“You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not.” (Matthew 13:11 NLT)
In the above verse, the word “secrets” can also be translated “mysteries.” And Jesus further explains in the verses following: “To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (vss 11-12)
There were many things I didn’t understand when I first began my journey with Jesus, but over the years the Lord has given me insight into most of them. There are still mysteries, especially related to end times, but for the most part I have clarity in the direction the Lord desires my life to go. One thing I discovered that has made a big difference, is the Lord has corrected things I thought I understood, when in fact I didn’t have a clue.
For example, as a relatively new believer and novice student of the Bible, I didn’t realize that what I was being taught in Seminary was the Professor’s “brand” of truth. It wasn’t that it was necessarily wrong, but it was more indoctrination into their “brand,” rather than strictly instruction in what the Bible taught. What does that mean?
It means, for example, if I’m studying at an institution that is predominantly training students in a Calvinistic theology, training them to lead churches who follow that persuasion, they’re going to teach me to understand the Bible in that light. The same is true if I attend a school who trains Pastors and leaders for Wesleyan-Arminian traditions. Is that wrong? Not necessarily, it’s just the way it is.
Problems arise in today’s churches because you have many from varying denominational and theological backgrounds, all of whom are thinking they want to hear the “truth” of what the Bible teaches. A Pastor can only preach and teach the truth as he or she has come to understand it. And the plot thickens because many people, especially those who have been believers for a long time, aren’t really interested in the Truth of the Bible, they want a church and preacher who reinforces that in which they’ve already been indoctrinated – i.e. their “brand.”
So, what’s a person to do? Personally, I lean heavily on three things. First, the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in John 14:26: “But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” The second thing that is critical to me is what have the Church Fathers historically held as the central tenets of the Christian Faith? And, thirdly, I pay attention to the spirit of the one who is speaking/teaching.
In Romans 8:16 Paul writes: “For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” In other words, I can know that I’m living for the Lord because His Spirit, residing in me, will bear witness with my spirit that I’m a child of God. I believe a similar thing happens when I meet another person who professes to know, love, and teach the truths of my Savior, Jesus. Unless the Spirit of Jesus within me bears witness with the Spirit of Jesus in this other person that we’re of the same Spirit, I don’t put much credence in what they’re saying.
Honestly, I’m not concerned about a lot of peripheral things that people believe and teach. My concern is what they teach about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Gifts of the Spirit, and Salvation, which to me are core truths we need to hold in common. People of a kindred spirit can walk together, learn from one another, and celebrate and serve Jesus together, even if they don’t agree on every point of doctrine. We may also begin to understand why we differ on some things and realize we’re not as far apart as we first thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊