Life by the Spirit and the Gospel pt. 3
Last week we looked closely at our position as leaders and the freedom that comes as we follow the Holy Spirit. This week we will look at examples from scripture in preaching by the Holy Spirit and by the gospel.
We are told to go into the entire world and preach the gospel. We are told to do the work of an evangelist and preach the Word. What is the Word that we are told to preach? Do we know how differentiate between the written word of the Holy Scriptures and the Word of God as He speaks to us personally?
Let's start by looking at the lifestyle teachings of Jesus. How did He preach the Word and what did He teach His disciples. Did Jesus teach them doctrine? Or did Jesus teach them to believe in Who He was and in who they were because of Him? Did Jesus point to doing this or doing that as a means of obtaining salvation, or did He teach them about the Father and His great gifts of love.
Jesus upset the doctrines of the Jewish church by deliberately defying them. He healed on the Sabbath, He did not fast, He taught outside the church building and He publicly talked to women. He ate in the homes of the disreputable and disrupted the traditions of the past. He contradicted church leaders and publicly exposed their sins and hypocrisies. He cared for the common people, healing them, ministering to their broken hearts and loving on their children. He took time for the lepers, the unclean and the unwanted. Jesus did not teach His disciples doctrines – He taught them to love people and hate evil.
We as church leaders need to refocus our ministries to these same qualities. We need to be like Jesus, humbly submitting to the leadership of God's Holy Spirit as we go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil. Not attacking fellow believers because they believe differently than us in issues of doctrine.
2 Corinthians 5:10 says "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." The reason for judgment is God's ultimate love. Loving God in return perfects our behavior toward God and toward others. God's judgment will not be concerning doctrine issues. Whether a believer was baptized as a baby or as an adult does not make any difference in our salvation. I personally believe that even believers who were never baptized will still enter heaven. There are many religions in this world, perhaps even in some that receive this teaching letter, who adamantly believe contrary to this. I am using it as an example, not to teach whether my belief is right or wrong, but to illustrate that it does not matter to our salvation. Many believe in Jesus and are saved at the last moments of life, without ever following Jesus in water baptism. They are not kept from heaven based on the doctrine of water baptism. Does this imply that we are to ignore water baptism? Not at all … it is a matter of conviction by the Holy Spirit that we should follow when it is in our heart to obey the scriptural teachings of Jesus not because someone told us that we should do it in the course salvation.
In teaching these that God has given to us, we should rather focus on the power of God that resides on the inside of us when we were born again. To live our lives fully pleasing to God utilizing the gifts of His Spirit, allowing the fruit of His Spirit to be manifested in our love walk with God and with others. Living godly and holy lives and bearing fruit consistent with our new life in Him.
I love the book of Galatians especially to emphasize this truth. Living by the Spirit and being habitually led by the Spirit. Not living according to church doctrine and personal beliefs, but by the Ponder who Jesus was – not as a physical man, but as the Spirit of God made manifest in the flesh, and consider what John wrote about Him. "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God and the Word was God Himself … He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which belonged to Him (to His own – His domain, creation, world)…" John 1:1-11
Throughout the Bible, the authors (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) refer to the written word as the Gospel, the Holy Scriptures and the words of God. But the Word of God is Jesus. The Truth is found in the scriptures but the Truth Himself is the Holy Spirit who was sent after Jesus died.
What you are about to read may be very different from the doctrine you have held dear to you, but I beg you to read and then search the scriptures to see if they bear light to these truths. By understanding the distinctions made in the gospel itself, we will obtain greater freedom to grow spiritually and see the greater works of Jesus made manifested in our midst. I believe that the misunderstandings common to the current church doctrines have kept the church of our Lord Jesus, bound and without ability to see His Spirit manifested and glorified in our lives.
It is important to understand the distinction here because it makes a difference in our hearing from, receiving and obeying God. In Galatians chapter 5 verse 16 Paul tells us to "walk and live habitually) in the Holy Spirit (responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit);" Paul does not say walk and live habitually by the scriptures. The scriptures are our textbook, our encouragement, and our builders of faith. God approves us when we study them and they are undoubtedly alive and full of power. There is no one that cherishes and is devoted to the gospel as I am. And I am in no way attempting to discredit or minimize the importance of the bible! Please understand me here. The importance of this teaching is to shift the way we judge and govern our personal lives. If we live by the written words of God we will find conflicting instructions. If we attempt to live only by the written bible, we will make errors of judgment and will fall flat on our faces as we attempt to live by the scriptures therein. We must hide the word of God in our hearts so that we will not sin against God. But we must walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit, responsive to, controlled and guided by the Spirit. The Spirit will bear witness with the word, but the word alone is not sufficient to live by. This was the purpose of Jesus THE WORD saying that it was for our benefit that He go away so that THE SPIRIT would come. The Holy Spirit dwells in each believer. But unless each believer makes the choice to walk and live in the Holy Spirit, they are subject to a life governed solely by the words of God over the ages and will miss what the Spirit is saying to the church today. The written word, the Word Jesus and the Spirit are our absolutely necessary in order to wear the full armor of God and be able to stand against the onslaughts of this present evil world.
I want to give you some examples from the scriptures that will help to explain the importance of this teaching. >From the book of Galatians, I will attempt to reveal how we cannot govern our lives by the written word alone. I know that this will totally set so many of you free from the yokes and bondage of trying to live by and obey the scriptures when it wasn't appropriate. May the Lord bring His light to this path before your feet!
It is written (By the influence of the Holy Spirit and placed by God in His Holy bible) "Therefore do not forsake to assemble yourselves together…" In Galatians 1:16 Paul (under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writes a letter that God places in His Holy bible) "I did not confer with flesh and blood, did not consult or counsel with any frail human being or communicate with anyone, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was, but I went away and retired into Arabia and afterward I came back again to Damascus. Then three years later, I did go up to Jerusalem to become personally acquainted with Peter and remained with him fifteen days." It was then another fourteen years before Paul ever met with the apostles again.
Using this example, if the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth, were to call you to separate yourself from other believers and sit under His teaching alone, as He did for Paul, would you be able to obey and have the complete freedom and peace to do without condemnation from what you know the scripture teaches? And would others in the body of Christ allow you this freedom or would they judge you as a heretic and separate themselves from you? I challenge you to think this through. Was Paul in disobedience to the written word when he did not assemble with the others in the body of Christ? Let's continue reading …
"Submit therefore one to another" Ephesians is a book written by the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and chosen by God for His Holy Scriptures.
Galatians 2:5 "To them we did not yield submission even for a moment…" referring to "false brethren, some men who were Christians in name only who had been secretly smuggled in to the Christian brotherhood". In our church world today we are ignorantly taught that we must obey this admonition in Ephesians. Why didn't Paul obey it?
Authority from the apostles in Jerusalem Galatians 2:6 "…though what was their individual position and whether they really were of importance or not makes no difference to me. God is not impressed with the positions that men hold, He is not partial, He recognizes no external distinctions."
Note: When Paul went to them they had nothing to add to "My Gospel" (Paul) and from them I received no new suggestions. But when they SAW that I had been entrusted to carry the Gospel, they were agreeable. (They apparently judged him by fruit and not by what he said) They did not feel the need to become lord over him or have him come under their leadership. These men were so free in who they were in Christ that they apparently did not struggle with power and levels of authority. And obviously, Paul had no earthly mentor. I am not criticizing mentoring or even authority. It has its place. Again, I am just trying to help you think 'outside the box' to give you freedom when the Holy Spirit of Truth attempts to lead and guide you, that you do not take a scripture and attempt to pattern your decisions by it. Walking and living habitually in the Holy Spirit will require you to do and say some things that will seem to go against certain scriptures that we hold as rules to live by.
Learn from the lifestyle that Paul has chosen. The remaining 11 disciples walked with Jesus. Paul did not. Paul has come into this new life in Christ as a convert after the death and resurrection. Paul is the first Apostle to have learned to walk and live by the Holy Spirit. Look at the confidence that Paul has as he submits to the Holy Spirit and trust the leadership of the Spirit of Truth! Paul does not govern his life by the written words but by the Spirit. Paul knows God. Paul is an answer to the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17! Paul is one with the other believers as much as Jesus is with God. Paul is so free that he does not bind himself to the letter of the New Testament teachings. Read what Paul writes about his confidence that God is in charge over His Church. "He who motivated and fitted Peter and worked effectively through him for the mission to the circumcised also motivated and fitted me and worked through me also for the mission to the Gentiles" or the uncircumcised." When Paul took Titus, a Greek believer with him to Jerusalem, Vs 3 "all went well! Even Titus was not compelled (as some had anticipated) to be circumcised." Such freedom to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling! Vs 9 "And when they KNEW (perceived, recognized, understood and acknowledged) the grace that had been bestowed upon me…" they blessed Paul and conferred that he was called and used by God.
I know that you understand how important it is to get free! Free to do absolutely everything that the Father tells us to do and freedom to say absolutely everything that the Father is saying! Freedom to be Christ like and freedom to live without guilt and condemnation just because there is a scripture that seemingly contradicts His leadership. As long as you know God, as long as you truly know His nature and His righteousness, you will see how the individual scriptures that have been made doctrines cannot stand alone in the decisions we make and in the way we live our lives. The scriptures are not to govern our individual lives. The Holy Spirit alone is to be this to us. Habitually controlled and guided by the Spirit of Truth Who always and absolutely leads and guides us into all Truth.
Here's my last example and the one that I think causes the greatest trouble in the church world today ~ love. "Always expect the best of one another; turn the other cheek", etc. This will really set you free! ("Only do not let your freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse for selfishness, but through love you should serve one another.") I agree wholly with Jesus when He commanded that we love one another. This isn't debatable. But how we define that 'love' through church doctrines is often time's total bondage. Let's see how Paul walked in "love".
Galatians 2:11, Peter (a pillar of the Jerusalem church) is charged by Paul of hypocrisy, blamed and condemned publicly. The entire remainder of Galatians is the reprimand by Paul to Peter and to those who were not "living up to the truth" and to those who were "carried away by their hypocrisy" even to the naming and publicly identifying of Barnabas. Judge for yourself, is it considered 'love' in our modern day churches, to talk to one another this way? As part of the public reprimand Paul writes in Galatians 5:15 "But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you and your whole fellowship are not consumed by one another." Wow ~ does it seem to you that he is should be practicing what he preaches? Yes, it does seem that way, but when you know God and His nature, and when you understand how Paul is not saying this in his own selfishness, but rather by the leadership of the Holy Spirit you will see that he is not saying don't bite and devour one another – he's saying that as you do it, be careful that it doesn't lead to biting and consumption by the other party toward you. Ex: there is nowhere that leads us to believe Peter stood up and defended himself, he apparently did not argue or get mad. He apparently did not try to get even. He did not bite Paul back or attempt to consume him.
Galatians 5:20 Paul states that strife is a practice of the flesh and goes on to say in Vs 21 that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Obviously Paul does not believe that what he did to Peter and Barnabas was in strife. Rather, what Peter and Barnabas were doing was the strife! Paul was rescuing them from strife that would keep them from inheriting the kingdom of God.
Galatians 6:1 "… if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual (who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit) should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you be tempted also. The Holy Spirit by this demonstration in using the lives of Peter and Paul, shows how to put the book of Galatians into practical application in the church. Do what God is doing. Say what God is saying. Don't resist the leadership of the Holy Spirit if He is guiding you to do or say something that is contrary to the written scriptures. Once you know God and are sanctified by the Truth you are free to duplicate the lifestyle of Jesus with the greater works bearing fruit in your life! This is simple but profound Truth.
May you take these words to heart and meditate on them, searching the scriptures to judge the truths herein. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work truth in you, to the renewing of your mind. Rest for your soul. Have a light and easy week as you accomplish great things for His Kingdom!