The Word of Truth
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Looking to Man or God
There is a truth that does not seem to be accepted generally and it seems to be the cause of a lot of problems for me in person: “Holding Jesus as the only Head”—“Lord, King, Boss of the Church.” I am not sure if this is:
- my failing or it is a matter of individual consecration
- a cultural weakness
They can’t see. It is a fleshly failing, common to all mankind until inwardly changed. Even saved folks can’t see or only see dimly until their eyes are anointed with God’s eyesalve. In the scripture quoted above from Isaiah 56:10-12, the Bible tells us, “They are shepherds that cannot understand.” Almost all people cannot see Jesus as the Head to either accept or to reject; they don’t see because they can’t. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) They can’t even see the entire kingdom, much less its King. Since they can’t see the invisible, they focus on what they can see, and that is the fleshly nature of those who do trust in God. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God… But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:11,14) They speak of what they know (John 3:11), and what they know is twofold: (1) of the flesh as a natural human being, and (2) of the spirit as taught by whatever abides in their soul, generally a spirit of error, but occasionally some light from the true Spirit of God mixed with darkness.
It is flat out impossible to trust God for spiritual government in a meaningful and practical way without the following blessing in the life: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) This blessing is not just a good idea, just preferable; it is essential. Without it, one is utterly blind, a spiritual idiot. One is thinking, reasoning, and reacting from a frame of reference that is completely unconnected to spiritual realities.
It is not a matter of what we allow. If people do not have this blessing that produces the inner vision from a pure heart, they just cannot think any otherwise than they do. They just can’t. Teaching doesn’t bring the blessing. Lip service to the truth doesn’t bring the blessing. The only thing that changes things is a pure heart.
The saints here do not look to the ministry in the way that they would if they did not have pure hearts. Those who have not found this experience of inward purity still look to the other people without seeing God as they should and as is their privilege. We hold the experience of a pure heart before them. They blindly trust that we are following God. This is not good enough. You say to me, “It appears like people do not want to see and acknowledge the Kingship of Jesus, even though this has been taught for a number of years.” Beyond any doubt, they do not see or acknowledge the Kingship of Jesus; their hearts are not pure; the fruit from their lives proves the point. Teaching is not enough; insistence is not enough; only a pure heart will bring about the needed holding of the Head in appropriate reverence.
We need to abhor becoming a focal point personally to people just as Jesus did. When they would make Him king, he disappeared into the mountain to pray. When Barnabas and Paul were regarded as gods, they reacted as is recorded in Acts 14:14-15, “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.” Our abhorrence is part of our testimony. God forbid that we enter into that frame of mind that would attempt to use the fleshly exalted outlook in some way to “help” the people! As Brother Paul told the Corinthians brethren, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6) Notice that the brother says, “that ye might learn in us.” A whole lot of people think “above that which is written” of their ministers and other influential people. They hold people’s persons in admiration because of advantage. An unwise brother stated publicly to a ministerial couple, “I just want to give a [verbal] bouquet to the A——’s.” The brother replied publicly, “We don’t need it.” We want to constantly project the simple truth, which is that we are just common men. The only difference between us and others is the grace of God working unhindered in us. If they will let it work in them, God can use them, too.
This inward feeling of staying humbly in our lowly estate is more than just what pertains to the ministry. One of the things that bothers me about much of the Methodist ministry in the 1800’s and early 1900’s is the place given to a human feeling of great importance. I value their love for God and their light on being entirely sanctified and consecrated, but a certain trait keeps popping up. “Now, if you do these things, you will be a great Christian.” Whoa! Stop right there! A good Christian. An obedient Christian. But a great Christian? “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10)