THE MAN OF GOD
In my chapter on Scripture, I promised that I would write about the things that make up the man of God. St. Paul proclaimed Timothy to be a "man of God," (I Timothy 6:11) so letís return to II Timothy 3:14 and look at his example.
"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them from"II Timothy 3:14*
As I stated before, I believe that Paul is speaking about himself here; look a few verses earlier:
"But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith,..." II Timothy 3:10 *
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" II Timothy 2:2
Timothy, being a protege of Paul, had the benefit of personal training from him, and he (Timothy) was trusted to oversee the church at Ephesus. (I Timothy 1:3.) Likewise, he was entrusted to pass that training unto the Church there. So Timothyís training was more oral than written, for he learned it direct from Paul. This training he passed on to the Ephesians. Paul boasted in II Corinthians 3:6:
(That is God)
also hath made us
(The "us" stands for Paul and Timothy. Check verse 1:1)
able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit for the letter killeth."*
So would Paul kill Timothy with the letter and in turn have him kill the Ephesians in a like manner? Or would he lovingly by the Spirit teach orally? This brings us to one of the most hated terms by the fundamentalist. That is "Tradition." It is the subject of countless diatribes. To the fundamentalist, the only tradition is the "tradition of men." (Mark 7:8, Colossians 2:8,) Although it is true that the traditions of men can "make vain the word of God," do all traditions come from man? What does scripture say?
II Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold on to the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word,
(That is, oral)
or our epistle
(That is, written)."*
Hmmmm. So, not only does Paul say there is an oral Christian tradition, but also, that we are to "stand fast, and hold on" to it. Can we say that this is not true today? Or will we, like cowards, hide behind a theology that asserts minor dispensations, such as an end to the "Apostolic Age," to make up for its weaknesses? When a scripture suits our purposes we hold on to it like a bulldog, when it doesnít, we invent a minor dispensation and cry, "that has come to pass." We canít pick and choose what scripture to like or dislike, can we; Ladies and Gentleman, doing this will truly "make vain the word of God." What is important is to get a good perspective on our approach to Scripture. If the letter killeth, do we cast out Scripture? If I am to embrace tradition, how do I know if it is one from God and not of man? Does this approach make scripture contradict? One of my favorite obscure scriptures is I Corinthians 9:5:
"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible."
So Paul says that those who strive for an incorruptible crown are "temperate in all things." I think this will help shed light on the situation. Scripture is "profitable," but it is for a foundation and not a cage we lock ourselves into. Likewise, tradition is necessary but it canít contradict or overshadow scripture. Those who steep themselves in tradition often loose sight of the word of God, but likewise, those who embed themselves in scripture often loose sight of a more genuine approach to Christís Church. (Often, this results in indirectly creating their own traditions to fill the void left by the ones they have forbidden.)
The next thing a man of God needs is the Holy Spirit. (Really, itís the first thing.)
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I Corinthians 2:14
You can see that those who have not the Spirit are not going to be qualified for the job of "man of God." Though there are many disputations about when and how you receive the Spirit, in general, all Christians agree that the Holy Spirit plays an integral part of our Christian experience. I will get into the particulars of this subject later in the book.
I will assert there are at least three things involved for a thoroughly furnished man of God, that is Spirit, Scripture, and tradition. Letís look at Apollos.
"And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the lord; and being fervent in the spirit. He spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, And expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."Acts 18:24-26*
O.K. We can see Apollos was "mighty in the scriptures," and he was "fervent in the spirit," yet he was missing something. Although what Apollos asserted was perfect, he had to be taken aside and taught orally (i.e. tradition) so he could be more perfect. Tradition, in its true form, complements and completes scripture. You will have to pardon me, for I am going to abruptly end this chapter here. Hold your thoughts though and turn to the next chapter where we will continue our discussion on tradition.
* Emphasis added by the author.