Thursday, June 21, 2007

Disciples of the Spirit of Truth

Have you ever wondered how a student of the Holy Bible, a preacher of the gospel, a pastor, priest or even a Bible scholar could commit adultery, be a child molester, a thief or murder?? How is it possible that a member of a Christian church could steal from the treasure? Or a deacon takes another man’s wife or molests his children??? How is it that a person can memorize the Holy Scripture form Genesis to Revelations and his heart still be filled with hate? Can we know a sure and true answer to these questions?? Yes we can, but we must not be offended by what we learn.

Let us begin with a study of the word “disciple.” The word “disciple” is translated from the Greek words “mathetes” and “manthano” meaning “a learner” or “to learn and endeavor to adhere to” a shaping of character.

Thus, the word disciple is a name given to a student who is being trained, or rather disciplined, for the purpose of developing specific attributes of character. When Jesus called men to be His followers they had to forsake all, including their former self or character, and be obedient to Him; thus they were known as His disciples {John 8:31-32 NAS}.

Jesus said,

“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” {Luke 6:40 NAS}

This rule can work both in a positive and in a negative way. If a person is a disciple of the Spirit of Truth, that of course is positive, he is being disciplined in rightness with God, or in righteousness. But if a person should happen to be caught up in a false teaching, the spirit of error {1st John 4:6 NAS}, the result is very negative, even devastating.

For an example of the negative we turn first to the Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s and other religious sects of that era. There existed a deep division among the people pertaining to the laws of God and the traditions of their forefathers. Each sect or denomination (as they are known today) had their own schools, teachings and doctrines. Each had their own scribes {lawyers} who interpreted the laws of God and set forth the doctrines and traditions for the people to abide by {Matthew. 23:1-7}. A disciple of the teachers of the Pharisee’s {Matthew. 22:16} who became fully trained or disciplined in the doctrines and traditions of the Pharisee’s was molded into the attributes of character of a Pharisee; he was a vessel in the image of the Pharisee’s.

Jesus said to them,

”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” {Matthew. 23:15 NAS}

The same was true of the other sects as well. Each sect was known by their attributes of character and their own traditions. The way they dressed, the manner in which they spoke, the rituals they performed, the way they prayed and the things they believed identified each group. It could have been said of them that they all studied the same law and worshiped the same God; and in the end all would be in the kingdom of God. This proved not to be so!!

Jesus spoke to them plainly saying,

”You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” {Matthew. 23:33 NAS}

The children of Israel were called of God to be a nation of kings and priest, a keeper and teacher of His Law. They were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with His glory. Instead they were caught up in debates, which lead to divisions. They departed from faith working through love and lost their great opportunity.

Jesus said to them,

”You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” {John 5:39 NAS}

The sects of that era were so disciplined in the traditions of men that as God sent His prophets to them with words of warning and correction they were rejected and killed {Matthew. 23:29-35}. When Jesus came to them they did unto Him as they did the prophets before Him. They sat among the people by Him not to learn of Him, but as spectators, censors and spies to find in Him something on which to ground a reproach or accusation that they might kill Him also. They found fault with His miracles and viewed His words as a tale told them and not a message sent to them. They mocked, cursed, spat upon, and by the hands of the gentiles, they crucified the Living Word of God. They were so blind they did all these things thinking they were doing a service to God!! They were disciples of mere men, deceived children of the flesh.

The following statement will cause some to cringe and gnash their teeth. Some will be offended and complain that his words are too harsh. Others will see the truth and apply the lesson of it to their own lives if needed. Nevertheless here is our statement.

We observe a great likeness in the Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s and other sects of that era to that of many among the Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, the so called Church of Christ and all the other denomination of today. There exist a great division among the people of Christian religion today just as it did in the nation of Israel in the days that Jesus visited them. Today each denomination has their own interpreters of the Scriptures, their own schools and universities and their own set of doctrines and teachings that mold their disciples into their own image. Each has their own rituals, dress codes, manner of speaking and praying. These and other attributes of religious character can identify each individual and group. Many seat themselves in the congregation for men of God to preach before them but not to preach to them. They have their secret meetings to plot against the pastors that God has given them. They sit as judges and criticize and ostracize and drive out from among their mist men of God who do not conform to their standards, traditions and beliefs. They have a form of godliness and have the appearance of righteousness but are like “whitewashed tombs filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” {Matthew. 23:27-28. Many have a Sunday morning religion but live their lives in such a way that they become stumbling blocks to those who might would have come to know the truth {Matthew. 23:13}. Many excuse their differences with others with the saying, “we are all seeking the same God and are all going to the same place.”

Jesus answers,

”Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” {Matthew. 7:13-19 NAS}

Judas Iscariot was called to be a disciple of Jesus but he never was His true disciple; he was never converted. He had the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of the church. He walked with Jesus for three and one half years just as did the others. He heard the words of Jesus but he never received them as words of spirit and words of life. He witnessed His power and authority and seen all His miracles but in his heart he had selfish motives. Unlike Peter and the others he never received the revelation from the Spirit of God that Jesus was the Son of God {Matthew. 16:16-17}. He aligned himself with the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s to betray the Son of God. Thus he became an accessory to the murder of Christ. In the end he became a murderer by killing himself.

Just as Judas Iscariot was called of Christ so are many called today to minister the gospel. But like Judas many of them have inward selfish motives and they miss their opportunity of being ministers of the truth in the kingdom of God. Instead they become false ministers, child molesters, adulterers, thieves, fornicators, murderers, liars, and much more. Like Judas before them they align themselves with the world and betray the Son of God who calls them.

Now we turn to the positive effects of a person becoming like his teacher. A person who is being trained or disciplined by the Spirit of Truth develops the attributes of the character of God; he becomes the image of God. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to teach the Scripture, to guide and direct the disciples of the Living Word of God {Jesus} into the paths of righteousness. He brings gifts of faith, hope and love and empowers us to put to death the nature that lives according to the lustful flesh and imparts to us the nature of Christ, who is the image of God.

The Scripture teaches thus,

“And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” {1st John 2:27 NAS}

Jesus said,

”And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” {John 14:16-18 NAS}

He continues,

”But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.” {John 16:13-15 NAS}

A student of God’s word should never make the mistake of trying to intellectually interpret and understand the Holy Scriptures or rely solely upon someone else’s understanding.

The apostle Peter tells us to

“--- know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a Matthewer of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” {2nd Peter 1:20-21 NAS}

Neither is learning God’s truths an act of the human will or intellectual process; but is rather a disclosure or teaching by impartation from the Holy Spirit to those who seek, believe and obey {1st Corinthians 2:11-13}.

The Apostle Paul writes,

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work {2nd Timothy 3:16-17 NAS}.”

God’s word should never be viewed in a remote, impersonal, unattached, non-practical or non-participating manner; the Holy Spirit does not teach a person with such an attitude. Only those who hear the Spirit of God, believe and obey Him are trained in righteousness and become adequately equipped for every good work. Like clay disciplined by the hands of the potter are those who are the disciples of the Sprit of Truth.

James C Sanford

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