There are those out there who think that spiritual education equals university level seminary type training and exposure. That can be the case, but it’s not true most of the time. What these kinds of scenarios do is train those in the program to think a certain way about God and His word. They train according to whatever denomination they are associated with. They teach worship customs and traditions so worship services can be conducted. In terms of a historical basis regarding Christianity, the training can indeed be good, but spiritually, they are limited.
You probably wonder about the statement at the end of the last paragraph. The truth is that all denominations are mixtures of spiritual truth, spiritual error and doctrines of men. That, by the way, does not mean that you should leave the fellowship and denomination you are associated with. It just means that you need to see it for what it is. When Jesus returns, He will take all of us that are His from each denomination and place us into the church He began in the first place. Then and only then, will there be pure spiritual truth and no spiritual error of any kind.
Pastor G and I made a choice a number of years ago that works for us. We were associated with a denomination that, like all the others, had a mixture of spiritual truth, spiritual error and doctrines of men. God worked with the leaders of that fellowship and led them into making more spiritually sound changes to doctrines and the way they did things. Unfortunately, there was a lot of resistance to the changes, and some changed minimally, some not at all, and some left. As I’ve shared previously, we felt spiritually stifled because we felt a leading to learn more about God than the denomination and its members were comfortable exploring. We had to leave. That’s when we decided that the right spiritual path for us was to follow Jesus and live His way of life without denominational restrictions.
Before Jesus got his attention on the road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul (then called Saul) was schooled according to the Pharisee tradition of his day and followed Rabbi Gamaliel. He received much knowledge about cultural traditions and following the God of the Israelites, but he had spiritual knowledge gaps when it came to Jesus. He saw Jesus as a threat and a disruptive influence to what he perceived (rightly so) as God’s physical people. It was only when Jesus came to him directly on that road to Damascus and confronted him lovingly (notice He didn’t condemn Paul for his murderous acts against His followers) and subsequently personally taught Paul about Himself and His teachings so that Paul was a changed man that Jesus used powerfully to change, lead and teach others in His church.
In much the same way, some of us spiritual leaders have been blessed to be directly taught by God the Holy Spirit and led into spiritual truth that no man alone can teach. That’s what Joyce Meyer calls Jesus University or The Holy Ghost School of Theology. Have we read what spiritual men and women have written about their experiences with God? Absolutely! The difference is that we have not chosen our curriculum but God has led us to read those He wants us to read. It’s quite a list that spans the denominations.
Our education is ongoing. Lately, God the Holy Spirit has led us to 1 Corinthians to look at the teachings from Paul’s perspective. There were a lot of issues the fellowship faced, and one of them was that it was hard to tell the difference between those that called themselves God’s and those who weren’t God’s and reflected attitudes and behaviors of the the society around them. Pastor G and I have been struck with the similarity between that long ago time and our present day. It’s hard for us to discern who is God’s and who isn’t when we walk down the street. There are some through whom His love shines and it brings joy to our hearts, but, for the most part, there seems to be no or very little difference.
Pastor G and I pray that each of you continues your spiritual education in the way God leads you. We know from personal experience it may differ from what you have learned or been taught, and you will have decisions and choices to make. There’s a scripture about those that seek the wrong kind of spiritual education: “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Pastor G and I pray you can change that to the positive: ever learning and ever coming to the knowledge of the truth. May God the Holy Spirit be your guide and teacher.
copyright 2013, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved