What About Interpretation?
I have not forgotten the old adage, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." I have just read brother Norton's editorial in the February issue of the Christian Chronicle. I have just read brother Woodroof's book, The Church in Transition and brother Lynn Anderson's book, Freshness for the Far Journey. Recently, I heard Lynn preach. Many years ago, I baptized Lynn, but that is not as important as the fact that it was a country schoolhouse where Lynn's father attended a meeting that I held. Lawrence, Lynn's father, was then courting the woman who became Lynn's mother. The letters Lawrence wrote are still in Lynn's possession.
After each sermon, Lawrence said that it was just the way he had read it in the Bible. There was another man who attended the meeting. He obeyed the gospel in that meeting. He said that for 18 years he had been looking for people who were just God's people.
Shortly after that, I preached a series of sermons on the radio from Regina. As a result of this, I held two meetings in two new places. There were 14 baptized in each place.
After more than 50 years, some of the faithful members of the church are those who obeyed in those meetings. I would like to mention one sister, who has since gone to her reward. The morning after my first sermon, she said she had a job for me. I asked her what it was. She said she wanted to be baptized. I must have looked surprised because she said, "I know what I am doing. When you preached on the radio, I took down every scripture." There never was a more devout member of the church than she.
I suppose I have read my New Testament through fifty times. I have read the Old Testament more than 30 times. I firmly believe that every scripture came by the inspiration of God. I taught the Word, people heard the Word, believed the Word and obeyed the Word. In all my study and in all my preaching, I never found where it says we are to interpret the Word. Jesus said, "heaven and earth will pass away but my Word will not pass away." There is an axiom we need to remember: The Bible, as it is, is sufficient for man, as he is. "And the common people heard Him gladly" (Mark 12:37).
For more than 40 years, I preached in Canada and the U.S.A. Then I went to India. I preached the Word there. Here is an extract from a letter I just received:
"We conducted six area meetings where thousands of people were gathered by tractors and trucks. In one such area meetings, we baptized 2,153 people. Thus, by the end of our work, 10,424 people and 263 denominational preachers were baptized and 185 new congregations were started."
This brother was born to illiterate parents. He is now Dr. Ratnam.
Whether in Canada, U.S.A. or India, I shall only preach the Word; I owe that to the Lord. If the church is on the way back to Pentecost, that is the right transition. If the Lord tarries until the 21st century, the same gospel will be preached from the inspired Word of God.
When we were married 68 years ago, my wife would come to me with her Bible in her hand and she would read a certain verse and say, "What does this mean?" I would say, "My dear, if it doesn't mean what it says, I have not the slightest idea what it means."
Peter tells about some people who interpreted the Word, he says they wrested the Scripture to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16). "No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation" (II Peter 1:20).
J.C. Bailey (June 1992, Weyburn, Saskatchewan)
Published in The Old Paths Archive