Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

A Matter of Integrity!

John 16:13  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Divine Inspiration and Divine Interpretation

The Scriptures are God breathed according to Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16.  2 Peter 1:21 says that prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Prophecy here would involve speaking for God in any capacity, not just predicting the future.  Because the original manuscripts were not written in English, interpretation of the original languages of the Old Testament and New Testament can become difficult.  Nevertheless, the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit that inspired the texts is the same Holy Spirit that will enable us to interpret the texts. 

Some Principles of Interpretation

To properly understand the Bible we have to want to understand the Bible.  We can’t come to the Bible with a desire to prove a pet theory or to find something “new” that has never been found before.  Finding fresh truth is different from finding new truth. To properly understand the Bible we have to be “born again” or “saved”.  When we trust the Lord, the Holy Spirit seals us.  Until that moment, we did not have the ability to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  He influenced our lives but He did not guide our lives or our thinking. To properly understand the Bible we have to know the difference between God’s earthly people, the Jews; and God’s spiritual people, the church.  They are different and must not be confused.  Of course to properly understand any author you have to read the whole manuscript and interpret things in context.  I usually start out with one verse that I want think about in these meditations, but anyone who is wise will pick up their Bibles and read the whole chapter.   If you haven’t done it recently, you should read the whole book that the quote comes from.  The Holy Spirit will need to convince you that the passage is being interpreted in the context of God’s progressive revelation of Himself and in the context of His plans for mankind.

My Rant

Recently I was given a pamphlet called “God’s Way of Salvation.”  It was a copy of a rather lengthy tract that had helped me come to saving faith in the Lord.  I was assured that the tract was “unabridged” however because of my interest in that tract, I think I have a pretty complete original manuscript of it on my website.  The tract I was given was abridged.  I have picked up copies of this tract that do not even have some of the text that was helpful to me.  I keep asking myself, what right do we have to take a manuscript that has been mightily used of God and change it in anyway?  We of course might want to comment on it in our own comments when reprinting it but the manuscript was written by Alexander Marshall and has his name on it.  It is presumptuous to think that abridging it as a cost cutting measure or to make it simpler to read or to make it quicker to read is our right.  I would not have a problem if Mr. Marshall were still around to approve the changes, but he is not.  To me, it is a matter of integrity.  We should either reprint what Alexander Marshall wrote, or we should not reprint it at all. 

I have had the same thing happen to me on two occasions with regard to manuscripts that I have submitted to two different magazines.  Editors have revised what I said assuming that I had made a mistake without checking with me.  And now there are articles circulating with my name on them that do not say what I believe.  These meditations have been revised on occasion by those receiving them and have been sent on under my name.  These things should not be done.  It is a matter of integrity.
My Question

Are we doing this same thing with the Bible?  I can accept the fact that the original King James Version has become hard for our current crop of young people to read.  Revisions were helpful.  However, now there are so many versions and revisions that I can find one that will support almost any doctrine I want to “push.” However, I can’t worry too much about context or about that still small voice that upsets me in the pit of my stomach when I read some of these revisions.  At one time, good editors and Bible scholars tried to add explanatory footnotes to the standard translations.  That helped us know what was Scripture and what was opinion.  But now we have so called translations that seem to be taking the approach that they need to explain what God really meant.  We need to be careful that we don’t put words in God’s mouth, because He put His words in His prophet’s mouths.  We don’t have a right to try to do the work of the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture.  I am convinced that a simple person who is saved can understand what the Lord said and we don’t need people explaining to us what “He really meant.”  There just aren’t that many ways to interpret John 3:16.

Bruce Collins
Meditation for the week of August 17, 2014

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