(2 Corinthians 11:5-6)
There is a battle raging that has been going on since the very beginnings of the church, as we can see from these words written by Paul.
5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Human nature is such that people tend to listen to those who are great orators or who have the most letters after their names. The orator is often persuasive and charismatic, and they are able to charm people to their point of view. Whereas, the scholarly and academics persuade from the position of being learned in some topic or other.
But this does not mean they are doing good or are promoting the truth. Adolf Hitler was a brilliant orator who wooed the whole world…before he set the world at war. And a great many scholars have been wrong as they followed and taught false teachings.
But in the church it is different and worse when these things collide. And this was Paul’s concern.
Who are these “superlative apostles” that Paul is speaking about?
If we look at other sections of scripture we see that there were some believers, who were part of the early church but were also of the party of the Pharisees. (Acts 15:5). These men were highly educated in the ways of the law and were insisting that the new converts to Christianity needed to be circumcised and taught to keep the law. Rather than teach the truth of Christ they were mixing Christian teachings in with teachings of law and were unsettling the early churches. (Check out Acts chapter 15, which discusses what they were doing.)
These men, through charisma and oratory, were polluting the truth by having the people try to live under a mishmash of old and new covenant teachings. They were expecting the people to live under a form of ministry that could not possibly work. The mix of what they taught was to have the people live under the ministry of law as well as the ministry of grace.
To put it more bluntly, they were trying to live under the ministry of bondage (law) and the ministry of freedom (grace) at the same time. And you cannot be both completely free and under bondage at the same time. It is impossible and it is a ministry of confusion.
But through smooth oratory and scholarship, these “superlative apostles” were able to lord it over the general congregation of the early church to try to accept this gobbledygook teaching, and as we see in Acts 15:24,
”…we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions…”
That was the early church. But what about today?
Well guess what. This same situation is happening today as it did back then. Many of the preachers, pastors, ministers, priests and teachers of the modern Christian church are doing the same thing…and often worse.
You should not think that you will be able to easily recognise false teaching or expect it to be such a blatant lie that no-one would believe it.
The devil is more cunning than that! He works his evil in the language of half-truths and plausible arguments. He pushes the line of twisted reason and perverse logic, so that what is said seems acceptable and plausible. He uses arguments of logic, taking a person one step at a time along a path so that every succeeding step is built on the foundation of the step before. But the devil is so cunning that the person being led does not see when the trail starts to deviate off the straight and narrow path into the wilds of deception and lies.
And this is why there is so much false teaching in the modern church.
Just as the early church was being led astray by the Pharisees in the church to bring the people back under law and condemnation, so too the modern church has accepted this lie. The early church was led away from the path of truth after the first generations of the church had passed away, and they moved into the dark ages. The church lost it’s way and became lost and buried in a ministry of works, law and punishment.
We must remember too, that condemnation is a tool of the devil. He wants to bring every person under condemnation so he can keep the person away from Christ through their own feelings of guilt, sinfulness and inadequacy. And if you think about it, these feelings are not the feelings of freedom that comes through grace.
Consider the church today, even the church that you perhaps attend or one you have attended in the past.
Are you being told you must keep the Ten Commandments? Are you told that you are a sinner? Are you being told to tithe your earnings? Are you being instructed of the need to sacrifice and offer a sacrificial offering? Well, these are all requirements under the law. They are not requirements under the freedom of grace.
At the same time are you being told you have been saved by grace? Have you been told that Jesus died to set you free from sin? Have you been told that we are now set free from law? Have you heard that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? Well, these are all teachings that come from the message of the Gospel of Grace in Christ Jesus.
Now if you have heard any or all of these teachings in a mixture from the two paragraphs above, then you are in the same place as the early church. You are being taught to try and live under both the bondage of law and the freedom of grace at the same time, and you CANNOT be free and in bondage at the same time.
You have fallen under the trap of the devil who has led the church down the wrong path by slowly and gradually deviating the church from the path of truth, established and taught by Christ Jesus and His true apostles. And I am not blaming your teachers, pastors or ministers for all of this, although they too have a responsibility to seek out the truth. They too have been caught in the web of lies that sounds religious and sounds pious, but is in fact a mishmash of half-truths, lies and deception to keep people away from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How did this happen?
Taught By God
Glad you asked! This happened because the church stopped listening to God and being taught by Him, and began listening to men. They stopped listening to Christ and teaching the gospel as taught be Jesus and the early apostles, and went back to a ministry based on works rather than faith.
Consider this scripture.
It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. (John 6:45)
Now, this scripture does NOT say that only “some” will be taught by God, and then everyone else needs to listen to them. This is not like old testament times where the Lord sent prophets who were taught by God to judge and teach the people.
If we look at the Old Testament we see that the original laws, the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, and Moses taught the people. Priests were then ordained from the tribe of Levi and the high priests from the sons of Aaron, and they were instructed to teach the law to the people.
So in Old Testament times we see that the law was originally given by God to one man, Moses, but after that it was taught to the people by men.
But if you look back at the scripture quoted above from John 6:45, what does it say of the New Covenant? It says that, “…they shall ALL be taught by GOD.”
In the New Covenant, the people are not meant to be taught by men, but by God. In fact the truth of the New Covenant from the very beginning was established so that this could and would happen…IF people would just follow the path set up by Jesus.
But how is it possible to be taught by God, you may be wondering?
Well, think about it for a moment. The New Covenant was first established and taught by Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. By His own admission Jesus is not equal to the Father, but even the Father calls Jesus, “God.” (see Hebrews 1:8-9)
So we see that the early church was indeed set up and taught by God. But what happened after Jesus died? Wasn’t it men that continued His work and taught the people? Yes it was…BUT who is it that is really teaching other men and woman so that they can understand the truth of the gospel? Is it men or is it God? For the answer to that question we need to look at what Jesus had to say.
These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:25-26)
It is not men who are teaching people so that they can understand. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to teach people. Men have the authority to spread the gospel, read the bible, yes and speak the word to others, just as I am doing now. But it is the Holy Spirit who takes the words of the gospel spoken by men and interprets them meaningfully to each individual so that they understand. And by this method, God teaches every individual…through men and women who have received the Holy Spirit.
Where did it all go wrong? It went wrong when man stopped listening to God and decided to appoint their own preachers, teachers, pastors and priests. Man began creating “superlative apostles,” who were accredited by other men in bible schools, seminaries or universities and were given diplomas and degrees in theology or divinity and the like. And no, I am not “having a go” at people in ministry because most of them do not even realise they have bought into the lie. But when man appoints another man to be a preacher, rather than that person being appointed by God to preach, then they are no longer being appointed by God and the people are no longer being taught by God. They are being taught by men.
The Apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost so that they could teach the gospel, or rather so that the gospel could be taught by God through them. It is the Holy Spirit who is the teacher, giving the words to men of the Spirit to speak.
The Apostles laid hands on others to receive the Holy Spirit so that they could firstly, learn and understand the teachings of the gospel. Secondly, so that the work of transformation within could occur as the Holy Spirit taught the individuals. And finally, so that when or if those people were called to teach, they would be led by the Holy Spirit so that listeners were likewise being taught by God.
And you will note that in every case it was necessary for both the hearer and the teacher to receive the Holy Spirit so that they could teach from the mouth of God what the Spirit led them to teach, and so that the hearer could receive and understand by the working of the Holy Spirit within them.
It is no different today. Believers MUST receive the Holy Spirit if they are to receive the fullness of ALL that Christ offers and if they are to fully understand the truth from God. It is the ONLY way you can be taught by God.
Don’t go thinking either, that the gift of the Holy Spirit, with all the signs attending it, such as speaking in tongues, was only for the early church to spread the gospel. That is a false teaching that has been propagated within the church by the devil to prevent people receiving the Holy Spirit and thus be able to be taught by God. If you do think this way because it is what you have been taught, STOP right NOW and listen to what the Bible says, especially when it comes to speaking in tongues as the sign of receiving the Holy Spirit.
In John 3:8 Jesus said of those who receive the Holy Spirit that you would know you have the Spirit because you would hear the “sound” of the Spirit just as you know the wind blows by hearing the sound of the wind. He said, “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”
We see the fulfilment of these words at Pentecost when the Apostles first received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
We see also in Acts 8:14-19 that the Holy Spirit just does not come when someone believes, as is often taught today. Instead, the Holy Spirit is received through the laying on of hands by others who have the Holy Spirit. And in Acts 19:1-6 we again see that there were a group of believers who needed to have hands laid on them to receive the Holy Spirit, after which they heard the “sound” of the spirit when they all spoke in tongues.
So let me ask, have you received the Holy Spirit? Have you heard the “sound” of the Spirit? And as to whether it is still meant for today, look at the words of Peter as he spoke about receiving the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues at Pentecost.
And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Who are those who are far off? We, today, are far off in both terms of distance and time from when Peter spoke these words. But even if that does not convince you, consider the last few words of the quote above. The gift is offered to, “…every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” Do you believe you have been called by God? I’m sure you do. So the offer and the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit and tongues is offered to you today.
And the purpose of the gift of the Holy Spirit, with tongues, is so that we can all be taught by God. If you want to know more about this gift: how to receive it, what it is for, what you should do next and so on, then please feel free to email me.
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Pentecost And Receiving The Holy Spirit
Speaking In Tongues
Receiving The Holy Spirit
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The Holy Spirit At Work
Beware Of False Prophets And False Teachers
Beware The Leaven Of The Pharisees
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Woe To You Scribes And Pharisees Hypocrites
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Trouble For The End Times Church
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Signs And Wonders
Dissension In The Church