“So you’re telling me that you’re going to one of the poorest countries in the world in Africa to train pastors how to effectively translate the Old Testament (given to the nation of Israel between 1406 BC to 400 BC) from the original Hebrew?”
That’s a good question. It all starts with Jesus’ mission for the Church:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
There are Christians in Malawi right now because people went and made disciples and immersed them into the family of the Triune God. However, the job doesn’t stop there. There must be teaching them all that Christ commands. That’s where the local church and pastors preaching from the text of the Bible comes in.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2)
In Malawi, there is the need for equipped preachers to teach their people what the Scriptures really say so that they can live in accord with them. Many claim to identify as Christians in order to say that they are not Muslims but their understanding of the gospel of Jesus and His claims on their lives is shallow. In Africa, Jesus is often preached as someone Who will make you healthy and wealthy. That is simply not true and can be countered only by a true knowledge of all that the Scriptures say. God’s design is to have a gifted man empowered by the Holy Spirit preaching the Scriptures accurately.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
There is a right and a wrong way to handle the Scriptures, and each preacher will have to give an account of himself to God for how he did handle them. Thus, the need to train men to handle the Scriptures well.
“Ok, but aren’t translations good enough to preach?”
Yes and no. Since the New Testament writers often quoted the Old Testament (Hebrew) Scriptures in Greek, we have inspired precedent for translations of Scripture carrying the divine authority of the original. Thus, learning, teaching, and preaching from a good translation (one that reflects the original as closely as is reasonably possible) is completely valid.
That being said, lack of widespread knowledge of the original languages is one factor that led to the spiritual darkness of the Middle Ages. Knowing the original languages brings a specificity, so that a pastor can argue for truth and against error with complete conviction. Listen to Mr. Luther on this point:
Without languages we could not have received the gospel.
Languages are the scabbard that contains the sword of the
Spirit; they are the casket which contains the priceless jewels
of antique thought; they are the vessel that holds the wine;
and as the gospel says, they are the baskets in which the loaves
and fishes are kept to feed the multitude.
If we neglect the literature we shall eventually lose the
gospel. . . . No sooner did men cease to cultivate the languages
than Christendom declined, even until it fell under the undisputed dominion of the pope. But no sooner was this torch relighted, than this papal owl fled with a shriek into congenial gloom. . . . In former times the fathers were frequently
mistaken, because they were ignorant of the languages and
in our days there are some who, like the Waldenses, do not
think the languages of any use; but although their doctrine is
good, they have often erred in the real meaning of the sacred
text; they are without arms against error, and I fear much that
their faith will not remain pure. (Quoted by John Piper in Brother’s We are Not Professionals, 103-104).
“But, why the Old Testament? Isn’t the New Testament good enough?”
Again, yes and no. The New Testament is absolutely sufficient to give true and saving knowledge of Christ and instruction in how to obey Him. But we must recall 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. That includes the roughly 75% of your Bible that is the Old Testament. Here is what Jesus has to say about the Old Testament:
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
How is a Christian transformed into greater Christlikeness? Beholding the glory of Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Jesus Himself said He is to be seen in the Old Testament. Seeing Him and His glory in the Old Testament and the New Testament changes us. I can attest that over the last few months at The Master’s Seminary, I have seen Christ’s glory in the pages of the Old Testament so clearly that it has changed me. The Bible is true. The Gospel is true. Christ and His Kingdom are true. We are starving ourselves of Christ’s glory if we do not know our Old Testament, and we need pastors who know their Hebrew well to help us see with 4K resolution the glories of God the Son.
This is why I want to go to Malawi. I want to help my fellow Malawian MDiv students to see the glories of Christ in the Old Testament with the kind of precision that knowledge of Hebrew can bring. I plead with you: There is a need in the Church, by God’s grace alone, Ashley and I can help meet it. Would you send us?
Please pray for financial and prayer support we desperately need to go. The time is short. We need around $30,000 before we leave in June. Please pray for us daily and ask the Lord if He would have you partner with us financially for the spread of the gospel in Malawi. Please fill out the form at the end of this link: