Are We to Seek Wisdom, Power and Authority, or Christ?

As a child.jpg
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. (Isa 53:1-3, NRS)

Thus Isaiah introduced the Jews to their Messiah. Not a very pretty picture, is it? He came to earth in a form that no one would want to follow or admire and was born in a stable in poverty, totally despised by the establishment and all the “beautiful people.” Yet Christ is held up as what the Church was to become. Contrary to what many believe, “the servant is not greater than his Master.”
Susanne Schuberth recently wrote on her blog, “Growth in Christ and His authority happens as we have come to grips that we have nothing in ourselves to help God out in any way. A complete surrender of every area of our life is needed before Christ finally lives in us and works through us as He sees fit.” (https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/).

This is so true! We need ears that hear these words. Too many think they already have everything they need just because they “believe” in Christ or have studied the Bible, without coming to a complete end of themselves. The church is flooded with this kind of false authority. Paul knew the need to die daily to his old self-willed, scripture touting, human authority because it was that Saul of Tarsus that persecuted the Church. The problem with Christians today is that many of us have grown up in church surroundings and we are steeped in religion that has cloaked the fact that in our hearts we are all the grossest of sinners.

There is a seemingly wise teaching that we as Christians should get Biblical knowledge, that God would make us wise and give us power to do His work on this earth. This might sound like a good thing to most Christians so we can do the work of the Church “for Jesus.” Thus we have the myriad of Bible schools, seminaries and the never ending desire to sit under men at Christian conferences and Sunday sermons. Yet, is this what Jesus did, or is it what Paul did to gain the effectiveness that they had in spreading the gospel? Jesus never sat under Jewish teachers to get to the place where He could say that He only spoke the words He heard His Father saying or only did the works that He saw His Father doing. Neither did Paul! Let us look at what Paul did say about such things.

…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Phil 3:4-9, ESV2011)

Paul had all the credentials to be a “somebody” among the Jews. He sat at the feet of their best scholars and teachers (see Acts 22:3). He was of the bloodline of Benjamin an elite among the Jews. He was an enforcer and keeper of the Jewish law, respected among his peers. He was a rising star in Judaism. Yet, he threw all this away and counted it as rubbish (dung) once he met the risen Christ! He came to know Christ Who was abiding in him in a most personal way. He never learned at the feet of the apostles who actually walked with Jesus in His human body. Of these he said, “they added nothing to me.” No, Christ was his Life and His all. He had a moment by moment relationship with Jesus just as Jesus did (and does) with the Father. This is why he said to the Corinthians:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. (1Cor 2:1-3, NRS)

No, Paul did not even come to them teaching from his previous experiences with Christ, but rather he approached these people in all weakness, emptied of everything he could have confidence in, waiting on the Spirit of Christ to speak and act through him. Paul was Christ crucified and Jesus had full reign. It was Jesus who taught, spoke and worked through him, not Paul. Paul was so weakened by the working of the cross in him that all he could do was tremble in weakness while Jesus did the rest.
And if this soulish weakness was not enough, God gave him a thorn in his flesh (his body), a messenger from Satan to buffet him and keep him physically weak as well. He prayed to be healed and here is what happened:

But he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. (2Cor 12:9-10, NRS)

Paul did not have power in himself. He only had debilitating weaknesses. He was totally thrown upon the mercy and grace of God and he knew that Jesus wouldn’t have it any other way. He didn’t have power or wisdom or knowledge, all the things that men seek after, but rather Christ. All that Jesus is and all the treasures of God were manifest in a broken clay vessel Paul was nothing and he was determined to be nothing because of his love for Jesus Christ as his all (see 1 Corinthians 1:30-31). This is why this little man of no physical stature and Christ who had no form of beauty about Himself could be used by God to turn the most powerful kingdom on earth upside down and send ripples down through history to this day. We Christians should learn this simple lesson–God does not need our knowledge, wisdom, oratory powers, strength, health or wit to do His work. Quite the opposite. Only Christ in us is the hope of glory as we yield all to Him and He makes us into manifest sons and daughters of God.

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25 comments on “Are We to Seek Wisdom, Power and Authority, or Christ?

  1. Awesome article, Michael! ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤ What you wrote is all so true!!! I particularly like this ‘moment by moment relationship’ we should have with God in Christ Jesus. As for our many weaknesses, I believe we will only experience His strength in us if we find ourselves completely IN Him, having died to all our old nature’s desires to be something in ourselves. Outside of Christ our flesh is always stronger and tempts us to use our natural (soulish) resources to accomplish what we think God wants us to do. In such cases the Holy Spirit is grieved, withdraws and lets us reap the rotten fruit of what we have sown.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, thank you for your edifying comment. So many Christians I have known believe that God is just waiting to use their natural abilities and longings for His kingdom work. Then you have those who take it a step further and have been gifted by the Spirit in a certain way and these believe that this gift is all theirs to use as they will, when they will. Both these attitudes are seriously wrong. Jesus made it clear when He told His disciples, “Apart from me you can do NOTHING!” What God is looking for is a people who will not presume to do a thing without Him. Just as His Son was obedient to the Father, so should we be obedient to Him. This false idea of what it means to be a Christian without living by every word that PROCEEDS from the mouth of God is why Jesus warned:

      “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock…” (Matt 7:21-24, NRS)

      Dear sister, I am so blessed by your obedience to the voice of our Father, even when you are in great pain. Even now you are waiting to hear from Him before you go to the dentist (or not) about three teeth that are troubling you. Most of us would not give a second thought as to whether we should seek medical help or not in such circumstances much less take the time to ask God what HE wants. You are an inspiration to me, dear heart, and are continually in my prayers. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thank you, Michael. The ‘teeth case’ is not as easy as it might seem. You know I sought the dentist’s help numerous times since July last year. But alas, things got worse instead of better. Since I had a bunch of bad experiences with dentists in the past at that, I really need to hear clearly from God what He wants me to do. If He decides that this suffering is necessary because no dentist/surgeon can help me, then so be it.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Michael says:

        Yes, Susanne. I know the grief that your former experiences with dentists has caused you. It is good that you are waiting on the Lord. Your situation reminds me of a story in Luke’s gospel.

        As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:42-48, ESV2011)

        I am praying that it will be the same for you as you reach out to Jesus.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Amen! The Scripture you shared, Michael, was the one God pointed me to in those many years of my wilderness where I hardly heard ANYTHING from Him. I got more and more sicknesses which could not be healed and the only thing I heard from Him was, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace.” And although these verses on my daily kitchen calendar seemed to have been from God, I was never sure about it because I was so cut off from His presence. The healing, indeed, came much later. And not everything was healed, but at least, hair loss was stopped, back pains got (partly) better, however, they are still there (you know what I am talking about, I guess). As it is with several other pains (esp. tendons) at times…

        God’s ways are not ours as it seems. Btw, I just made an appointment with an oral surgeon (in two weeks). Am just now leaving in order to pick up the referral I also just ordered at my dentist. I think God is in it, but I do not know the outcome of it all.

        I will keep praying for your back pains, arthritis, and for ‘the rest’ of Michael, too!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, somehow I knew that that passage of scripture about the woman who touched Jesus’ garment would be meaningful for you. I know exactly what you described about your time in the wilderness. For a while I lost faith that God wanted to hear from me or that He would give me any relief in the things that were taking me down in my life. I only had faith that He was and that He had called me to be His. Finally, at the ten year point I quit kicking against His mighty hand that was governing me in such a painful way and said, “God, if this death I am walking in is all that you have for me the rest of my life, so be it. YOU are God and I am not.” That seemed to be a turning point for me, though it was not all that outwardly noticeable at the time. The long dark night finally came to an end after 14 years, but I still had many trials to go through after that with which He was still dealing with my soulish nature, yet I knew that it was His rod and staff that were comforting me in it all.

        I finally saw that Psalm 23 was a timeline that He had me on and that eventually I would eat from His spiritual table in the midst of my enemies. I know you have experienced this as well for we have a spiritual enemy and Daddy feeds us with His spiritual food (His revelation) while in the midst of our trials. God has only one goal in mind for us through all these pains and trials. He wants to conform us into the image of His Son who is the First Born among many sons and daughters who are being raised up unto HIS glory.

        I am glad that you got some direction from Him about your bad molar. I know how long you have waited for an answer from Him. I appreciate your prayers about my continuing back and joint pains. You remain in my prayers as well that this oral surgeon does it right. May Father also heal your knee.

        Your brother and friend for eternity,
        Michael

        Liked by 3 people

      • I must confess that I, too, thought at one point along these lines. I don’t know if I would, in my case, blame the organized church for these errors in thinking. I may have heard such ideas at church. But they took root because of my all too human nature.

        The flesh is inclined this way. It only seems “logical” to us that we should exercise our gifts to “help” God. It is part of our walk of faith to reject these errors, to see them for what they are, namely our own misguided pride.

        But that realization, I think takes, time and suffering, as you and Susanne both illustrate. Most of us do not mature overnight. BTW, my heart goes out to Susanne. My sisters suffers terribly w/ her teeth. She must have seen a dozen dentists or more over the years.

        God bless you both.

        With love,

        A. ❤

        Liked by 3 people

      • That was so touching to read for me, dear Anna! ❤ Thank you very much for sharing my pains. I know you do know what suffering mentally and physically is all about. You are in my heart and prayers, too, my sweet sister.

        Every blessing from God,
        Susanne ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Thanks Anna. Yes, it takes time for us to learn this lesson, especially when we look to other Christians on how it is done. I spent years in churches watching people “exercise their gifts.” God had to deal with me quite harshly to get me out of that kind of thinking. You are right that we are drawn away into false teachings by our own pride and having untrained ears to God’s subtle warnings. In my case I would get involved with a ministry that seemed to start out following God and then a leader would rise up and start to take it off in the wrong direction in small steps that were hard to notice. I finally had to learn that when a man is given absolute power over a work, that corruption and sin was soon to follow. No, we do not learn overnight, that is for sure, but God appoints to us enough time and experiences to finally get the message as to what it means to follow the Son wherever HE goes.

        Yes, Susanne has suffered much in her life, both physically and mentally, but it has sharpened her to be able to hear the voice of the Lord and draw ever closer to Him with her whole heart. She is a blessing to know and God has taught me much about His ways through her life. She is a gift to us all.

        Thanks for your honest and insightful comment, dear sister ❤

        Michael

        Liked by 3 people

      • You are very welcome as to my comment, Michael. ❤

        You have been a great blessing to me, too, my dear brother. The way you always encourage me when I feel low and your scriptural knowledge that immediately confirms my experiences with God since you often provide these Bible verses of which I hardly ever think.
        God's plan regarding the Body of Christ is truly a complementary one because as loners we are much weaker and more in danger to be deceived.

        Your friend and sister forever,
        Susanne 🐱

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, You wrote, “God’s plan regarding the Body of Christ is truly a complementary one because as loners we are much weaker and more in danger to be deceived.”

        “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families: he brings out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Ps 68:5-6, AKJV)

        What a wonderful Daddy we have that He has called us to be in His family and given us His love to keep in fellowship with one another and overcoming our personal weaknesses through the cross of Christ working in us daily. Walking in the Light with one another whom He has placed us with in all openness and honesty is so important to that fellowship as is praying for one another. No, we are not called to be loners “and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

        Thanks for your insight, Susanne. It is a joy to be one in Christ with you! 🐻

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing such great truth.. Sometimes we need a humble reminder..
    He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog, and the comments.
    Like the disciples, I ask the Lord to teach me to pray. The encouraging thing that has stood out to me recently is the statement, ” the Father knows what you need before you ask Him”. The freshness fell on that as I realized that I often do not know what I need ( although I had previously thought that I did). I can trust the Father to know what I need and to perform it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Pat. This is so true. He knows better than we do exactly what we need from the standpoint of His eternity that waits for us to walk in it day by day.

      “…unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Eph 3:20, KJ2000)

      What a promise!

      Good to hear from you, dear sister,

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Ken Dawson says:

    That comment by Sue was a thing of beauty and your article is worth a print–Great job folks!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Michael says:

    Yes, Ken, she is a blessing from God and so are all who abide IN Christ as they are moved by His Spirit. ⭐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Michael! You are a treasure from God! 🌈🌟🎀🌟🌈

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Thanks, Susanne. As you know, HIS treasures always have to go through much refining and purification and it seems to never end.

        “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple [Eph. 2:18-22]; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. (Mal 3:1-3, ESV2011)

        On that day the LORD their God will save them, as the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land. (Zech 9:16, ESV2011)

        Praying that the beauty of His holiness may shine forth from you,
        Michael 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, we both know that this painful process seems to have no end… 😦

        Thanks for your prayers, my brother. You are on my heart and in my prayers as well, Michael!

        Susanne ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        When Paul wrote, “That I might know Him, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings…” This was all theory for me until I started praying for you and found that I was suffering in my body at the same time you were suffering in yours. Paul also wrote, “We are members one of another… when one member suffers all members suffer.” FELLOWSHIP! The deepest fellowship of all is when we take up our crosses and walk out this dying of Jesus Christ within us together, bearing one another’s burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ, which is “that you love one another even as I have loved you.”

        Michael ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much, my dear brother! 💖You are so precious to me!! 🤗 Thank you for such sweet fellowship, esp. in these hard and painful times we have been going through. 👍💖🌟🎀🌟💖👍

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Of course Christ is the answer, but I’m not sure it has to be at the exclusion of the other. Perhaps this isn’t being said.

    If Christ has shown me anything over the last ten years, it is that I can’t be righteous in and of myself. Even when I am asking him to make me righteous. He has taught me that I can’t raise a finger. He drew me to himself and allowed me to realize that he is my righteousness and that he is all I will ever have. He has shown me my best and even with him holding me up. I wouldn’t give you two cents for it. It is still just me. He is so glorious that I couldn’t possibly go to someone without being fearful and trembling that they might be see me and not him.

    But, his Word seem to be showing me now that he wants me to gain knowledge, wisdom and power so I can show him to others better. I believe when he ascended on high that he gave us everything that is described in verse 11 below. I believe the Word says they were given for the “equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (that’s me) until they have knowledge and become fully like Christ.

    Ephesians 4:8-13 (NASB)
    8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
    9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
    10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
    11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
    12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
    13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

    I believe I went through a time after becoming a Christian, at 24, that I wanted change my life and grow in him. Since that is what he seemed to tell me he wanted me to do, I tried. I didn’t know I was going at is wrong. (Actually, I think this was what he wanted so I would learn.) I also think I went though times that I was trying to make myself look good to God and others. I think I had teachers that had wrong motives that steered me wrong because of their fleshy self. I even taught others for the wrong reasons.

    But this is where I was led by God and because I didn’t understand a lot of things, I did the best I could, and sometimes I can only say: I need forgiveness too.

    I now feel like that God used those years to show me things about myself so I would change. I went through another ten years or so, with him showing me that I couldn’t do it, even with only him, by my side. I still did not have it in myself to do better. At this point, I feel God has done this to show me my righteousness will never be found in myself and that myself truly needs to die. Because if it doesn’t it will simply use what ever I have to it’s own end. I’m learning the only way it will ever work is for me to die and that need to truly live following the Holy Spirit. When I do, life flows through me that is like him. I experience the fruits of the Spirit. (I always tried to perform like the fruits so I would have Christ but it never worked. I still wakeup with my flesh everyday, but I don’t have to stay there. He now has me back with many groups of believers that understands these things I’m sure some don’t but they are just at a place where they need to learn better. I am striving to learn everything I can from his Word so I can recognize what, how and when he want me to move. I am pursuing knowledge, wisdom and power in a different way.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can pursue the fleshy church life (like I think Michael might be talking about) which is miserable and worthless or you keep your focus of Christ and see him lead you into real life. Seeking Christ only has got to be the answer because if you don’t have him leading, you don’t have anything. He knows how to lead you and his cheek is against yours 27/7, ready to listen and provide for you.

    Oh, I also wanted to say that I don’t consider the people at the old church as bad. I didn’t do any better at the time and I hope they found him like I have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Russ, we might have all knowledge and wisdom about spiritual things, but apart from Him we can do nothing. This is why I say that it must be His wisdom, knowledge and power working in us or it leads to nothing. Tomorrow I will be posting a blog article (Lord willing) that explains this in much greater depth.
      Thanks for your comment, my brother.

      Liked by 1 person

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