"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1Cor. 2:12-13)
Saturday, April 12, 2014
"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29 ESV)
"Simon Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.'" (John 13:8 ) Having lost his boast in self-sufficiency, Peter then responds boastfully toward the opposite extreme; "...'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean, but not every one of you.'" (John 13:9-10)
Here, we witness the pride of Peter arguing every angle, hoping to avoid the work of fellowship that God divinely established for the body of Christ.
But Jesus states, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet." (John 13:14)
Apart from Judas, the other disciples are clean, "...because of the word that I have spoken to you." (John 15:3)
Herein, lies a perplexity in the Christian walk. How can we know who is really clean? Peter, who was clean, fought Jesus tooth and nail for his own way. Judas, who was unclean, was rather quiet and seemed to mind his own business. How do we know who the true disciples are? If we find, gathered in the same assembly, both those called by God and those destined to destruction, just what is the litmus test for discerning the goats (or wolves) among us? It is by this:
"...every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)
"If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons." (Hebrews 12:8)
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27)
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)
So, it is possible for Spiritual gifts to be manifest through anyone God may choose, while at the same time finding the individual actively grieving the Holy Spirit. While they are capable of revealing great powers and mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, we can also find they are incapable of deep, and intimate relationships with others.
One of the greatest examples of such double mindedness I can think of is Balaam. (Numbers 22-24) While he ultimately performed God's will, his heart was very deceitful.
"Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing," (2 Peter 2:15)
"Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion." (Jude 1:11)
Such hypocrisy is revealing of a self-centered and self-serving 'faith'. Several reasons for this are:
...they are still immature in their faith;
...they are more concerned about gaining wealth and self-notoriety;
...they are too fearful to become vulnerable with others for the cause of Spiritual fellowship.
Spiritual gifts are given to us by God and will not be taken back. Yet the gift is not the fruit, and without fruit there is no betrothal to Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit comes by laying down our own lives, surrendering ourselves to the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and thus cultivating a Holy relationship with the Father and Son, as well as with the body of Christ because the body and the Head are inseparable. You can not truly love the head while actively avoiding the body.
The common denominator here appears to be the calling of God.
"By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." (John 15:8)