Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Life of the Believer is Logical, Reasonable, Practical, and Objective

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 27, 2015 than anything, Christ reasoned with people. More than anything, Christ challenged people to think and ponder. One of His favorite introductions to challenging people to think was, “What do you think?” followed by a parable or an example from everyday life.

When Christ began to preach the good news of the kingdom, the Jewish culture was mired in spiritual caste and mysticism. The straightforward commonsense practicality of The Sermon on the Mount, a transcript of Christ’s “good news of the kingdom of God” was utter culture shock. Christ spoke directly to their responsibility in understanding kingdom living and cited NO earthly authority whatsoever. It also demonstrates the kingdom’s mode of operation in regard to present ambassadorship: one head instructing common folks for a common goal.

Christ completely bypassed the spiritual hierarchy of that day as he would in our day if He walked among us as He once did. He wouldn’t contact the Pope, he wouldn’t contact Al Mohler, He wouldn’t contact John Piper; He would take His mandate directly to the common people who are organized and energized by individual gifts—NOT authority.

The institutional church in our day is a mirror image of that day’s spiritual caste; whether the Pope or the Neo-Calvinists, they are no less the contemporary Pharisees and Sadducees of our day. Be sure of this: spiritual authority is ALWAYS accompanied by the idea that God has mediated knowledge through preordained human agencies in addition to Christ. And also be sure of this: spiritual authority will ALWAYS result in illiterate kingdom knowledge and living at best, and cultic tyranny at worst. The supposedly meek pastor is no less a tyrant for disarming you with ignorance that doesn’t even have an ability to ask the right questions.

The apostle Paul could not have been clearer on this as he used the human body to illustrate the function of Christ’s assembly; body parts don’t have authority, they have function. The right hand can tell the bladder to behave itself till the cows come home, but if the bladder is not doing its job, the right hand is wasting its breath (1Corinthians 12). The assembly of believers operate as a body, not an institution. Proper function leads to organized productivity, wellbeing, the advancement of the gospel, and the glory of God.

Christ offered His body once so that we may follow Him in the death and resurrection of the new birth. Once we are born again, our “reasonable (logikos: logical) service” is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice for the kingdom. Paul’s use of words in Romans 12:1 is stunningly practical. In contrast, cultures have traditionally seized on hokey gimmicks of every sort offered by cultic mediators to bring spiritual manifestations down to earth for our experiential enjoyment or escape from the responsibility of real life. In the first century, as today, the misrepresentation of speaking in tongues is certainly no exception.

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

The key to spiritual growth and true manifestations (our walking in truth) of the Spirit is MATURE THINKING and edification by which God’s people mature. Experiential endeavors that are not objective do NOT edify. Period.

Susan and I have a wonderful marriage, but we are not exactly on the same page regarding perceived value in listening to Christian radio. She thinks it has some limited value while I think it is utterly devoid of any edification whatsoever. While riding in the car with her yesterday, we listened to a young girl giving her personal testimony on a “Christian” radio station. Susan often beckons me to “give Christian radio another chance.” The girl spoke of her “personal relationship” with Christ as opposed to merely knowing Him. Trust me, few of these people, if any, can define what it is to have a “personal relationship” with Christ. It’s the mindless spewing of a spiritual bumper sticker that posits subjective piety which supposedly knows beyond knowing. Yes, it’s not about what Jesus says in His word, it’s about the “intimate” relationship with Him. After all, “He’s a person, not a precept.” And so goes the incessant gagathon.

The girl concluded her Gnostic diatribe by sharing how she led her sister to the Lord. Apparently. Yes, she is really happy that her sharing of the gospel lacked substance and knowledge because she had been praying for her sister’s salvation. Hence, she can be confident that it was all of God and not her proficiency in sharing according to knowledge. Susan then asked, “Would you like me to turn the radio off?” I would. This is just another example of why the institutional church is a wasteland of destruction and death. Like gangrene, feeble thinking leads to the silent eating away of flesh and a crippled body with an ongoing need for amputation.

Spiritual growth goes hand in glove with the individual believer being responsible for personal understanding, and by the way, for unity sake must be “convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14). Critical and central to the relevance of home fellowships is EDIFICATION. Teaching and learning must be a primary focus. Home fellowships must be rooted and grounded in objective truth.