Moses, Elijah and Isaiah are some of the most respected and revered prophets of the Bible who lived and served God meritoriously at different points in time. Although only the lord Himself is perfect, no one has find fault with their messages, so it is safe to say that whatever it is they said about God must be true and we will be wise to follow the paths of righteousness they have marked for us. But recently something happened among the three foremost ministers of the gospel that led them to a heated argument and that thing is “how exactly God looks like” while they walked the earth as mortals.
According to Moses, the eldest, God is light who dwells in an unapproachable light as later established by Paul in 1 Timothy 6:16. When he prayed to see His glory, Moses was sure that among many things, God’s personality is clearly revealed in light but Elijah would have none of that because according to his experience while on earth, God could have transformed Himself into different ways, but His real personality is fire, not light and he can be found in the midst of a still small voice as Hebrews 12:29 confirmed Him as the consuming fire.
However, prophet Isaiah thought both of them were saying almost the same thing as fire cannot be separated from light and vice versa. He believed that the two has probably not seen God for God is a king who has a complete human form and divine packed together in one. The day he had the vision of God, he saw the ancient of days sitting upon His throne with all sorts of holy angels ministering to him, where then did his two elder brothers and prophets got their own description of the almighty. It is either they have not seen God or they did not see him completely because those two things they mentioned – light and fire were part of the elements of his presence in his own vision. So he disagreed.
Do you think this story is true? If you think this story is not real, I bet you have not been following the trends of evangelism being carried out by our churches and blessed ministries. Why do you, I mean you, the reader of this piece always try to persuade people to worship in your church or denomination when you go for evangelism when you could have encouraged them to join any household of God closest to them? Isn’t it because you think it’s only in your church that people can have the full revelation of God and will not be led into errors? If you are so sure that people should be led to Christ and not to church, why don’t you just tell them the goodnews and leave them to chose while standing in gap for them in prayers? Is it not funny that while Christians admit in the existence of one God, it is often very difficult to admit that other church and worship centres apart from theirs actually have the authentic revelation of Him.
Like in the story above, all the three prophets are correct in their description of who God is. God cannot be confined into a particular dimension of life, so He is everything that has been described by them and more. What happened is that they saw him differently according to the dealings of God with them at the moment, such encounters are what has become doctrines in Christian world today.
Doctrines are nothing but aspects of the personality of God that He chose to reveal to us so that we can have a better understanding of Him and thus be able to walk in the reality of His plans for our lives. When God is dealing with a man, He knows our limitations and in order to make sure that we understand him, He choses different ways, these ways of revelation are what we often called doctrines. These doctrines are supposed to be a means of knowing God but sadly, it has been turned into an instrument of building business empire in the name of church today and has torn the universal kingdom of Christ apart instead of uniting it. This is because rather than building and encourage people to build on the only sure foundation which is Christ, many pastors have made doctrines the foundation upon which people’s faith is built.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 3:11that “No man can lay a foundation other than the One which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”. As wonderful as the revelations of God are, there is only ONE foundation—Jesus. If we build upon any other spiritual truth, it will never sustain the pressures of spiritual life. Sooner or later it will crumble and fall apart. Many doctrines being taught today have drifted into extremes although began as timely revelations for the Body of Christ. Errors made in most cases were not inherent in the doctrine but in human interpretation. The problem was in trying to build upon improper foundations. Often the specific emphasis of a congregation is found to be its foundation. The apostles and preachers of the New Testament had only one message: Jesus. They preached all the doctrines preached today and maybe a few more—yet their whole message was based in Him “in whom are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
In a broader sense, Jesus is not only the foundation, He is the whole building! All things are to be summed up in Him. Spiritual maturity is not just growing in the knowledge of certain spiritual truths; We are to grow up in all aspects into Him(Ephesians 4:15). The apostles’ labor was devoted to Christ being formed in His people. There is a major difference between this and trying to get people to conform to certain spiritual truths. Emphasizing externals may bring about a form of godliness but actually denies His power. Any emphasis that takes precedence over the person of Jesus will lead to lifeless ritual. We must see everything through Him. When we seek to see Him through anything, then He will be distorted.
When the multitudes became hungry, Jesus gave them what they were seeking. He took loaves, broke them and gave them to the people. After they had eaten, only fragments remained (John 6:11-12). This is, in a sense, is a picture of the Church. We have partaken of many different loaves (doctrines) and all that has been left are fragments. Just as Jesus sought to turn the attention of the multitude to the one Loaf, Himself, so He is seeking to turn our attention from various doctrines to Him because “in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). In Christ all doctrines are found in perfect harmony. Taught as isolated extremes, even the greatest spiritual truths will leave the church in fragments. Seen through Him, all doctrines take their appropriate perspective and balance, and can be taught without creating division. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways (the doctrines) , in these last days has spoken to us in His Son (the one doctrine)” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
We see this truth illustrated again in Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus. Martha understood accurately the doctrine of resurrection. She knew that her brother would rise again on the last day; but her hope was in the doctrine of the resurrection, not in Jesus. Jesus redirected her hope, saying, “I am the Resurrection” (John 11:25). But He is not just the resurrection: He is the Truth; He is all truth. Jesus Christ is the revelation from God and of God. He is I Am. If doctrine becomes our emphasis, we are being led astray. We are not changed by doctrine; we are changed by seeing Jesus (II Corinthians 3:18). Anointed teachings are essential for the nourishment of the Christ that is being formed within us, but whenever a truth becomes our focus, it will distract us. For this reason Satan often comes as an angel of light, or messenger of truth. Worldly and carnal truth can deceive us but only in the Truth, Jesus, is there life. He did not come just to teach us truth; He came to be Truth. The light that was in Him was to become the light that was in them.
We, pastors and members should all be like John the Baptist whose focus of his entire ministry was to reveal Jesus. It was his delight to decrease as Jesus increased and because of that humility he was greatly exalted by the Lord Himself who declared John to be the greatest man ever born of woman (Matthew 11:11). Any man of God who will bear witness of Jesus Christ as the Son of God the way John did; who find it comfortable to see their ministry decrease for Christ to be exalted rather than human doctrine will no doubt be among the greatest in the kingdom of God. When John the Baptist saw Jesus passing by, he encouraged his disciples to “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Hearing this, John and Andrew left the Baptist and began to follow Jesus. When He perceived them following, He turned and asked them what may be the most important question regarding salvation. “What do you seek?” (verse 38). This is one question that sooner or later we will all be required to answer. Why are we following Him-Jesus? Although John and Andrew answered with another question, but it was probably the most appropriate reply: “Lord, where do you dwell?” meaning they are more concerned about His person than themselves. Hearing this Jesus beckoned them to do what has been the heart’s desire of every true seeker of God, “Come and you will see”(verse 39).
The leaders and ministers that the Lord gives to His church are never meant to take His place; they are given to lead us to Him. The Lord has ordained men as elders and pastors, but they are instructed to only “shepherd the flock of God” (I Peter 5:2), not to set up their own flocks as being seen with many ministries of today. Throughout the church history, there have been those who have become veils between the Lord and His people orchestrated by influential individuals whose idea of shepherdry is by seeking to establish believers as their own flocks. It is for reasons like that that the Lord promised that when He brings His people together they would be “One flock with one Shepherd” (John 10:16). The ministry of those who are true under-shepherds is not to establish their own authority over the Lord’s people, but God’s. Those who have used doctrines to establish their own domains and ministry will be greatly ashamed as the Chief Shepherd warned in Matthew 23:8-11“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant.”