I have been privileged to travel widely throughout the body of Christ, and have been exposed to almost every kind of major Christian denomination or movement. Presently, many of these groups are in conflict with each other, and some always seem to drift into serious delusions. However, even in its present state I marvel at the brilliance of the church. She is, without question, the greatest creation on earth. Even so, her true greatness is yet to be realized. What could be more wonderful, or more of an honor, than helping to prepare her to be the witness of the unfathomable wisdom of God that she is called to be for all ages to come?
Having begun as the most powerful religious and social force the world has ever known, the church fell into extreme spiritual poverty during the time that it became the most powerful political force in the world. Correction, reform, and maturity have now continued for centuries. The church has proven overall to be a wineskin that can expand to receive increasingly pure new wine.
Certainly there is still a long way to go before the church attains her prophesied maturity of not having spot or wrinkle, to be known for her love, and to be clothed in the glory of God. Those without a historical perspective may have a hard time seeing much progress toward this end, but it is certainly being made. Much of the old is presently experiencing renewal, and there are great new movements constantly pouring new transfusions of life into the universal church. These are certainly wonderful times to be alive and to serve in the household of faith.
From the historical perspective it is also apparent that the Lord did use His church even in her worst condition to speak to every age. The Lord has never required one to be perfect before being used, and He has never required His church to be perfect before using her. We do not get perfected in order to get close to God, or to be used by Him, but we get perfected by getting close to Him and being used by Him. In fact, as He demonstrated with Peter on the Day of Pentecost, He seems to delight in using us in a great way right after a major failure. Like a loving parent with a child, He is always quick to pick us up when we fall, and encourage us to keep going.
It is quite revealing that the Lord sent out His disciples to preach the kingdom, heal the sick, and cast out devils before He even taught them to pray! I am not implying that it is supposed to be this way for us, but I do think that we need to re-examine many of our basic concepts of Christian maturity. Many of those who claim to have the deepest understanding of God and His ways are the least used by Him. Why?
The Apostle Paul warned that “knowledge puffs up,” and it does seem that many who seek deeper knowledge fall to the pride that disqualifies them from being useful to the Master. However, before we completely write off those who are great with knowledge, let us consider that Paul himself was an exception to this pattern. Even so, he had to be struck blind in the natural before he could see in the Spirit.
In Matthew 22:29 Jesus said, “…Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God,” (KJV). This seems to still be true. Those who tend to know the Scriptures err because they do not know the power, and those who know the power err because they do not know the Scriptures. We will continue to fall to error until we know both.
I once asked the head of one of the most successful insurance companies how much training his agents needed to sell their products. I was surprised when he answered that “over-education” was the greatest threat to an agent’s success. He himself did not understand why, but they had very solid data indicating that those who were prone to want to know too much before they got started were inevitably the least successful. He said it was the ones you couldn’t hold back to sit in a classroom for very long that were always the best. He lamented over the fact that they had such great products that they wanted them to be understood, but he said it was simply a fact that enthusiasm sells ten products for every one that is sold by knowledge.
It is an interesting fact that believers who lead others to the Lord will lead more than 90% of them to faith during the first two years after they themselves have been born again. Very few Christians lead others to the Lord after they have been believers for more than two years. The reverse should be true. As we mature and grow in the knowledge of the Lord’s ways, and as we walk more and more in the light, we should lead more and more out of the darkness. Why does knowledge, or even Christian maturity, seem to have this very negative effect?
The first is obviously what Paul warned about, that knowledge can lead to pride. It is rare to meet someone who is devoted to deeper knowledge who is not correspondingly prideful and delusional. It is also rare to meet someone with has great knowledge who also has the substance of that knowledge in their life. This should not be.
When I was a flight instructor, the most difficult and dangerous students were those who had studied the training manual so much that they thought they knew how to fly. Reading the manual and flying the airplane are quite different matters. I would rather try to teach someone who thought he or she was a great pilot because they stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, than those who were overly devoted to knowledge without experience.
Yet, it is also true that the Lord lamented in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest….” As we have mentioned, there is a ditch on either side of the path of life and few seem to be able to stay on the path that is between them.
I love the company of those who love knowledge and are always seeking more understanding of the Lord and His ways. I also love the company of those whose faith is effective and are walking as the Lord walked, healing the sick, casting out demons, and shining light into the darkness to set free those who are bound. These should all be in the same group but presently they rarely are. This must change if we are going to attain what we are called to.
We must learn to combine growing in understanding and walking in faith, which are both required to do His work.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|