Recently I have been confronted very sincerely by honest people who have questioned the revelations that I have been getting in understanding not only the bible, but also, the very character of God. The basic premise is this:
Many people who really have been studying the Bible (for probably much longer than I have) just cannot "see" the things that I am now speaking about. Of course, it is understandable for them to question whether or not I am really hearing from God, because they sure don't see things the way I do, and much of what I have been saying goes against most of what they have been taught in the traditional church. I would like to respond to this concern, and give a few insights that might help them understand.
Most of us go into bible study initially with what I will term "pre-conceived" ideas or notions or beliefs. We really can't help it. Folks lead us to Jesus in the way they have been taught to do it, or we grow up hearing a particular set of doctrines or beliefs, being preached in a church. When these things can be somehow "proved" to be in the Bible, then we say to ourselves, "Well, this must be true, because it's in the Bible". I know whereof I speak. My own "doctrine" has had to undergo several radical surgeries, even amputation in some places, because God has continually been teaching me and revealing things to me that destroyed my own assumptions about what I believed that God "meant" when He said a particular thing. Let me give you a vivid real-life example of this in action. (While most of this is absolutely true, a little bit of it was added to make my point.)
I was at my mother-in-laws one afternoon, and her best friend, and a couple of new acquaintances were also there.. (For imagery, we will say that one was a Christian lady from the deepest heart of a tribal village in Africa, and the other, a recently converted Christian "comedian".) As we sat around the table and visited, this friend looked at her watch, and said the following words: "I guess I had better go home now. I'm having the preacher for supper."
Do we all know just exactly what she meant? "Well, sure we do", you reply. Really? I bet not. The lady from the African village is a former CANNIBAL....and all she "sees" is that this nice christian lady has just announced that she is about to stick a preacher in a pot of boiling water, cook him till he's done, and serve him up with some new red potatoes and maybe some ketchup on the side. "I'M HAVING THE PREACHER FOR SUPPER". No, she didn't miss one single word, and she is SURE she knows what the lady meant....based on her own previous mindset and experience.
The comedian, on the other hand, is visualizing one of those 'Dean Martin Roasts', in which the guests of honor are mercilessly taunted, teased and heckled by Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, and Co. [You say, 'I would never do that'...Oh, really? I know lots of people who have "roasted preacher" every Sunday afternoon for lunch right along with their fried chicken...picking apart every word he said and every move he made while delivering the sermon]....(yeah, you have, too, and you know who you are...) "I'M HAVING THE PREACHER FOR SUPPER". No, she didn't miss one single word, and she is SURE she knows what the lady meant....based on her own previous mindset and experience.
My mother-in-law, who knows this lady very well, and is used to speaking to her quite regularly, also makes an assumption. She believes that the preacher has been invited over to this friend's house to dine with them, a gracious and hospitable gesture that is normal for this friend. "I'M HAVING THE PREACHER FOR SUPPER". No, she didn't miss one single word, and she is SURE she knows what the lady meant....based on her own previous mindset and experience.
So....who is "right" here? You cannot say that someone "twisted" the words, or that they just didn't hear them correctly. They all heard the very same exact words. However, because of their PRE-CONCEIVED notions as to what those words MEANT, they all discerned something different based on their own mindset. So, what is the solution here? These ladies could argue among themselves 'til Kingdom come that their own idea was the only right interpretation, but the only way to really know for sure what was meant by what was said, would be....ASK THE ONE WHO SAID IT. Further, if you do that, and you are shown to be wrong, then say so, repent, and move forward. This too, I know of, for I have had to do it more than I would like. Yes, it is hard, but once you do it a few times, it really does get easier. A humble and teachable spirit gets answers a lot quicker than one who says, "Well, I have been studying the Bible for years, and I know what the Bible says, and you are wrong". The Scribes and Pharisees also knew the scriptures, and guess what...THEY were the ones that were wrong. Don't let 'HIS-story' repeat itself in your life this way.
Theologians will tell you that if you use the proper "hermenuetics" (which is a fancy way to say 'rules of interpretation'), then you will always be able to "rightly divide the word of truth". HOWEVER....there is a very severe problem with this theory. That approach...that "method" for understanding the word of God....was not devised by God, nor is it set forth in the Bible as the proper way to discern the truth. It is nothing more than an "extra-biblical" tool invented by blind men that vividly illustrates the axiom that says "If you tell a lie often enough, it will eventually become the truth." As far as I can tell, there is only one way to determine what God means by what He says. I am sure you are familiar with these two verses of scripture, and so we will not quote them...John 14:17, and 16:13, give us the absolute plumb-line...that only the Holy Spirit can teach us the Truth. By the way, if this was true, (that people could know what the bible really meant only if they were thoroughly familiar with some off-the-wall and lame "rules" to interpret it by), then there would be some scripture somewhere that says, "Blessed are the smart and educated, for they will understand God", or "Cursed is the unlearned man, who has not been to seminary, for he will never know the Lord". Actually, one day God showed me how stupid the word "Theology" is to Him...the word really means the "Study about God with the logical mind" (kind of brings to mind the image of disecting a frog, doesn't it?). He has told us repeatedly that the natural (logical and reasoning="soulish") man CANNOT know God. This is not just speaking about those unsaved heathen out there, either. The church at Corinth was in the very same boat. Saved, but not yet spiritually-minded. "The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him" (I Cor.2:14)
Only the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God, and it takes the Holy Spirit revealing it to your spirit to make you understand it, and make it real to you. Sometimes, (many times, actually) God will totally destroy your theology, in favor of His. One of the requirements for God revealing things to you by the Holy Spirit is your willingness to be teachable. The second one is your willingness to "let go" of erroneous doctrine. If you are so "set" in anything that men have told you about God, His ways, and His Character and Nature, that you "will not be moved" from your position, then you are a prime candidate for just not understanding the things of the Spirit. If you are stubborn and proud and will not be teachable, then you will not be shown those things. It really is pretty simple: You cannot grasp the riches that God has to give you if your hands are full of bullsh**. Drop the crap, wash your hands, and be still and let Him teach you.
The second problem lies in the fact that most of today's Christians have no foundation in the teaching of the triune nature of man. They have no trouble accepting a "trinitarian" view of God, but when it comes to man, they think we have bodies, and souls, period. And that the terms "spirit" and "soul" are the same thing, interchangeable with one another. This is not so. There is a verse of scripture that comes to mind here to state that fact. Hebrews 4:12 makes the distinction pretty clearly.
Man was made in the very image of God, and God has three aspects...Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My understanding of this is that since the Holy Spirit is the (duh) Holy SPIRIT, then it would seem that that part of God is....spirit. Since Jesus came in the flesh, and God manifested Himself through this body, then it stands to reason that the body was Jesus. That leaves the "soul" of God to be manifested through the term "Father". Since we are all mostly able to agree that the soul is the "mind, heart and will", then I have no problem at all thinking that the "Father" aspect of God is indeed, His soul. Throughout the Bible there are various passages that speak of God's Spirit and His Soul as two separate things. Once we get the foundational idea that our spirits and our souls are NOT AT ALL the same, then we can move ahead, and try to define just what the difference is, and perhaps gain a clearer understanding from there.
The third problem is that is most christians are more than willing to accept the popular idea of "Well, God gave you a perfectly good mind, and so you should use it." Maybe you should....for dealing with some of the things of this world, like repairing a car, or grocery shopping, or building a house--such things that have to do with our living in this world. But.... the very first thing He did when you were born again was to "raise" your (previously) dead SPIRIT, and make you alive (in the inner man) by His Holy Spirit coming to dwell in you. You already had a soul working in you (a mind, a heart and a will), and so you shouldn't continue to "live" in it, uncleansed, and unrenewed. Ever after, all the things that God reveals to you and teaches you and says to you will be by "spirit to spirit" communication. Do not think that you are going to apprehend a totally SPIRITUAL God with that soulish mind (John 4:23 says to worship the Father in Spirit, and in truth) . Paul says for your mind to be renewed, but if you have no concept of spiritual matters, this won't ever happen. The best you can hope for is to take your carnal mind, whitewash it with "good" thoughts, and ideas, and try to pass it off as being "led by the Spirit". It is still nothing more than a part of your soul trying to rule you, and most people just flat cannot tell the difference. Basically what you wind up with this way is a lot of religious ideas, and no real life.
One thing you can know for sure. If God is speaking to you through His Spirit, then most probably, at first, you will find most of what He says to you to conflict with your beliefs and ideas. God is orderly, and even logical....but not by the standards of man, and God's logic is going to make you crazy until you come to know His character, and His ways. He will tell you the strangest things to do, and tell you not to do some things that seems perfectly logical and reasonable and acceptable to your mind.
Because so many people are unable to discern the soul from the spirit, they read and study the bible from a strictly "soulish" view point, and try to apprehend spiritual truths from a soulish perspective. This way is just not going to reveal deep spiritual things to the reader, but just give a "surface level understanding" of what they read. Jesus said that we need to build our house on the rock (of Him). Most contractors will tell you that you have to DIG DEEP to hit solid rock, and then build the house. If the Holy Spirit does not come, and illuminate the word from deep in your spirit-man, and tell you what He is saying, you will look at the bible in any one of a thousand other interpretations that all appeal to the Adamic nature. That is one reason why we have so many different denominations within the supposedly "one" Church today. Had the Spirit illuminated the word, we wouldn't have all these divisions, but when your soul does the interpreting, look out. This too, is also from experience. In the last few years, I have run across many people who gave up trying to figure out God by the stringent rules of their church creeds, and unyielding denominational dogmas, so they walked out, cast everything upon the Lord, and lo and behold, He began to show every one of them THE VERY SAME THINGS...with no division, no misunderstanding. You may not like this, and you probably won't believe it, but it is true nonetheless. I have seen it with my own eyes.
It is a scary thing to think that you might have to "let go" of some of your pet doctrines, in order for the Lord to begin teaching you TRUE Spiritual concepts and principles, but believe me....Paul was right when he said that all that he had known and done and been before Christ was rubbish. Remind yourselves here that Paul was not an "unbeliever" in God"...he was actually a very zealous man and highly religious, and devoted to the idea of God that he held. Jesus thoroughly destroyed EVERYTHING that Paul had ever been taught concerning God. Let go of "your doctrine", and come to the true and living Christ. Nothing can compare with the joy and life that is found in the Spirit. (By the way...you won't hear very many preachers touting Paul's approach to getting to know the Lord intimately. You know...leaving the "synagogue/church" of orthodox "Judaism/Christianity"....walking out into the wilderness...alone...for several years...no Bible...no church...no preacher...just Jesus. It might put more than a few out of the work of the ministry and into <gasp!> having to "make tents" for a living. God forbid that that should happen.)
One last thing. God showed me that the two who walked with Jesus along the road to Emmaus knew the scriptures before....but as they "walked" with Jesus, He alone, by the Spirit, opened these very scriptures up to them. Apparently, these very scriptures were previously closed to them, and it took the resurrected Christ, (who is Spirit) to EXPLAIN them. This was a literal action played out just for us on the dirt road to Emmaus to teach us something spiritual. IF we will "walk" with Jesus, for a long way, He will "OPEN THE SCRIPTURES TO US", and make us to understand by the spirit, and not by the letter, the flesh, or our soul-man. Stop and think about this for one minute. Jesus himself said to the disciples that He spoke to the multitudes in parables...but it was given to the faithful few disciples, who walked with Him continually, daily, and moment by moment, to understand those parables. (Notice also that the disciples/apostles were not selected from among the religious leadership of the day, but plain ordinary men that no one else "respected".) I don't think it was any accident that the majority "heard" His words, but only the few that were attached to Him at the hip really understood what He was teaching (and sometimes then, it was still hard)
I hope to expand on this later, but for now, this seems sufficient.
God bless you,