this work
The word and witness text was originally prepared for reading, but has been expanded into a database as a powerful study tool.
How to use the work
The word and witness text remains as it was originally prepared, it is a very readable, and a remarkably consistent written extraction from the greater scriptures. With the additional aspect of hypertext database application, it has been cross indexed for both serious study and more rapid analysis.
There is such a spiritual difference between the general scriptures and the word and witness of our lord that it is hard to imagine that one can be extracted from the other.
There was a King who needed to send an official communication to a King in another land. He called in his Ambassador, and he provided the man with a writing containing the message. Then he sat down with his Ambassador, and they discussed the matter fully, so that the Ambassador would be able to answer questions which might arise over the communication and could explain anything which was unclear or in need of further discussion.
In the other kingdom, the Ambassador was ushered by their Prime Minister into the presence of the other King, and there he delivered the writing. When the King and the Prime Minister had read it over, the King asked the Ambassador what was meant by a passage.
Before the Ambassador could answer, the Prime Minister answered what it meant, expanding upon what the other king had written. The answer did not suit the King, so he asked again; and again his own Minister answered and gave further testimony.
The King was wroth with him and sent him from his presence with an angry word, for he wanted to know what the other King had to say, and not what his own Prime Minister thought the other king wanted him to know.
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In my search for what God intends of us, I have spent a considerable time reading in the four Gospel books. One thing which has struck me repeatedly is that there is much written by the authors to explain what Jesus meant when He spoke, what He thought, and what He intended by his speaking. Such additions make me nervous. Also included are substantial witness by the authors on various subjects.
The reason for acceptance of the entire scripture is the belief that the message contained in the explanation and enhancement by others is also from God, such that much of what God has for us would be lost if we did not receive the whole scripture as it was originally prepared and preserved through translation. This is reasonable conjecture but lacks support by direct words from God, the prophets, or from Jesus.
It may well be true; and there is no intent for this work to supplant the written scripture. Word and Witness has been prepared as a tool for the intensive study of the witness of our Lord, and is provided for those who want the straight truth from the source of truth.
I hold it on faith that the words of our Lord as recorded in the sacred scriptures hold no lie or distortion. That is the thing upon which this work rests, the veracity of our Lord and the staying power of His words, as attested to within the scriptures.
There is only one who was with God in the beginning, and has come to us from God; and that is Jesus. There is no man who knows better the message of God for us than He does. There is no man who can know better than our Lord what God wishes, plans, or means for us.
There is only one man who was directly empowered by God to carry the message which Jesus carried, that same Jesus. With His divine inspiration and abilities, there is also no man who is superior to Jesus in ability to communicate the message He carries.
I am proceeding under the assumption that there is nothing which can be added to the words and witness of our Lord, which will better explain what Jesus said than his own words, or will better represent Him to his people than his own record.
What this work does is to extract the witness of Jesus from the scriptures, removing editorial comment and personal interpretations from the written record. What the extracted record contains is all the recorded words of our Lord, with such minimum of information as will provide those recorded words with a framework and background in which they can be understood.
Also, the work involves the reformatting of the record for enhanced reading. This means removing the intrusive numbering which was added for identifying verses and resetting the obsolete punctuation; and re-paragraphing the remaining work according to subject matter and common usage.
The cross indexing, I am sorry to report, has added some of the visual breaks back into the text, but the value appears to outweigh the loss.
The resulting work is intended for use in the study of the witness of our Lord in his earthly ministry as the Son of Man.
To those who fear that something might be left out, I remind them that all the recorded words of our Lord are included. Whatever has been left out is that which was first added to the witness by other men; and those other men did not know the message as our Lord knew it, and did not know how to present it as our Lord knew how to present it.
I do note that there has been one deletion, which was made only after carefully considering the consequences. That witness of our Lord which is only recorded through the words of others has generally been removed unless it is necessary to explain what Jesus spoke. Even that which remains has been reduced to minimum comment to eliminate, as far as possible, any color or tone which might follow from my own personality or writing style.
It is important to note that this work, whatever it might be, is not a substitute for the larger Bible from which it is extracted. Though I feel it is more representative of our Lord's teachings, it lacks the color and background provided by those authors who created the work in the first place. This concentrate is just that, a concentrate. But it cannot be reconstituted by adding water, only by adding the personality of the authors and the signs of the times.
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The first and most obvious use of the work is found in reading. The word and witness of our Lord is good reading. I find it easier reading than the larger scriptures; and with greater consistency in the ideas and concepts which it presents.
The reader's menu gives an access, and you may read through the entire work at your leisure. The menu approach gives easy access to almost any place within the work.
A second study approach, albeit a limited one, is to take an overview based upon the indexes. A quick look at the indexes gives an idea of what our Lord found important in His ministry, as witnessed by what he said and what He did.
The emphasis on certain subject areas, and our Lord's selection of approaches to them, is both remarkable and obvious when viewed in this way.
A third study approach is through actually following the index references to study specific subjects. Related indexes can be used to enhance the information which you glean from the studies made.
Finally, it is interesting to use a more random approach, making use of the "internet culture" inherent in the work, and following the links to whatever seems most interesting on your immediate journey. Start reading anywhere, and when you hit an area which catches your interest, look for links to indexes. You can then go to the indexes to find similar lessons or other addresses of like subjects. These can be followed in the same way.
Such an approach establishes a learning adventure.
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While there are factual differences between the greater scriptures and the word and witness text, these are minor. The great difference is in spirit and direction.
The first and most obvious is the foundation for the ministry. The ministry of our Lord was built around the present and immediate Kingdom of God, and the good news attendant upon it being available. The larger scripture is focussed on sin and forgiveness.
The teachings of Jesus on sin and forgiveness address a divine reciprocity, where God forgives those who forgive others. The larger scriptures address sin as a barrier which must be overcome through atonement, repentence or prayer; or which may be set aside by the grace of God.
The ministry of the larger scriptures is directed to escaping from death and destruction into a place of eternal life. The teaching of the Lord was on coming into a present life, where death has no real power.
The teaching of the lord was by example and by parable. The teaching of the larger scriptures is about scriptural knowledge.
In all, I see the word and witness of our Lord resting most uneasily within the larger scripture. It stands out as starkly as it did within the teachings of the Pharisees, to which it is contrasted within the scriptures.
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