Sunday, May 25, 2014

Can the Holy Spirit Trump the Bible?

Many read the bible as if God spoke and man wrote it down verbatim. Sure, in the Old Testament, a lot of that was done, especially when Moses took down the words on Mount Sinai, or maybe a prophet had to write down what God wanted him to speak to the people, but in the New Testament, it was written as letters to the Church and to the pastors.  It was never intended to be dogmatic scriptures to be canonized.  Had the writers thought for a moment that their letters were going to be canonized as scriptures for future reading by people of another country, speaking a totally different and unknown language 1500 to 2000 years later, they would have freaked out and never written it down! They wrote down their walk, their faith, their understanding at the time for the people of their time. The New Testament, or the letters to their contemporary church, was written to encourage them and keep them focused on and in Jesus Christ.

The King James Bible was basically the same thing.  It was translated to the best of their ability into the contemporary or modern language of its day. To say that the King James Version is “The authoritative bible and the very word of God” and cannot be modernized or brought to current understanding is to say that we cannot be dynamic in following the Holy Spirit.  Yes, it was the authorized bible, but only to King James who had it brought to current standards for the modern Church of his day. He authorized it for his people under his rule to use. He was the authority behind the translation to reject the Catholic Church’s bible, which was unreadable unless you and your people can read Latin.  Not that many people could read in the first place, let alone Latin. The Holy Spirit is dynamic and helps us to grow. We cannot keep getting stuck in the middle ages of understanding.  

Speaking of unreadable, if you put the "Authorized King James Version" that first came out in front of most people today, they will have trouble understanding it anyway due to archaic language that is not used today, not to mention the spelling, the shapes of letters, etc.   It had to be modernized for our language today, as well as languages around the world. Even the early Church had to change, move, and grow in understanding.  As Paul quoted, “We live, move and have our being in Him (Christ).” For example, in Acts 10, Peters visit to the gentiles would have been completely shut down had he just looked at the scriptures and say that nothing can be done.  Instead, he allowed God via the Holy Spirit to help overcome his fears of social and "scriptural" dogma. Giving Peter some credit, he did try to divert it by quoting scripture, saying that he has never eaten anything that is common or unclean, and in his current social and scriptural understanding, he was correct.  He could have responded with "The bible says it, I believe it and that settles it!"  But he also knew that the Holy Spirit trumped social and scriptural dogma.  We use the scriptures as the foundation and beginning of truth, but we allow the Holy Spirit to move us beyond what we see and hear.

I hear people say “We are a bible believing church” as if others don’t use the bible.  But what they are really saying is “We use the King James Bible and nothing else, and if you use anything else, you must not be a bible believing church”.  I find when churches use only the King James and nothing else, as if The King James IS the very word of God himself, even praying to God using old English language, they are often very legalistic and stuck in their beliefs.
I am NOT saying that the King James Bible is wrong and should not be used. I use it too, but I also use The New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Bible (NIV), The New Living Translation (NLT), The Revised Standard (RSV) and new versions of the King James (NKJV).  I use whatever the individual can understand and will accept in their current position and faith in life.  I will not pull out a KJV and pound it over their heads, nor will I pull out the International Version when all they are willing to read is the KJV.


When the disciples (now apostles) received the Holy Spirit that day of Pentecost, they spoke to the people who had different languages and they heard the apostles speak in their own native language even though the apostles were speaking in their own Aramaic language. It reminds me of the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show who, on the international special, told a joke to the international group back stage. The Swedish Chef had a language all his own that is a mix of broken English and something else nobody knows. Kermit (the frog) never did understand the Swedish Chef since they met, but everyone in the group (Chinese, German, Italian, Russian, French, etc.) all understood him and laughed at his joke!

Acts 2:5-12  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.  Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?   Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontusand Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome  (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”   Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

The scene on that day of Pentecost was the beginning of what we now know as “Speaking in tongues”.  It is speaking in the spirit, which allows the Holy Spirit to translate not only the language, but the meaning behind what is trying to be said with truth so the person in the other language can understand.  If five different languages were present in the hearing, then all five would have heard the message via the Holy Spirit, in their own language and understanding.

Today, we have professional translators, those who can speak in many different languages and are capable of speaking to others without having to resort to “speaking in tongues”, even though that is exactly what they are doing on a physical level.   Translators of the bible are learning the old language better and know how to better translate into our modern language and as a result, we can get a better understanding of what is being said. But with that said, keep in mind, that even the early church still had a long way to go to understanding, and what they wrote, they did so in the understanding of their day.  Maybe it was a good thing that they waited thirty or more years before they wrote what we see today, or the canonized letters and gospels would be different than what we see now.  Even Pauls’ letters show growth in understanding over the years.

We must not be so dogmatic that we cannot allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth. When we allow our local church to dictate to us, even to the point where we fear being ousted or lose our friends, we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us where we need to be or to go.  We allow jobs and companies to move us, but not the Holy Spirit.

 Listening to and following the Holy Spirit is a scary thing and you may be in for an interesting way of life

But when we are given inspiration and feel the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, we have the bible to help us understand whether it is the Holy Spirit that is speaking to us or not. Even then, we may see what is right to do in the bible, but the Holy Spirit may be saying, “No, not right now” or “This is not the best time”.  Or maybe the Holy Spirit is teaching us that what we have perceived to be truth in the bible, and we go to it for that truth, may not be what we think it is at all.  In fact, it may be time to make some changes in our lives and the Holy Spirit is leading us to new truth that is not in conflict with the Bible even though it may be in conflict with your favorite church and your church friends and family.  Listening to and following the Holy Spirit is a scary thing and you may be in for an interesting way of life.  But that is why it requires faith.  Reading and just doing things that the bible says to do does not require near the faith as it does to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Truth that sets us free, and when you see that Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Way and the Life, then you know who and what really sets us free.

Be more than just a bible believer, be free in Jesus Christ by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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