Things Jesus Didn’t Tell Us
by Paul deParrie
Culture War Associates © 2004

Part I

Red-Letter Bibles

It is a teaching that is very damaging. From the individual believer who simply gives more credence to the “red-letter” passages of the Bible, to the full-blown teaching that the Old Testament is irrelevant and that Paul’s letters were a hijacking of the truths of Jesus, to the idea that the specific words of Jesus are the sum total, or, at least trump card, of the Word of God for the Christian not only stunts spiritual growth, but can lead to bizarre, and sometimes heretical, teachings.

As usual, none of this is new. From the first century Ebionites who believed that Christians were to keep the Law of Moses and whose only accepted text was a warped Hebrew translation of the book of Matthew, through certain ascetic and pacifist sects who regarded the Sermon on the Mount as the summum bonum of the Way, to modern attempts at reproducing the “first century church,” there is a troubling recurrence of people and groups seeking to “simplify” the teaching of the Word to the point of simplistic foolishness.

Well, I have news for those of you who are tending toward this direction: Jesus simply did not tell us everything.

Does this sound like heresy?

Jesus Himself said to the disciples that he had not done so.

Many Things To Say

In John 16: 12, Jesus says, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

This little-noticed verse opens the doors to all sorts of things. Jesus further explained what He was saying in verses 13 and 14:

13        Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14        He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Not only does Jesus say He has not told the disciples everything (and He said a lot more than was recorded in the Gospels – more on this later), but that after He leaves He will continue their education via the Holy Spirit.

The clear result is that Jesus is telling us that further revelation is yet to come. This clears the biblical way for God to pen further teaching at the hands of Paul, Peter, John, James, and, possibly others. (Immediately, though, I need to say that I am not saying that the canon of Scripture is still open. Let’s get that issue clear.)

More mysterious yet is the part of this verse where Jesus explains the reason why He could not tell them these things: “Ye cannot bear them now.”

What’s that all about?

Conflicting Or Continuing Orders?

The verses above establish that it is not beyond our Lord to withhold information from us for either our own good or for His purposes and plans. It also indicates that His intention is to eventually fully reveal those things – in the appropriate time and manner.

However, I do not wish to limit the scope of this work solely to those things that Jesus did not tell the disciples before His death, burial, and resurrection – things He later revealed through holy men of God moved by the Holy Spirit.

I would also like to look at some of the apparent “conflicting” orders Jesus gave either personally or through the Holy Spirit. As believers who are to be able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit, there are things we need to understand about that.

There is a simplistic What-Would-Jesus-Do (WWJD) mentality out there that creates more confusion than clarity. Some of the WWJD adherents rely on emotional responses (often called “love”) as the basis for what Jesus would have done, while others use a dry, formulaic search of those things Jesus is recorded as having done.

The first, obviously, will lead to errors in tolerating sin. The second proves unworkable – even within the confines of New Testament (NT) Scripture.

An error that both approaches share is that they often regard the Old Testament (OT) as not viable in a discussion of WWJD.

Of course, this is silly. The NT is clear on this. In 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 we read:

16        All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17        That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Reading this, keep in mind that the only generally available “Scripture” at the time Paul wrote this was the OT.

In addition, the believers were also minded to accept the writings of the apostles as “Scripture” as well. At least Peter was fully aware of the fact that Paul’s writings were such. He admonishes his readers in 2 Peter 3: 15-16:

15        And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16        As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Peter classes Paul’s missives along with the “other scriptures” – the OT. For a guy who allegedly “hijacked” Christianity, Paul certainly had Peter hoodwinked.

So, while this work will initially focus on some of those things that Jesus didn’t tell the disciples, it will go on to look at how the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit work hand-in-hand to guide our daily lives – if we are willing to let Him.

Part II

Living In A Jewish State Of Mind

In the Gospels, Jesus says that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15: 24)

This is significant, because the fulcrum of history was about to see the moving of the kingdom of God from being purely a Jewish enterprise to something that was open to all the nations. This would be a foreign thought to the Jews, despite the scattered OT prophecies indicating it would happen.

Jesus was very careful about these things because, until the Spirit would indwell these very Jewish believers, such a thought would be simply incomprehensible to them.

Remember, that Jesus directed His sermons to people who thought that they were the kingdom of God. He had to speak in terms they could comprehend – and not run away thinking He was mad.

Jesus tenuously taught some things that would be greatly expanded later by Paul.

Think about the parable of the good Samaritan. We all shake our heads at the reaction of the Pharisees, but I assure you that the disciples themselves were probably just as baffled. The one thing that held them in place was that, by this time, they understood at least that Jesus was sent by God and that when he said strange things it was up to them to wait for the explanation.

This is what happened when he told the multitude of “believers” that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to be saved. About 5,000 left in horror and confusion. When asked if the disciples would leave as well, Peter, answering for the others, said, “Where will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6: 53-69)

Their minds and hearts were stretched to the limit – and in the verse discussed earlier, Jesus acknowledges that there were things He needed to tell them that went well beyond that limit. These things He would wait to tell them by the Holy Spirit – and, by that same Spirit, empower them to understand and “bear.”

The Words Of Jesus Only

Many believers, wishing to honor their Savior, place emphasis on the words of Jesus – some even limit doctrine to those red-letter words – to the point where the remainder of the NT as well as all of the OT are virtually ignored. This seriously impairs spiritual growth. Suppose Paul or Peter had done this? Neither would have written the letters they did – especially not Paul with his radical “not under the Law” teaching (which we will discuss later).

Probably one of the supreme examples I have heard of taking Jesus words and ignoring those of the rest of Scripture is on the subject of marriage and divorce.

Some people quote Jesus very limited words on this topic as the sum total of the NT teaching on the subject, yet Paul’s discourses on this are far more full and complete.

Jesus, speaking to Jews who all consider themselves to be the only “believers,” addressed them on that basis. He did not, as Paul did, speak of “the unbelieving” husband or wife. Such a reference would have been utterly meaningless to the Jews. It would have been inconceivable to a Jew that a believer would be married to an unbeliever. However, when gentiles began to enter the ranks of the Church, very often a man or woman would be born again while their spouse was not. This raised a lot of questions that would never have come up among a solely Jewish group.

At one point, Paul speaks of a particular point:

1 Corinthians 7:10-11
10        And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11        But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Now, I don’t know about you, but as I look through the four gospels, I do not see any such quote by Jesus. So, is Paul just making it up here?

No. It is evident that there were many things Jesus said and did which were never written down. (John 21: 25) Indeed, I am sure many additional direct quotes from Jesus were common currency in the early Church. I am reminded of Paul saying in Acts 20: 35,

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This quote is not in the gospel accounts either.

I am certain that the words Paul says in Corinthians are those of Jesus and are probably a direct quote from the Master.

It starts becoming strange when he follows up with this:

1 Corinthians 7:12-15
12        But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13        And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14        For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15        But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

This is the opening to a rather lengthy teaching on marriage, divorce, and singleness. When he says, “the rest speak I, not the Lord” I do not believe he is offering a private opinion. I believe he is giving us God’s word on a matter beyond what Jesus specifically said addressing issues that would have not been understood – or particularly needed – in Judea or Galilee. I note that at the end of this discourse, Paul wryly reminds them, “I think also that I have the Spirit of God.” (Verse 40)

While Jesus says that no one may divorce except for the cause of adultery and that remarriage without that cause results in ongoing adultery, Paul acknowledges that liberty for those whose unbelieving spouse abandons them.

For the “words of Jesus only” crowd, Paul is either teaching false doctrine or his words are simply not allowed to be seen on the same level as those of Jesus. This is not really an option, though. Jesus did tell His disciples there would be unbearable (then) things that the Holy Spirit would teach when He departed from them.

This, however, was not the only – or most shocking – new teaching.

Every Nation, Kindred, Tribe, and Tongue

There are a number of places in the OT where God makes it clear that the gentiles – the “other” nations – will also be part of His ultimate kingdom. Beginning with God’s promise to Abraham that “all nations” would be blessed in his “seed” (Christ) and moving on to any number of the promises in the books of the prophets, the plan was apparent – in hindsight. The Jews, on the other hand, did not see those clearly. They saw that God promised them a special status, that He said he would crush all their enemies (those “other” nations) under their feet, and that their Messiah – their Messiah – would rule all nations with a rod of iron and they would rule with Him.

To the Jewish mind – even the best Jewish mind – it would have been incomprehensible that any gentile would be anything but “hewers of wood and a drawers of water” when they reigned as kings with their Messiah. There was, in their minds, a God-ordained wall of separation between them and all the other nations. Even the Law, embodied in the Holiness, or Separation Code, made it nearly impossible for there to be any connections.

Jesus did hint at the coming change.

Matthew 8: 11-12
11        And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12        But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I don’t think even the disciples understood that this meant that gentiles would be enjoying the repast at the same table as the patriarchs. I think they mentally filed it away under “Weird Saying of the Master” and promptly forgot it. They were good at forgetting things. (Matthew 16: 6-12)

Nor was this the only place Jesus veered off the expected “Jews Rule the World” party line. He seemed to always crack the door of the kingdom for some gentile like the Centurion, or the woman at the well, or the Syrophenician woman. He even, as mentioned earlier, made a Samaritan the hero in one of his stories. In toto, though, it wasn’t much.

What really started the ball rolling on this unbearable doctrine of gentile inclusion in God’s kingdom was a hammer-to-the-head miracle – or series of miracles.

Peter was a good Jew. While he had his failings, he knew how to keep ceremonially clean by eating right and such. Maybe that’s why God picked on him to start kicking down the barriers. Up to this point, followers of The Way were all Jews. It never had occurred to anyone to preach to a gentile – and these were the highly-touted, Spirit-filled, First Century Christian Church people.

So, in Acts 10 we find Peter, taking a siesta in the middle of the day while waiting for a meal to be prepared. Suddenly, Peter sees a vision of a great vessel coming down from Heaven with all sorts of creatures – clean and unclean – inside. The voice of God (Peter had heard it before on the mount of transfiguration) speaks, “Rise, Peter. Kill and eat.”

Peter recites an oxymoron, “No, Lord” and tries informing the Lord of something God already knew. “I’ve never eaten anything unclean before.”

God says, “Don’t call unclean, what I have cleansed.”

Again, this is all very mysterious to our Spirit-filled, First Century Church, Personally-Chosen Apostle. If he’d been a Pentecostal, he’d have been trying to cast the devil out of the sheet.

God patiently does it a second and a third time for emphasis. What Peter doesn’t know, but is about to learn, is that some time before all this, God sent an angel to a gentile dog named Cornelius. As a result of that apparition, Cornelius sent men (more gentile dogs) to Joppa to the exact house where Peter was to ask for Peter by name. They are just walking up to the house when God tells Peter to go downstairs and meet these men, invite them to spend the night, and go with these gentiles without asking questions. By this time, Peter has it figured out that God is up to something – but what?

Still, the unbearable thought cannot sink through that thick cranium. (Allow me to pause here to say that I don’t think any of us would fare much better in his place.)

He gets to Cornelius’ house and *gasp!* enters it. Upon hearing Cornelius’ tale (for the second time), he finally relents and preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to this house full of gentiles. It must have seemed to him like preaching to animals – but he did it because those were the marching orders. Like a good soldier, he plunged ahead.

Next thing you know the whole crowd gets filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter knew this was so because they were all speaking in tongues.

Peter had no choice but to baptize them.

This, though, was only the beginning of the hurdle. Peter was going to have to face the music with the rest of the apostles and the Church back at headquarters. It didn’t take long for word to spread that Peter was out there preaching to gentiles and the bickering over it started immediately.

Peter had his work cut out for him in explaining this unbearable truth. Fortunately, as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit was on hand to guide into all Truth – first by demonstrating that gentiles could be filled with the Holy Spirit, then by confirming the truth in the hearts of the assembled apostles and other Church leaders.

The Holy Spirit had done precisely what Jesus had said; He taught them an unbearable truth.

Hold it, though. The lesson is not really over. The apostles and the church at large were accustomed to some real low-life people being saved, but those were low-life Jews. Now, Cornelius, the gentile, was at least known as a “devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10: 2). However, sooner or later, the Jewish believers were going to have to deal with gentiles who were formerly fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners who had been washed in the blood of the Lamb. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11)

It didn’t take long either. Already a man named Ananias had laid hands on a radical convert named Saul, whom God had said would bear His name before the gentiles. (Acts 9: 15) The stage had already been set. Next thing they knew, the Jews of the Church in Jerusalem were hearing about all kinds of gentiles calling upon the name of the Lord.

What To Do?

Now that the Jewish believers had a few gentiles coming to repentance and being filled with the Holy Spirit, the next question was: What do we do with these people?

Not all the Jewish believers were fully prepared to accept gentiles on equal terms. A little dust-up occurred when the believing Greek widows were being left out of the daily food distribution. (Acts 6) After Peter’s experience with Cornelius things were probably a lot more amicable, but the Jews still weren’t sure how to handle these people with their foreign ways.

A number of leading members decided that the gentiles needed to convert to Judaism – be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses – in order to be saved. It sounded reasonable. Even Jesus had said nothing of any change in the Law. Unfortunately for them, they were missing something. God’s covenant with Abraham – the covenant of blessing all nations through the Messiah – did not include the Law. The Law was something that came afterwards, and was not an addition to Abraham’s covenant. (Galatians 3: 16-17)

Again, Jesus hinted at this change, but knew that they were unable to bear it without the special teaching skills of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus had pretty much undermined the sabbath by saying that the sabbath was created for man’s benefit, and that man was not created “for the sabbath.” (Mark 2: 27) He told the people that it was not unclean foods entering through the mouth that defiled a man, but unclean heart attitudes escaping through the mouth that defiled. (Mark 7: 18-23)

When He said that the Law would not pass away until all was fulfilled, the disciples themselves did not understand that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was all the fulfillment the Law needed to fade way and disappear. (Matthew 5: 18; Hebrews 8: 13)

So the heaviest, most unbearable teaching Jesus had for His disciples was that His disciples would no longer be “under the Law.”

Remember that the Law was not only the Jews’ religious practice, it was their entire culture. The ritual washings, special garments, special foods, special haircuts (and other cuts), were all designed to separate them from gentiles as much as possible. This was done in order to keep the lineage of the Messiah as clear and pure as possible. (Galatians 4: 1-7; Hebrews 9: 10) Under the OT, the only way for a gentile to get in touch with God was to convert to Judaism. The separations imposed by the Law made it nearly impossible for the Jews to be evangelical about their covenant. Since the Law was designed to be temporary, this was a good thing. (Galatians 3: 19, 23-26)

The new covenant was different. It was designed to be evangelical. It was designed to “break down the partition” between Jew and gentile in Christ – in fact, this was the very mystery of the Gospel that was hidden even from the holy prophets of old. (Ephesians 1-3)

Can you imagine Jesus telling His Jewish audience, “You are no longer under the Law, but under grace”? It may as well have come from another planet. Everything they did in their lives was directly related to the Law. He may as well have said, “Stop breathing.”

No, Jesus left that message for the Holy Spirit through Paul. Having broken down the partition between Jew and gentile, the Spirit would then lead Paul – a Law-man extraordinaire – to preach among the gentiles and conclude that the Law was “passing away.” He withstood “Pope” Peter (whoops! see Galatians 2: 11-14) “to the face” over the issue and brought the issue to the Jerusalem council of elders. The council decided that the gentiles, at least, were not required to circumcise themselves or keep the Law of Moses. (Acts 15)

Confusing The Law With The Promise

Peter admonished his readers that Paul’s writings were “sometimes hard to be understood.” (2 Peter 3: 16) This witness is true. Paul’s teaching about the end of the Law of Moses and the beginning of an age of grace have led to some confusion.

First, many today seem to equate the end of the specific covenant with Israel through Moses with the end of the usefulness of the OT as a source for learning about God’s will for today. Often, believers will react to an admonition using OT Scripture with the rejoinder, “But that’s Old Testament!”

It is as if no OT verse reflects the will of the Father any more. Some, carry this cutting off of the OT to the point of almost saying that it was God Himself who changed when Jesus died and rose from the dead – that the OT God was mean and judgmental, but the NT God got “saved” by Jesus sacrifice and is now nice and tolerant of our foibles (sins).

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. God does not change (Malachi 3: 6; Hebrews 13: 8) – neither does His definition of and attitude toward sin. Remember, our sins (even the “little” ones) cost Him His Son on the cross.

Earlier I quoted 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 and it is well worth repeating.

16        All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17        That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

While writing this, Paul knew that the only “scripture” available to the body of Christ was the OT. He did not say this (or anything else in his writings) by accident.

The teaching of Paul was that we were not under the Law of Moses – that is, this covenant made on stones was not the covenant of promise to Abraham. They were two different things. So, saying this, he was teaching that we were not justified by circumcision, sabbath-keeping, kosher diets, offering sacrifices, wearing of tassels, or any of the other multitude of requirements of the Law of Moses. Not only were we not justified by these, we were not required to keep them after we were justified as a means of righteousness.

Paul strenuously warned against any kind of creeping Law-keeping for justification or righteousness as an abandonment of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. (Galatians 2: 21 and 5: 4; Romans 10: 4-5; James 2: 10)

None of this means that God’s opinion of adultery, homosexuality, theft, lying, divorce, covetousness, or any other ungodly thing has changed. The age of grace did not usher in an age of tolerance for sin within (or without) the Church.

In the OT, God authorized the governments of the world to punish evildoers – even unto capital punishment. He is still of that opinion. The use of the OT to show that God permits such a punishment did not change suddenly when Jesus died.

The Law of Moses is not the sum total of the OT. God’s heart is boldly revealed in the OT in things that will be forever part of His character.

Different Strokes For Different Blokes Or “WWJD?”

The Scripture establishes that God does not change. However, there is a question about whether God changes His mind. A number of verses declare that God has changed His mind. (Exodus 32: 14; 2 Samuel 24: 16; Jeremiah 26: 19; Jonah 3: 10 as examples) Of course, that action which God originally said He planned to do to bring evil upon someone for judgment, and the action He finally took in showing mercy were both righteous in character. As such, there was no change in God Himself.

A similar question comes to mind about how God directs His people. Does God always follow the same instruction in what to do in various situations?

Today, many people are under the impression that God wants all of His people to slavishly follow exactly what Jesus did in every circumstance. To those I would ask: Can you die as an atonement for the sins of another? If not, maybe you should reconsider this proposition.

A good example from Scripture would be to contrast and compare how Jesus and how Paul handled similar situations – a trial for their lives.

Jesus, it is well known, did not answer the accusations against Him. Through most of the processes He was taken through, He remained silent. His willingness to not put up a defense led to His death.

Here is a perfect example of WWJD? in the face of court accusations against His ministry. Is this what every Christian should do in every case? Adopting the simplistically popular “theology” of WWJD?, it would appear that this would be the case – but I don’t think so.

Paul faced a trial as well. The Jews wanted him dead. When Paul was brought before officials for judgment you couldn’t shut him up. He vigorously defended himself and his ministry. We don’t see him asking WWJD? in that situation.

Why the difference?

It is simple. Jesus and Paul had different missions on earth. Jesus came specifically to die for our sins. He refused to be delivered out of the hands of the murdering Jews and Romans when the time was right for Him to fulfill that mission. Paul’s mission, as described in his encounter with the risen Christ and the orders he received from Him, was to preach the gospel to the gentiles all over the world. To do that, he needed to be alive. Had he been possessed of a “martyr complex” he could have exercised that option of surrendering to murderers many times during his journeys. That was not God’s course for him, and he knew it.

The mission of each believer is revealed to him as he follows the Spirit of God. Some roads lead to silent acquiescence, others to vigorous defense. Sometimes it is worth asking WWPD?

So, the mission God has for each believer will determine the actions they must follow. Yet another thing plays into this: The season.

Recall that Jesus once instructed His disciples:

Luke 9: 2-6
2          And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
3          And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
4          And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
5          And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
6          And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

This instruction was very specific for a specific season in the lives and training of the disciples. These verses have lead many a zealous believer to the life of an ascetic. Some have gone so far as to say that this is a permanent lifestyle instruction for all believers at all times.

I am not saying that God does not call some people to this kind of life. Only God makes that call. However, I will say that this was not the end of the matter for the disciples. There was another season to come for the very people who received this word.

Luke 22:35-36
35        And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
36        Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

As Jesus prepared them for their future work after His departure, He reversed His previous marching orders. He did not say that God would not make provision, only that it would be different this time – that they would have to make preparations for provision such as they were able. God may provide, He seemed to be saying, but it will be done by another means most of the time.

This example also illustrates that God may lead a person to do one thing during one season, then change it completely the next. They don’t call Him “Lord” for nothing.

The New Testament Church Myth

An error that sometimes accompanies the “words of Jesus only” doctrine is the myth of the perfection of the early Church – the search to revive The New testament Church.

It is a common human yearning to look back to some kind of Golden Age and look for some way to return. Often times there are many real “golden” aspects of that age worthy of revival, but there is also a corresponding self-imposed blindness to some of the things that were not so golden.

So it is with the “Early Church” – especially that portrayed in Acts. Over the centuries, there have been many movements attempting a return. Of course, much of what they hope to return to must be culled from faulty or incomplete understandings of what we see in the Bible – and perhaps, in the writings of early Church leaders.

Some will look at the Jerusalem Church and see a completely communal life, while others do not. Some see a unity and love between all members that seems surreal.

There is simply no denying that the Spirit of God was active in ways we do not see today.

Perhaps, we think, if we can replicate that early Church, the Spirit will once again move so powerfully.

However, close inspection does not bear up the myth of this totally unified, loving group – at least not to the extent we imagine. The Spirit was still working with fallible people, some of whom were moved to extraordinary acts of compassion.

Still we also see the vainglorious Ananias and Sapphira vying for recognition and position. We see people whose Jewish-separatist notions are so strong that Greek widows are not even getting food. Believers cower in fear when Peter is arrested and are nowhere seen while Stephen is stoned. We see great disputations arise over Peter even preaching to a gentile. Paul confronts Peter for his hypocrisy when he abandoned his gentile hosts’ dinner in favor of the Judaizers. Paul and Barnabas squabble over whether to take John Mark on their missionary trip – both leaving in a huff, and in different directions. Later, we see a church in Corinth actually proud of their tolerance for a man sleeping with his father’s wife – all the while dividing themselves between followers of Paul, or Peter, or Apollos. The believers in Galatia are ready to return to the law of Moses for their righteousness.

These are all part of The New Testament Church. These are the Holy Ghost-filled, new believers fresh after the time when Jesus walked in their midst. It sounds a lot like my Church. It sounds a lot like me.

Part III

Life Lived In His Presence

To me, when I consider the Word of God, and when I look at how the Spirit has guided me, I am amazed. Walking with God involves both the Word and the Spirit. The Word alone leaves us dry, bound to written codes faintly understood by all-too-human minds, and limited in our ability to relate with God. Those who claim to follow only the spirit all too often fall into being shunted to and fro by emotional waves and without any anchor or boundary to stabilize them.

God has always truly wanted a people who, one-by-one, were willing to listen for His voice – even when it seemed strange or outlandish, even when it might result in alienation from those we call brothers and sisters.

Just as Jesus didn’t tell His disciples everything, He, likewise, does not tell us. Some of what He could tell us would frighten or offend us if told before we were prepared.

Indeed, there is even a corporate principle to this business of Jesus withholding. The Church of Jesus Christ has grown in its understanding of God’s heart over the centuries.

No, I’m not saying that the Word has changed. We have, though, come to understand it better. The early Church writers had much good to pass on to us, but not all that they wrote was in agreement with the Word of God. This requires careful discernment.

What I am saying is that we need to be prepared to be surprised by God. Things are not always as they seem, or as they appear, or even as all of the past ages of believers thought. Sometimes, God is ready to teach us something we would not have been able to bear just a few years ago.