It's been quite a while since I've sent out a Shoveletter. This one is a response I wrote to a concern expressed regarding the Spoonful: Taught by God. I'm also sending out a severely modified and much shorter version as a Spoonful, so you may see another letter come your way very soon. Jim
Hi Jim. Another good spoonful !
It is important to balance this scripture you gave. We often get fellow Christians who put greater reliance in what they perceive God is telling them than God's word in the bible. I put that to a fellow intelligent and articulate Christian in our fellowship group. This fellow is very strong on "words from God". So what is the listener to do, I said, if there is a conflict between what a Christian says is truth from "a word from God" and God's written word the bible, which do we choose as ultimate truth - no argument - God's word.
You see when I am amongst, particularly Pentecostal Christians, they are fond of telling me what God is telling them about this and that and in particular matters in my own life (what I should do). Now these types usually have a problem and its this, they fall into the trap of NOT TESTING TO SEE IF IT (a word) IS FROM GOD OR NOT FIRST - they speak as though they are God and this is a serious sin. They sometimes speak as though they are the only Christian God is working with and talks to. They assume to themselves which only belongs to God. They are in grave danger!
Would you not agree that before we assume what is "all truth" via the Spirit we should test it first? Remember something, we are still in the flesh and that flesh is not a perfect filter for that which is knowledge embedded in us from God OR our own fleshly thoughts and imaginations. I have seen fellow Christians go off in all sorts of weird and peculiar tangents because they seem to think that every first impulsive thought that comes into their minds is from God and spout it as such and accordingly make themselves god - a great sin. What thinks ye brother? (submitted by "P")
Hello P :)
It's always good to hear from you. I don't have much time this morning, but I wanted to send a response before I head out the door to work.
What if balance is not the issue? Consider how you described those who misunderstand:
...they are fond of telling me what God is telling them about this and that and in particular matters in my own life (what I should do).
Notice the fleshly turn around that reveals how they believe the exact same thing as every other person who thinks they can teach you to know God. They already assume that you do not know, and that you need them to be your teachers. It's the same thing, just with a twist.
Hello again, P :)
It is important to balance this scripture you gave
I come from an evangelical background, and for a long time I used to view this Bible verse exactly as you have expressed, that it must be balanced. I have come to realize, however, that I had allowed the specter of error and false doctrine to cast doubt on the most basic truth of all. Consider how the safety net created under the premise of balancing the anointing of God that causes us to not need anyone to teach us has forced us to run to those who can teach us whether it is true or not. Our desire to not fall into error has resulted in a massively diverse teaching force that will support whichever viewpoint we desire. Now in saying this, I am still under no illusion that possibly most of the so-called truth that promotes itself under the premise of 1 John 2:27 is little more than religious, legal, impulsive, fleshly wisdom.
The bible warns us to prove things first.
It does. Unfortunately, our form of proof not only keeps false teachers in business, it has established most of it. Consider the testing of spirits as put forth by John in that same letter:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6
No doubt this passage has been misused, just as any other, so that those who want to establish or justify their viewpoint on God have twisted it to their own desires. Let's face it, anyone who can read and memorize can say "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh". However, it does not suggest anything of the sort, for this has nothing to do with merely repeating words and phrases. It has everything to do with the reality of the embedded knowledge of God that forms our very being in Christ. Consider the wording:
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 1 John 4:2
"...every spirit that confesses...". Our intellectual viewpoints suggest that we should be able to know the Spirit of God based upon listening to what people say. These understandings show forth in a variety of ways. Consider how the profession of faith provides the basis for the validation of one's faith in some denominations while in others, simply saying "I have a word from God" seems to give ultimate authority. Is it any wonder how often the apostles wrote about noting the smooth and persuasive words of deceivers so as not to be taken in by what they say?
But this does not present the conundrum or puzzle we imagine, for knowing the Spirit of God is found in hearing the testimony of the inner man through the words one speaks. This hearing is based upon the firm foundation that the spirit of Christ actually abides within those who are born of God so that there is living testimony in the words we speak to one another, and a lack of it in the words of those who are not of Christ. This is not a scrutiny found in comparing the words people say with words found in the Bible, nor is it a doctrinal matching program by which we determine truth. Despite all our doctrines and viewpoints, we still stumble over the simple difference between profession and confession. Of course, there is no magic in our English words profession and confession, for other words may be used to say the same.
Profession has to do with the attempt to convince by the use of words, while confession expresses reality by means of words. Profession projects its fleshly justification, that is, a proving of oneself by what one says; confession leaves the speaker open to the examination and probable rejection of those who judge only by words and appearance.
Confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not a doctrinal statement put forth to validate oneself, it is the recognition that the life of God dwelt in a man who was rejected by those who judge by words and appearance. Our word-conscious mentality will trip and stumble over this simple truth because of our infatuation with the persuasive power of words, even those found in the Bible. For our religious Christian perception causes us to hold to the form of words rather than the spirit of the words. The miraculous testimonies of the men who were changed by the power of God have mostly become formats for doctrinal correctness. To confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is to recognize that we are born of this exact same spirit, for Christ is our life. This is the reality upon which we recognize the miraculousness that we are also dwelt by God.
So what is the listener to do, I said, if there is a conflict between what a Christian says is truth from "a word from God" and God's written word the bible, which do we choose as ultimate truth - no argument - God's word.
You suggest disparity where there is none, for your argument revolves around the reasoning of the religious, fleshly mind. The Bible (aka, God's word) is not ultimate truth, for Jesus Christ is the truth. What I am saying is that the conflict is created and sustained by the framework that keeps trying to tell us what truth is. Consider how every time the religious leaders attempted to pull Jesus into their often reasonable sounding reason that he never once gave into their demands. Christian doctrine is heavily influenced and formed according to the very arguments that Jesus dismissed with the mind and sanity of God. Do you not realize that the scribes and Pharisees would have agreed with your basic premise? I am certain that you would reject many of their conclusions, but you would find yourself endlessly caught up in disputes over interpretation of the agreed upon "ultimate truth of God's word". Do you understand what I mean by this? Consider Paul's statement in view of this:
But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. Galatians 2:4-5
Notice how Paul claimed not to yield in subjection to them for even an hour. Do you suppose that referred to some self-imposed time limit he stuck to when discussing truth with the objectors? You know, like "Sorry, we've been going at it for 55 minutes and now it's time to stop?" LOL! :) I'm certain the use of "an hour" merely referred to a small segment of time. The underlying message Paul communicated to the Galatians let them know that he didn't enter into the religious traps of those who were spying out our liberty in Christ when declaring the good news. Remember, there is a whole segment of religious Christianity that would rake you over the coals according to the so-called ultimate truth of God's word.
The craftiness of the deception flows across all boundaries, which is why it is critical to find our strength where there are no boundaries. That reality is found in Christ alone. The bottom line is that it makes no difference whether someone uses a Bible to intimidate you into accepting his version of truth or if that someone claims to have gotten it directly from God. Despite the obvious differences in appearance, this represents the exact same spirit that claims to have the truth that you don't. Consider what I first sent you:
What if balance is not the issue? Consider how you described those who misunderstand: "...they are fond of telling me what God is telling them about this and that and in particular matters in my own life (what I should do)." Notice the fleshly turn around that reveals how they believe the exact same thing as every other person who thinks they can teach you to know God. They already assume that you do not know, and that you need them to be your teachers. It's the same thing, just with a twist.
I used to view the differences in religious denominations and doctrines as being diametrically opposed one to the other. I mean, everything seems to verify it. But what if the legalism of a Bible-thumper turns out to be the same as the legalism of a Pentecostal who uses his so-called word from God to hammer you over the head. What I'm telling you is that I reject the claims of special knowledge based upon 1 John 2:27 as surely as I do those who claim special knowledge based upon their skillful handling of the Scriptures. The fact that one holds to the Bible as the sole authority doesn't make his legalism any better than that of the one who uses his supposed insight to tell you what to do.
The idea that 1 John 2:27 needs to be balanced comes from the fear that those who use it to tell others what to do might actually be holding to the truth John declared in that verse. They don't. Instead, those who push what they believe they have received from God onto others are doing the very same thing as those John exposed in his letter. I mean, we're talking about a deception that takes the truth as recorded by John and twists it so that many folks see them as agreeing with the freedom he declared.
They sometimes speak as though they are the only Christian God is working with and talks to. They assume to themselves which only belongs to God.
Take what you've written here and consider it in view of what I've been saying. You see, you already recognize the clever deception of those who claim exclusive rights to the knowledge of God. You already know that they violate the very spirit of John's letter, and this verse in particular. What I'm telling you is that you not play their game. People like this want to intimidate you into thinking that they have a clue as to what they are saying. They want you to be thrown off so that you come to doubt that God himself is your real teacher and that you might really need them to show you the way. They want to supplant the authority of God's spirit in you by causing you to believe that they have the real stuff of God and you need to get it from them.
Now in this, I am in full agreement that such a perversion is worth exposing to keep others from being guided by the intimidation of those who seem to promote the free flow of God's truth. Just so that you know, I will be using what I've written to you as the basis of my next Spoonful AND Shoveletter. For I see it as very important.
I think this perversion has forced you to fear the union into which you have been brought. Just because somebody else sets himself up as having exclusive rights to God's words and truth doesn't mean we have to fear the fact that we know all things. It is fear and insecurity that causes people to set themselves up as exclusive spokesmen for God. You might want to reconsider the balance you're suggesting as it demands that we are still in the flesh. I know it seems to bring about a needed sense of caution, but it is the stuff that stirs up just the opposite.