The Word of God is not a silent Word. By His hand Jesus Christ brought everything into being from out of nothing. The whole universe is held together, upheld by His powerful Word, and in Him all things consist. We stand in creation as creatures designed for fellowship with the Triune God. Their delight by our willingness to participate in Them and with Them as we explore their universe can open up endless possibilities as we seek Them for the knowledge behind the intricate details of Their universe. As there is distinction between the Creator and the creature, there is also union and communion at a level far deeper than we can imagine. At the ground of our rationale is the rationale of the Son. The Son is the Source of all the ways and works of God Himself as the Creator of the universe. He does not stand outside and away from His creation. Jesus Christ has given humanity the privilege of having intimate contact with the very thoughts of God in Him. There is meaningful dialogue between the Creator and the creature regarding the truth behind all things. As we make ourselves aware of His presence and make ourselves listen to Him as we investigate in our theological and scientific endeavour, He can shed light on the answers we seek to matters that might otherwise baffle us.
The reason we are Christian is only because the One who is behind the universe has contacted us in a special and unique way that we heard for ourselves. The Word of Christ came to life in a very personal, intimate way and we responded to Him. For many of us, we carry on with life with many trying to convince us of the truth of Jesus Christ to no avail. Yet, when He intervened, we assented and responded to Him alone. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul who defied the testimony of Stephen and more than likely numerous others. Yet, it took Jesus of Nazareth to meet Paul personally on the road to Damascus in what can be described as nothing short of dramatic. There instances where this event Paul refers to as My revelation. What is this revelation he speaks about?
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”
Paul had the Son revealed in Him. He did not confer with flesh and blood and neither did he confer with those who were the apostles. Paul was a highly qualified Jew who immediately knew the implications of what had just happened. It was more than a physical encounter. His conclusion is the Son is in me. It took me seven years of searching as a Christian to come to the same conclusion: The Son is in me! and was already there even when I first realised seven years before. It was Jesus Christ who made this blind man see Him. The voice of the truth came ultimately from within, the One from beyond, the Truth of all truths.
If we read all of Paul’s letters with his revelation in mind, we find there are many instances of where Paul does not make an appeal to listen to what he says because he says it. Instead, he appeals to the truth he knows to be established within each of the people in the churches of the various provinces. I believe in retelling his experience of his personal encounter with Jesus Christ was not only Paul’s mark of his authority as an apostle but also an example of what happens at varying degrees to all those who become believers. The revelation of Jesus Christ comes from within us. What is declared of Him by those around us at some mysterious point in time rings true with the Spirit of Christ within us. Our openness and assent to Jesus Christ is ultimately the Spirit at work.
For many of us, we were led to believe a story that is often not consistent with the actual life changing encounter we have with Jesus Christ. When we are so vulnerable, people step in and tell us what to believe, how to live and even what to say. Of course we become dependent on our elders, deacons and ministers to help us deal with day to day issues. Without even realising it, we bind ourselves to people’s teachings and live a life literally in chains no longer able to think for ourselves. When we begin to discover how big Jesus Christ is, it takes time to learn to live with our new found freedom. It takes time to be able to hear for ourselves the Truth who resides deep within our beings.
What we strive for in our ministry is for people to be totally free as Jesus Christ is free. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). If we see Jesus Christ as the Source of our freedom then this sets us free from each other. Knowing the Son is what sets us free because He is synonymous with the Truth means we no longer have to be bound by any other. Thus what we aim for is for people to know and embrace Jesus Christ to maintain their freedom. We must not allow others to stand in the way of this relationship. We hope that as people encounter Christ as the ultimate Source of Truth, they will become more dependant on Him than on any organisation, person, ministry or institutional church. We hope what we share of Jesus Christ gives people adequate space to be able to discover what we say for themselves. I am not necessarily saying that we no longer take part in organisations and churches etc. We do so in total freedom to know, question, consider and understand Christ in us. We must preserve what has been freely given to us by Jesus Christ even if we know so little about it. The only true relationship we have is the One that is between the Father and the Son who, along with the Spirit, have made their home in us. The role all others must play is to facilitate this reality allowing the space and freedom for people to grow in confidence in this eternal relationship above all others.
No one other than Jesus Christ has a monopoly on the Truth except Jesus Christ. He is the way the Truth and the Life and He is the only One who knows the way, knows the Truth and knows life. Only the Lord knows what the Lord knows. The rest of us must turn to Jesus Christ to get a grasp on what He knows. If anyone is to teach the ways and works of God then what they teach must bring what the Lord knows to Life. The teacher’s claim to the truth must ring true with the student and they should be given the courtesy to discover anything taught with adequate space and freedom. At the same time, we endeavour to keep Jesus Christ as the axis and reference to the truth and give due respect to the Scriptures. We are given to know, to feel, to think and to explore the Object, Jesus Christ, who we know to be bigger than the universe.
“I follow Paul! I follow Apollos! I follow Baxter Kruger! I follow Bruce Wauchope! I follow T F Torrance! I follow Karl Barth! are not the aims of our ministry. We all point to Jesus Christ and say one must repent, take up their cross and follow Him! This is the only sure fire way of walking in the freedom of the Spirit. However, we find in those above mentioned the emphasis on knowing Jesus Christ who is in us and understanding the truth for ourselves with space and freedom is their central theme. We all begin with with the truth of ‘Christ in you‘ and we all endeavour to share with others what has already been spoken to us by Christ within and bring this to life through our ministry. In this way, we want our audience to intuitively know the Truth of all truths and develop and grow in strength and intimately know from within the Person of Jesus Christ. Surely, given the fact that there are so many, varied and complex personalities each with their own life journey in a specific cultural setting, Jesus Christ is the only sure point of contact who with the Spirit can lead us and guide us into all truth.
The nature of wolves who came to us dressed in sheep’s clothing is to try and lure one away from their own intuition in such a subtle way, carefully undermining the truth and reframing it from outside of ourselves. The internal affirming and assuring voice of the Spirit of Christ is drowned out by the voice of mere men. As soon as someone says, ‘Know it my way,’ ‘Read Scripture my way,’ ‘Your only a true Christian if . . . ,’ then one is in danger of falling into bondage. We know God by His way of knowing. We read Scripture as the means of pointing to Christ. It is Christ who determines if one is a Christian. If there is an appeal to ordinary human rationale’s method of deductive, logical reasoning to draw inferential conclusions then be on your guard. Internal intuition by means of direct dialogue with Jesus Christ can never be replaced by tuition from ministries, organisations and institutions because it my leave us open to possible abuse. It should, however, facilitate and bring the Truth within you to life.
The One voice of authority within the church lies within in each and everyone of us: Christ is in you. If one believes they are hearing from Him, no one else has the right to say otherwise unless the voice of the Spirit within you speaks first hand. There are certainly so called heavyweights in theology and ministry who may try and assert their authority as a means of making us toe the line. Nevertheless, their authority pales into insignificance when compared to the authority of Christ in you. Careful listening and appropriate questions with careful study of Scripture and the voice of the Spirit of Christ within you is the best way forward on any matter. Any form of abuse should not be tolerated under any circumstances. If anyone tries to weaken this eternal truth, limit your freedom to judge any matter for yourselves through coercion or undermine the overall theme and purpose of Scripture then you may very well be dealing with a wolf.
to be continued . . . .