BT Only, or Beyond?

Posted on: 
May 1, 2018

PART 3 of 3

What is the real value of Bible translation? Scripture in the mother tongue is foundational to a maturing church. Though discipleship and church planting take priority, Bible translation is an essential ingredient. A church with no Bible is in danger of crumbling; it lacks a crucial part of its foundation.

The Old Testament is essential. It points to Jesus as God’s coming revelation, redemption, and king. And it can only be truly understood in that light. The Old Testament portrays the character and mission of God, which each church in every culture strives to make their own.

The New Testament is essential. It brings us the record of Jesus as the Word—God incarnate. It contains His will for the church as expressed in His teachings and through His apostles. The New Testament is a faithful guide for any spiritual church in any culture, who wants to grow up into Him as the Head.

But a translated Bible, with no readers, no leaders, and no church, is an insufficient goal. It’s like setting the foundation and proclaiming, “We’ve finished!”

A team with this understanding will not merely focus on translating the Scriptures.
They will teach the Scriptures, and encourage the people to apply the teaching in their lives.
As portions are drafted or translated, these portions will be used by the community or church.
The team will urge the value of reading, and implement literacy strategy from the very beginning.
Teams will work under the direction of churches, since planting churches is the goal.
Team members will value character traits, lifestyle habits, and cultural comprehension as much as technical and language skills.

Deeper questions
With the understanding that Bible translation serves the end of church planting, ABT’s primary focus is those people groups with no Scripture and no church. We refer to these as the “unreached.” However, remember those people described at the beginning of this series? As you can imagine, we face some challenging questions.
-If a group has only a New Testament, does that mean we can check them off the list as “reached”? Some organizations do that.
-If there’s some kind of church in existence, does that automatically mean these people are “reached”? We’ve found reason to occasionally use the term “misreached.”
-How do we respond where an existing translation seems to have been influenced by political or sociological concerns, or a theological bias? Sometimes acceptability trumps faithfulness.

This is just a sampling of the complex issues that arise as we consider where and how God would lead ABT teams to serve. Pray for us, that we keep first things first. As our Translation Philosophy says, “ We dare not let translating the Scriptures become our ultimate priority. Our task is discipling people to become disciples of Jesus.”

--by Aaron Crider, Executive Committee member

Read Parts 1 and 2

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10