People are different; leaders are different. This reality should be reflected in a healthy development process in two ways....
The Word of God Will Bring Us to Its AuthorMalcolm Webber
The Word of God Will Bring Us to Its Author
Jesus died to bring us to God, to restore us to fellowship with God. His death was not a theological construct but a fact; and so is the relationship with Himself and His Father that He purposed should be ours through His death.
We dare not reduce the Christian life to a mere theory of legal standing. We think we are “staying with the Word,” but, in reality, we are not staying with the Word, because the Word of God points us to God – to the reality of Christian experience of God. We who make our boast in the Word, let us not through disregarding the Word dishonor God (cf. Rom. 2:23).
This is not to say that our legal standing with God is irrelevant or unimportant. He has given us a glorious judicial standing of righteousness before Himself; but that is not the whole story. It was necessary for God to give us a legal standing before Him, just so that He could give us an actual standing before Him (Gal. 4:4-6).
That is His desire: not that we content ourselves with discussing and debating our purely judicial right-standing with God, but that we earnestly seek the only thing that will really satisfy a born-again heart, which is the true fellowship of love with God that He intended from all eternity.
We must free ourselves from the constraints of our Western culture at this point. Inheriting the attitude from the Greek philosophers Socrates and Aristotle, our culture puts a premium on education. The educated man is honored as the good man; the unschooled and ignorant man is pitied as the fool. Only an educated man can be happy and fulfilled. Knowledge is the supreme goal of our Western society. Information has become an end in itself. Reason is supreme. Man’s intellect is sufficient. Scholarship is equated with maturity.
This perspective has unfortunately been carried over from the world into the church. The serious infection of Christianity with Greek philosophical values began in the third and fourth centuries. Thus it has become more important for us to understand doctrines about God, than it is to experience Him and to be changed by Him. Knowledge in itself has become sufficient for us. Experience of God is seen as something only those few weak ones with a “mystical” bent ever pursue. This whole attitude has spelled tragedy in the church, and the great predominance of religious knowledge without living relationship with Jesus is a fundamental cause of the frequency of pride, carnal sectarianism, debate, strife and spiritual blood-letting in the Christian community today.
…knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (1 Cor. 8:1-3; cf. 1 Tim. 1:3-7; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:14; Tit. 3:9)
The world has never known God through its human scholarship and wisdom, nor will we ever by those means:
…in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him… (1 Cor. 1:21; cf. 3:18-20)
We will never work, nor think, our way up to God. The Gospel of the early apostles was not with excellency of speech nor with wisdom of words, but it was in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It was with the moving and the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of men.
…When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
…our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction… (1 Thess. 1:5; cf. Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:17; 4:20; 2 Cor. 1:12)
The wisdom the apostles spoke was spiritual wisdom coming by the inward revelation of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:6-12; see also Col. 1:9; Ps. 119:18). This wisdom is not the boastful wisdom of the labor of the human intellect, but it is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit, by revelation, teaches to a surrendered heart; communicating spiritual things by spiritual means:
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (1 Cor. 2:13; cf. Eph. 1:17-18; Matt. 16:17; Ps. 25:14)
Hidden from scholars and revealed only to “babes”, this wisdom is foolishness to even the wisest of the world (see Matt. 11:25-27; 13:10-11; Ps. 25:14; 1 Cor. 1:23).
The natural man is not able to understand this wisdom which can only be “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:7); and neither is the Christian who walks and thinks and approaches spiritual matters as a natural man.
The Word of God is given to man as a means to bring us to Jesus; to bring us to know Jesus; to bring us to experience Jesus; to bring us to a life of obedience to Jesus; to bring us to a fellowship of love with Jesus. Our knowledge of the Word of God should not be an end in itself. It should be a means to a greater end: the personal experience of Jesus. The experience of the love of God “surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). We must not be satisfied with a merely academic understanding about redemption and about God; we must seek to experience redemption and to know God and to be known and changed by Him.
This will not be accomplished through restless academic exercise, but it is only as we behold the “glory of God in the face (and Presence) of Jesus Christ,” that we will be changed into His image by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 4:6).
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18; cf. Gen. 32:24-31)
Without this experience, our Christianity will be merely a change of opinion rather than a change of heart and life. Without this experience, we will only ever possess the outward “form” of knowledge and of truth (Rom. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:5) – real knowledge, real truth is in the inward parts. Truth will bring life. Truth will change our hearts. It is the very “breath” of God.
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