Book Learning vs. God's Wisdom

 

A believer wrote:

Doesn't it just frost your freckles when you see man's intelligence put ahead of God's wisdom.

Sadly, we see this all too frequently in men who claim to be, and actually are, walking with Christ. A very dear friend, and long-time Baptist preacher who took his Th.D. in Systematic Theology, told me something that I likely never will forget. It goes something like this:

"First comes regeneration and faith; then comes theology."

This says to me that people believe all sorts of things in what they identify as "religion." That all of these cannot be the true faith is a given; but which of them holds the true faith? The answer is that no one holds the true faith or knows God's truth until his spirit that was born dead in sin is quickened and he is given the great gift of saving faith.

Unfortunately, not one of us who have been blessed with regeneration was given perfect knowledge and understanding of how that faith is to be understood and what it requires of us. Sure, we have the blessing of being the temple of the Holy Spirit, who helps and guides us, but does that mean that we have or can attain to perfect knowledge and understanding? I say not, and so does Paul

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
- 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 [My emphasis]

 When a dead spirit is regenerated and becomes a child of God by adoption, he is like a baby in the world – he knows little and functions primarily on instinct. This is the beginning of the life-long process of sanctification – of growing in holiness. As he matures in the faith, hopefully he heeds the guidance of the Holy Spirit and takes hold of God's truth and is guided by it. Sadly, even as there are willful children, so also are there to be found within the body Body of Christ those who are led by their own understanding. None of us is perfect in our understanding or walk in faith, so I contend that to demand perfection of others is inappropriate.

Should we demand perfection of others, to what standard do we hold them? Some say that the standard of faith is the Bible. What Bible are they thinking of? Since not one of us is perfect, nor possesses perfect knowledge, are we not holding up our own interpretation of the Word of God as the standard against others are to be measured?

Some, perhaps the great majority, of people we encounter during our walk in faith clearly are not called to salvation and, at the moment we encounter them, are doomed to eternal condemnation. Some we encounter are, as I once was, bitter enemies of God and any who stand with Him. Scripture does not require that we devote all of our effort and attention to wrestling with such people over beliefs. In fact, we are told to turn aside from them after a few admonitions if they choose to continue in idle disputing. I do this and recommend to those who ask me that they do the same. First, however, I try to shine a bit of light into the darkness in which they wander. This is, I believe, what is required of us – that we confront error in love, seeking to help the other. This is, I also believe, a way that Paul understood the word translated as “charity” in the Corinthians passage I quoted above.

On the other hand, just as there are poisons so powerful that a single drop in a public water supply might kill thousands, so are there flawed interpretations/heresies that can poison the understanding of thousands of those who are only as infants in their sanctification progress. These should be addressed as soon as they become apparent. Even then, I believe, Christian charity requires that we make an effort to help those who hold to these errors to seek God's truth by prayer, sound exegesis and prayerful study of the Scriptures. Should they fail even to make the attempt, then I say they are to be cast out. Then, the reasons for that action should be made clear to those who might not understand.

Always and ever, I believe that those who walk in Christ's footsteps should bear in mind that it is not we who bring anyone to salvation. This is the sovereign work of God alone. He is able to work this miracle of Divine love at any time. The second thief hanging on the cross at Jesus' side received regeneration, saving faith and adoption into the Body of Christ in the final moments of his life on earth. I was called into the Light after 50 years of walking in Egypt. So can anyone with whom we come in contact.

I try very hard not to stumble someone who may be newly born in Christ who is taking his first baby steps toward sanctification. I do not always manage to do this. It is not always easy for me to distinguish between a servant of Satan and a newly-regenerated servant of God. And so I choose often to not associate or interact with those who trigger a “need” for doctrinal response.

Ultimately, it is God, not me, who determines who is a joint-heir with Christ.

 

Home | More Odds & Ends | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum
(C) 1994-2008 Ron Loeffler