“The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”-Isaiah 32:17
Deep diving into the depths of time. The feeling of finding something left abandoned for centuries, left to its own, quiet repose in the darkness of the ages. The heart quickens with the turn of each page, with the kick of each flipper, deeper and deeper you plunge. The pressure increases as the breath inside tightens against your chest; time is not a luxury here. Text can disappear with time, purposely destroyed by its enemies, crumbling beneath the touch of the finger or simply being lost in vast, dusty repositories, never to be seen again. The moments beneath the surface can seem the same when there are but precious seconds to find a world foreign, fleeting and yet, intriguing. Each mystery calling your inner child to come and follow, so you push on.
We sought the dark holes that were deep enough to challenge us, yet not so deep that their bottom was beyond our grasp. One such place was “Brown Jug” springs, so called because the shape of the cave that surrounded the flow was like a jug, complete with a spout through which you had to pass in order to reach the entry point of the cave where the water poured forth. The water above the spout made a crystal clear pool surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation. In those days, we had explored many of the springs in central Florida while attending college, so I had become pretty good at free diving. However, Brown Jug would test my endurance and strength.
We had no idea of the force of the flow that exited the spout of the jug, so when my friends and I began to try to enter the jug, we soon learned the pressure of the water exploding out of the jug’s mouth was nearly impossible to push through. Adding additional weights to my wetsuit belt, I paused floating on the surface, took the deep breaths that would sustain me as long as possible and dove for the bottom.
I passed the lip of the spout, its depth about six to eight feet, then flipped past the opening into the body of the jug and suddenly the pressure of the flow ceased; I was out of the current and free to explore.
What awaited me was a marvel that I hopefully will never forget, no camera could capture.
There around me was an ancient cave with all manner of column, boulder and rock formations that created a bewildering array of beauty most would never see. Knowing my time was short, I moved around the perimeter finding the source of the flow, another opening from which millions of gallons of water pulsated, blasting out and beyond the spout that was now many feet above. It was a world I will never forget, a place so alien, yet so God-like in its creation. Too soon, the pangs of oxygen deprivation began to remind me, time was of the essence, and I quickly jumped back into the flow, bursting from the cave floor toward the light of the spout above. My body shot through the jug opening and before I knew it, I was back to the surface, drinking in the air as quickly as my lungs could refill.
I could never fully explain the exhilaration I felt at that moment.
Looking back, I can only imagine the possible minute similarity of how the women who found Christ not dead, but alive might have felt at the moment of their discovery. What unimaginable exhilaration of joy, their hearts must have felt as they ran with tears flowing to tell the others, “He is risen, He is risen.” There were not enough words, not enough waving of the hands, not enough time to describe the vision of a risen Christ; each would have to see for themselves. Eventually, those who would never see would be forced to have faith in the unseen, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen.”
Today, the diving continues but in another type of exploration, in another medium.
My search is similar in that what I seek, many have never heard, read, nor seen it, yet it is something that has much greater significance than the bottom of a cave; the true Word of God. As I spend countless hours searching ancient documents, archives and repositories for history’s recorded information of how our ancestors kept the Word of God pure for centuries, it is of utmost importance to show how this word found these mountain people. What once was a goal to provide proof that the people of the valleys were directly connected to the Apostles has now become a much greater quest. Now, there is something greater through which God had intended to use them; to preserve the true Word of God so that mankind’s ability to seek Him would not be controlled nor diverted from the original intent or writings.
This last week, as I prepared for my visit with a grad student, brother Timothy Makin, whose Master’s thesis was on the Textus Receptus or Received Text. I took one more dive the evening before our meeting, to seek out one more document I had inadvertently left open. The book itself was suspect for consisting of some questionable personal interjections. Yet, it had provided some very solid references. So one more push into that unknown before the day ended was all that I sought. As my fingers found the page where my last search had left off, I opened it and wrote down the last footnote to investigate. The pages listed were 17-18. From countless other searches, I quickly found my reliable archive and like the experienced diver, knew I was close but time was ticking. The document successfully loaded and I raced to pages 17-18 and began to read.
Nothing. I almost headed back to the surface for air and to end this madness, but something, a voice if you will, told me to look again.
There was no matching text from which the document had referred to the footnote. Almost dejected I started to surface and then stopped. “Before I leave,” I thought to myself, “what if they got the numbering system wrong,” I said as I quickly turned to the Roman numerals for 17 and 18, xvii and xviii. My eyes followed the text until the familiar words leapt from the screen.
There it was!
I breathed a sigh of relief and came up for air.
“Could this be,” I asked myself. Just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, I reread the passage and then beyond the point of reference; yes, it was true.
There in the document dedicated to the inquiry of the integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text was the quote that hit me like the exhilaration of that surface experience back at the Brown Jug so many years ago:
“This is a supposition, which receives a sufficient confirmation from the fact, that the principal copies that version have been preserved in that diocese, the metropolitan church of which was situated in Milan. The circumstance is at present mentioned, as the author thence formed a hope, that some remains of the primitive Italick version might be found in the early translations made by the Waldenses, who were lineal descendants of the Italick Church; and who have asserted their independence against the usurpations of the Church of Rome, and have ever enjoyed the free use of the Scriptures. In the search to which these considerations have led the author, his fondest expectations have been fully realized. It has furnished him with the abundant proof on that point to which his Inquiry was chiefly directed; as it has supplied him with the unequivocal testimony of a truly apostolic branch of the primitive church, that the celebrated text of the heavenly witnesses was adopted in the version which prevailed in the Latin Church, previously to the introduction of the modern Vulgate.”-Dr, Fredrick Nolan, 1815, “An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the New Testament.”
Suddenly, the world became a little brighter and the week’s weariness was gone.
There in his own words, Dr. Nolan had said that the Waldensians were the remains of the original primitive church, a direct lineal descendent of the people who kept and translated the Textus Receptus from the Greek Vulgate.
Not only did I have another confirmation of the Apostolic connection, but now there was something much greater sitting before me; a connection also to the true unadulterated Word, the Textus Receptus, or Received Text through which Dr. Nolan had found proof of our ancestral ties to the lineage of the primitive church of the wilderness.
Although I had never met brother Timothy before, the following day’s meeting with him and his colleagues and subsequent sharing of information about what we have researched and discovered were more than abundantly rewarding. His work is a brilliant piece of study, education and research that is verse by verse showing the proof of purity in the Textus Receptus and how it can only be the True Word of God from which all other interpretations should be taken, and nothing less.
There are still many pages to read, still many references to study. My work is far from over, but with each new discovery comes the hope that the work we do will somehow provide others with a firmer foundation and appreciation for the Truth. Perhaps, this truth will become important enough that there will be a reckoning of faith so that those that have strayed may see the need for preserving His Word. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” If nothing else, we must realize, the Word is Jesus and to that end, it’s purification must mean something.
My time here is but short, but the journey I travel has so much more meaning now. Those deep dives are becoming more and more rewarding and someday, the glorious reunion with our Heavenly Father will be one from which we shall shout from the mountain tops with exhilaration.
In everything we do, we must exalt Him and he will surely direct our paths.
One dive and one step at a time.