I suspect the Lord tailors his teaching to our different capabilities of learning. But while the way we learn may be unique to each individual, the overall intent of the lesson will always be the same: an understanding that conforms to God’s nature and purposes that can be confirmed through a proper addressing of scripture.
But the intended outcome is never knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but deeper relationship with Him and others.
Throughout my Christian life I’ve learned a lot through experience, making a lot of mistakes and taking many wrong paths before stepping back to consider why things went so unexpectedly wrong.
Perhaps out of that, the most important thing the Lord has opened up to me is the need to test everything. What Paul wrote with regard to prophecy can be applied to all areas of revelation and learning: “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil”.
It’s very easy to be attracted by something “good” and then fall for something “evil” – IF we bypass the testing.
I think back around 30 years ago when I was hooked by word of faith teaching. The thing that caught my attention and drew me in was a LEGITIMATE understanding of faith.
A group of friends were bombarding me with arguments recommending the Copelands’ WOF teachings, and in the process (despite their arguments rather than because of them – and I wish I’d realised that at the time) I finally understood something about faith that took it out of the realm of wishful thinking and to a place of greater certainty.
I suddenly saw that Christian faith was simply believing God and His word even when sensory and intellectual evidence seemed to be “proving” something else.
That was the good and if I’d stopped there and studied the Word for myself I might have avoided the bad: a lot of false teaching that took me in a wrong direction. But instead of searching the scriptures for myself to develop my understanding, I searched the Copeland’s teachings and relied on the particular spin THEY placed on the “faith message”.
What I find disappointing now is that I could see that a large portion of their teaching was (at best) questionable, but I pushed my reservations aside.
I can now recognise that by taking that path I wasn’t really believing God and His word, (as per that revealed understanding of faith) I was “believing” what Copeland told me ABOUT God’s word, without actually checking it out for myself to see if he was addressing it correctly, according to its intended context.
I said above that Christian faith is simply believing God and His word. Yes it IS as simple as that. But what is not necessarily so simple is being sure that it is REALLY God and His Word that we are believing. It is extremely easy to pick up wrong ideas that create a distorted understanding of God, and that is where so much of WOF teaching is in error. Its view of God and his purposes are created out of selected parts of scripture, usually applied with no consideration for the intended context of those scripture portions.
It is essential that we develop an overview – an understanding of the broad scope of scripture, and not be satisfied with bits and pieces that seem to support what we want to believe.