Reader Jeff R asked,
If the will of God is literally written on our hearts, why do we continue with Bible study? Why so much confusion and disagreement among us? Wouldn’t we all understand the same?
1. See my post my earlier post on free will. The Spirit doesn’t take our free will. We are free to ignore the scriptures should we so choose.
2. Actually, in the more progressive (or evangelical) Churches of Christ, I find agreement and unity easy to come by. I’ve interviewed many ministerial candidates from many different backgrounds, and we found ourselves easily reaching agreement on countless points. The problem in the Churches of Christ is legalism and a CENI hermeneutic that creates subjective tests of damnation. When you get away from that, it’s not hard to find agreement on most things. And even if we disagree over this or that point, we can still easily fellowship each other, work together, and typically even be part of the same congregational leadership. We don’t need to spend much time discussing doctrine because, well, we already agree on nearly everything because the Bible is so clear. I mean, it’s so much easier to agree on what the Bible says than what it’s silent about.
3. It’s my experience (and I can’t prove this from the scriptures, but it’s what I’ve seen) that those who recognize an active, real indwelling as described in the many passages I’ve cited are far more influenced by the Spirit than those who deny that they might be influenced by the Spirit. It makes sense. It’s hard to be influenced by what you deny.
4. At this point in the discussion, someone usually makes an accusation about a lack of obedience — and yet my experience is that the more I teach grace and the Spirit, the more our congregation’s generosity, volunteerism, and commitment to obedience go up. I find that churches that truly grasp grace are much more active in helping the poor etc. That’s not to say that grace-less, CENI, Spirit-less churches don’t do good. They do. They do it because they have the Spirit even though they deny him and teach de facto Deism. But when they learn grace and the Spirit, they do so much more, with so much more joy and celebration. Tried it both ways, and it’s not even close.