Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of  November 22, 2009

Ecclesiastes 12:12-13 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.

I have been reading a book that seems to make a lot sense.  Unfortunately, I have found out that what makes sense to me doesn’t always square with Scripture. The author made the case that the miracles of the new testament did not produce faith but that faith produced the miracles.  He  rightly said that sometimes it was the faith of friends or relatives rather than the faith of the person or persons benefiting from the miracles that seemed to cause the Lord to act.  This author concluded that the Word of God and the preaching of the Word produces faith where miracles do not.  While I believe that to be generally true, I found out that it is not always true.   Recently, I went to pass the truth that miracles do not produce faith along to a group to which I was speaking.  While I was preaching I mentioned that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, the Pharisees wanted to kill him.  So apparently, the miracle had not produced faith.  To prove my point, I quoted John 12:10-11:  “the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,  because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”  I thought that the first part of the verse proved my point, but unfortunately the last part of the verse showed that faith had been produced so sometimes the Lord’s miracles did produce faith. 

I was embarrassed because while preaching another man’s truth, I realized that I hadn’t really thought through what the author had said.  Then the Lord drew my attention to what John says in chapter 20: 30-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  Unfortunately, the whole chapter in that book that I was reading needs to be rewritten or perhaps omitted.  

Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, seemed to be one who liked books and studied them.  Obviously, all of the knowledge that he obtained did not draw him closer to the Lord since he ended up worshiping pagan gods at the end of his life.  The universities of his day must not have been much better at finding the God of creation than our present day universities are.  But in our day, religious books abound in addition to secular and scientific books, and people are reading them.  Reading a good doctrinal book can be wearisome since understanding doctrine requires diligence and study.  Because of this, many books are anecdotal and in some cases they are fiction.  But they all are supposed to be presenting “Biblical truth”.  Unfortunately, if we are not careful, that Biblical truth may not be Biblical.

Over the years, I have made it a point to read a different version of the Bible or a different study Bible every year.  I have always tried to meditate on what I read.  When I seem to be stuck on a passage, I go to books that are available to see how other people understand the passage.  I try to use language helps and anything I can find to help me understand the culture of that day so I can understand what I am reading.  But I have not generally spent a lot of time reading religious books.  I have sometimes felt that I have missed out because I don’t know all of the different “good authors” and “good books” that are available.  And just as oral ministry is helpful, shouldn’t written ministry also be helpful?  Yes it should.  But the people I listen to orally, are people I know.  I know something about their background, their point of view and their lives.  The authors of many of the religious books that I read are generally people I do not know.

After my embarrassing experience,  I realized that we are all sheep and we all follow the leader.  I am glad that for the most part, I have not had time to read all the current authors.  There is only one Good Book and I don’t want to be embarrassed when I account for my teaching to the God who inspired that Good Book. 

The Good Book is clear that there is only one way of salvation and that is through faith in Christ.  The Good Book is clear that we were not always believers.  The Good Book allows for only one way to be baptized as a believer and that is by immersion subsequent to salvation.  The Good Book is clear that we need to “fear God”, that is we need to reverence Him, worship Him and recognize that He is not only our Savior but He is also our judge.  The unsaved do not fear Him or they would turn from Idols to serve Him.  But we who are saved should fear Him and we  need to “keep His commandments” and that means that we need to “guard His Truth”.  That is our duty and that is what I hope the Lord graciously helps me to do. 

Bruce Collins

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