Sunday, January 9, 2011

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 11

Discerning God’s Will: Santa Clause and the Holocaust

(This is part eleven in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

Throughout this series, we have argued that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are necessary for discerning God’s will, and that even Justice Boshoff, who disparages the scriptures as the means to know God’s will, relies on the scriptural word itself to defend his position - a contradiction if I ever saw one.

What does it mean to discern (know) God’s will? Usually the question is asked with regard to a specific matter such as, Should I attend this college or that college? Should I marry Wendy? Should I marry Bill? Should I buy this car or that car, or keep the old one for now? Should I be an architect, an engineer, a soldier, an entrepreneur, a politician, lawyer, doctor, athlete, and so on. As far as I can tell, Justice Boshoff would say, that we need to hear a word from God, personally, through prayer, and that the scriptures are a hindrance in hearing that word.

Consider this, Should I tell my children that there is a Santa Clause, and that on every night before Christmas, he flies around the world in a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer delivering toys to good little children, and that he knows if you’ve been bad or good? There are many Christian parents who tell their children precisely this. [1] Some of those parents may think that the matter is trivial and the consideration of its propriety unnecessary - it’s all just a part of growing up and makes Christmas a more wondrous time for the child.

But is it trivial? Not when we want to be sure that all we do is in accordance with the will of God and that forces the question again, How do we know the will of God?

There are some things about which we do not have to pray for wisdom, because we already have the answer in black and white: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,’ Exodus 20:16, Deut 5:20. This is a prohibition to testify or say a word against one’s neighbor that is not true. Whatever statements are made about your neighbor, they must not be lies. The principle beneath this command is that God forbids lying and requires that we speak the truth. Succinctly stated, the command not to bear false witness presupposes the command, ‘You shall not lie.’[2]

In light of this, the necessary question a parent should ask: “Is telling my children that there is a Santa Clause a violation of the commandment not to lie?” The prayer for wisdom at this point is for discernment regarding that question. Justice Boshoff would say that we must wait for a word from the Holy Spirit, dispensed through prayer. But we hold that the word, which comes from the Holy Spirit, has already been spoken, and it is recorded in the scriptures.

In seeking to know God’s will through the Bible, there are often times when the answer is not straightforward, that is, there is no single statement that determines one way or another whether an anticipated act on our part is morally right or wrong. In the Santa Clause case, we are confronted with two problematic questions:

Does the Bible indicate there is ever a time:

(a) When not telling the truth is actually not a lie?
(b) In which God would condone the telling of a lie?

As a writer of Christian fantasy, I am concerned with (a). There are those who condemn Christian fantasy because at bottom, they see it as a lie (Christian Fantasy is an Oxymoron). The idea is that since a fantasy may have such characters as talking animals, or flying horses, or wizards and witches with magical powers, and that since these characters are not real but a blatant fabrication, they are in reality a lie. There are reasons I do not think Christian fantasy is a lie, fundamentally because it is not an attempt to deceive but to tell a story whose characters and circumstances happen to be fantastically fictional, which fact the reader is fully aware. But in order for me to write fantasy as a Christian with a clear conscience, I have to evaluate what the scriptures say on a variety of things in order to discern God’s will on the matter.[3] And likewise must the parent assess biblical tenets (based on a reading and analysis of the scriptures) in order to determine whether he may or may not tell his children the fantasy of Santa Clause.[4]

As regards (b), one might contemplate Nazi Germany. Suppose you are a Christian living in Germany around 1942 and you know that the neighbor across the street is providing sanctuary for a Jewish family. The Gestapo call you into their station and bluntly ask you if you know of anyone in the neighborhood who is protecting Jews. You may refuse to answer which is a certain sign that you know something. Given the ruthlessness of Hitler’s secret police, not only would it go bad for you, but almost certainly, the neighborhood would be turned on end until the Jews are found. What do you do?

Suppose you are the one who is protecting the Jews in your house, and the authorities, suspicious that Jews are being sheltered somewhere, come to question you. You are asked, “Are you hiding Jews in your house?” If you answer yes, not only are you in trouble, but you have certainly sealed the death of those who are trusting in your protection. What do you do?

If there is any scriptural warrant in which God condones lying, we must either find a direct prophetic word saying so, or as is often the case, discern the principle through the historical narrative of scripture. Is there such an example?

The case of Rahab and her lie to those pursuing Israeli spies whom she was hiding in her apartment in the city wall is a prominent candidate. Was she wrong in telling those seeking the spies that the spies had already departed thus sending them on a wild goose chase, giving the Israelis the opportunity to escape? There are some who say she did nothing wrong; others say that lying is not condoned under any circumstances and that she was wrong, though it did providentially work for the good of the spies and the nation of Israel.[5]

Rahab illustrates how an answer to a specific question regarding God’s will in a given situation [6] is not always straightforward. We need not an inward spiritual word from the Holy Spirit (as Justice Boshoff holds), for he has already spoken in the scriptures. What we do need is enlightenment from the Spirit, that he may open our eyes of understanding through the scriptures, Eph 1:15-19; Ps 119:18.

[1] My parents did, and the Easter rabbit too, which rabbit I was smart enough to rule out because it was an animal – but Santa Clause? Well, he was a person, a human as far as I could discern from the testimony of my parents and other adults who confirmed that testimony. As a child of four, Santa Clause’s humanity made it all long as I ignored the flying sleigh and reindeer.

[2] The presupposition of an underlying principle is also present in the command not to commit adultery (Exod 20:14, Deut 5:18). This command forbidding adultery is based on the ordained sexual behavior created at the beginning in Adam and Eve, husband and wife. This created order excludes premarital sex, homosexuality (male and female), and in its purest prohibition, the inward lusting of another for sexual pleasure, (Matt 5:27, 28: You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I [Christ] say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart).

[3] See my article, The Literary Genre of Fantasy and Its Use in Imparting Christian Truth which considers some of the Biblical support for the genre.

[4] Christian fantasy has fantastical characters like Santa Clause, and one might argue that if it is not wrong to tell such a tale, then it is not wrong to tell your children that there is a Santa Clause. But there is an obvious difference - your children think Santa Clause is real and believe in him; the reader of Christian fantasy knows the characters are not real and does not believe in them. This matter of faith is at the heart of the problem for as Christians we are to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4) - Christ is the object of faith, not Santa Clause.

[5] I am inclined to think that Rahab’s lie was condoned by God. There are those who do not deserve to know the truth, and to tell them the truth will make you complicit in their evil intentions and deeds. But we have to be very careful that we don’t use Rahab’s example to lie willy nilly because it is convenient. I would say that only under such dire circumstances as Rahab’s or the Holocaust can one even consider the possibility of lying. I have never been in such a situation.

[6] I am not advocating ‘Situation Ethics,’ the idea that the factors of a given situation determine what is a morally right or wrong course of action. Such a philosophy allows an ‘anything goes, as long as it hurts no one else’ or ‘one must do what is best for himself’ ethic. This leads to all kinds of evil behavior such as abortion on demand. Taken to its logical end, it allows one to establish his own relative standard of right and wrong on the premise that ‘what is wrong for you may not be wrong for me,’ a logically contradictory premise.

My use of the word ‘situation’ is a statement of the obvious – we seek to know what God’s will is for us in our situation now and we do that in part through examining how God worked in a situation of an event of the past, Rahab being an example.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 10

The Davidic Example as an Antidote to Boshoff’s Disapproval of Scripture

(This is part ten in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

Psalm 1:1, 2 (Counsel and the Law of the Lord)

David rejects the advice and wisdom of the ungodly man. His point of view is that the ungodly man's wisdom is contrary to the Law of God and therefore contrary to God's revealed will.

For David, advice and wisdom come through the Law of God, the scriptures of his day. True and acceptable wisdom in the eyes of God is the wisdom that he imparts (as opposed to the counsel of ungodly men), and the source of that wisdom is the Law of the Lord.

If David had in mind a singular work known as 'The Law,' we may surmise that work to be Deuteronomy, commonly called ‘The Book of the Law.’ [1] More broadly, given a conservative view, the scriptures of David's day was the Pentateuch (Genesis - Deuteronomy), Joshua, Judges, and possibly Ruth; Job is also a likely candidate since it may be the oldest book of the Bible.

The appellation of ‘The Law’ used by Jesus probably is a reference to the Pentateuchal writings, but at the least, it refers to Deuteronomy. But that it refers to more than a single volume is discernable in Jesus's use of the formula, ‘The Law and the Prophets,’ in which he distinguished the Old Testament prophets (major and minor) from ‘The Law.’ This suggests that ‘The Law’ was a collection of sacred writings in the same manner as the prophetic books.

If ‘The Law’ is such a collection, it refers not to just the ten commandments per se, but also the history leading up to their official codification as well as the history that followed, i. e., the recorded history of the Pentateuch. That history provides the redemptive historical context of the ten commandments. The relevant point for our discussion is this:

David understood that the Pentateuchal record of the application of the ten commandments in the early history of redemption were beneficial to him as well and served as instructive in his day.

In Psalm 119 David uses a variety of terms to identify what it is that he delights in and meditates on; they are God's word, testimonies, commandments, statutes, law, rules, precepts, wondrous works (in redemptive history) all of which were in the scriptures of his day. These scriptures in which David delighted and on which he meditated included God's dealings with mankind in particular situations at various points in redemptive history. David meditated on the record of that history of an earlier time and saw in it instruction and guidance. He did not think it was irrelevant to his day or his situation.

Psalm 1:2 (The Relevance of the Law for David)

Those who say that the scriptures are a barrier to understanding God's will should think on Psalm 1. Meditation on God's word/law is the Davidic example. David testifies to the profitability of the scriptures to make the simple wise, to enlighten the eyes, rejoice the heart; the judgments of the Lord are more desirable than fine gold and sweeter than honey (Ps 19:7-10). David tells others of God’s marvelous works (Ps 9:1; 26:7; 66:3, 5; Ps 71:17; 73:28; 77:11, 12) which are recorded in his scriptures. In Psalm 119, David tirelessly exalts the virtues of God’s Law, bemoaning the transgression of it (119:136), hiding it in his heart that he might not violate it (119:11), acknowledging the need for God’s help to keep it (119:33-38, 125), thankful for affliction because it brought him back to it (119:67, 71, 75, 92, 143); becoming wiser than teachers and sages (119:99, 100).

Psalm 78, a contemplation of Asaph, suggests that the wondrous works that David proclaimed to others were those that God performed in Israel’s midst as recorded in the Pentateuch.[2] Even if the works David had in mind were those recent victories over Israel’s enemies, battles in which he himself participated, he understands the significance of those victories only in the light of the historical word of God written before his day, in particular, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. David relied upon the relevance of the scriptures for his day.

Psalm 1:2 (Delighting in the Law of the Lord)

David delighted in God’s Law and continually meditated on it (Ps 119:5, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148). David also meditated on God’s wondrous works and his majesty (Ps 63:6; 77:12; 143:5; 145:5) which were revealed to him through the scriptures of his day. If the written word of God was not applicable to his situation, why did he hold it in such high regard? Why did he devote so much time and effort in meditation on them?

The Davidic example does not suggest to any degree that the inspired writings of his day were obsolete, irrelevant, inappropriate, or a barrier to spiritual wisdom and knowledge.

[1] The Book of the Law is amply documented in the Old Testament (Deut 17:18; 28:58, 61; 29:21; 30:10; 31:24, 26; Josh 8:31, 34; 23:6; 2 Kings 14:6; 22:8, 11; 23:24; 2 Chron 17:9; 25:4; 34:14, 15; Nehemiah 8:1, 3, 8, 18; 9:3) and there is no reason to think that David did not have it in his day. The Lord charges Joshua: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. David followed Joshua’s example to meditate on the Law of God. The Book of the Law was probably a reference to Deuteronomy (Paul cites Deuteronomy in Gal 3:10 and refers to the source as ‘The book of the law’), and its biblically documented existence argues in favor of rather than against the existence of other Pentateuchal books in David’s time.

[2] In Ps 78, Asaph reflects on not only God’s redemptive acts in bringing Israel out of Egypt, but also on the rebellion of Israel during that time. This reflection was intended to be instructive to the Israel of his day. He did this in accordance with the Deuteronomic charge to teach the children and their descendants so that they may never forget God’s great redemptive acts (Ps 78:5, 6; Deut 4:9; 6:20, 21). Asaph not only contemplated God’s great works in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, but also pointedly mentions the constant rebellion of Israel in spite of God’s mighty works; certainly, Asaph was concerned about the Israel of his day, that the people would not likewise fall into the same sins. A principle we may take from this is that the scriptures of an earlier day are applicable to a situation of a later day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 9


The Promise of the Spirit to Guide into All Truth, Part 2.

(This is part nine in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

The disciples were the main body of the apostolate. Part of Christ’s earthly ministry was to prepare them for that special office. When Christ made the promise to his disciples that the Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:12-15), it anticipated their role as apostle. Christ made the promise directly to the Twelve, but broadly, it included those who were not of that circle but, nevertheless, were to fill the yet-future office of apostle.

The case of Judas Iscariot. Peter broaches the issue of Judas’s demise and explains to the assembly that, as prophesied in the Old Testament, Judas fell from his office and another should replace him:

"For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ' Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, ' Let another take his office.' Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."
And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place."
And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:20-26

Matthias, who was not of the original twelve, was chosen to replace Judas. He was a qualified candidate because he accompanied the disciples during the whole ministry of Christ, from the baptism of John until he was taken up at the ascension. In answer to the Eleven’s prayer, the divine choice of Matthias was made through the casting of lots. The promise of the Spirit to the disciples now included Matthias.

Matthias is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. But Peter’s salient points regarding the need for an apostolic replacement argue that the special office of apostle was peculiar and limited, and only one with special qualification (personal accompaniment of the Lord in his earthly ministry) was acceptable. Because Christ made the promise of the Spirit directly to his disciples whose later identity was that of the exclusive apostolic body, and because the nature of their apostolic ministry cohesively fulfills that promise, there is strong warrant to take that promise as limited to a few of the first century apostolic era.

That the office of apostle was not exclusive to the original Eleven is evident in Matthias, whose appointment was revealed through the casting of lots. There was another who, though not one of the original disciples, nonetheless, became an apostle by divine appointment.

Paul’s Apostleship and Its Relevance to Christ’s Promise to Guide Into All Truth. It was through the special office of apostle that Christ’s teaching, which began while on earth, was completed after his ascension. Perhaps the role of the apostle is best understood in terms of Paul’s apostleship.

Paul’s call to be an apostle is undeniable. He was an apostle on the same level as the original Eleven. The fact that he did not participate in the day-to-day instruction of Christ during his earthly ministry, as was true of Matthias, did not negate his apostleship, for Paul had personal interaction with and instruction from the risen Lord:

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Gal 1:11,12; cf 1 Cor 9:1, ‘Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord’).
This appears to have happened shortly after his conversion, and very possibly somewhere in Arabia:

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Gal 1:15-17.
Paul’s apostleship was equal to Peter’s:

...they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles). Gal 2:7,8.

The apostolate, of whom Paul was a member, had an authority that none others shared, including the prophets. The New Testament prophets were agents of God’s word, but nowhere do we see a prophet exercising the authority of an apostle. Paul exercises his apostolic authority in the church in absolute terms: Paul ordained (cf 1 Cor 7:17) certain practices regarding a variety of matters: one’s calling as a slave or freeman, marriage and remarriage, sexual behavior between married couples, the mixed marriage of a believer and unbeliever (1 Cor 7), the question of eating meat offered to idols in a pagan ceremony (1 Cor 8-10), the administration of the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11), the regulation and practice of tongues (1 Cor 12-14), the place of women in the Church (1 Cor 14).

As a conveyer of truth into which he was guided by the Spirit (in keeping with the promise of Christ), he explained the nature and significance of the resurrection (1 Cor 15). Paul orders the churches in Galatia to amass a collection for the saints in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1,2; cf Rom 15:25-27). An order requires an authority behind it, and such was Paul’s order having the authority of an apostle.

The Mode of The Spirit’s Guidance Into All Truth. The fulfillment of the promise of the Spirit to guide into all truth is not described as coming through an internal word in response to a prayer for personal wisdom; it is through the sovereign external communication of the Spirit to the apostle who in turn is to communicate that to the church:

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery... Eph 3:8, 9.

Other examples come to us.

1 Cor 7:40, when Paul expresses his authoritative judgment regarding widows and remarriage; that judgment came as a result of the Spirit of God’s guidance on the matter:

“But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment --- and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
1 Cor 2, in which Paul repeatedly assures the Corinthians that his original preaching ministry to them was not words of man’s wisdom, but the revelation of God’s Spirit, and Paul expressed that revelation in words that the Holy Spirit taught:

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, 1 Cor 2:4, 5.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, 1 Cor 2:12, 13.
For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ, 1 Cor 2:16.

1 John 1:1ff, where John explains that what they (the apostles of Christ) had seen and heard from Christ they declare to the saints among whom the readers of his letters were included. The whole letter, as with all other New Testament inspired writings, is the written record of the Spirit’s bringing to remembrance of not only what Jesus had taught them but also those things that he had yet to tell them but did not before his ascension.

The Spirit’s guidance into truth was promised to a few whose ministry was to make that truth known through preaching and, more permanently, through writing. In light of Paul’s remarks cited above regarding the Spirit’s instructional role, it appears that the Spirit’s guidance into truth for the apostles was akin to the way the prophetic word came to the Old Testament prophets, who spoke as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21. That word came in the act of speaking publicly; in the case of Paul, and the other apostles, it came through public preaching. It was not a word that came inwardly and privately in response to prayer, as Mr. Boshoff teaches.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 8


The Promise of the Spirit to Guide into All Truth, Part 1.

(This is part eight in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

Mr. Boshoff cites the promise of Christ to his disciples to send them the Holy Spirit after his departure who will guide them into all truth. Mr. Boshoff applies that promise to himself and to all Christian’s today (unwittingly violating his rule that we cannot apply the scriptures to our situation). Since Mr. Boshoff appeals to this scripture in making his case, he deems it important and meaningful to us in our situation today. Let us examine the biblical text and make a determination on the validity of Mr. Boshoff’s application.

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:25, 26

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:26, 27.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:12-15.

How are we to understand this promise of Christ to guide into all truth?

The Recipients of the Promise. It is a promise made to his disciples and not to the body of saints at large. The disciples were to become the holy apostles of the church and this promise was in anticipation of their fulfillment of that office. The apostles, along with apostolic era prophets, comprise the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:20, 3:5, 4:11), which is the body of Christ (Eph 1:22,23), the whole community of saints of all ages (Eph 1:10; 2:11-16, 19; 3:6).

Paul, as promised by Christ, and as an apostle called by Christ, was guided by the Holy Spirit into the truth of the great mystery that had been hidden in ages past but finally revealed to the apostles and prophets. The mystery was hidden and then revealed, it was truth that the disciples were not ready to bear, but after Christ’s session at the right hand of God, he revealed that mystery to Paul. Paul, in fulfillment of his calling as an apostle of Christ, explains this mystery to the saints in Ephesus, that the Gentile believers were no longer outside the commonwealth of Israel, but were now fellow citizens with the saints of the Old Testament who had come before but now in heaven, and with those of the New Testament era and still living on earth (Eph 1:10). Listen to the revelation of the marvelous mystery as he writes:

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh --- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands --- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph 2:11-13.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. Eph 2:19, 20.

Paul writes along the same lines again later in the epistle and specifically identifies the Spirit as the one who brought this revelation to him:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles --- if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. Eph 3:1-7.

In this text, Paul identifies the recipient of this revelation of the Spirit as the apostles and prophets of the New Testament era. There were many things Christ had yet to reveal, but his disciples were not ready to bear them, presumably because a good portion of it had to do with his coming crucifixion and resurrection, a concept that was a stumbling block to their clear understanding of Christ’s work (Matt 16:22,23). Christ was going to leave them and afterwards send them his Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance not only the things he had taught them while with them on earth, but also other things which he had not told them, things that were yet to come to them through the Spirit after his departure into heaven.

The ‘truth’ into which the disciples were guided after Christ’s ascension was a completion of that body of truth he had begun to teach them while in their midst, and the fulfilling of that promise could only take place within that small circle of men who were called to be Apostles. The context of what we learn about the apostles in the New Testament requires us to understand that Jesus’s promise of being guided into truth by the Holy Spirit was exclusively for his apostles.

One may object to the exclusion of any outside the small body of disciples as recipients of this Spirit guided truth. Paul was not among them; does that not prove that the promise was not exclusive to the disciples and to exclude others is a blatant error? Does not Paul’s example vie more toward the position that the promise of the Spirit’s guidance is to be extended to all Christians, of every age since the Lord departed? We will find the answer to that is no.