If you read my last post, I left you down the proverbial rabbit hole on the problems with being taught what to think as opposed to how to think. Today, we’ll begin working ourselves back out and into the light of knowing truth–particularly, knowing God.
And here’s the theological rabbit hole we’ve found ourselves in.
I said last time that if logic and reason can get us to the truth, how do we find out something outside of ourselves while locked in space and time–especially, God?
In other words, how does Hamlet get to know Shakespeare? For they exist, if you will, in entirely different worlds. Can Hamlet even grasp that his world is limited to his scripting?
So, we need to come out of the Enlightenment mindset of not believing in what we don’t see. I think quantum science has blown that misguided notion up forever. Good riddance. Sorry, Sir Isaac Newton, we don’t live in a closed system.
Furthermore, we saw that what we call defending the “truth” is often defending our fallible interpretation of the infallible Word of God. This is why it’s a fallacy to think we will arrive at a flawless interpretation of Scripture through study alone.
These are the misguided notions of man, left to himself, eating off of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the self-imposed, closed system of our own thoughts and human reasoning. It’s really a subtle form of Christian humanism.
This is also why doctrine is not a good basis for unity in the Body of Christ. History proves that doctrinal agreement only divides us, sometimes violently—besides, it’s not how Jesus said we would be united anyway (John 17:21-26).
And no matter how inspired the Word of God is, when it’s read by uninspired minds, no matter how smart they may be, will just be words. Actually, it can make a person dangerously religious.
Again, this is why our Western philosophical Christian paradigm has failed us and is essentially non-functional in winning the hearts and minds of the world we find ourselves in today. I hope you realize that…and that it’s actually good news.
So here’s the question that will hopefully lead us out of this rabbit hole…
How did Jesus know things? Or His disciples? Or Paul?
Now, when we want to know things (or want to have spiritual authority), we go to school, seminary, we study, we get a degree, etc. All those things are good, but they don’t guarantee that we’ve truly learned how to know something–especially, God.
More to the point, is this how Jesus and His followers did it? After all, we’re wanting to be like Jesus, right?
Would you follow uneducated and untrained men who never studied?
So, how did Jesus know God, or even have spiritual authority, “having never studied” (John 7:15)? And how did Peter and John have authority and knowledge being “uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13)? What do you do with that?
Let me ask you this way.
Would you accept the teachings and even give your life for someone who never studied…receive “truth” from uneducated and untrained men?
Especially, when it seemed to contradict the prevailing theology of the day? Honestly, what would be our reaction to Jesus coming today and contradicting our tidy little Bible doctrines?
Come on now, what seminary did Jesus go to? I want to see His credentials! And who does He think He is telling the highly educated Pharisees that they were wrong?
Can you imagine the Jesus-basher blogs that would result from this stir? 🙂
Now, Paul was highly educated, but he was also all about killing Christians…that is, until he had an extreme encounter with Jesus.
Do you see what I mean?
Their basis of authority was that they knew God. We give degrees and ordination credentials.
And I am not saying that education is wrong or not useful, I’m just saying it isn’t how you know God or the spiritual things of God. It doesn’t give you actual spiritual authority either. And I realize that no one is saying it does but, implicitly, it does in our minds.
Natural things vs. spiritual things
We promote intellectual education, degrees and titles to give spiritual authority to what we know, mainly because we learned that way of knowing things from the Greek philosophers. But no matter how you look at it, it’s still Hamlet trying to cross the infinite gulf to understand Shakespeare. It’s still the natural mind trying to figure out a supernatural God.
Do you understand that the natural mind cannot know spiritual things. Period. Didn’t we get the memo? (1 Cor.2:14). The human mind makes a great servant but a poor master.
Shakespeare comes to live in Hamlet’s world!
The Old Testament prophets tell us that God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than ours. And this was true for everyone for thousands of years. God would visit occasionally, and talk through people, but we could not really know Him. We had no means of knowing Him. After all, we were Hamlet and He was Shakespeare.
But when Jesus took on flesh, God traversed this infinite gulf! Shakespeare entered into Hamlet’s world, not only becoming like him but living with him. God became a man. And for the first time in history we found out what it looks like for a human being to be able to know how God thinks, who lives in both His world and ours, and who accurately represents His heart toward us.
But it doesn’t end there. Jesus was also the prototype for a new model of humans who would be able to do the same! (2 Cor.5:17-21; Eph.2:6; Heb.2:10; 1 John 4:17)
Meet your new Teacher!
Paul, trying to show this monumental shift, quotes the Old Testament (1 Cor.2:9), but then goes on to say that something changed with the New Covenant. Specifically, because of the indwelling Spirit, He NOW reveals these things IN us–even the deep things of God! (1 Cor.2:10).
Which means, we can no longer say, “eye has not seen” nor “entered the heart of man…” That is ILLEGAL for a Christian to say! Our eye now CAN see, we now CAN know.
In fact, Paul concludes by saying “we have the mind of Christ!” (1 Cor.2:16).
Jesus said it this way (emphasis mine)…
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,
He will guide you into all truth…
14 He will glorify Me,
for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14)
Therefore, the eyes and ears we will see and hear with are not our natural ones, they are our spiritual eyes and ears. I wrote about this before…
The Word of God is not truly understood by study but by spiritual revelation. If study could get us there the Pharisees would’ve received Jesus as the truth, for all of Scripture reveals Christ.
It first requires faith, and faith is a matter of the heart not the mind. And after faith, the Spirit gives revelation.
Revelation must precede interpretation. Otherwise, it’s just information that we can be talked out of. But what God reveals to you belongs to you. Even the Old Covenant taught us this (Deut.29:29).
Your new Teacher lives inside you! As we saw in John, He has ALL information and is very willing to share it with you. Here’s what John said in His epistle…
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you,
and you do not need that anyone teach you;
but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things,
and is true, and is not a lie,
and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)
Get that? This anointing we received teaches us as we abide in Him! Welcome to Holy Spirit University (HSU). It’s always open and you never graduate!
Does that mean we don’t need human teachers? No, not at all. We need human leaders who are spiritually gifted to keep us on this path and equip us for ministry (Eph.4:11-12), but they shouldn’t be our source of learning.
What a good teacher actually does is confirm what God is saying in our spirit (we’ve called it “anointed teaching”). This is why we were not meant to grow up into Christ outside of the context of Christian community (Eph.4:13-16). But, again, not to be taught what to think but how to think, and learning how to properly exercise our spiritual senses.
Jesus came so that we could learn like He did by abiding in His grace and the love of the Father by the Spirit (2 Cor.13:14). So why do we think the learning processes that come to us from the likes of Plato or Aristotle are a better way?