"Relating the Spirit and the Scriptures"
Letters to a Bible School Student
The following comes by way of conversation with a Bible school student who was asked to perform research using conflicting commentaries regarding the proper “interpretation” of a single New Testament scripture while being denied the place to apply Holy Spirit revelation beyond the text’s immediate context so as to derive understanding by applying to it the broad prophetic patterns of scripture truth.
This discussion amplifies our teaching on the Holy Spirit’s ability and right to prophetically reveal truth from scripture beyond the immediate context of the scripture writer. (See In Defense of Prophetic Application of Scripture Beyond Author Intent and Philosophical “Interpretation,” Time and Scripture).
------ Original Message ------
Sent: 1/31/2015 12:21:10 AM
Subject: Reference Point for Spiritual Truth Beyond Scriptural Context
These following scripture-based thoughts flow from our conversation.
· Scripture tells us that the only reference point for truth is the word of God. “Thy Word is Truth.”
· The scripture defines the Word of God as an active living dynamic that finds expression through the Scriptures as illuminated by the Holy Spirit and further in turn by revelation of the Spirit beyond or outside of Scripture. That is to say, the Holy Spirit’s Voice and revelation is not limited to the words of Scripture—(Scripture plainly shows this)—but that the Spirit’s Voice will not contradict His fundamental context in scripture (“the Scripture cannot be broken”).
· Taken together, this means in all that
1) we learn spiritual truth fundamentally from the context of scripture author intent, and that
2) if we are to learn the spiritual truth of anything outside the specific topical content of scripture, it must come from the Holy Spirit’s liberty to illumine truth by interweaving scriptures to reveal an understanding beyond the context of immediate author intent.
· The only alternative way to seek to learn spiritual truth outside the topical content of scripture is human speculation (“interpretation”).
· Thus, spiritual illumination of inter-networked scripture or else human theological speculation are the only two possible sources for attempting to gain spiritual truth outside direct scriptural content.
· If we are asked to research and expound on spiritual truth outside the plain content of scripture, and if we do not hold human speculation to be a valid source of establishing spiritual truth, then we must be allowed the liberty to receive illumination of the Spirit on scripture beyond the immediate context of its fundamental meaning and application.
· To ask or require one to research spiritual truth outside the plain content of scripture without allowing the Holy Spirit to illumine truth beyond the fundamental context of Scripture is to ask for an absurdity that hopelessly confines research to human speculation as a basis for establishing spiritual truth.
· Conversely, if one is to be confined to fundamental context for ascertaining the spiritual truth, the subject matter must be confined to the plain content of the scripture already given. To ask for one apart from the other is an absurdity.
I have also attached the argumentation for defending the Spirit’s revelational exposition of spiritual truth beyond the immediate context of scripture.
Love and blessings!
------ Original Message ------
Sent: 1/31/2015 10:23:24 AM
Subject: RE: Reference Point for Spiritual Truth Beyond Scriptural Context - Follow Up
The Scripture and the Spirit: Which Came First?
I want to add more thoughts as they come to me for helping you come to grips with the nature of spiritual truth as it is revealed through the scriptures.
There is constant friction in understanding between the role of the scriptures and the role of the Holy Spirit in communicating truth to us.
The roles of scripture and of the Holy Spirit are interdependent. The scriptures testify to the Holy Spirit as the communicator and guardian of “all truth.” And the Holy Spirit testifies to the veracity of the scriptures as words of God that “cannot be broken.”
This always brings us back to “the chicken and the egg” proposition. Which came first? Do the scriptures first lead us to the Holy Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit first lead us to the scriptures?
Men tend to lean on the proposition that the scriptures first lead us to the Holy Spirit and therefore “check” the Holy Spirit. This is because we can see the scriptures but we can’t see the Holy Spirit.
This proposition is wrong however. It’s wrong because you have to first ask, how does man come to the scriptures as a “starting point” for his evaluation?
The answer can only be that the Holy Spirit first brought man somehow to the scriptures. The only alternative is to believe that men come to the scriptures by chance. But not even proponents of the scripture-first concept believe that.
This means then that the Spirit comes before the scriptures. The Holy Spirit leads us to the scriptures before the scriptures lead us to the Holy Spirit.
OK, but even if we still choose to “start” with scripture to see what scripture says about these two propositions, what do we find?
We find that the scriptures themselves testify that the Holy Spirit comes before the scriptures and therefore first leads us to the scriptures.
· Genesis 1 says the Spirit of God brooded on the face of the waters at Creation. Where were the scriptures then? They weren’t.
· The scriptures did not come into being until Moses. Until Moses, the Holy Spirit spoke only directly to men or prophetically through other men.
· When the scriptures were added, the scriptures tell us that they did not replace the previous direct means of the Holy Spirit communicating to men.
· Under the period of the law, prophecy was still recognized as a means for God to communicate to men. Thus there were prophets. Balaam was a prophet apart from the scriptures. Even Moses said “Were that all God’s people were prophets.” And the reality of prophecy known as the “word of the Lord” was found throughout Old Testament history parallel to the law.
o (significantly, the law itself not only makes room for prophecy [Num. 12:6, Dt. 13:1-5; 18:18-22] but the law nowhere makes itself the basis for testing the validity of prophecy. The people are expected to exercise discernment without respect to the law to verify prophecy. Much later, Isaiah [8:20], who is a prophet, says that prophecy must line up with scripture to be valid)
· So according to the scriptures, the scriptures did not replace the Holy Spirit as the precedent means for the source of spiritual truth.
In the New Testament, the scriptures continue to witness
1. to the Spirit as the guide and imparter of “all truth” relative to Christ (Jn 14;17; 15;26; 16:12-15),
2. that the scriptures are a source of wisdom and are “profitable” for study and equipping (2 Tim 3:15-17)
3. that the Spirit’s truth carries its own self-standing testimony to its validity (thus, not necessarily scripture dependent) (I Cor. 2:10-13),
4. while noting that the spirits are to be tested and the Spirit’s truth will also be confirmable by the scriptures (I Jn. 4:1; I Th. 5;21; Acts 17;11);
5. that God’s people should be praying for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for the developing of their knowing of God and the things pertaining to God (Eph. 1: 17ff).
Again, these are the scripture’s own statements regarding the relevance of present tense Spirit revelation and past tense codified scripture revelation to one another.
Ponder these five statements carefully and determine for yourself whether the scriptures are saying that the Holy Spirit’s revelation or the scripture is our primary source of spiritual truth.
Note that in any standard Bible school, points 2 and 4 above are taught vigorously to the almost complete exclusion of points 1, 3 and 5.
About Male and Female
Finally, a word about context. And I’m talking here about our discussion of “neither male nor female” in Gal. 3.27ff
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
You asked, “how do you know that this applies to our final eternal genderless identity and does not just apply to the immediate way God looks at us inside the church as equals in value to Him?”
The answer to your question is that the phrase “in Christ” is not a statement limited to local context, but is the sum and substance of everything that not only distinguishes us in present spiritual identity but in ultimate destiny.
The phrase “in Christ” is a massive concept articulated by Paul throughout his writings to describe an entire identity / destiny change. And this is confirmed by the final phrase here, “heirs according to the promise.” This genderlessness in Christ is tied to ultimate heirship, which is in eternity. So the eternality of the context is actually staring you there in the face.
The Specific Does Not Delimit the General
This also comes down to a principle of thinking regarding the general and the specific that needs correction relative to scripture.
Think of it this way. If scripture tells me that a bird flies because air gives it lift, do I conclude that a bird is the only thing that flies by means of lift because that is the immediate context and scripture says nothing of anything else flying by means of lift? And do I conclude then that anything else that purports to fly by means of lift is an “unsupportable interpretation”?
The answer is, of course not, that is silly.
Yet that is the type of scripture interpretation you are being fed. The application of a certain truth to an immediate context does not limit the applicability of that truth to that context. The drawing upon of a larger truth for application to a smaller context does not reduce the applicability of that truth to that context alone. That is just as silly.
The statement that “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek….male nor female” is clearly a mega truth. It is a huge statement, not a small one. And to therefore delimit it somehow to such a small context as if to say that outside this context of the church we will really still be male and female in eternity just doesn’t make sense. Again, consider the scope and size of the concept being articulated. This is a macro concept with an immediate application. It is not a micro concept applicable only to this context.
One of the things you need to question is why are your teachers and books feeding you such narrow concepts of interpretation and where is the biblical support for thinking like this? The scriptures repeatedly take huge concepts and apply them to small contexts. Where is the basis for thinking then that the context limits the size of the concept?
Think about how many arguments you have made to me starting with the words, “But this is all it says here…” as if one has to then prove that it means more than that by finding it to say so somewhere else. That is just not reality thinking when it comes to spiritual truth. Spiritual truth is macro truth that repeats itself over and over in smaller and diverse contexts. That is the truth about cycles in natural reality as well.
Take atoms and solar systems for example. Atoms are made up of orbital clusters. Solar systems are made up of orbital clusters too. Orbital clusters is a macro design concept on which much of the universe is built. If I see an orbital cluster in the small context of an atom, I can be pretty sure that it is tied to a large concept of orbital clusters. If I see a verse that describes an atom to me, I don’t need another verse to prove to me there are solar systems. I can freely extrapolate that this design is more extensive than the context in which it is being applied.
As in the natural so in the spiritual. The scriptures are one manifestation of prophetic truth. And prophetic truth operates on macro concepts of spiritual reality that play out in multi-levels and dimensions. You can see any one given pattern at work in the life of an individual, a marriage, a family a nation and the body of Christ. That is the beauty of living truth. And this is throughout the warp and woof of scripture.
It is silly then to be approaching individual scriptures with microscopes, parsing Greek words and tenses and then drawing up these hard conclusions about meanings of things applicable only to these tiny contexts. Instead, we should be looking for the expansiveness of the truth in its manifold applications according to its dimensions. It is a broad way of perceiving truth rather than a narrow confining way – a narrowness which causes one to “not see the forest for the trees.”
I encourage you to bring that to God in your prayers. Pray as you listen to what you are being taught about how to interpret scripture in confined boxes of micro analysis. It is just not reality thinking. (But you are susceptible to it because you lean toward detailed dissecting analysis in the natural anyway …)
And so here now is a fresh revelation from God as I speak. Your school work is so bogged down and backed up and joyless to you because the spirit with which you are being taught to understand the scripture is bogging you down spiritually. I break that nexus off you in Jesus’ Name. Break it off yourself as well. See it for what it is. And take authority over that spirit there at the school and in that class.
Again, the Harvest Pattern…..
In keeping with the harvest motif I have relentlessly expounded, what a seed is and what a seed becomes are one and the same, differing only in point of manifestation. A corn seed under the ground is corn. And a corn seed grown above the ground ripe for harvest is also corn. They are both corn. All the innate qualities that belong to the corn as a seed and to corn as a ripened husk are the same. They differ only in manifestation. That applies to the seed of our spiritual life and identity in Christ. We are still in the seed stage. In the glory of resurrection, we will be in the harvest stage. But what we are is the same in principle, differing only in manifestation.
Meaning? That we are genderless now as seedlings in Christ, even though we still see ourselves as gendered in the natural. But when our harvest comes, we will see that our hidden genderlessness in Christ now as seedlings will become fully manifest. We will be seen as what we are now already unseen— genderless. The macro principle of harvest tells us so. And it should be an end of argument for us.
But people like the Sadducees didn’t get it. They made up a ridiculous story about a man here having seven wives and tried to apply it to heaven to make a point, only to be told that they erred not knowing the power of God. Meaning, they didn’t understand heavenly reality, which is entirely different.
Yet people here still try to apply earthly conditions to heavenly reality to come. I can understand people wanting to keep their gender in heaven. But that is not a valid basis for projecting into what you want to believe about eternity. Gender is a creational concept. And we aren’t taking our first Adam with us into the presence of God.
(Have you ever asked yourself why in the Book of Revelation and in every other scriptural reference to heaven, every being is referred to in the masculine?? Does it make you ever wonder “what happened to all the women????” It should. Something to ponder. Do you think they all just disappeared or got annihilated, or that no women go to heaven? I don’t think so… It’s that we are limited here below by earthly pronouns. There is no transgender pronoun. So the pronoun “he” is used for all. That is my take on it, anyway.)
OK. Enough from me! Run with this stuff and pray about it. I welcome your challenges to any point. But let God widen your horizons. Think and believe big about the scriptures through the Spirit. Stop getting bogged down in Grudem and other rabbis. Let the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation take over (wisdom from the scriptures, revelation from the Spirit) and cause your eyes to see and your heart to soar again in God—above the micro-analyticality of your class!
------ Original Message ------
Sent: 2/1/2015 11:04:45 PM
Subject: RE: Reference Point for Spiritual Truth Beyond Scriptural Context - Follow Up 2
The Prevenience of the Spirit
You don’t have to respond to this, or even do anything with it. But I just wanted to keep adding thoughts that come to share with you about the relationship of the scripture and the Holy Spirit.
In my last letter, I talked about how it is the Spirit that leads us to the scriptures before the scriptures lead us to the Holy Spirit. The revelatory ministry of the Spirit precedes the codifying of that ministry into scripture. If there were no revelation first, there could be no scripture. Yet so much “rabbinical” teaching says that what can be known by and about the Holy Spirit can only be found in scripture—which is a belief and premise that is nowhere found in scripture.
Yesterday and today, I was seeing some more things in scripture that support the prevenience of the Spirit to the scriptures. I wanted to share these with you.
Paul made a case for the prevenience of the Spirit when in Galatians he explained how that the “promise” preceded the Law. Remember that Paul associates the “promise” with faith by the Spirit.
And so if you carry this through, one sees that the promise he is referring to (God’s promise of a son) was something that came by way of revelation. “God spoke to Abraham.” That is how the promise was delivered. Abraham did not get His promise through a scripture. There was no scripture. So right here, in Galatians, which is scripture, we are being told by extension that the revelation of the Spirit precedes the scripture.
This is seen in regard to Moses himself, the giver of the Law (though it was actually God who gave the Law to him.) Before the Law was even involved, Moses’ entire relationship with God was formed on revelation. That first great revelation was in the burning bush. And then there were further and other revelations to Moses—all of which preceded the Law. When the Law actually came, it came by way of revelation. It had to. It had to be revealed before it was written. (And that is all scripture is—written revelation. It is not somehow more authoritative because it is written than before it was written.)
This follows through with all the prophets after Moses and the writers of the New Testament themselves as well. For instance, before the words of the Old Testament prophets became scripture, they were revelation. And few references in all these prophetic writings quote the Law or even refer to it. They are not about the Law. They are about whatever the Spirit wanted to say through them apart from and after the Law.
We see the same thing when we come to the New Testament writings. Before these writings were penned, they were living revelation. Some of these writings quote the scriptures to that time (i.e., the Old Testament), but not extensively. And they certainly are not confined to what the Old Testament had to say about anything. They in fact transcend the Old Testament, and prophetically even use the Old Testament in ways beyond context of what the Old Testament was talking about—as I demonstrated in my first email regarding Paul.
So this is the ever consistent pattern demonstrated from within the scriptures themselves. The scriptures testify as to how they themselves came into being as the result of revelation that preceded their being penned.
The concept that the Spirit precedes the scriptures is embraced by a larger concept, and it is simply that Christ is before all. Jesus told the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus preceded all that Israel was and had come to be including its Law, its kings, and its prophets. By saying that He was before Abraham, Jesus was saying He was before Moses, which means He was before the Law. Jesus was before the scriptures therefore.
In truth, both the Holy Spirit and the scriptures serve as witnesses to Jesus, who is THE WORD, and who is greater than both. The scriptures ultimately testify to Christ. And so does the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said that when the Holy Spirit comes, “He will testify of Me.” (Jn. 15:26)
Jesus also said that the scriptures testify to Him: “You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (Jn. 5:39).
So when we put this all together, what do we see the scriptures themselves telling us about their relationship to the Holy Spirit and to Christ? What we see is that the Holy Spirit precedes the scriptures, and Christ precedes the Holy Spirit. And both the Spirit and the scriptures testify to Him.
Now compare this to everything we have otherwise been taught about the supremacy of the scriptures to all things. Well, it is true that the scriptures are supreme over the minds and thoughts and writings of men. But the scriptures are not “supreme” to the Holy Spirit who authored them.
This means the scriptures cannot be rightly interpreted in any way that quenches the Holy Spirit or that confines the Holy Spirit and puts Him into a box. The scriptures cannot be rightly interpreted by a premise that says “unless it appears already in the scriptures, it can’t be of the Holy Spirit.” That is human nonsense operating under color of scripture and of honoring scripture, but which actually contradicts the scripture’s own testimony about its relationship to the living revelation of the Spirit.
But we should not be surprised if the scriptures are being used that way. Because that is the same way they were used to deny the very One to whom they pointed when He first came. It is called unbelief. Unbelief is nothing more than what the human mind does with the scriptures apart from the agency and illumination of the Holy Spirit upon them. And sadly, this is the unfortunate state of scripture “exegesis” in most Bible schools.
The scripture is made preeminent and used to deny the Holy Spirit, rather than in cooperation with the prophetic Spirit who authored them and with the living Christ (not to the story book Jesus) to Whom they point us and with Whom they would unite us in living present-tense revelatory relationship. That is how the scriptures, by their own testimony, indicate they should be used and interpreted, and not obfuscated by “rabbinical” theorizing and opinion and speculation based in human analytics of linguistics, ad nauseam.
Again, my prayer is that this little discussion will help establish you in vibrant faith and life in Christ through the Holy Spirit as you read the scriptures in all their interweaving prophetic beauty. Don’t approach them from a humanly analytical mind, but from an open heart of expectancy and wonder and correction of thoughts that enables you to hear the Voice of God Himself in and among and between their very words.
Hearing HIM and coming to HIM is all that counts. And if we do not come to HIM by revelation as a result of reading them, then we have missed what the scriptures are all about.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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