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Is Teaching the Bible Precept by Precept of God?

“To whom would He teach knowledge,
And to whom would He interpret the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just taken from the breast?
10 “For He says,
‘Order on order, order on order,
Line on line, line on line,
A little here, a little there.’”
11 Indeed, He will speak to this people
Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,
12 He who said to them, “Here is rest, give rest to the weary,”
And, “Here is repose,” but they would not listen.
13 So the word of the Lord to them will be,
“Order on order, order on order,
Line on line, line on line,
A little here, a little there,”
That they may go and stumble backwardbe brokensnared and taken captive. Isaiah 28:9-13 (NASB)

The idea of a precept-by-precept system is presented by the prophet not as something positive, but actually, as something very negative. The prophet describes the end-result of adopting this approach; at the end of verse 13 he states, so that they may stumble backwardso that they may be brokenso that they may be snared. The word Snared comes from the Greek word “yāqōš: “…always refers figuratively to the catching of a person or people in an undesirable situation.”[1] And finally, so that they may be taken captive.

The question here is why this precept-by-precept is so bad? I am convinced, especially after seating under the torture of this system for months, that the reason this system is so bad is because it is the perfect and most justifiable way of adapting a system that seems to be godly, but in reality, is denying God’s power.  It is opening the Scripture without reverence to the Holy Spirit. It is establishing that we are in control of what we teach and when and, it is the most effective way to extinguish the Holy Ghost’s work. Jesus himself stated,

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:12-13 (NASB)

Jesus made it clear that there are things that we cannot bear; it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibilities, among many other responsibilities, to disclose to us what we are and not able to bear. We can also state that different people are able to bear different things and that different congregations are able to also bear differently. The Bible gives us 7 Holy Ghost driven ways of communication. (Please Check the following article for more details, An Incomplete Message)

  • The Preaching of the Gospel:

The gospel is a message that focus on the good news, the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and the salvation available through Christ. The gospel is a call for repentance. (Mark 16:15) You can’t teach about a particular topic that has no connection to the gospel and then at the end, made a call for folks to accept Jesus. The preaching of the gospel is the preaching of Jesus on the cross. The preaching of the gospel is not about making friends and expanding membership; it confronts the listener with his sinful condition. The gospel, my friends, is offensive. Peter says of Jesus that he is “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE” First Peter 2:8 (NASB). 

  • The Teaching of Sound Doctrine:

Sound doctrine is not deep; is not even controversial; is simply teaching the believer how to think, how to behave and how to live (Titus 2:1).

  • Word of Wisdom:

This is one of many gifts that flow directly out of the Holy Ghost. This is a word that provides divine wisdom; it gives people direction about a particular situation they may be facing. (First Cor. 12:8). This is where we find divine guidance.

  • Word of Knowledge:

Another gifts of the Spirit that is ignored in many local churches. This is a word given with specific divine knowledge and insight about a particular situation. This is concerning a situation that, without the Holy Ghost, there is no other way to know. (First Cor. 12:8)

  • The Gift of Prophecy:

Paul said of this gift, “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.” First Corinthians 14:5 (NASB) This gift involves two parts; one is to declare a message from God; a now word! This involves teaching any particular message from the Bible. The other is foretelling future events. Sadly, foretelling future events is almost not existence in many local churches today; it seems that, for the most part, the pastor already knows what he is going to preach with weeks and at times months of anticipation. I was a part of a church that prepared the series for the whole year. Really?????? With everything that is going on around the world with this Coronavirus, with sport figures, politicians and Hollywood twisting the truth and teaching lies and we don’t have a now word? (First Cor. 12:10)

  • The Discerning of Spirits:

This is the spiritual gift that recognizes whether something comes from God or the devil. These folks are extremely important in our congregations; they protect us spiritually from foolishness; but many times, in the name of LOVE, these guys and ladies are not allowed to speak and point out problems or potential problems. (First Cor. 12:10)

  • The Gift of Interpreting Tongues:

This is speaking an unknown language. I must point out that this is the most minimized gift of all because is really for our own edification, not for the Body. In terms of the congregation this gift is not much help without the Interpretation of those tongues, (First Cor. 12:10) This is the supernatural interpretation of a supernatural tongue spoken in the congregation. Let us remember that Paul encouraged the interpretation of tongues because it was also useful for the edification of the Body. (First Cor. 12:10)

In conclusion, I strongly encourage folks to read and study the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation on their own personal time and, even then, don’t rush it, listen to the Holy Ghost, He may have you study a verse, some verses, a chapter or a book for months as He gives you revelation of what you are studying. However, the idea of adapting a precept by precept only way of teaching our congregations is simply not biblical. Neither Jesus, nor the apostles or the church fathers or any classical historical figure in church history adapted this precept-by-precept approach. Jesus always gave us a message; a useful and practical message; there is always a point to be made. 

Adapting a precept by precept only way of teaching in any local church will automatically put aside the flow of a Holy Ghost led communication. The key is that the message MUST be Holy Ghost driven and, if it is Holy Ghost driven, it will be in accordance with the Word of God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 tells the whole story, 

Such is the confidence we have toward God through Christ. Not that we are adequate in ourselves so as to consider anything as having come from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (NASB)

Beloved, this is Holy Ghost time. The Holy Spirit is God, the Word is not above the Holy Ghost because the Holy Ghost is the author and interpreter of that Word. 2 Peter 1:21 tells us, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (NASB) 

We know that John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NASB) It is the Holy Ghost who has the ability to reveal to us the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) and, it is the Holy Ghost who glorify Jesus (John 16:14). The focus should never be on systems, but on the Holy Ghost. The focus should never be on the Word without the divine guidance of its Author. To focus on the Word without reverence to the Holy Ghost is spiritual suicide and spiritual homicide. The focus MUST be on the Holy Ghost as He reveals to us what we can bear.

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 469.

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