Sunday, December 29, 2013

How the Holy Spirit handles disagreements in the New Testament and in the church today

In the Old Testament, God's direction was clear and sometimes calamitous.

God spoke clearly - and not just in visions, and dreams but through supernatural miracles like the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, live angels appearing to speak to people, a loud voice from heaven. Fire raining down. Signs and Wonders.

Thus when the sons of Korah wanted  a different direction to worship, God stepped in; the earth swallowed them up!
Sin was punished with judgement. If someone fell sick or had disaster befall them, it was because of judgement.

Contrast what happened then, with what happens now and in the New Testament.

1) Matthew 18. Jesus specifies that when there is irreconcilable disagreement or conflict, separation must occur.

2) The apostles Paul and Peter have a sharp disagreement - about Peter treating gentile believers worse than Jewish believers - that becomes a quarrel.

3) The apostles in Jerusalem believe that people are still under the Mosaic Law; apostle Paul and the gentile believers think it no longer applies. There are at least two conflicts

a) Acts 15 where the Jerusalem elders (apostles) agree that that OT law (almost all of it) no longer applies to the gentile believers.

b) Acts 22 where the Jerusalem elders (apostles) are angered that now Paul is teaching that even the Jews should not practice the OT law; which ends in Paul being imprisoned and ultimately beheaded.

The truth is, Jesus did not specify clearly whether the Old Testament Law would still apply - perhaps it was so that (as Jesus himself put it) the Holy Spirit would "guide you into all truth".

4) apostle Paul and Barnabas have a sharp disagreement that becomes a quarrel.

5) apostle Paul speaks of false teachers in the church. The instruction is to rebuke and to "stay away from"
Romans 16:17-19
New International Version (NIV)
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ,but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 

Notice that in each case, the theme was separation until the Holy Spirit resolved it. There was no lightning from heaven to make clear, who was right and who was wrong.

In the case of the doctrinal disagreements, 300 years later when the Bible was compiled from its sources, the Holy Spirit oversaw the process and only what was approved by God got included in the holy canon.

So how does this apply to us today?

When there is disagreement, conflict or even abuse, do either:
1) seek justice by discussion, confrontation, or even reporting to authorities,
OR
2) choose to ignore the matter.

Separate from the other person so that conflict is reduced. Do not harbor bitterness, hatred, anger, malice or slander.




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