The Teaching of the Spirit

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6 – 3:23

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. – 1 Corinthians 2:10-13

If we long to know God and grow in our relationship with Him, we spend time with Him. He fills us with His Spirit and by His Spirit we begin to understand Him and the wonderful things He has for us. God opens our minds and increases our knowledge and wisdom. God also uses those whom He has called to teach us through their writings and preaching, just as the Corinthians were learning from Paul and from other teachers.

We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. – 1 Corinthians 3:5b-9

Paul uses two different examples of how we grow in our relationship with God. The first follows the style of Jesus, using the example of seeds being planted and growing (Matthew 13:3-9). Someone introduced us to Christ – they planted the seed in our hearts; perhaps someone else discipled us, watering the seed that had previously been planted when we accepted Christ. Still others come into our lives and continue to teach us God’s ways and we grow.

Paul’s second example is of building a house, another comparison similar to one Jesus made (Matthew 7:24-27). Someone laid a foundation of faith for us when we first heard the message of the cross. Others have taught us along the way using a variety of materials or teaching methods. For most of us, our life has been influenced by many different teachers, preachers and writers over the years in addition to our own personal study of God’s word.

I first accepted Christ as a little girl while attending the First Church of the Nazarene in Bloomington, Indiana (home of the IU Hoosiers). I remember my Sunday School teachers, those who taught our worship time and my Caravan teachers. This was the time in my life when I learned songs like “If I were a butterfly” and “Jesus loves the little children.” I remember how proud I was to finally be able to fold my hands just right to say, “This is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, see all the people.”

The Lord called my Dad into full-time ministry and we moved to Lanett, Alabama and then to Rock Island, Illinois. A long list of teachers influenced me as I continued to grow in my understanding of the Bible. Over the years, I have grown through the preaching of Mark Barnes, David Felter, Don Tyler, Larry Fortado (my Daddy), Stephen Manley, John Bowling, Jack McCormick, Rob McDonald, D.L. Huffman, Jim Kraemer, Scott Sherwood, Crawford Howe, Lloyd Brock and many more. I have read books, listened to radio programs, and learned songs with spiritual truths. So a foundation of faith was laid in my heart as a little girl and many have invested in my spiritual growth and built upon that foundation.

Human leaders, teachers and preachers have drawn close to God in an effort to spread the message of Christ. Chances are I have heard some wrong information mixed in with all the right. There have been times when I misunderstood Scripture or read ideas that missed the mark. Well-meaning followers of Christ (including myself) have at some time or another taught something they believed to be right that was not right at all. Here is what Paul has to say about this kind of building or growth.

But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have – Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials – gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames…

So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you – whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life or death, or the present or the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. – 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 21-23

As we learn and grow in our understanding of God, it is vital to take all of that new information directly to God in our quiet times. By drawing near to Him and spending time in His presence, His Spirit can help us sort through all we have learned. He promises to give us wisdom and understanding as we seek His truth. All that we have heard, all that we have read, all that we struggle to understand – He wants us to come to Him with all of it and then live by His power.

Dear God, thank you for being the source of all wisdom and all power for us!

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20