Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Spirit Gives Life

When the LORD saved me over 30 years ago, my first inclination was not to attend church somewhere. The Jonestown debacle had just happened and I knew I had nothing to go on to make sure I wouldn't end up in a dangerous cult somewhere. So I decided to hang tight - stay put - and just get to know the LORD Jesus Christ in His Word.

I did so for about six months and it wasn't until my sister came to Christ that on her suggestion we attended a church. By then I felt the LORD was giving me peace about doing so and fellowshiping with other believers. Since that time I have always had a church home to attend and a pastor to learn from as he taught verse-by-verse through the Bible.

All that changed earlier this year when the house church I belonged to imploded and shut down. Since then I have visited a couple of 'official' churches, with bad results. I would search church websites in the area and found no good leads for churches that weren't tainted with one deception or another. I've been forced to remain at home, studying God's Word with my adult children and listening to good teachers online.

By taking a step back I'm getting a better understanding of the big picture of the condition of the church and how much of the visible church has been so carnally minded and run more as a business than as a gathering for the saints.

I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul after his radical conversion on the road to Damascus had a similar impulse to get alone with God before joining in with the other apostles.

"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me...Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days." - Gal 1:15-18

In surveying the body of Christ from my vantage point, I can understand better some of the Scriptures that used to baffle me in my early walk with Jesus. This one came to mind lately:

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." - 2 Cor 3:5-6

I have seen friends arguing over interpretations of the Bible, trying to fit things into their own systematic theologies, putting a spin on vague passages in order to fit them into their own credos. It was an ugly scene to us onlookers to see men fighting like that over Bible mysteries that are beyond finding out this side of glory. I was reminded of this verse:

"Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers." - 2 Tim 2:14

I hadn't understood that warning until now. The author of the book, The Harlot Church System, Charles Newbold Jr., expressed the very thing I was seeing on page 3 (I'm not done reading the book):

"The carnal mind has no ability whatsoever to understand the things of God which are Spirit. When inspired things of God are reduced to rigid doctrines, systems of theology, reasoning and logic, they are no longer Spirit but have become flesh. And if flesh, then deception. The carnal mind is at total odds with the Spirit of God: it is hostile to God."

Praise the LORD that we are free from the letter of the law as we feed upon the Living Word and are nourished by God's Manna for our spirits. When we lean unto our own understanding and try to fit the Word of God into a system, we've passed from sowing to the Spirit and are indeed sowing to the flesh.

"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. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." - 1 Cor 2:12-16

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