Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Allowing The Spirit To Lead And Not Man

It is a shame that we have allowed some people to distort the beauty of the Church. From the very beginning man tried to put his own brand on her, exerting control where he had no right to control. The only control over the Church is that which Jesus possesses. We have put man's brand of leader/follower upon the radiant Bride of Christ but the fact remains that the only one we are to follow is Jesus Christ. We say this with words but in actual fact most people still follow some kind of leader, be it man, woman, or system.

Paul got after the Corinthians for lifting one Apostle above another. He told them that they had been given every Apostle for their benefit. When we read Ephesians 4 we realize that today's "leaders" were given, not to control the Church but to help, to guide, to train. The problem is that we would rather rely on a person than the Holy Spirit. It is easier to hear the voice of a man than that of the Holy Spirit. It is safer to allow someone else to be accountable for our spiritual condition than for us to be accountable.

Paul understood the importance of allowing Jesus to reveal himself to us directly, of receiving revelation of the mysteries of the Word ourselves. Yes, we need the guidance of our pastors and teachers. We are thankful for their hours of study and preparation. Hopefully they are getting direct revelation themselves and not borrowing someone else's but that does not take away the importance of us seeking divine revelation as well. They may tie some things together so the Spirit can take us deeper but regardless of what they teach, understanding comes by the Spirit of God. Paul reminded the Galatians of his terrible past, as he persecuted the Church, but he points out that it was not any man who revealed the truth to him and it was not any man who gave him his calling:

But when God, who set me apart from birth[a] and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15-17)

The only one controlling Paul was the Holy Spirit. As soon as Jesus was revealed to him he got to work preaching the Good News. For three years, before going up to Jerusalem to meet the other Apostles, Paul preached in Arabia and Damascus. When we read the account in Acts it sounds like Paul almost immediately went to Jerusalem but here we have his testimony that he enjoyed three years of ministry before going up.

I am not advocating that we all become wild and do what we want with no accountability. We need accountability to one another but especially to the Spirit. Paul was a deeply spiritual man, knowing the Word of God backward and forward. When Jesus was revealed to him he already had a depth of knowledge that gave him a deeper revelation of the truth once ignited by the Spirit. He immediately became obedient to the Spirit. Unfortunately most of us who go off with great passion go off half-cocked. If we were truly operating in the Spirit that would be great but often times we are operating in our flesh and we end up "killing" people. Paul received his training before he met Jesus. We often have to be trained after meeting Jesus. Even still, Paul did become accountable to the Antioch church as well as to God once Paul became established in Antioch.

My point is this: No man determines or controls our calling. We are accountable for our own obedience to the Spirit. We need to stop relying on people and see them as helpers, not controllers or bosses. They can point out what the Word says to help us, guide us, even protect us but they cannot use it to control and manipulate us. They are good trainers and guides if they simply show us the Word and then let the Spirit bring correction and greater revelation. Pastors are not suppose to build their own kingdoms, they are suppose to be building the Kingdom, which only has one King, Jesus Christ. To him we are faithful; to him we are obedient; to him we are accountable.

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