There are many who are so caught up in tradition and their reliance on men’s teaching that it can be discouraging to read some of the responses to what I’ve said about trusting the Holy Spirit.
Here is one example of a reply I received on another blog:
Prior to closing comments on a topic on his blog, Derek Leman said on 12 June, 2014 at 4:54 pm:
Can I email you to ask the Holy Spirit’s opinion on issues? It’s wonderful that I found you. Can’t wait for the greater clarity I will get now on issues. It’s like meeting Isaiah in person. Thanks for introducing yourself.
(See the full thread http://www.derekleman.com/musings/the-wisdom-of-men/)
As flippant as that comment was intended, it just shows how much he missed the point.
Despite what I said about the Holy Spirit being given to teach ALL believers and for ALL believers to trust the Spirit, he still expressed (albeit cynically) his desire to rely on other men to be a go-between, to seek and reveal God’s revelation for him.
Further examples of the above mindset can be found in the comments section associated with this post.
47 thoughts on “Clearly Some Don’t Want To Understand”
Was that the first time you’ve posted at that particular site? I don’t quite get why such an adamant response to you (from the commenters in general and the blogger himself). You said in more than one way that the wisdom of men doesn’t have to conflict with truth. And I would think it’d be obvious to messianic-type believers that there have been misleading teachings from the big-wigs for a long, long time.
To give more clarity, I should have said — rather than “the big-wigs” (which, depending on who’s reading, could be taken, in that sentence, to mean big-wig messianics, not what I meant) — “big-wig Christians” [although there are some big names that seem to be messianic and aren’t really so much (but “long, long time” wouldn’t apply to them)]. I’d say the answer to the site’s blogger’s question as to where we can find evidence that reading the Bible without a historical Christian lense on top of it [as if scripture is so obscure that we won’t get much if anything out of it without someone telling us what to get out of it] is the Messianic movement!
I’ve been trying to understand how a born-again Christian, spirit-filled and brought to new life from the state of death in sin, can actually believe some of the things you are teaching to others. I think a big clue was revealed in your comments at Derek Leman’s blog. Was I getting it right that you stated you have forsaken the physical congregation in fellowship with other Christians in a physical church setting for the past 25 years?
I merely share the insights I’ve gained through a long time of involvement with the church and through my own relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The only thing I want to teach anyone is that they should search the scriptures for themselves and put their trust in the Holy Spirit to do the job HE came to do: that is to teach disciples of Jesus. But I’ve found most people prefer to let someone else to tell them what to believe instead of taking responsibility for their own relationship with God.
On this blog I share some of the things I’ve learned on my journey – often things that are very different from what I’d been taught in “church” – but things that I’ve found to be clear in scripture.
I initially left the “church” institution in the late 1980s due to disillusionment. I was finding too much contradiction between the teaching I had been swallowing for a decade or so and my own reading and study of scripture. That disillusionment took me to a place where I couldn’t even be sure of God’s existence because of the contradictions I became aware of.
It was around 15 years before that spiritual crisis was resolved and my faith was able to be rebuilt on a more sound foundation. I had finally realised that the contradictions were in the teachings and not in scripture itself. It took those 15 years to get rid of the damage done by the teachers I’d trusted. Those 15 years away from all Christian contact also helped me avoid the beginning of some of the worst excesses of charismania when the “Toronto Blessing” started to take hold and spread its influence.
My return to faith led me to seek out a suitable church to join. I met with several pastors in my local area and attended church meetings – but found there was no real interest in relationships, it was all about increasing church numbers.
I then relocated to a country town and made similar approaches to church leaders. My wife and I met with one fellowship for several months, but grew increasingly uncomfortable with their association with some very questionable spiritual fads. We left after the pastor went to a leadership course at the Toronto church responsible for the “Toronto Blessing”.
We then made friends with a new minister in town and joined his church. We got along well, but his devout Calvinism started to become a problem when a new couple who shared his Calvinist stance joined the church. With those reinforcements his Calvinism became more dominant and I left the church (after a year and a half) to defuse the increasing conflict. Through considering those Calvinist views and assessing them against scripture, I came to see Calvinism to be no less a false theology and no less dangerous than the extreme charismania I’d avoided by leaving the other church
In the 10 or more years since the rebuilding of my faith started I’ve been in very regular (DAILY) contact with other believers, in person, via phone and through email and mail. My wife and her mum are strong and devout believers as are many friends.
The only “physical congregation in ‘fellowship'” that I’ve forsaken is the kind that meets once a week and lines people up in rows, facing a “leader” at the front – where the only “fellowship” gained is with the back of the head of the person in front of me; and where the minister uses isolated bible verses as a springboard into a talk on a topic of his choice (that rarely has anything to do with what scripture actually says).
I’d also like to add that after leaving that Calvinist church I tried to maintain contact with my friend, the minister. He was invited to my place for meals and I called on him at his home – but not once was there a reciprocal invitation or visit.
I don’t recall posting to that particular blog, although I was aware of the blog owner from what I think were earlier sites.
He is a gentile born man who identified so strongly with Jews that he decided to “convert”. He is now rabbi of a Messianic fellowship.
“I’ve been trying to understand how a born-again Christian, spirit-filled and brought to new life from the state of death in sin, can actually believe some of the things you are teaching to others.”
I’d like to know what some of those objectionable things that I am teaching are.
…………..”The only “physical congregation in ‘fellowship’” that I’ve forsaken is the kind that meets once a week and lines people up in rows, facing a “leader” at the front – where the only “fellowship” gained is with the back of the head of the person in front of me; and where the minister uses isolated bible verses as a springboard into a talk on a topic of his choice (that rarely has anything to do with what scripture actually says”…………..
Sorry to inform you, but this is the “church structure’ set up by the apostles with the endorsement of Jesus Christ. In no way, shape, or form does a true Christian, no matter how disillusioned he may be because of unpleasant experiences of the past, decide that God has given his endorsement to reinvent church to his or her own liking. I find it very depressing that you and quite a few others who outwardly declare themselves to be “Christian” arbitrarily feel the freedom to reinvent the church experience with blatant disregard to how Jesus, the very one who died for your redemption from sin, set it up.
It is not just foolish verbal exercise when the apostles in the New Testament describe how churches are to be run. Everything from the hierarchy of pastors and elders, down to the slightest detail, is revealed to us and nowhere are your ideas on church endorsed. In fact simple reading of the text clearly reveals that your kind of “fellowship”, i.e., through phone calls, email, and mail, is NOT Christian fellowship at all. You are not only foolishly and dangerously ignoring the true Christian fellowship laid out in the bible, you do this in the name of some kind of self-aggrandizing formula intended to rid you and those who follow you of the “contamination” of anything processed by the human mind, and conveniently in the process, rid yourselves of any binding needs to follow any doctrine except what you fell “led” to follow. In the process, things like church fellowship become “optional” and are left up to the individual, and biblical precepts are tailored to meet the “needs of the individual.”
The extreme irony of your position is that it has the exact opposite effect that you claim. Instead of honoring God and taking the glory away from the human, you put the human in the glorified position of calling all the shots. “Hey, guess what folks! I don’t like the churches I’ve been to, so I’m going to teach people to fellowship in whatever manner suits their personality! Yeah, that sounds good, doesn’t it? …..A pox on all those evil pastors who tried to teach me scripture. …..I don’t need seminary training, or effort and diligent study under the teaching of those who have applied themselves to decades of scripture study. To heck with all that. Nah,. that’s not my style. I learn scripture by direct download from the Holy Spirit.”
The point the commenter at the other blog was trying to make, be as it may in a flippant manner, was nonetheless a very valid point. He was simply asking you, since you make the strong claim that the Holy Spirit interprets scripture for you and apparently others as well, can you please pass on these scriptural understandings to him? What is wrong with him asking that? If the system really works as you describe, i.e., that the Holy Spirit provides interpretation of scripture merely for the asking, then it is not using a man as a “go-between” if I ask you to simply share what the Holy Spirit has told you about certain bible passages.
Assuming you don’t lie to me, and tell the truth, I should be very interested to hear the Holy Spirit’s interpretations given to you. What if I tell you that the Holy Spirit doesn’t give me the same kind of clarity that you claim, and I want you to share your Spirit-given understandings with me? Am I really still relying on man? I think not. I am asking you to share what the Spirit has directly revealed to you without filtering through any human mind. A true Christian would obviously be very eager and willing to share true biblical, spirit-revealed truth with brothers in Christ. Nowhere in scripture will you see endorsed the concept that truth shall be withheld from a fellow seeker who is inquiring.
In fact, if scriptural revelation works in the manner you describe, it would be incumbent upon all of you who are receiving “true” and “real” interpretations of important bible passages from the Spirit to write down these Holy Spirit revelations in a book to share with all of Christianity. Surely you don’t think a “true and genuine” spirit-given interpretation of scripture should be kept under wraps and hidden from your fellow Christians do you?
And going further down this “solo” Christian walk which you endorse, the “no contamination of carnal flesh” pathway, there are so many pitfalls and traps that immediately become apparent. It is obvious you have not thought through these ideas to their logical conclusion, not to mention failed to hold them up to the light of what scripture has to say about the churching of the faithful. Within a generation of implementing your recommendations, if they were strictly and rigidly enforced throughout the entire Christian community worldwide, the church would die off completely. All seminaries would close, as no one would any longer be willing to sit under the teachings of “men”. Churches would not have any pastors to shepherd their congregations. Bible study would almost completely die off, at least in the biblical, formal God-honoring manner of the scholarly, learned, and spirit-led teacher teaching in front of congregations of earnest students.
If you have for so many years been truly out of biblical fellowship, which is clearly the physical congregation of believers in a brick and mortar church, may I take this opportunity to implore you to rethink your position. Since salvation is not works based, we know that church attendance does not produce saving faith. It works the other way around, however: i.e., a truly saved person, flushed with overwhelming gratitude from being raised from the grim state of death to the glorious state of eternal life through the selfless act of one man, the Son of God, would be running to church to share with others. Church congregation is a fruit that is an automatic outcome of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. One doesn’t “decide” to go to church, and then become one of the Lord’s sheep. We go to church because we are the sheep, and we want to obey the voice of our Good Shepherd who has paid the highest price to be our shepherd and guide us safely home.
These are just a few random thoughts that come to mind at first appraisal of your “no man” teachings. I have barely scratched the surface. God bless you in your search for truth. ………..To be continued …………..
I say, I’m not sure that I’ll pass another comment as long that one through moderation so please try to keep things brief and to the point. It will take quite a while to reply to what you’ve already said, but I’ll try to answer bit by bit…
I said in my earlier comment: .”The only “physical congregation in ‘fellowship’” that I’ve forsaken is the kind that meets once a week and lines people up in rows, facing a “leader” at the front – where the only “fellowship” gained is with the back of the head of the person in front of me; and where the minister uses isolated bible verses as a springboard into a talk on a topic of his choice (that rarely has anything to do with what scripture actually says”
My reply to that:
The present day “church structure” bears no resemblance to anything “set up by the apostles” or anything “endorsed by Jesus Christ.
Nowhere in scripture do we see any description of the present day church system, where a single “minister” conducts a meeting at which everyone else sits passively in rows listening to him (standing occasionally as instructed to sing a song or two). THAT kind of “church” is the reinvention.
And it is THAT kind of church that leads to a continued dependence on man, exalting a “trained and ordained’ elite (or in the case of charismatics an “anointed” elite) above all other believers.
Making the “average” church goer think they are incapable of understanding scripture without the guidance of that elite.
As for any “unpleasant experiences of the past” – the most unpleasant was the long period of doubt I went through after I left the church system in the late 1980s. I could have very easily continued in church, leading a youth group and occasionally preaching at the main church meeting, playing along with the “system”, but I wanted truth not religious activity.
And as for re-inventing the church – it was re-invented a few centuries after the NT was written and became a religious organisation rather than a living body of believers. It became centred on ornate architecture rather than living stones, buildings rather than people.
My reply to that:
One of the most interesting SCRIPTURAL facts is how little detail IS actually recorded about the running of churches – a fact totally contrary to your claim of “everything…down to the slightest detail”.
However the little that IS stated points to the open participation of anyone in a fellowship in ministering to others in that fellowship, ministry is not the domain of a “trained professional”.
Interesting that in your “hierarchy” that you miss out apostles, prophets, and evangelists from the only biblical list where “pastor” is mentioned. Also, it seems quite clear that the appointed oversight within a local group of believers was given to elders (plural) who had to conform to a list of moral conditions – interestingly the primary qualification required in today’s church institutions is a college/seminary qualification; and apparently qualifies a man to be the SOLE oversight in a “church”.
I note that in describing my “kind of fellowship” you miss out the “in person” part and only mention the phone calls, email and mail”. You also fail to recognise that is personal interaction and it isn’t limited to an hour or so a week. And I will again emphasis it is INTERACTION, is not passively listening to a minister while staring at the back of the person in front of me.
To be continued
Who said anything about the Holy Spirit giving “interpretations”?
Scripture doesn’t need to be “interpreted. It needs to be understood, accepted and acted upon. Scripture isn’t a strange code book to be deciphered. It is a revelation of God and His relationship with mankind, ranging from creation through to the establishment of a new creation.
One of the major causes of theological error has been man’s idea that they need to “interpret” scripture – often turning something simple into something convoluted. God isn’t hiding what you need to know and understand.
If the Holy Spirit doesn’t give you clarity, then you are clearly not expecting His help. All you need to do is ask, trust and turn to scripture. Allow Him to give you understanding as and when you are able to receive it. He starts with foundations and then builds on those foundations. He doesn’t just dump everything there is into your head at once and then leave you to sort it all out.
Accept that we’ll never understand everything but we can understand everything we need: IF we seek and trust.
Yet again you express the need for others to tell you what ought to be believed. Isn’t scripture enough for all believers? Isn’t the Holy Spirit enough for all believers? Do you expect others to add to scripture so that you don’t need to address scripture for yourself?
Of course you do. THAT is what this whole thing is about. That is why you disagree with me when I say we should trust God above man.
We obviously have very different ideas of what “church” actually is and whether God is able to sustain HIS church as opposed to the religious organisations and structures that you clearly identify as “the church”.
Personally I think God’s church (of genuine believers) will survive quite strongly – albeit facing increasing opposition and persecution from an unbelieving world, and also from an increasingly Godless institutional church.
You said: “If you have for so many years been truly out of biblical fellowship, which is clearly the physical congregation of believers in a brick and mortar church”
That is your definition of “BIBLICAL fellowship”? Something conditional upon “a brick and mortar church”?
Yes, biblical fellowship involves physically being with other Christians. Continue with your email congregations for as long as you wish, just don’t drag other Christians new to the faith into your Onesimus cultish abyss. If you don’t see the hierarchical structure of Pastors elders, deacons set up by the apostles example and their church planting efforts you are blind. Many of your references to church structure are clearly aimed at Roman Catholic practices and are senseless to bring up in a discussion of the church of Christ
Continue with your email congregations, be my guest. You will be held accountable for all you take away from the true church. I guess all missionary efforts should now be turned into email campaigns. Instead of preaching the gospel to all nations we can just change the Lord’s commission to a commission of emailing all nations with the great news of the gospel.
What a dangerously undereducated man you are. I hereby biblically break fellowship with you and your belief systems and leave you to your delusions. In Scripture you state your case once., then when met with obstinacy you dust off your shoes and depart to the next town.
Fair enough, considering that we’ve never been in fellowship according to your definition. And considering you choose to continue ignoring my reference to being with other believers in person (albeit outside of the sacred walls bricks and mortar).
Maybe one day you’ll actually realise the importance of PERSONALLY addressing scripture and PERSONALLY trusting God instead of looking for other men to continually hand feed you.
Since I’ve had extremely little contact with RC practices (I think that’s restricted to attendance of one RC wedding) I’d have to disagree. My own experience has ONLY been with a variety protestant and pentecostal churches – who may have changed a few doctrines since the “reformation” but have done very little to change their views on church leadership and their practice of making congregants dependant on their leadership.
PRAISE THE LORD!!! It seems my undereducation puts me in good company.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realised that they had been with Jesus.”
My hope would be that education would cease being a replacement for being with Jesus.
Ok. Since you insist no fellowship was broken because none existed, here goes one more attempt to get an answer.
By the way, your thinking you are in the company of Peter and Paul is quite intriguing considering by the positions you have clearly laid out in this conversation and others like it which I have read, you would certainly refuse to congregate with them because they would want to stand in front and “lead” the congregation, and you would see, according to your own telling of it, nothing but the back of someone’s head.
However, be that as it may, let me do one last thing: I will throw out the question I and the people from the other blog want you to answer, but which you consistently evade answering by throwing the issue back to the questioner’s supposed man-centered focus, and by inexplicably making a game-changing issue of the word “interpretation” being used instead of the word “understanding” , thinking that such verbal gymnastics baffle the brains of your readers.
Here we go for one last time. Will you answer the simple question that the world wants to know about the teachings of Onesimus: would you be willing to share, and by that I mean repeat and/or explain, the “understandings” which the Holy Spirit has given to you in respect to certain passages from the bible. Please don’t think you are answering the question by merely throwing the question back to the issue of how man-centered the questioner’s focus is. The question can be honestly answered without any reference to the understandings of others and without reference to your opinion of the questioner’s level of understanding or that of any other person . The question can be honestly answered without any reference whatsoever to anyone else besides you yourself. Please answer the question.
NO – please get it right.
I said according to YOUR definition of fellowship we were never in fellowship. Do you understand? Your definition being: “biblical fellowship involves physically being with other Christians”. You have dismissed the idea of fellowship by phone, email or letter – and I assume by blog.
You also said:
You put it beyond all doubt that the title of my blog post is exceptionally astute. You clearly don’t want to understand.
The whole issue is NOT about me or anyone else sharing with you what the Spirit has revealed. It is about YOU seeking the Spirit to obtain understanding of your OWN reading of scripture instead of looking to others to to spoon feed you.
The Spirit has given me a lot of insight into what I read in scripture and many of those insights have been shared on this and other blogs. I just don’t go around shouting THE SPIRIT SAID… or THE LORD TOLD ME. None of it is “earth shattering” – but it has shattered a lot of the false ideas I had acquired in the days when I spent too much time seeking men’s teachings and too little time seeking God and reading scripture for myself.
I share and then let others do what they want with the things I’ve shared – hopefully searching the scriptures for themselves instead of searching the commentaries.
Your constant insistance that I should reveal to you what the Spirit has revealed to me is just continual confirmation of your preference to have a man teach you than for you to seek God for yourself.
I’m not interested in “certain passages” taken in isolation. I don’t divide scripture into “certain passages” and try to dissect them. I’m more interested in what scripture reveals about God and His ways – what are His intentions and where does mankind fit into His plans.
In concentrating on “certain passages” it is so easy to miss the overall context of which those “certain passages” are a part.
The later division of scripture into chapters and verses helped to take attention away from why whole books were written and how those books fit into the whole revelation of scripture. It is easy to become impressively adept with “certain passages” – even memorising favoured texts that seem to support a favoured theology – without recognising the context of those texts. And so often the context gives those passages a completely different meaning to the interpretations that are projected onto them when they are considered in isolation.
…………….”Your constant insistance that I should reveal to you what the Spirit has revealed to me is just continual confirmation of your preference to have a man teach you than for you to seek God for yourself.”……….
No its not!! You said that to the commenter on the other blog as well! Asking what understanding the Holy Spirit gave you on certain passages is not having a “preference” to have a man teach me anything. The Holy Spirit is not a man! So how can your being requested to tell of the understandings given directly by the Spirit be showing a preference for man’s teachings? You are not making sense.
It is asking a question, not having a preference. The asking of the question says nothing at all about my or the commenter’s preferences. It also says NOTHING AT ALL about whether or not the Holy Spirit gives US understandings as well as to you. It merely is a logical question which arises when someone goes on a blog and claims to have received Holy Spirit biblical understandings. You are the one who went on his blog and explained that understandings are given to you about bible passages by the Holy Spirit.
I can tell you that this has happened to me as well (that I have been given Spirit-led understandings about bible passages.) But if someone asked me for the understandings given to me by the Spirit, I would as gracefully as possible answer the question and pass on the understandings given to me by the Spirit. I would not fell any need to castigate the asker about being man-centered, I would joyfully share what I had been graced to receive from the Spirit. Why would I even consider being reluctant to share such understandings, or worse, turn it against the asker in a manner designed to belittle the person? I would be honored to answer him.
Because you are continually showing preference for a man to tell you what the Holy Spirit has revealed to HIM instead of seeking what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to YOU at a particular time.
What the Holy Spirit reveals to me about my walk with God would probably be totally irrelevant to you.
Also what the Spirit reveals to me might have been blatantly obvious to you for years and therefore won’t seem like anything significant.
Or at the other end of the scale, you might not be ready to understand what He has shown me and you’d reject it out of hand. (As you are doing with this issue of trusting the Spirit’s teaching above man’s teaching).
You need to seek God for yourself, not through other people. He knows where you are at – your level of maturity and your ability to understand. He responds according to YOU and where YOU are.
But the reality is you are not genuinely asking for understanding about any particular matter or even a particular aspect of scripture. You are trying to make me give proof of understanding that the Spirit has given, as if I can randomly pull some Spirit-given understanding out of its context (the context being MY life and my study) and have it make sense to you right now. Refer again to my comments above.
Oh what “dangerously undereducated man” I am! What a belittling thing to say…
So the Spirit gives different “understandings” about scripture to different people? Or am I misquoting you. That honestly is what I took away from that comment. Please correct me if I misunderstood.
The belittling began with your title to this article.
……………”But the reality is you are not genuinely asking for understanding about any particular matter or even a particular aspect of scripture.”…………….
Yes actually I am. It took me quite a number of tries to ascertain if you were willing to answer because you seemed more intent on scolding me and the others for our man-centered focus than in actually answering anything I or the other people on Derek Leman’s blog were asking you. But I would like you to reveal what the spirit has led you to believe concerning the issue that came up on Derek’s blog, i.e. the issue of free will versus predestination. The answer you gave during the discussion of the debate in church circles of these two opposing doctrinal stances was I quote: ………………..”I’d say the debate was dead before it even started – but men were too much in love with their traditions to hear what the Spirit had to say.”……………
Please tell me what this means, “the debate was dead before it even began” . And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can feel free to add in your spiritual understanding of both sides of the debate and where you stand.
………………..”What the Holy Spirit reveals to me about my walk with God would probably be totally irrelevant to you”. ………………..
The entirety of this discussion, as well as the discussion on Derek Leman’s blog, never once touched upon what the Holy spirit reveals to you about your walk with God. That topic has not come up until you just threw it out now. Nobody, neither me nor the people at the other blog, were in any way inquiring about anything to do with Holy Spirit revelation concerning your walk with God. You know quite well all of this discussion has been directly focused upon Holy Spirit-revealed scriptural understandings.
…………………” you might not be ready to understand what He has shown me and you’d reject it out of hand.”……..
Again, you stray far from the topic. The topic was scriptural understanding. If you are saying God wants you to have a different level of understanding what the bible teaches than what others have, then that in itself is an unscriptural belief.
I know nothing about you so I don’t know your family situation. But for the purposes of illustration let me assume you have at least two children. Would your conversations with both children be identical all of the time. Would you always deal with both children exactly the same despite differing ages, different gender and different areas of interest? Or would you tailor your communication to suit each child.
Of course, in those relationships you are not offering contradictory messages. You are not telling the first child one thing and the second child the opposite. You don’t compromise or change the truth but you deal with each child according to their ability to comprehend.
The Spirit deals with us in the same way. Same truth, but we are all at different levels of maturity and need and are addressed accordingly.
So that’s what it comes down to – you want to bring up your Calvinist theology.
This topic is something I looked into quite a lot because of my friend the Calvinist minister whose church I used to attend. I looked up the opinions of several commentators trying to get some clarity, but found very little to convince me of either side of the never ending argument. So I did what should have been done from the beginning.
I went to scripture for myself and found that the Calvinist argument could only be supported by taking individual texts out of their context and ignoring the general overview of what scripture was revealing of God and His purposes.
Man has as much “free will” as God gave him. Enough “free will” for God’s purposes to be fulfilled, so it is helpful to see what scripture says about God’s ultimate purpose: that is where is God taking creation and man? Where is it all heading? What is the very LAST thing that scripture reveals regarding the “timeline” of history? What is the last “event”?
As for predestination, Ephesians 1 show us that predestination relates to those who are IN CHRIST. Ephesians 1 also tells us how someone becomes “In Christ”.
I wrote the following about four years ago and note how Ephesians 1 also addresses what God’s ultimate purpose is:
What is important about “scriptural understandings” if divorced from our personal walk with God?
What is important to you? The mere amassing of theological information worked out of (or maybe into) scripture?
I have no interest in gaining biblical knowledge for the sake of having knowledge.
Also your statement here has me shaking my head in disbelief:
I have NOT said that God wants me to have a different level of understanding – I was saying that we DO ALL have different levels of understanding and that the Spirit deals with us on that basis, taking into account what we already understand.
Again, this is answering a question that was never asked. I have repeatedly (I think we’re up to 5 or 6 times now) clarified that my asking is solely about, and very specifically about, Holy Spirit-revealed understandings of scripture. Again, you were the one posting on both your blog and others, that the Holy Spirit gives you understandings directly pertaining to scripture. This forms part of your stance that those new to Christianity should not read bible commentaries, nor should they listen to sermons. You were evasive about answering this directly at Derek Leman’s blog, and you are evasive about answering me here.
You don’t have to know a thing about my family situation to answer my question, which was a model of simplicity and could not have been stated more clearly.
…………………”Would you always deal with both children exactly the same despite differing ages, different gender and different areas of interest? Or would you tailor your communication to suit each child.”…………………..
We are not concerned in this discussion about God’s “dealing” with us. Of course no sensible person would ask you about what God reveals to you about such personal matters as his “dealing” with someone, which would vary greatly from one person to the next. But I don’t get how scriptural understanding would vary from person to person, and you seem to confirm that in your answer. I believe scriptural meaning is fixed and rigid, and has not varied one iota since the Canon was closed. As such, when the Holy spirit reveals a scriptural understanding to me, it is quite easy for me to pass that understanding to anyone who asks, and I have zero reluctance to do so.
I repeat what I have just posted but in a slightly different way. Where is the value in “scriptural understandings” if they are not relevant to our personal walk with God?
And contrary to what you say. I AM concerned in this discussion about God’s dealings with us. That is ALL that is important. If you are not concerned with that you are totally free to continue seeking man to amass your “scriptural” knowledge.
Thank you letting me know that your interest in “understanding” scripture has a different focus to mine.
I am seeing more clearly that your concerns and mine are aimed in totally different directions so maybe further discussion on this matter is pointless.
you said: “But I don’t get how scriptural understanding would vary from person to person,”
In the same way mathematical understanding varies from person to person. A person’s ability to understand does not negate the truth, but it does limit what they are able to comprehend about that unchangeable truth at a particular time. It would be pointless for a math teacher to introduce kindergarten kids to complex equations.
Like wise the Holy Spirit will not introduce people to spiritual truths that they aren’t ready for.
I was wondering why I was having a deja vu experiecne, then I saw that I’d already addressed this very same thing a few comments ago. (see comment 18)
……………………………”What is important about “scriptural understandings” if divorced from our personal walk with God?”……………………….
Scriptural understandings are what are preached and taught according to God’s plan for redemption. The seeming “foolishness” of the gospel, preached by humble, simple preachers, is the formula ordained at the beginning of time for man’s salvation. We are to teach and preach the gospel to all in all nations to whoever will listen. We need not concern ourselves with the status of any individual’s walk. It is enough that we preach the gospel, in order that the Holy Spirit then enters those who are ready to receive the message preached, and begins the work of regeneration. We are not biblically called to know who among those we preach to are receptive to the gospel message or who are not, nor are we called to know anything about the status of any individual’s walk.
I don’t see why you insist in linking immutable truths of the bible with the status of any person’s walk, as if one depended on the other. Our walk is changeable, while biblical truths are not.
We need to concern ourselves with OUR individual walk and OUR individual relationship with God.
We can know every “immutable truth” there is, but without relationship with God nothing is of value.
I would like to point out a couple things concerning the conversation at that other site. For one, there is a writer there very much against anything Onesimus had to say who, nevertheless, ALSO said he left the institutional church. Maybe the problem with churches isn’t Onesimus?
Secondly, I think something from the opening article is being applied to Onesimus mistakenly…
Following, here, is part of the opening article… and I agree with it in some contexts or with regard to some people (but don’t see it as what Tim is wanting or doing): *Some people pretend like their ideas about God are direct, as if they skipped the process of interpretation and got direct divine revelation from reading a Bible verse. These same people are usually unaware of other Bible verses which address the same theme, often with varying perspectives. Their idea is “from God” and apparently no interpretation was involved. If really pressed, some people will resort to language which borders on blasphemy, saying, “God showed me.” They seem oblivious to the fact that they are claiming to be prophets, to have received a divine word. They would not be likely to appreciate us countering with Deuteronomy 18:20!*
A person reading the Bible and understanding it is not attempting, thereby and in itself, to prophesy or to draw attention to himself by pretending to do so. And I hope simply reading the Bible with the idea that it’s not completely obscure is not now to be taken as bringing new messages from God. Sometimes, though, a corrected message (such as Messianic) can seem new; I would think this could be obvious to people reading in Messianic-friendly venues.
We are, frustratingly, in the situation that even if someone does say they are interpreting or construing or they have studied or whatever, it doesn’t solve the problem. Still, we have to read for ourselves and be as familiar as we have the energy for which to apply ourselves so as to evaluate what anyone — EVER — says to us. But saying we should read isn’t complex; indeed the simplicity of the idea seems to perplex many people. I would only say we need to have some clues about history or setting as well (which, I have found, confirm or are confirmed by indications in the apostolic writings too that we can see for ourselves).
Handing down the Greek and Hebrew matter as well, even if they are not always needed in daily interaction. From time to time we find something has been added which is not to be found in the transcript itself. Personally, I found one of these spots (not looking for it or expecting to at all) while simply reading (not looking at Greek). I don’t see that as making me a prophet to be judged. I was seeing the plain sense and logic of what I was reading and saw that a tid-bit didn’t fit, didn’t make sense with the rest of the book. Later, I found I saw it right.
It is not either/or. Understanding the bible has great value to people of all different stages and status in their walk with God.
Of course understanding the bible has great value for ALL – but it has to be understanding of the BIBLE – not someone else’s claims about the bible. But more important than understanding the Bible is gaining an understanding of the one the Bible reveals: GOD.
The Bible should not be the focus. Our focus should be GOD and the Bible is the tool He has provided to reveal Himself and His purposes.
As I’ve said all along, the Holy Spirit deals with us AS WE ARE – according to our ability to understand and won’t push us to understand things we are not ready for.
Our probelm is often that we want to know everything now – whether we are ready for it or not and therefore seek answers from sources other than scripture. The best way to learn and gain understanding of what scripture reveals is to go to scripture ourselves.
One of the points I have tried to make at various times is that understanding scripture isn’t as hard as many seem to make out. A lot of our difficulties come from the fact that we are unfamiliar with most of it. For example, we often need to know more about something in the OT before part of the NT makes sense to us. Part of the answer is to increase our familiarity with scripture by reading it for ourselves. (all of it – not just select parts).
I have accepted the fact that I won’t understand everything I read and I’m comfortable with that. I trust that the Holy Spirit will help me understand those things I’m ready for – and that He’ll make other things clearer at a later stage, possibly on subsequent readings.
I find it strange that someone who reads part of scripture and claims sudden understanding of it through being given insight by the Spirit can be written of disparagingly and compared to a false prophet. It seems to me that a living and active God is being ruled out of the picture altogether. That our own intellectual abilities deem Him unnecessary because “interpretation” is what is required when we address scripture, not revelation.
I agree Marleen that some information about history and setting are valuable in understanding scripture. But those tools are far different from having someone interpreting scripture for us – often telling us why it doesn’t really mean what the words on the page seem to be saying.
I know from my own experience, when armed with a commentary or a “study bible” it is so easy to spend more time with the notes “interpreting” scripture than with scripture itself: but we still come away thinking we’ve done some bible study.
We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
There is one and only one true understanding of each part of the bible. No matter how much you desire to link understanding this truth to stages of one’s walk, there is no such link. Any person at any stage in his or her walk can understand any part of the bible.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over that statement – probably the latter because I know you weren’t joking.
In all seriousness that is one of the most ill-informed statements I’ve ever come across. It is frightening to know someone could actually believe it.
So according to you a new believer could be referred to a portion of Revelation, Ezekiel, or one of the other prophets and could understand it without having any knowledge of the rest of scripture?
Or do you really mean “Any person at any stage in his or her walk can be MADE to understand any part of the bible” if subjected to a suitably convincing teacher?
Of course that understanding would require the new believer to accept the teacher’s word at face value since they themselves don’t yet have the maturity or experience to test what the teacher said.
Not condescending or belittling in the slightest!!!! Even those with NO relationship with God can have a deep understanding of scripture. Methinks your laughter is sourced from your ignorance.
As I said, I realise crying is the most appropriate response because your comment wasn’t a joke.
Methinks you are heading for serious spiritual problems if you really believe those two statements.
End of “discussion”!
Quote: ……………”I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over that statement – probably the latter because I know you weren’t joking”………………
Thanks for showing your true side to all your readers. I hope they get to read this before its taken down. Folks, run whenever you see the “mocking spirit” show its fangs.
Quote; ……………………”So according to you a new believer could be referred to a portion of Revelation, Ezekiel, or one of the other prophets and could understand it without having any knowledge of the rest of scripture?…………………”
Did I say anything even remotely close to that? Who said anything about being given only a fraction of scripture? What are you talking about?
Who said that the “stage” of a Christian’s walk with the Lord had any direct correlation to how long he has been professing to be a believer? You apparently are a believer by your own confirmation for what I think you said was 25 years, but you are still in the baby steps of understanding scripture, if even that much could be said. Anyone who doesn’t know the bible sets the clear standard that we are to attend church as members in worship and communion with others is at about the same level as my atheist neighbor in scriptural understanding.
And someone who has been a Christian for a very short time could pick up biblical tenets very quickly with the aid of the Holy Spirit. (Isn’t that the foundation of what you teach others – that we learn scripture by listening to the Holy Spirit?)
………………………”Methinks you are heading for serious spiritual problems if you really believe those two statements”……………………..
You mock the “crazy idea” that one with no relationship with God could have a good understanding of the bible? I know of Muslims who know the Bible very well. Scripture even tells us that Satan is very knowledgeable about the scriptures. But mocking is the fruit of the mocking spirit, and so shall it ever be.
FOLKS WHO ARE READING THIS “Please wake up. This man basically with one or two days or weeks of exceptions, hasn’t even attended church for 25 years and he’s trying to be your Christian spiritual guide. This man will lead you right into the abyss if you don’t smarten up and see the deception. Just read the mocking self-righteous tone he exhibits in all his writings. If any of you readers have actually stopped attending church because of the man’s writings, I strongly implore you to delete this man’s blog from your bookmarks immediately, and find yourself a good Christian church and join it and begin worshipping the Lord in a church setting and fellowshipping A.S.A.P!! As your final proof, just review the remarks he makes, both on this blog, and follow the link to Derek Leman’s blog at the top of this page and read the comments he made there. And finally, let this man’s final remarks to my comments here be your guide as to whether he is a real Christian or not. God be with you.
Being knowledgeable about the scriptures is far different from the “deep understanding of scripture” that you earlier said was possible.
Considering I have to pass all comments made on this blog through moderation (and I passed this one) your fear of your comment being “taken down” is unfounded. I’m more than pleased to let any visiting readers see your claims and accusations. So any “FOLKS WHO ARE READING THIS” are free to read what you and I have said (and my other writings on this blog) and make their own assessment. I’ve spent more than enough time with you addressing the same thing over and over again.
And by the way, your claim that I haven’t “attended church” with “one or two days or weeks of exceptions” in 25 years is a falsehood (a lie in other words), even taking your idea of church to mean something constructed of “bricks and mortar”. And moving to a more accurate view of church which relates to PEOPLE – I’ve never stopped being PART of the church and have never ceased being in REGULAR fellowship with other believers. My situation has been made clear on this blog and elsewhere.
As I said earlier “End of Discussion”.
Extremely microscopic differences blown up to be “game-changing” differences by you:
……The term “Knowledgeable about” versus the term “deep understanding of” ……….. yawn……..
……The term “interpretation” caused a flareup… Instead I should have said “understanding”……yawn
……….My term “can understand the bible” versus your term “can be MADE to understand the bible” caused an outbreak of mockery on your part……….yawn…….
……Stating in general terms the general idea that you, give or take a small amount of time, went 25 years with little or no church attendance” versus your actual stated version of “Those 15 years away from all Christian contact”. …………yawn………
Yes, such humungous, mind-blowing, galling misrepresentations. You poor soul. This “proves” I’m a liar, surely.
Did you say anything remotely like that? Well …
Gee, what an outrageous viewpoint I had. Yes, I said:….”.Any person at any stage in his or her walk can understand any part of the bible.” Some learn scripture early on and others take a longer time to learn. All can be assisted at any stage by the Holy Spirit, who will not hold back understanding to a seeker because they are “too new” and thus he would be unable to teach them. Others, like yourself, linger for decades on the edges of the faith, so blind they cannot see even the Old Testament foundational cournerstone of the temple being the place of worship and the New Covenant constructs put in place by Paul and the apostles, not the least of which is the construct of church being a physical location.
I’m pretty sure when Paul and his associates literally risked their lives for years to travel to foreign lands and plant physical churches, they didn’t follow your carnal constructs in setting up what was to be the church of Christ. I’m pretty sure a group of leaders was set in place with a very distinct hierarchy. Do you think they gave strict instructions that no one in particular was to lead worship and preaching? Do you think the early church attendees sat in a circular powwow configuration and the one with the loudest voice and the most boisterous personality would just call out worship and preaching from where he sat, and that no one in leadership was there to vet the doctrine espoused in this manner?
The truth is Paul fought hard against your constructs of what the church should be. It took him two pivotal letters and who knows how many trips to Corinth to quell the chaos in Corinth from exactly this same kind of meandering, rudderless “communal” leadership that took hold. And your view is we should return to that as our model of church experience? Yes, God forbid we should sit in rows, and submit ourselves to actual “teaching” and actual “preaching” from a ….(gasp, choke)…. HUMAN. And to add to all the insult, a human who actually stands in front. (Oh, the horror of it all.)
Churches under your constructs would be quite like elementary school classrooms when the teacher has to step out for a moment, and chaos reigns until the return of the teacher.
Well, I consider myself blessed to know that the person disagreeing with me is someone who hasn’t yet figured out the foundational biblical construct of believers worship. The truly sad part is thinking of how many readers are taking all these “no man” teachings in and then implementing them in their own lives. I have done all I can to draw the reader back to scripture, and no more can be done here.
When I regard what the savior has done for us, in sending his own Son to be nailed to a cross to redeem us from the death state caused by sin, and I see how many who profess to be Christian just egotistically and pridefully snub regular worship with others in a true physical church setting, some for the ludicrous reason of not wanting to sit under “leadership,” it is a true tragedy. The church will go on. You will be repaid in kind at a future time known only by God. You and those who follow you will be the losers, and there is everything in the world at stake for you.
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For the time being I’m passing your persistant stream of long comments through moderation.
Anyone who happens to look in here can therefore weigh up what you have to say for themselves and decide why a few sentences I wrote on another blog (about me leaving the institutional church) has “inspired” you to write so much here. They can also asses the attitudes being displayed.
What in the world is going on with a person who calls himself Messianic (the blogger who’s site it was) but reacts like he did to what you said? Somehow, it’s important to get regular doses of Augustine and other church fathers? Somehow, your saying it’s good to take advantage of “the wisdom of men” but not to “put it ahead of relationship with God Himself” is a jarring piece of advice? And who is this person (Mr.Ellis) who was reading at a purportedly Messianic site, but is all about going to CHURCH (not the only way to be in fellowship even with bricks around)?
And the man who first posted in the comments (and who referred you to the site) himself is struggling with the wisdom of men that he encounters when HE goes to church. This is all very “twilight zone” but (?)real(?). As for me, I have been encouraging when the latter person has shared something good that the pastor where he goes demonstrated thoughtfulness (and have never said anything about not going to the place or bad about the guy). I’ll spare following through on linking to the site of said person, but I do hope he’s really thinking this all through.
And here is what Onesimus said, minus a sentence that identifies who suggested he (Tim) take a look at the site.
“The wisdom of men” and “relying on the Holy Spirit” often ARE mutually exclusive – but they don’t need to be.
Unfortunately we are too often led to believe that the “average” believer is incapable of “relying on the Holy Spirit” and needs to trust ENTIRELY on the wisdom of suitably trained and ordained leaders. As a result churches are full of passive congregants who take in what they are taught without question, while the “leaders” pass on what they were taught of their own denomination’s “theology” in seminary/college.
When we look at the diversity of contradictory views throughout the many denominational organisations, can we ask ourselves where the (often serious) disagreements come from? Do they come from God or man?
Why are we so keen to cling to man’s teachings and so resistant to the idea that the Holy Spirit has been given to teach followers of Jesus?
By all means take advantage of “the wisdom of men” – but don’t put it ahead of relationship with God Himself, don’t make it a substitute for the wisdom of the Spirit or we’ll end up merely following teachings that soothe our itching ears. And in following the “wisdom of men” shouldn’t we be confident that those men are themselves Spirit led rather than merely college trained to support denominational doctrine ?
“In Christianity, the commentaries and theologies of great teachers and thinkers have been passed down, building on one another for two thousand years.”
And look at the theological mess that has resulted – including most of the “church” holding to replacement theology.*
Derek said, *My rebuttal: the problem is not tradition, but the evil inclination which afflicts all humanity, individuals AND groups.*
Why is that seen as a rebuttal? As if tradition can’t be/isn’t ever/has never been shown to be an outgrowth of that evil inclination?
It’s amazing how what I actually said was mostly ignored and the responses were directed at only PART of what I wrote – even to the degree of ignoring half of sentences.
As for Mr Ellis, other wise identified as “endtimedelusion”, I suspect he went to that messianic site a the link I gave on my blog, (I think Ellis has been following my blog for a while). And then he took exception to one sentence of a comment I made on that messianic blog about me leaving the institutional church. After that he came to make a long string of comments here to show his disapproval.
I agree, I’d be inclined to see that most religious tradition comes OUT OF “the evil inclination which afflicts all humanity”, and is not a separate issue.
That is not to say ALL tradition is wrong, but it is dangerous to accept anything merely because it’s been handed down from “respected” authorities. Ultimately we all have responsibility for whatever teaching we accept (and especially any teaching we pass on) and we should test everything.