Thursday, August 28

So, What are "Essentials?"

The second step in following Jesus is every bit as important, of course, as the first. If we start off our march on the left foot, then Bible study is going to be the right. Why not first? Simply this: First we need to be in the position of a disciple (Originally mathetos in Greek: a pupil or learner) for the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. Too often people open the Bible as if they were expecting to read Tom Sawyer, or any other book, and miss the whole picture and more. For the Spirit of God to be our Teacher, we have to be enrolled for His classes!

Despite the bad behaviour of some in the classroom, the Church is the class where the Spirit teaches. The New Birth changes us: While our souls were an "interface" (the soul) between spiritual and material existence, being run by the body's appetites and reactions, once born of the Spirit then our spirits are brought to life and joined to the Spirit of God. When we are baptised we are visibly joined & welcomed into the Church as (now) living members of the living Body of Christ in this world.

The Church, by the way, is the only school with an A+ guarantee. John writes, "You have no need for man to teach you, for the Spirit Who dwells on you teaches you all things." This means not only that the Spirit knows everything (as God, can He know less?), but that He Is the Church's full supply for all the knowledge and wisdom she needs. So why, we ask, are there so many divisions, and so many scattered opinions? Christians have, historically, drawn lines in the sand as if to say, "This far will we follow You, and no farther." Can we claim to have knowledge and not listen to the Teacher? Again, like schoolchildren, being in the classroom does not promise any intent to learn. Some do the work, some "decorate" the school with desk carving and locker decorations, some flirt, harass other students, or just sleep. Even the front row kids let the confusion influence their resolve to learn. Somebody even offered a quip, "In the essentials, unity..." as if the student were in the position to decide what part of the Spirit's lessons were really important! Others went the other direction and fought bloody wars over such issues as what language to use in even discussing holy things!

Jesus said, "This is the first commandment, that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind, ..and that you love your neighbor as yourself." Understanding that, we know right away that, no matter how accurate our views might otherwise be, as soon as we make personal attacks on others we have denied the foundation our views were built on. To put it another way, if any doctrine leads us away from loving our neighbor as our selves, then that doctrine is leading us away from the One Who saved us.

Rather, if we willingly love our Lord with our all, then we will be seeking Him out, spending time with Him, and sitting at His knee to hear whatever He has to say. And, yes, the most common way for Him to speak to us is by bringing the words of Scripture alive to our hearts, confirming those words with the rest of the Bible, and reminding us of those words day-to-day.


  1. Robert,

    I hope you are safe from Gustav.

    To put it another way, if any doctrine leads us away from loving our neighbor as our selves, then that doctrine is leading us away from the One Who saved us.

    Good point.

    Unloving actions and theology

    It could be related to wrong doctrine.

    It could be a somewhat wrong interpretation on philosophical and practical levels, of correct doctrine which leads to unloving actions.

    Correct doctrine in Christ should lead to loving God and others, properly.


  2. Bill Ury likes to say that any problem in the Church always draws from an inadequate Christology. Jesus made the same point when Peter acted on his best, revelation-based, theology and got that famous "get behind me, Satan" rebuke for his troubles. God had revealed a lot to the lad, but as soon as he turned to work from what he knew (rather than looking to God for the rest of the picture), the Lord had to tell him to get back on track. If theology (knowledge-of-God) is based anywhere but worship, it's off base to start with. "The time is coming, and now is," Jesus said, "that true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him."


So what's your take?