Number of Verses in the Bible
Have you ever wondered how many verses there are in the Bible?
I don't think many of us would be too inclined to want to count them for ourselves! Thankfully,others have done it for us! It wasn't done with a computer the first time I know; because I found the facts given in an old Bible commentary written long ago back in the late nineteenth century. The last time I checked there weren't any computers back then. Someone REALLY wanted to know — as well as had a lot of PATIENCE !
There are 31, 174 verses in the King James Bible. So the 15,587th. verse of the KJV Bible is the center verse. I think it is significant which verse it turns out to be. It should be the central pillar of a believer's Faith. Here it is—
Psalms 118:8- " It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."
This is a truth, we can rest assured, God will have us to understand before we enter His Kingdom. The Bible is full of examples of God's people who have learned this lesson; often times through bitter experience. Israel of course always had the weakness of wanting to trust other nations; instead of God for their help.
Notice God's rebuke of Israel's false trust, "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!" (Isaiah 31:1).
Most of us as Christians don't have the problem of trusting other nations; but often times we do place over-trust in other individuals, authority figures and sometimes even Church organizations. Christians who do so often find themselves becoming spiritually "unravelled" when that trust is disappointed. Like Israel that wanted to rely on Egypt and the Pharoah to deliver them from the Assyrians, we often place too great a reliance on the "arm of flesh" (2 Chronicles 32:8).
In 1 Samuel 8, Israel made the tragic mistake of desiring a King to rely upon instead of the Eternal. Samuel warned them of the dire consequences of their choice. They wouldn't listen. The problems this decision caused for Israel is a historical lesson that should be a huge warning for us today.
If only they would have understood the central truth we just read in Psalms 18:8 — " It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."
Chapter and Verse Divisions
The ninth verse of Psalms 118 following verse eight — certainly further amplifies the thought. Of course we should be aware of — the verse and chapter divisions of the Bible — are man made.
The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place around 1227 A.D. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton's chapter divisions.
The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish Rabbi by the name of Nathan in 1448 A.D. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses.
I bring this out because Psalms is essentially Hebrew poetry put to music. One of the techniques used in Hebrew poetry was repetition of thought. And verse nine obviously intones and repeats the thought of verse eight as it reads —
" It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in PRINCES."
Now, "Princes" can obviously represent leaders and individuals of authority. Thankfully, within God's Church we do not have the office of "Prince" or "King" — although I am sure at times we may have wondered if some leaders thought they really were this! Christ obviously forbid such an attitude in God's Church of it's leaders. He would say—
"But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your SERVANT:" ( Matthew 20:25).
I have been blessed to know some ministers in the Church that were true servants. I have seen others who didn't quite seem to fit this description. Yet, most of these were wonderful men who taught and inspired me much, in spite of their shortcomings. In compassion to them, however; none of us will ever attain to the full stature of Christ in this life. As much as we try, even with God's help, all of us in the ministry will always come up short of what Christ calls us to be. And that applies to each of us as Christians as well.
Lesson of Trusting in Men Driven Home
I have to pause when I read this passage in Psalms 119:8-9 and reflect upon how that truth has been driven home to me many, many times. Those of you who have been in the Church or "Faith" for any length of time; have also probably come to deeply appreciate the understanding of this inspired text — or if not — will most probably come to resonate with these words in the future. Often times, unfortunately, we have to learn this lesson in some painful ways.
When I refer to " the Church" in this article, please understand that I don't believe any particular organization is the "only Church". Christ's "Church" is a spriritual Body that we have been baptized into. Paul would say —
" For by One Spirit are we all baptized into One body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corithians 12:13). When I mention being in " the Church" — I am referring to an organization — part of Christ's entire Spriritual body of believers — that holds the truth. I should make that abundantly clear
Role Models — Not Idols
I commented to a minister friend of mine one time; that despite some of the disillusionment we had experienced in the Church, we had been blessed to know some tremendous men and women. I will always be deeply thankful for that.
It has been said that "the two greatest influences upon our life are the people we meet and the books we read" . I have found that to be true for myself. I have know some wonderful brethren that have etched an idelible imprint on my life. I have followed some dynamite "role models". Yet I have also had deep disappointments with some of the same individuals as well — even those who had inspired and motivated me to be hopefully a better man of God.
Scripture does teach that "role models" are good. After all, it was the Apostle Paul who said — " Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1 — NKJV).
However, Paul understood that making a role model into an idol is transgression of the First Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
Paul's Experience with Men Worship in Lystra
Notice the impassioned pleading of Paul to the Galatians — to avoid idolatry — on Paul's first missionary journey when they visited Lystra in Galatia in Acts 13. Paul healed a cripple man. The idolatrous Galatians rashly responsed to that miracle with these words, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men" (Acts 14:11).
The idolatry raged on — " And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people" (Acts 14:12-13).
Paul and Barnabas knew they had better act quickly. They feared God. Notice how they stopped this sudden surge of idolatry—
" Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own way Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them" (Acts 14:14-18).
The real lesson is obvious. Role models, great teachers, miracle workers, leaders — even Apostles — are needed and approved by God. Idolatry of men clearly is not.
Christ is the Constant
I have lived through "Church splits" — doctrinal heresey raising its ugly head —mistreatment of brethren — and gut wrenching disillusionment — within God's Body of believers. I have often been asked why I was still in the Church in spite of all that I had endured. Some of the individuals who have asked me this are brethren that have bitterly given up — left the Church — and "thrown in" the proverbial towel.
My response always is, "Because Christ Is The Constant" .
For me, it is really that simple. He is the One who will never let you down. Mere men will never fulfill or have the capacity to answer all of your needs. They will not always be there to comfort and encourage you. They don't have ALL of the knowledge or wisdom that you need. They don't always understand. Only God can fulfill all of that. We are told —
"But my God shall supply ALL your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
All of our needs! What a deep reservoir of help our God really is! David would also lament —
"But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God" (Psalms 40:17).
No man could ever supply ALL the needs that each of us have. Mo mere human being can measure up to that requirement! Most of us will have to admit —in humility — that we are pretty "high maintenance"!
God is a Jealous God
Yes, there is only ONE who can provide all of our needs! God wants us to deeply understand this reality. God tells us He is a "Jealous God" (Exodus 20:4-5). He does want any thing or any individual to ever usurp the devotion and trust you should have for Him. By the end your spiritual journey towards God's Kingdom — I am quite sure you will experience — that there are no "heros" exept for Jesus Christ and the Father.
Men will at times disappoint you, regardless of what particular Church organization or fellowship you are part of. In the array of different Church organizations; we all have varying experiences. But one reality usually always exists — where there is power and authority — there is always potential for abuse.
Leadership in God's Church is to be Honored
Certainly the ministry and leadership in your Church should be respected and honored. God's Word certainly tells us that. Paul was inspired to exhort us —
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you"(Hebrew 13:17).
We live in a society that disrespects authority. That is Satanic. Satan our "adversary" was the original one who rebelled against God. His spirit of rebellion and disrespect for authority dominates this world. Never go to extremes! Your Pastor and other leaders (hopefully they lead with service!) should be respected and honored. If you can't be respectful; it is probably best you go somewhere else where you can show respect or stay home until your attitude is changed. Do not bring a toxic influence into Christ's assembly of believers!
We Must Grow Up into Spiritual Maturity
However, we should never put a human leader in place of God either. I have known some who appear to have done this very thing! I see some upon the internet who almost seem to place their particular leader above the Word of God. That idolatrous trust and adulation will always end in disillusionment. There may come a time when you have to face the reality that the leader you respect is wrong in some area of God's truth. The worst thing you can do is deny what you are being led to see by God's Spirit and His Word. Never surrender your determination to always follow the truth — irregardless of what choices you may be forced to make!
Booker T. Washington once said that nothing is ever gained by not facing the facts. It can be painful and almost immobilizing at times; but you must be spiritually mature enough to simply accept the unvarnished truth. Christ would declare in John 8:32 — "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
We will only be freed from the chains of falsehood and mistaken beliefs until we are ready to accept the facts and face the truth. Paul would say —
" That we henceforth be no more CHILDREN, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ " (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Just as growing up into maturity from childhood can be a painful experience, so the process of becoming spiritually mature can be excruciating as well. Part of this growing up process is simply being mature enough to accept the facts and the truth for what it is. The facts usually are that leaders we have respected have made some mistakes and been wrong — perhaps — about many, many things.
Great Leaders Die — Christ's Work Goes On !
I once served in an Church organization that had a eloquent, charismatic Evangelist. Unfortunately, I think many prided ourselves as having the best speaker of any the other Sabbath keeping organizations. I heard some who would even say the "Work" could never be finished without him. Yet, he died over ten years ago. He was a tremendously gifted minister and teacher of God; but he is no longer with us. Obviously, Christ's "Work" will have to be finished without him.
Earlier, I sat in a large congregation of about 10,000 brethren in the 70's, when a great leader of God's people — thundered out in his powerful , stentorian voice —"You are headed for God's Kingdom and I am taking you there! "
I will always love this great man of God. I will forever be grateful for him. He taught me much and left a lasting impression on my life. God used him to bring tens of thousands into the truth of God. Yet he died over twenty-five years ago. He was not the One who will take me or anyone else into God's Kingdom. Nor was he the One who finished God's Work of witnessing and preaching the Gospel — in spite of what some want to believe.
Our True Hero
Thankfully, there is ONE who will! Our true "Hero" still lives! His name is "Immanuel"; meaning "God with us" ( Matthew 1:23). He stands beside our supreme Hero; God the Father ; and He encourages us —
" Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS; even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).
He assures us, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN SHALL THE END COME" (Matthew 24:14).
Christ is FAITHFUL. We can "take His Words to the bank"! He would promise us — 'Heaven and earth shall pass away — BUT MY WORDS SHALL NOT PASS AWAY" (Matthew 24:35).
Our Messiah is the ONE who will NEVER disappoint you. HE is the ONE you can pray to every day for help and forgivness. HE is the ONE who walks beside you when you are sad — who helps you to understand when you are confused. HE is the ONE who is the true HERO; Jesus Christ of Nazarerth — the ONE Who will never let you down! HE is the ONE who will lead you into His Kingdom! And HE is the ONE whom you must obey above all others!
And HE is the ONE who inspired David to write these stabilizing words — in the absolute middle of the Bible — that should be the CENTRAL pillar of our Faith —
"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."