What Does “Equipping The Saints” Mean? – Part XI
In Greek Theo = God; ology = Study of; thus theology = study of God, yet if we take a higher level graduate theology course at a seminary we discover it is a collection of a lot of theologian’s, men who claim to be studying God, views on various religious topics. It is all about how we, man, have interpreted scriptures. It is basically what we as an individual believes about God. Every man has his own theology: how he perceives God at that moment. I have discovered that my theology has changed over the years, for I have often boxed in God, trivialized my faith, sought to systematically place things in order so they made intellectual sense, organize, characterize, even politicize my religious experience.
Like Saul, who later became Paul, I have sat under and read the works of some remarkable religious theologians who have molded what I believe God to be, sat under thousands of hours of religious training during my 50 years as a Christian believer, often being doctrinated by the religious camp who was doing the teaching. The Westernized Church honors the theologian for his highly intellectual interpretation of the Scriptures. Introduction to the Bible 101 is an entry level course, but Theology 502 is a high level graduate course. Saul and I both have sat under some incredible theological teachers, but where did it get us?
We, the Church, honor our scribes and Pharisees, the intellectual religious leaders of our day, just as the Jewish people honored theirs in Jesus’ day, yet they are the very people Jesus criticizes heavily, “Woe, you scribes and Pharisees…..” It was the theologians of his day that received his verbal wrath. Saul, “the Pharisee of Pharisees”, has to literally get knocked off his horse and blinded before he is willing to see the deception of his religious zeal of persecuting the very thing he should be advocating. He was forced to rethink his thinking! This experience led him to he wilderness to rethink and cleans himself of his old beliefs and reestablish and build upon the new before being released to become one of the greatest apostles and theologians of his time.
A friend once had a vision of me in a bird cage with the door to the cage open, but I remained inside perched in peace, unwilling to fly to my freedom. Why? After struggling for an answer, the Holy Spirit spoke to my friend who said I was the bird inside, the cage was the religious structure I had build around myself. In it I found safety, comfort, and peace, so I chose to remain content, perched inside. Who knows what would happen if I left the cage and became free? Where would I perch? Is there a haven of safety somewhere else? What would being free really mean to me? I realized that I had become a Pharisee like Saul, and a transformation from the safe confines of my religious experience would be needed in order to “fly in the spirit” on “wings as eagles”. That flying in the unknown would change my theology, the way I perceived God in my life’s experience. God was still God, faith, unchanging; it was my perception of him that changed!
It is that perception of who God is in our individual lives that is so important. That is why it is so important to “trust” the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ to “teach us all things”, for He, and only He can be the revealer of Truth to us through the Word of God. Equipping the saints is all about guiding a person, directing someone, releasing them to discover for themselves the Truth, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, in their personal lives so their life becomes a “Living Gospel”, not a legalistic, written, intellectually driven gospel. It is different “to know God”, to experience God, than it is “to know about God” or study, or theologize God!
But “What are we to believe?” you may ask. “What do we know is truth?” Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal that to you through the Logos Word, the Bible, and make it the Rhema Word, the living word in your life. I believe, in the five fold, the Holy Spirit gives the apostolic passion of the Church the wisdom to “know the mysteries of God”, the truths, the nuggets of the gospel that brings unity. That is what I call the Apostolic Teaching! It is not doctrinal teaching that has divided the church into its many sects, divisions, and denominations. I have learned over the year that doctrine divides, the Holy Spirit unites, so we must “trust” and “rely” on the Holy Spirit to reveal “apostolic” truth for the “entire Church” in order to see sectarianism diminish and eventually disappear.
In order “to equip the church for the work of service” we must equip our future evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, and apostles with the knowledge on how to “trust the Holy Spirit” of Jesus Christ, the Revealor, to reveal universal truths to His entire Church, truths that will be shared and honored by every member of the Body of Christ, truths that will draw all men toward Jesus Christ, truths that will unite not divide.
Going through such a drastic change from intellectualism to practical experience, the living out of the gospel will bring radical change. When Saul met the “living God”, he was literally knocked off his horse. The transformation from what he “knew about God” to “knowing God” caused such a radical change in his life, like his Father Abram who changed his name to Abraham, Saul changed his name to Paul and started “life anew”, a life transformed, a life free of studying about God, to a life of intimately knowing God. That is one of the goals for preparation and equipping the saints.