Spirit vs. Theology

As Christians and especially as preachers and pastors, when it comes to ministry, we often times will fall into stride with our comforts and resort to what we feel strongest in.

It often goes against the flesh to be stretched, to be changed, and to learn to operate in ways that seem foreign to us or that we do not feel accomplished in according to our own natural strengths.

I think for a great many that are in ministry, feeling that we have a strong grasp of the scriptures and having a scholarly and deep knowledge of the Word of God is important.  For some, winning theological debates is a benchmark for where one stands authoritatively on the subject of knowledge and wisdom.

Personally, I have to humbly admit, it was also for me at one time early on a hurdle and something that had to be brought to a place of surrender and submission.  To let go of my need to try and feel validated through the accolades of others as being “legitimate” or “qualified” based on my intellectual ability or biblical knowledge.

Even knowing and using the right terminology and lingo to sound more spiritually in-depth can be a part of this struggle and often it is done unconsciously.

Eventually, I came to the place where I trusted the leadership of Holy Spirit more than my natural abilities, education or self perceived understanding.  A place where I implicitly lean on Holy Spirit to accomplish in and through me that which I could never accomplish or be in my own right.

To be fair, we are designed by God to be a winner.  To be accomplished, to succeed, to seek to be more than what we are.  The problem for us as believers and ministers happens when we begin to look to people or the world to define our successes or abilities by their standards of success or meaningfulness rather than judging ourselves according to God’s thought over us on the matters.

For much of the church, there has been over generations a shift from the supernatural to the philosophical as a standard of being authoritative in the church.

The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in many circles has been exclusively replaced by study of the Bible and theological study.  The supernatural and the gifts of Holy Spirit have become something of ridicule and dismissed as “irrelevant” in a time in history where they couldn’t possibly be more relevant and needed.

I jokingly say that some churches believe in the trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and The Holy Bible.

It is important that we study God’s word and show ourselves approved however, to do so without the Holy Spirit at work to illuminate and give us revelation, we are only understanding in our own wisdom.

We cannot depend upon arguments and philosophy to once again turn the world upside down.  That can only be accomplished by love;  love that is spiritual and supernatural in nature, the very love of God poured out into our hearts that spills over onto everyone and everything around us.

I find it ironic that Paul talks about this very thing in 1 Corinthians.

Paul was a scholar of scholars when it came to the scriptures and theological study.  He had been trained and was considered to be somewhat of a prodigy where this was concerned.

Yet here he makes it very clear that he came, teaching not with deep arguments or eloquent speech but the simplistic Gospel of Jesus Christ and a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

2 As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom;

2 For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.

3 And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you.

4 And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them],

5 So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God.

When I began to embrace the calling on my life to ministry, I for a time undoubtably like many others struggled with the thought of being “qualified” to be a pastor and to operate in the ministry.

It was in the middle of this struggle that Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me that the face of ministry as I had always knew it was about to forever change.

The word that Holy Spirit revealed to me was tearing down kingdoms that men have built up for themselves.  He was tearing them down and was going to establish His kingdom.  One that is built upon the power of His Spirit.

In fact, those that seemed the least qualified by standards of institutionalized religion would be some of the greatest ministers that the world has ever seen.  Not necessarily by the standards in which the world defines “great” or “qualified”.  Sounds oddly familiar.

The second part of this word was that Holy Spirit was restoring apostolic ministry and that there would be many leaders or “pastors” that would shepherd smaller groups in a larger body under the leadership of head pastors. Some of these lead pastors would actually operate more in the role of Apostles.

There is indeed joy and strength in letting go of our preconceived notions and letting Holy Speak the simple yet powerful words of life and demonstrating His power towards those that He loves.

I still love wisdom and knowledge and pursuing it and I value it as needed in leadership but it cannot be a substitute for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  I even enjoy engaging the the occasional debate for edification and exhortation.   The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not have to be complicated.  It is as simplistic and fulfilling as a loving embrace yet profound to a degree that cannot be calculated.

It’s power lies in the marriage of the Word with the Spirit at work through love in a spirit of humility.


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