“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 see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”~ John 14:16-17 NASB
Recently, I was online and noticed a discussion that had differing opinions about an expositional issue concerning the Holy Spirit. There is a gambit of opinions, traditions, and commentary on the subject. The discussion soon turned personal and was not a display of Christlikeness in my humble opinion. Both individuals had valid points worthy of discussion, however none of it deserving of division among the brethren. The friendly discussion turned unfriendly and degraded to who had the truth and who was a heretic. Not a good display of discipleship and all very public I might add.
I was struck that the debate was more about who possessed the truth and not about discovering each others position and why they held that particular view. It degraded to the age old division, “I am right and you are wrong…” My time in ministry has taught me some valuable lessons, but one lesson that stands out above all else is that people are important to Jesus so much so he died for every one of them. Jesus did not come to teach doctrine per se but to make dead folks come alive. Leonard Ravenhill said it best, “Jesus did not come to make bad men good, He came to make dead men alive.”
I think at times we have little faith or patience in the ability of the Holy Spirit to teach, correct, guide and lead- He said in John 16:13 that He would in fact tell us things we do not know. Over the years I have come to the realization that I am dependent on the Holy Spirit for all truth, including the truth I think I know already. In addition, if I can not help those who are weaker in their faith and beliefs and I use the Bible to destroy a believer’s confidence- who am I working for or with really? Seldom did Jesus use what I would call a “hot rebuke” towards his followers, it was usually towards the religious folks that He addressed- yet I still believe that Jesus’ goal was not to alienate but to liberate.
As a pastor I deal with lies that folks believe all the time, it can be frustrating at times to be sure. However, I wonder how frustrating I was when I was brand new! The abiding power of the Holy Spirit is awesome and without equal, His patience without limits and I find that participating with the Holy Spirit is much more liberating and advantageous to those that I shepherd. Patience and humility are the keys is making disciples; you can not make anyone believe but you can lead people to the Revealer of Truth. Bickering, judging, name calling, slandering, finger pointing are not the places the Holy Spirit leads me to. Usually that is the flesh and it has a bi-product of death.
Paul’s day saw many lies and teachings that where not from the heart of God- from the Jew and the Gentile alike. Paul lived in a culture steeped in tradition and hedonism, from Mars Hill to the Jewish synagogue- lies of the enemy abounded. Yet Paul did not stand on Mars Hill and declare that they were all believing lies and doomed to hell. In fact, he found the one commonality between them and preached the Good News! Exposing lies that an individual may believe at the expense of the relationship is destructive. Even when Paul opposed Peter to his face about Peter’s hypocrisy, I believe it was with a motive of love to restore right fellowship among the brethren. Paul’s heart was apparent. Paul’s motives were always to communicate the heart of God.
I believe Paul used his freedom for liberating not alienating folks form the truth that sets us free.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Cor 9:19-23 NIV