I no longer have my first Bible. I’m not sure what happened to it, but it was one of those KJV gift and award Bibles (I probably won it in a Sunday School contest) and I think it took a fair beating.
On my ninth birthday, I received my first proper Bible. It was a large King James Version Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible. Not long after, my mum took me to a Christian bookstore to buy a case for it with my $10 birthday money. As I looked over the different cases, one particular case caught my eye. It was a beautiful brown genuine rough leather case with a leather cross stitched to the front. It cost $20.
I knew I couldn’t afford it, but it must have been obvious how much I wanted it because before long, the shop clerk told my mum I could have it for the $10.
Twenty-one years later, I am holding that Bible, complete with brown leather case, in my hands. Shifting through its pages is like taking a walk through the years. The first pages contain my name in my nine-year-old handwriting and these words by Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
As I move through the text, the pages are stained with crayon, food, tears, what appears to be blood (I have no idea!), and thousands of notes, underlines, and circled verses. The markings take me back to a thousand moments where some passage or another was pressed on my heart.
My third Bible was also a gift from my parents and was the classic King James Version Scofield Study Bible. The pages in some parts are brown with use and the words are warm and familiar like old friends.
It was from this Bible that I memorised the book of Philippians and many other passages as a teenager. It was from this Bible that I preached my first sermon. It was from this Bible that I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with many a friend during my early university days.
I don’t think it would be unreasonable to suggest that the King James Bible shaped my childhood in thousands of moments in thousands of ways. You could almost say the King James Bible is the mould into which my life was poured.
The hundreds of passages that I memorised are burned into my mind. To this day, when I quote Scripture in preaching, I tend to automatically quote it from the KJV. When I want to find the reference for a particular Bible phrase, I have to search for the text in the King James Version in order to find it.
It is amazing to me that many of the exact phrases I memorised as a child were first translated in that form by William Tyndale almost 500 years ago and passed on to me through the King James Version.
The quadricentennial anniversary of the King James Version is an event worth celebrating. God’s Word marches forward!
As I reflect on this four hundredth anniversary of the publication of the first edition of the King James Version, I rejoice. I rejoice because of how God has used this translation in my life and the lives of countless others.
Are you one of those others?
Grace to you.