What Went Wrong? (2/5)
What Happened to the Wonder of the Early Church?
Immediately following the Resurrection of Christ the new believers changed the world. As described in the Book of Acts, they were different from nonbelievers because they were known for love and wonderful abilities. They healed sick people, raised the dead to life again, and all sorts of other wonders. People were desperate for hope, so many were captivated by the lives and words spoken by those believers.
But, something went wrong. By the third and fourth centuries, the vitality of the Church had been replaced by the practice of religion. Sincere believers struggled to clarify and codify what the Church believed, while forces that opposed them promoted false teachings which rejected the union of Christ with His body. Christ and His body were turned into separate entities inside a spiritual body.
How was it possible to lose the wonder of the early Church? The Principle of Faith tells us that how we live is a result of what we believe is true. When confronted with knowledge we know to be false, people are not tempted to live like it is true. But if we have believed something as true which isn’t, we automatically live like it is true, like it is real.
People lie to others to change their reality, to change what another person perceives to be real. When people believe something is real, they will live like it is real. But when presented with knowledge that makes what was real seem unreal, people’s attitudes about their reality will change. Or, when presented with conclusive evidence that something else is more real than what they had known, it will change their perceptions, and thus their behavior.
When someone lies to another, they are attempting to change what that person thinks is real in order to manipulate them into acting like something false is true. This is what the Serpent did in the Garden of Eden.
Through a series of misrepresentations and lies, the Serpent convinced Adam and Eve that they weren’t like God (i.e., His image and likeness) but could be if they did the right things. Once persuaded that they weren’t who God had said they were, and knowing the glory they had seen in their creator, they began doing things to make themselves who they wanted to be. But, they were already who they wanted to be, but had become convinced they weren’t.
Once the First Couple believed that they were not the glorious creatures God had said they were, they began seeing themselves as other than they were. If you and I had seen them, we would have thought they were beautiful, but they didn’t. By believing lies, they began to see themselves as different from who they really were. That Serpent, now called Satan, still works the same way, and believers are still falling for the same lies the same way. Jesus called him the father of lies because he introduced lying on Earth.
So, mankind’s problems began with believing untrue knowledge was true, and that is still the source of every conceivable problem we face. That is why Jesus said,
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. John 8:31 (KJV)
How Does Abiding In His Word Fix Anything?
Many people have been taught that the Greek word logos means word. And it does. Since Jesus is the logos of God, it is proper to call Him the Word of God. But just as important, logos also means reason, reasoning, and logic. So if Jesus is the Word of God, He is also the reason of God. And you can say, He is the reasoning and logic of God all embodied in a man. As important as words are to God, just as important is the logic and reasoning expressed using His words.
If we want to know what and how God thinks, when we look at His words we not only see Jesus but more importantly the exact reasoning and logic of God. By saying, “If you abide in my word,” Jesus was not only referring to knowing His words, but getting comfortable with His reasoning. Jesus wasn’t just filling people full of a bunch of facts but teaching them to think and reason like God.
As we read in the Sermon on the Mount and as Jesus proclaimed after the Resurrection, God is our real father. Real fathers don’t just fill their kids with a bunch of facts but train them to use that knowledge. Good fathers and mothers labor to teach their children how to think properly.
We can have all the knowledge in the world, but if we don’t learn how to use it the way God uses what He knows, as the Apostle Paul said, “We are nothing.” Jesus was not looking for disciples but learners. He did not seek people who would follow Him but who would learn from Him. He wanted people to learn a new way to think about God, themselves, and life.
Strong’s, et al, defines the verb manthanó - to learn. The noun mathétés, rendered disciple by most translators refers not just to someone who follows and imitates another but who learns what they know. It has the idea of an apprentice who learns how to use the tools of a trade instead of someone who can repeat the knowledge they have acquired. Doesn’t it makes far more sense to define the noun mathétés as a learner? So I read what Jesus said a little differently.
If you snuggle down inside my reasoning, you are truly my learners. (JEC)
Jesus finished the sentence with:
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
When someone has learned the truth the way Jesus knows, it makes them free. Free from what? The bondage, uncertainty, fear, sickness, anxiety, and oppression that results from living like false knowledge is true. This is why the seventh fruit of the spirit is faithfulness, which means full of faith or full of believing God’s truth. This is why it is so important that God’s original words not be changed.
It is so important that more in the ministry gain a true comprehension of biblical Greek beyond being able to do word studies. It is also so important to understand the grammar and word forms of the original text which contain volumes of information not found in lexicons and books of word studies. God is passionate about all of His children. He wants us to know exactly what He has said. When we believe that God has said something which He, in fact, did not say, it can negatively affect our perceptions.