dead sea scrolls


“It’s hard to know what the original scriptures said having been copied many times over the ages. Besides, every generation probably made their own changes to their liking.” That’s a common idea some have of how the Bible came to us. The result is the dismissal of the Bible as God’s Word because it’s likely corrupted. Sometimes examples also are given of supposed problems that are at times referred to in Bible publishers’ notes.  

The subject of textual transmission is somewhat complex. But it is not beyond us to grasp and be able to see the Bible is reliable today.

When I first went to Israel, our guide took us to where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. The Qumran community lived among the cliffs on the NW side of the Dead Sea. Here 40,000 fragments of documents, commentaries and Old Testament (OT) books were found in sealed clay jars and preserved for 1,900 years. This discovery helped dispel the myth of scribal corruption because the OT fragments found were nearly a thousand years older than the ones we had at the time, but, there was little difference.


Why the texts of Scripture remained largely unchanged is because of the intense care of scribes who hand copied the sacred documents. Here are some of the common rules scribes have observed.

1.     They worked in a scriptorium like pictured here at Qumran. This special room for that purpose was clean, vented and with a window and desk positioned for just the right light at certain times of the day.

2.     The scribe also had to be rested, ceremonially clean, and washed before working.

3.     A special black ink was mixed and used. It was not until modern times that tests revealed the lasting and durable nature of this ink that probably the ancients didn’t realize themselves.

4.     As he copied, he verbalized each word and a second scribe watched over his shoulder to check.

5.     The letters, words, and paragraphs were counted, and no two letters could touch. If they did the document was destroyed. The middle paragraph, word and letter had to match the original document.

6.     Every time he wrote the word “Jehovah” he had to wipe the pen clean and wash his entire body.

7.     Each scribe only worked for a limited time so as not to become too tired.

8.     Originals were stored in sacred places or if too badly worn or stained they were burned so as not to corrupt other copies.

As time has gone on we have actually found additional ancient documents older and closer to the original than ever before. For example, the manuscripts used to translate the 1611 King James Bible were from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries while more modern translations are based on Greek manuscripts from the third and fourth centuries and some Hebrew texts from the time of Christ. I have had the privilege of actually seeing one of those fragments from John’s Gospel that is believed were from the first century. I have also seen portions of the famous Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls; it is clear and very easy to read even though nearly two millennia old.

It is interesting to note that no key doctrine of Scripture has been invalidated by any textual uncertainty or variant. In other words you can trust your Bible. So, read it and heed it. It is God’s Word.

Having said this be sure to be in the new 9:15 video Sunday School series on the subject entitled The God Who Speaks. This is just out and answers tons more questions on the subject above.

-Pastor Mark


Who hasn’t heard a boring sermon? Our tendency is to blame the preacher. Even those who heard Jesus didn’t get it many times. If you identify, then that means you should become an expository listener. Expository preaching refers to teaching through books or topics of Scripture in a verse by verse fashion that unearths the gems of God’s Word. We emphasize this at Discovery. But, this does not mean the audience gets it. So what should we do?

Asa listening.jpg

This is where expositional listening comes in. It is the other side of the preaching coin. It is about man’s responsibility to properly hear and apply the message given. Just as in baseball the pitcher and catcher work together, so also the preacher and listener must work together. For example the church in Thessalonica had received Paul’s preaching. “…you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (I Thess. 2:13). They did a good job listening but not as good as the Bereans did. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Ac. 17:11).

Having said this I don’t discount the role of God in calling and the Holy Spirit bringing spiritual life to the spiritually “dead.” See I Cor. 2:14 for more on this. That’s God’s part to bring life. But here I will speak of our listening responsibility.

Jesus was the greatest preacher ever. People said, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him" (Mar. 1:27). He never delivered a bad sermon. Imagine that, you preachers. Yet, many listeners didn’t get it, were confused, or simply left. Why? They were “dull of hearing” and didn’t know how to listen. They are like those who “…distort, as they do also the rest of Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). Peter warns us to avoid such and to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord…”

The Bible says far more about the listener’s responsibility than the preacher’s. Repeatedly Scripture commands us to hear and obey in both Old and New Testaments.

Jesus often commanded his followers to listen as we have seen in our Mark study. This was especially true as he taught the parables.

  • Mar. 4:3 "Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow;”

  • Mar. 4:24 …"Take care what you listen to”….

  • Mar. 7:14 … "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand:“

  • Mar. 9:7 …"This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"

Even so many left after the miracles were over and Jesus started preaching. They didn’t get it or didn’t like it; either way it was bad.

In the course of a lifetime you might hear 7,000 sermons Ken Ramey says. That is assuming you hear a couple a week in church, Sunday School or even on the net. So what are some basic ways we can improve and become expository listeners?

First, out the day before asking God in prayer to keep you alert and able to understand. It is amazing how the Lord might answer this prayer. Then get some sleep Saturday night. If you need to get a good cup of coffee the next morning too.

Remember whenever the Word is preached it is God who is speaking. So, pay attention. You wouldn’t doze off if the Lord was standing in front of you. Moses hid his face in fear when God spoke from the burning bush. Remember the preacher may not be burning but the God of the Word is holy and to be feared and respected.

It is the responsibility of the listener to listen as these verses tell us.

  • 1Thess. 5:19-21  “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;”

  • Heb. 5:14  “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil”.

  • 1Jn. 4:1  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”.

This has been a quick look at expository listening. For a more get Ken Ramey’s excellent book Expository Listening. A short easy read if you are paying attention. :-)

-Pastor Mark


Weather cancellations will be posted on or the Community. Let those who would like to receive this blog know to subscribe to it on our website.

Pastor’s Coffee (Cancelled due to weather) Fri. Feb. 15 at 7:00 PM

Men’s Discipleship Breakfast Sat. Feb. 16 at 8:00 -9:15 AM in the Fireside. We’ve changed our seating to allow for more to fit in. This week I will be in I Tim. 2:8-15 on God’s high role of women in the church. Bring your Bible and your boys for breakfast. If you are coming text or email me so Dave can have and idea of how much food to get. -Pastor Mark

The God Who Speaks Sun. Feb. 17 9:15 AM, this new adult Sunday School series, will start in the auditorium at 9:15 sharp and is led by Fred Wetzel. It is a new 8-week video study that came out in 2018. It explores the topics of biblical authority and reliability using never-before-seen footage and comments by leading Bible scholars. The first two lessons will be by video. This is a relatively new series and very well done, not cheesy or out of date. This is a good one to invite folks to who have questions about Scripture. It is extremely well done.

Valentine Fellowship Sun. Feb. 17 10:00 AM The snow made us a little late on this one. Sunday School will dismiss early for this 30 min. fellowship time before Worship. Bring a valentine snack to share.