The Two Trees: "Revelation" or "Interpretation"
Just What Are You Thinking?
I'm in the middle of a fast right now and having a great time in the Lord. I'm so hungry for the things of God sometimes I just can't stand it.
Just the other day while I was praying, I looked up a few messages by a fellow that is well known among other things for his Calvinistic leanings and the defense of those perspectives. I have heard of him more than once and had checked him out briefly a few times through the years. He had some good things to say. Nothing I wrote home to mom about...but good.
So I pulled up a few of his teachings to see if there was anything that I could "feed on". I wasn't looking necessarily for Calvinism verses Arminianism...or any "verses" or "ism" for that matter. I am long past watching people "fight things out" so to speak theologically. At this point in my relationship with Him and my ministry I would rather just pray in the Spirit and worship God. I have been at this a long time and it's not as if I haven't evaluated different perspectives from which the Word of God is interpreted.
This doesn't mean of course I will not listen to someone from another "camp" so to speak. I do this with the Word...with politics...other points of view are fun for me to listen to. I genuinely enjoy and make sure I take the time to consider other perspectives. I am convinced it's both healthy and necessary to do so.
I learned a long time ago you don't get far if it's always "My way or the highway!"...unless you're God! He is the only One that get's away with that one.
To quickly clarify...
In being "laid back" so to speak , I am not talking about ignoring heresy. The Church must always stand ready to ardently rebuke and correct blatant deception. The Jerusalem council in Acts 15 is a perfect example where the church leaders got together and discussed and argued very legitimate issues. Theological dilemmas are not new and are not even to be avoided. BUT...the conclusion of the matter was James perceived from God the RIGHT perspective "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." Acts 15:28. The leaders came into agreement under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit...and sent out the decrees to the Churches to advise accordingly.
I am convinced there is a way to get to "what seems good to the Holy Spirit"....not just what seems good to our personal theological preferences. The result of His inspiration in the Book of Acts in the midst of debate was unity of the Body...and will be the same today. It was not half the leaders mumbling and going one way while the others went away in their angst as well. I don't see Paul taking his bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich storming out the door complaining that "Mr. Kosher"...Peter himself...was so unspiritual and a heretic and certainly God can never use someone so lacking in genuine revelation! May I contend that the fighting and griping against each other we see too often is an evidence of a lack of spiritual guidance rather than one of inspiration? Yes I know these things will continue until Christ returns. Yet since when does something being "real" make it right or we should not contend for something better?
Well I started listening to his message and I gotta tell you...within 15 minutes of watching and listening...and I really don't mean to be rude...
...I almost started getting a headache!
Now...please listen carefully. The things I'm about to write could be addressed to any perspective that is approached from the angles this gentleman was. This article can easily apply to an Arminian...Pre Trib...Post Trib...cessationist...Martian...any argumentor that has turned the great news of Jesus into a mental gymnastic exercise that has many of our messages known for proving how the "other guy" is wrong...not the simple message of the Gospel that the multitudes are meant to respond to.
I'm sure the people that really enjoy this brother and these particular theological pursuits would say "No...you have him wrong!"
And that's cool.
I'm confident this minister loves God...leads people to the Lord...and is actively pursuing God as he knows how. I'm sure his books and teachings are blessings to a number of people. And...it may very well be that these instances I am referring to may be the only messages out there he even broached the subject in the way he did!
I'm not trying to prove anyone wrong! It's not about that at all and would be the very thing I just wrote about while introducing this article. What I am ultimately tossing out there for consideration and maybe a few remedies is concerning a Church in general that has more "brains than brawn"...at least here in the West. In other words, "Theologies" and multiples of schools and seminaries to develop and teach them from myriads of perspectives has not been our problem through even the centuries. I'm simply contending that we at least consider that what has been lacking in conjunction with our deeply considered reasonings is the ability to get "the halt and the maimed and the lame and the blind..." Luke 14:21 healed by the power our gospel claims it is so full of!
This message was always meant to be proved...not simply discussed!
It's not about a personal disagreement over minutia in this instance as much as it just simply became a spring board for some thoughts that inspired me to write this particular article. He simply triggered deep seated convictions within me that are the result of over 35 years of personally participating and spectating in multi diverse denominations...movements...ministers with varying degrees of education and tradition and influence...and that around the world...in a constant quest to find what actually works to the glory of God and the integrity of His Word. If this article is turned into "He discounts or even hates my favorite minister or theological bent" you have totally missed the reason I am writing this.
The following is written as a reaction I had as I watched as people were listening intently on how wrong and illogical and inferior "the other guy was"...
And the dependence primarily on mental reason and calculation to prove it...
...with no reference (that I heard) to the living and active participation of the Holy Spirit to inspire and reveal what God's Word truly is speaking to the human heart. The term is called "revelation". It is from this perspective I am taking my liberty to "go off" on a few things...no offense please...
"If your interpretation of the Word of God...no matter you or your favorite exegetists...are not producing verifiable New Testament results...no matter how lofty said theology or proponent may be...the lack of evidences themselves show that interpretation is wrong...or at very best...incomplete."
Specifically, the New Testament was written in context with devastating miracles...mass conversions...and powers that opened jail cells as a result of angelic visitation and caused earthquakes in response to prayer.
No matter how "deep" the theological concept...we have to remember these guys did not write to be "deep"...they wrote to instruct how these great demonstrations of God's love were and how to continue them!!!
They wrote to free men, not to confuse them!
Do we actually think the end game of say the Ephesian letter...after so much power, miracles, and deliverances were granted to men through the writer himself...that Paul sat back and said...
"Hmmm...I wonder how deep I can get so that people will argue over these concepts...I'm going to create a maze of terms and theological treatises that I know is going to get these guys confused...and while they do...millions will never get to heaven or be touched by God because seminaries will train folks in the "isms"...rather than the "GO"!
The Apostle Paul earnestly desired "...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him," Ephesians 1:7 The man of God prayed we would have a "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him"...not go to seminary to learn how to criticize and argue and debate...ultimately developing our own interpretations that divide the Body of Christ rather than enjoy and cooperate within the union the Lord prayed we would have. "...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." John 17:21
Do you want to know why Paul prayed for us to have this encounter with the Spirit?
He prayed this because he was quite aware that there were some principles He wrote about that would not make sense without a definite revealing by the Same Spirit that prompted him to write these things! He continually appealed to the fact that what he was writing were revealed MYSTERIES! And you won't fully understand "mysteries" without the aid of the Instigator of them!
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." John 16:13
The born again...new creation in Christ where "old things passed away and all things became new" ...was nowhere encouraged to ask God for a spirit of "interpretation"...but a spirit of REVELATION! A divine encounter with the Holy Spirit wherein He gently leads and guides us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is a Person Who will actively be involved in our instruction in the things of God. He is not another theological subject to fight over. How will you have "ears to hear what the Spirit is saying" when you have been taught to continually question His agency and means by which He instructs and imparts?
One very famous minister who has produced countless books and schools and Bible commentary is known for his publically mocking those who contend for a primitive faith as demonstrated by the First Century Church and the demonstrations of miracles and the Holy Spirit she was known for. It has become so grievous that an equally famous "giant" who pastored one of the most famous churches in the world...wrote a book to refute, challenge, and even warn him.
Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the disciples did not perform miracles and care for the people so they could develop a theology that cause theologians and denominations and movements to fight and argue while pitting their minds against each other with the winner going to the strongest debater!
"Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" I Corinthians 1:20
Presenting the gospel...and worse, relegating this gospel...in this means was a major problem Paul dealt with in both his letters to the Corinthian Church. Paul wasn't simply addressing generic principles of "Hey...you're gonna need more than just a lightning quick mind to figure this out." The idea that scholarship and graced oratory were a primary means and prerequisite of genuine spiritual authority had become a major problem WITHIN his churches. The above verse wasn't just referring to Socrates or Plato. The people were being tempted to believe authority to preach came from trained public speaking and accreditation. It got so bad they were questioning Paul himself and his credentials (you know...the guy that actually fathered this church!!!) because of these things! That would be like my daughter coming up to me and challenging my authority as her father because I didn't have multiple doctorate degrees...I mean...Huh?
The Fruit Speaks For Itself
Wanna know why there are miracles? Wanna know why there even is a "Word of God" with its standards and instructions?
God loves people! He heals people and teaches them how to think right simply because of His love. And if this is not our primary lens and perspective that we filter our walk with God and even our ministries through, there is a really...really...really good chance we are going to miss something somewhere!
My friends...Calvin cannot get you miracles...Arminius cannot get you miracles...pre trib...mid trib...post trib...the King James Bible only...arguing into the night at your favorite coffee shop or on Facebook cannot get you miracles...none of these things have anything to do with freeing the sons of Adam from the power of darkness! "When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" Acts 3:12 Did you catch that? Peter or Paul can't get you miracles either and told folks so to their face!
I contend that we have been as guilty of "staring" at our favorite theologians and their conclusions as surely as the Israelites stared at Peter and John!
I'll be honest as I share in many cases what I have seen as the "fruit" of the Name of Jesus...and the descriptions of His blessings and attributes...being relegated to a "religion" of theologies, arguments, and multiple theories and interpretations. I contend this is the polar opposite of that primitive "First Century Faith" that believed the wisdom of this world is to be shunned like the plaque and that only a moment by moment reliance upon the inspiration and then virtue of that Spirit of God sent from heaven is the only means of conquering death and hell inwardly and in their generation.
Some of these "camps" can get so lost in their multiplicity of opinions that the powerlessness of their conclusions (or lack of) are actually feeding the old man THAT WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST ALREADY and which we are told we have been more than empowered to "put off". Additionally, the myriads of theories only glorify the wretchedness and depravity of the lost soul and never find that resurrection life which vanquished said wretchedness the instant eternal life exploded upon and through it.
As a result, I have also witnessed regularly a lack of both implication and implementation OF THE FACT that a man in Christ is literally light itself..."For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, live as children of light." Ephesians 5:8...created within God and is that "more than a conqueror" the Scriptures make clear we have become! Tell me how in God's green earth these "most learned of the learned" claim Christians are depraved and full of sin in the midst of the new creation reality that we are delivered from darkness...are no longer darkness...and the Spirit Himself is quickening our mortal body in conjunction that through Him the deeds of the body are put to death? ("...for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13)
Ignorance in Spiritual enlightenment i.e. genuine Holy Spirit interaction within the soul, will certainly result in moral negligence. If one doesn't understand the operation of the Spirit within the heart and through the mind, he will never understand the operation of the Spirit on the body to cause it to live in genuine holiness.
Being "Dead to sin" ("Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:1) becomes a concept to argue over in Greek and Hebrew and text comparisons between Romans and Galatians and opinions by the fathers through the centuries...rather than a statement of fact in that we have been resurrected with Christ...we are not wicked and depraved...and that the Glorious One leads us in triumph NOW over the flesh and the devil!
If someone still finds themselves in a "wretched...depraved... powerless condition" after Christ has been received in the heart and time for development in the kingdom has passed...it's not an argument over whether Paul in Romans 7 was discussing his post Christian introduction experience (it wasn't by the way)...
They need to repent and call out to The Living God for a baptism of fire from heaven through the Holy Spirit...which this writer can personally testify is real and its effects are sure and most permanent...not fondle a doctrine that leaves them in the same powerless condition until they go to heaven!
A man in this conundrum can never find a bold faith within himself...let alone find the passion to preach it to those souls he has been entrusted...to the glee of our enemy and the sadness of our God...
The necessary living and active power that it takes to walk in holiness is that one and the same power that enables us to minister the miraculous! If we do not find the power to walk in one, we will not have access to the other...at least for long!
These things are the result of at least somewhat believing the success in the Christian walk is based on the ability to reason and discuss conceptually instead of experiencing in reality the new life in Christ that declares plainly "...old things have passed away and all things have become new." II Corinthians 5:17. It's believed that "spirituality" is attained by the depth of conceptual understanding and discussion...not whether they simply live right and can get an answer to prayer.
"Liturgical versus Protestantism...Hymns versus choruses...Papal decrees...High Theology...Pre-Tribulation Rapture and Millennialism..." can all freely flow from your lips while God is just wondering when you're gonna stop looking at porn!
Theological terms and debate can become an opiate that continually feeds the love for reason. If one does not continue on from the arena of reason and conjecture into an expectancy of the breath of the Spirit enlightening them to the heart of God in the Words He spoke...the very blessings of the gospel they would so ardently defend escape them. Certainly the "new life" is fine to discuss and debate as to the reasons for it defined by our different traditions and ecclesiology...
...yet is no more experienced by them than the blind man seeing light though he may be able to repeat extensively the writings and reports concerning it!
Am I in any way saying we toss out our brains and the necessity of critical thinking? Of course not. Some of my own personal writings are clearly written for those who have left "...needing only milk." (Hebrews 5:13) What I am contending is that the processes of the invisible God through the Holy Spirit MUST be as real and understood and practiced in the learning and development of an active and effective theology. God's Words as seeds contain the life and nature and design to grow into something very much alive and exponentially beyond the seed itself. And by all means...we can never let our impotency in the things of the Spirit allow us for a second to ignore let alone explain away those very principles that liberate and call us into His glorious light and strength!
I've learned...kicking and screaming at times..."If it ain't workin', it's not God's fault...so don't stay there!"
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." I Corinthians 2:12
The Holy Spirit is the necessary Cooperator and Instigator as surely as the soil and sun and rain are those ingredients necessary to take a seed and cause it to mature. And the result of the Holy Spirit's work is to cause us to understand and to know what God has given us...not be confused ourselves and/or our parishioners. Can I ask how in one breath we claim surgical precision in defending this gospel and its tenets and yet create more confusion than we started concerning the things of God...the whole while Scriptures are clear that Holy Spirt lets us KNOW what has been given to us by God?
Someone truly walking in the graces of God should be understandable...not leave you scratching your head!
The Finish Line
Seriously I have to ask...
-How can your theology create in the heart of man a simple faith for the things of God when it creates more questions than it answers?
-Where else can we find a primary reason to blame for the impotency we see too many times in the Church than an instruction from our schools and pulpits to the congregations to question more than to believe!
-And to make matters worse...to at best demonize as foolish and juvenile and at worst pronounce "reprobate" ...those who have experienced genuine miracles as a result of preaching the infinite UNCHANGING goodness of God?
History has proven unequivocally that it is the name of Jesus...spoken in simple albeit focused faith... founded on the knowledge that God loves people and that the cross is the exclamation point of His love and deliverance...that therein is the key to the blessings of men!
These are not things that are to be argued over as to how much blood He spilled...how long were the spikes...what kind of wood was the cross made of...and all the rest of the mental meanderings that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has instigated in creating continual chaos and confusion over His Word!
The Lord did miracles because of His love and the produced theology in the midst of these things should...no...must...produce those very same things. "Knowledge puffs up...LOVE EDIFIES"
When I look at history and those through the generations that have radically influenced the world with the gospel and with the power of God contained within...I can't find one of them that became entangled with this nonsense!
Can you imagine Reinhardt Bonnke getting up in front of a million people and arguing predestination? How about TL Osbourne in front of half a million people in India just waiting to hear the Word of the Lord and he argues whether Luther was accurate in his 95 thesis'? Or Oral Roberts discussing different dispensations and the curtailing of miracles based on the Exodus principle or some other ridiculous terminologies understood only by those locked up in a world only a few understand the language?
Those that had visions of the Lord...that stood in front of millions of people even at a single event...NEVER wasted their time on these things. All their years with the Lord produced a SIMPLE faith...not a more confused one. They taught the skill of how to believe and an All Powerful God Who answers prayer. And those who simply believed...through their own free will and volition...were touched wonderfully.
It is from these examples of the "sons of God" I will learn from.
So I figure after almost 30 years in ministry...having looked at all these things through the years...I have concluded (I think in good company) that here's the New Testament in a nutshell...
-love God -live right -think right -free people.
This my friends...is as New Testament as it gets.