I’ve been studying the letter to the Ephesians. (For my non-Christian friends who read this blog Ephesians is a short letter found in the New Testament of the Bible. It was written in A.D. 62 by the apostle Paul to a group of Christians in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor).
The verse that got me thinking is Ephesians 1:17 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him….” The sentence goes on for several verses but I began to think of the phrase “a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” How were these people to have or get wisdom and revelation? They did not have the New Testament (it was in the process of being written at this time). They may or may not have had portions of the Old Testament. How were they supposed to know the will (desire) of God for their lives?
The gifts of the Spirit may have been the answer. People in the early church had supernatural gifts. The gift of prophesy likely wasn’t what we would think – the foretelling of the future – but rather the ability to share a message – to preach or teach. The gift of tongues would have been similar except that it would have been necessary for someone to interpret what was said. But would either of these have accomplished Paul’s desire – that the Christians at Ephesus know the will of God?
The situation in another church in another city makes me wonder. Corinth had all kinds of serious problems. They also had the above-mentioned gifts yet Paul still had to write letters (1st & 2nd Corinthians) to tell them what the will of God was. Why didn’t the Spirit say these things through those who had the gifts? I don’t know the answer to that question. What I know is Paul wrote them a letter to tell them the will of God, which makes me believe that what he was suggesting to the Ephesians was that in order for them to know God’s will, they should read his letter(s).
The same would be true today. Think about history for a moment. When was the (so-called) church at its worst? Was it not when only the “clergy” had access to the scriptures? When did the church start on the road to recovery? Was it not when the common people were given the scriptures in their own languages? Even before that, wasn’t one of the great reformers, Martin Luther, great because he opened the Bible, read for himself and challenged the religious leaders of his day?
We live in a time when people are downplaying the role of the Bible in understanding the will of God. Won’t this lead us down the same unhealthy path that lead others to error and misinformation? There are those today who speak of the errors and contradictions in the Bible. They no longer believe the word of God is inerrant. With what does that leave us? The Spirit leading each person down his own personal path? Don’t misunderstand. I believe the Holy Spirit works mightily in our lives but the tool he uses the most is the word of God. The inerrancy of the Bible is of utmost importance if this is true. An abandonement of the scriptures will only lead to darkness.
The great apostle Paul wanted Christians to read and understand what was the will of God. There is no reason to believe his message would be any different to us as it was to the Ephesians or any other churches to whom he wrote. As you and I seek God’s will for our lives let us make the word of God, the scriptures, the Bible the core of that understanding. In doing so, we supply the Holy Spirit the tool He needs to give us “a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” My soul can rejoice in that, can your’s?