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Vol. XVII No. 46
16 August 2020

SINGING THE PRESERVATION OF SCRIPTURE

A message delivered by the Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Dean Burgon Society, July 29, 2020.

I greet you all in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I am privileged to share with you this message on the preservation of Scripture, especially the singing of it.

In 2 Timothy 4:2 we are told to preach the Word; in Ephesians 5:19 we are told to sing the Word. As such, we should not only preach Bible preservation, we should also sing it. Allow me please to introduce to you four hymns that teach the doctrine of Bible preservation.

The King James Bible versus the Hundred Versions

The first was written by the late Rev Dr Timothy Tow (1920–2009), founder of the Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore. Rev Tow was an ardent defender of the KJV. To counter the growing trend within the church to replace the KJV with modern versions and to encourage his church members to stick to the good old version, he wrote the hymn “The King James Bible versus the Hundred Versions”. Listen to the hymn sung to the tune of Uxbridge:

The Bible is the Word of God,
Inerrant and infallible,
Preserved for us from age to age.
It stands God’s Rock unmovable.

God has preserved it in the Text
Received by His Church everywhere.
Through good and faithful men of God,
The King James Bible without peer.

Three hundred years it reigned supreme,
Until Westcott and Hort crept in,
And sowed the tares amongst the wheat,
And for a time they seemed to win.

An influx of hundred versions
By Westcott and Hort’s text corrupt,
Shall never stand up to the test.
That makes King James Bible the best.

The Bible is the Word of God,
Inerrant and infallible,
Preserved for us from age to age.
It stands God’s Rock unmovable.

Help, Lord, for Men of Virtue Fail (Psalm 12)

The second hymn is based on Psalm 12. Psalm 12:6–7 is an important proof text for the doctrine of Bible preservation, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

Theologian and hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674–1748) believed those verses to mean the divine preservation of the Holy Scriptures. This can be seen in his hymn on Psalm 12. As much as God will preserve His people that none would be lost, so will He also preserve His words. Hear the hymn here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH2ivTIJk_M. Note especially the last stanza:

Thy word, like silver sev’n times try’d,
Through ages shall endure;
The men that in thy truth confide,
Shall find thy promise sure.

Three Witnesses There Are Above

The third hymn is on the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7). The doctrine of the Trinity is a most fundamental doctrine of the Christian Faith. The clearest proof text for the doctrine must surely be 1 John 5:7: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

The Westminster Confession of Faith II.3 states, “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.” The Westminster divines cited 1 John 5:7 as a supporting text. Evidently, they regarded the Johannine Comma to be an authentic and authoritative text of Scripture.

The Rev William Barton (1597–1678), vicar of Leicester Cathedral, composed a hymn based on the Johannine Comma.

Three witnesses there are above,
And all these three are one:
The Father, Son and Sacred Dove,
One Deity alone.

The Living Father sent the son,
Who by the Father lives:
And unto them that ask of Him
The Holy Ghost he gives.

The hymn can be sung to the tune of “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”.

God’s Perfect Gift

The fourth and final hymn I wish to introduce is the one I had written in the midst of the battle for the verbal and plenary preservation (VPP) of the Holy Scriptures fought in Singapore a decade or so ago.

It was and still is the contention of the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) that without a 100% perfect Bible today, our gospel and our truth foundations would be undermined, if not destroyed. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3). The Bible must be 100% perfect without any mistake for it to be our sole, supreme, and final authority of faith and practice. For this reason, we cannot but “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3).

The Board and Faculty of FEBC take the Dean Burgon Oath at every annual convocation. Dean Burgon’s excellent statement on the absolute infallibility and total inerrancy of Scripture should be taken to heart by all sincere Bible believers: “the Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the throne. Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High. The Bible is none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike the utterance of Him that sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme.”

In the heat of the battle, this poem was written:

Church musician Christopher Tan took the words and arranged it to be sung to Isaac Watt’s “When I Can Read My Title Clear”.

The One and Only Perfect God is Living and is True,
God gave His Son, Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for me and you.
Who died for me and you, Who died for me and you,
God gave His Son, Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for me and you.

Jesus, our Perfect Saviour’s fully God and fully man,
He died, was buried, rose again, To save the sons of men,
To save the sons of men, To save the sons of men,
He died, was buried, rose again, To save the sons of men.

The Bible is God’s Perfect Book, inspired and kept pure.
Forever ev’ry word kept pure, Of this we can be sure!
Of this we can be sure! Of this we can be sure!
Forever ev’ry word kept pure, Of this we can be sure!

O Trust Him for Salvation free of body and of soul,
He’ll save you to the uttermost, O Trust in Him my soul!
O Trust in Him my soul! O Trust in Him my soul!
He’ll save you to the uttermost, O Trust in Him my soul!

May God’s people sing the preservation of Scripture for it assures us that the God who has preserved His words perfectly will also preserve our faith in Him without fail to the very end. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation…. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.” (Isa 12:2, 5).

[The message can be heard at FEBC’s YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmhdNx-LHEY&t=5s.

All the above hymns can be heard and downloaded from hymnpod.com.]

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