9. THE SCAFFOLDING THEORY
(Continued From November, 2008 Whole Truth Help)
The third reason that my boyhood background gave for the contention that the gifts of the Holy Spirit no longer exist today is that they were temporary scaffolding
. That is about as accurately as I can state it. It wasn’t expressed that literally, but it was always there by way of implication.
The Scaffolding Theory, as we may call it, stuck in my mind for years. It also affected my concept of the Holy Spirit considerably, and not just my concept of His gifts. The Holy Spirit became in my mind something like a “Heavenly Scaffolder,” someone who showed up very early on in the history of the Christian Church as the assistant to the Builder – Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit did so by surrounding the early church with His extraordinary and supernatural powers to support and enable the building process in these fragile infant, pre-adolescent and adolescent stages.
However, once the apostles died, and the Christian Church had been built and become an adult, the gifts were removed, for the scaffolding was no longer needed. After all, you don’t leave the scaffolding standing there once the superstructure has been completed. That would deface everything.
Once the “Cornerstone” was put in place, then the scaffolding was erected so that the church walls could be built. Then when the church was firmly structured and standing tall, the Scaffolder took His scaffolding down. That was the end of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church. So much for the Holy Spirit Scaffolder and His scaffolding gifts! After all, He and they were only there to jump-start and enable the building process early on.
Incredible how concepts and pictures can stick to and completely take over your mind, especially when they are put there at a very early age! As a result of all of this, as I was growing up, I viewed the Holy Spirit as a Scaffolder in work boots and bib overalls, putting up His scaffolding gifts to help the church get a good start.
This very brief and totally distorted teaching, if one can call it a teaching at all, about the Holy Spirit and His gifts was totally botched. It has been made painfully clear to me over the years that:
“WE OFTEN FORM JUDGMENTS, NOT ACCORDING TO THE TRUTH AS IT REALLY
IS, BUT INSTEAD THROUGH THE COLORED GLASSES WITH WHICH
WE A HAVE BEEN TRAINED TO SEE IT
You don’t have to tell me how critically important it is where a child enters life and how he is taught to view truth! It is not likely that the youthful, impressionable mind will see rightly when he is being taught wrongly.
10. THE MYSTERIES OF CHRISTIANITY
What is even worse, and I share this with the deepest regret, as a young pastor I taught my young catechumens that there were no supernatural-manifestation gifts today, for they had ended when the Apostles died, when the Bible had been completed, and when the Holy Spirit’s scaffolding was taken down.
I shudder even now to think about it. I predisposed their fragile and impressionable minds to error and deception. And I caused them to have a prejudice against the Holy Spirit and His gifts. Their young minds were betrayed by bias which opened them to fallacy. That is how it has gone throughout church history’s muddling of truth, and I played my role in it. God forgive! I know He has!
I should have told my catechumens that I didn’t understand these things, and God knows that I didn’t! I should also have told them that I was not qualified to give them any reliable teaching about these things, and God knows at the time that I wasn’t. That would have been honesty which is always the best policy. I had so much mental muck to wade through in those days.
And moreover, it was way back then that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were such a huge and utter mystery to me. So mysterious and even eerie! I cannot overstate this, for that is exactly how they are viewed by most gift deniers. Weird! And those who embrace and practice them – wierdos, quacks! Several flew over the cuckoo’s nest! That is exactly how my ancestors and relatives viewed and view all of it.
First, why didn’t I simply and humbly state my mystification with it all, rather than messing up their minds with my utterly stupid denial of the existence of the gifts? Hindsight is 20/20. I have learned an important lesson since then, and it is this:
“IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO LEAVE PEOPLE MYSTIFIED THAN TO CAUSE
THEM TO BE MISLEAD
“WE MUST ALWAYS BE FAITHFUL TO CONVEY THE MYSTERY OF TRUTH,
RATHER THAN TO RUN AWAY FROM THE MYSTERY AND
TURN OUR BACKS ON TRUTH.”
Second, why didn’t I explain to them that the entirety of the Christian faith is a mystery! Shouldn’t we all be accustomed to that fact by now? Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2: 7,
“But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery….”
Creation Ex Nihilo! The Trinity! The Incarnation of God! The Rebirth! Poor learned and totally mystified Nicodemus. He was told by Jesus that he had to be born again. Try that on for size! He was amazed but mostly confused at this great paradox, or should we say impossibility!? Who isn’t, even today! His initial reaction was one of total mystification, as he looked at our Lord and asked, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9)
However, Nicodemus asked no more than what the minds of all normal men ask about all of the articles of the Christian faith. If mysteriousness alone is used as a disqualifier for something to be real and true, then God Himself is not to be believed in. In short:
“EVERY MAN MUST BE PREPARED TO BE STARTLED IF HE IS TO GET
STARTED WITH GOD.”
The same is true concerning the Holy Spirit and His supernatural gifts. They are totally consistent with the entire mystery of the Christian Faith. The problem is that man wants to take all of the mysteries of Christianity and make them as simple as two plus two equals four before he can believe them. He tries to represent all of the mysteries of religion in such a way until they have nothing mystical in them whatsoever. When in fact those who must make all of the mysteries of the Christian faith understandable before they can be believed, end up believing nothing and understanding even less!
11. MODERN DISTORTIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Before soundly disproving the “Scaffolding Theory,” much of the modern charismatic community has alienated much of the church world, including my boyhood church, from the Holy Spirit and His supernatural gifts. To add insult to injury, the modern charismatic churches have distorted the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In all of this very necessary and urgent discussion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, contemporary treatment of the Holy Spirit is harming His true character and work still more.
How? Modern Pentecostals and Charismatics want the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than the Holy Spirit Himself. We have forgotten Who He really is – the HOLY SPIRIT. His main role in our lives is holiness and not giftedness or powerfulness. I have already admitted to visualizing the Holy Spirit as a bibbed-overall Scaffolder. Today He is being primarily pictured as a giant battery pack strapped to the back of the church. Holiness for the most part is being totally lost sight of. You hear constantly about anointing of the Holy Spirit and very little about sanctifying of the Holy Spirit. Power has replaced purity!
My ancestral church stressed primarily and almost exclusively the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives. Modern treatment of the Holy Spirit therefore has alienated them even more To put it more succinctly about modern charismatics:
“THEY WANT THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT RATHER THAN THE SPIRIT’S
POWER TO BE HOLY.”
Sadly, it is human nature to want power for all of the wrong reasons. When I was in university education, I heard even way back then in the 1950s and 60s about “Student Power.” They wanted equal power in running the show. I heard very little about wanting “Power to be Students.” Some things never change, and power lust is one of them.
I strongly believe the following, and that is:
“IF CHARISMATICS HONORED THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR WHO HE IS, THE GIFT-
DENIERS MIGHT BEGIN TO HONOR HIM FOR WHAT
My church background strongly resonates with I Thessalonians 5:22-23,
“Abstain from every form of evil.”
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit
and soul and body be preserved complete, without
blame at the coming of our Lord
If all of that were given its prime due, then they might just listen to what precedes it in I Thessalonians 5:19-20,
“Do not quench the Spirit;
“Do not despise prophetic utterances.”
The Holy Spirit is not primarily the “Gift Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is not primarily the “Power Spirit.” He is primarily the “Holy Spirit.” The main role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to make us holy! Separated unto God in thought, word and deed! It is all important to be holy even as God is holy. He commands it! (I Peter 1:16) Be hagios – set apart unto God. Don’t think, speak, or act like the world. Think, speak and act like God! Now you are talking Holy Spirit holy power! That separation from the world unto God today is being erased by a carnal, mammon-centered counterfeit of Christianity which is saturating religious television and corrupting millions.
Why else is it that the writer to the Hebrews refers to all of the heroes of faith as strangers in this world? (Hebrews 11:13) The Greek word for stranger is xenos which literally means strange, stranger, foreigner. Holy strangers! Separated holy strangers in the world! In the world but not at all of the world. When it comes to spirituality and morality, Christians are and should be the strangest strangers in this world. If not, we are most likely strangers to the Holy Spirit!
12. THE CHURCH IS NOW BEING BUILT
Now then, the entire “Scaffolding Theory
” is bogus. And that on two basic counts! First
, the church of the Jesus Christ is still being built today! Hello! Is anybody home? To use the scaffolding analogy, which I don’t like at all, the scaffolding is still standing. It has not been taken down. The building of Christ’s church is still going on. It is a work in progress even as all of us are still works in progress.
The huge trouble with the truth that the church is still being built today is that many churches don’t have that dynamic in their heads or their hearts. So why would they even think about the need of construction tools for building the church, let alone the Holy Spirit’s supernatural ones? (Much more on that later)
In fact many churchy types can’t think constructionally because they are members of churches that have consisted of the same religious cliques and families for decades. They have not led anyone to Christ during their entire lives. They have never seen in their lifetimes an adult convert to Christ being baptized, just babies! They want pastors who will soothe the saints, and only pay lip service to saving the lost. After all, who really wants a man of God in the pulpit to challenge them? Comfort them yes, challenge them no.
There is no vision and therefore no motion and no progress. There is no spiritual sawdust on the church floor! No mortar splatters anywhere, for few if any new stones are being fitted in. They simply maintain and preserve, and live therefore with the strong impression that the church is not being built, but rather has already been completed.
I know, for I have been there! And they are so small minded, so ingrown and provincial, that something so small as a fellowship hall carpet-color rift becomes an international crisis. They turn ants into elephants and molehills into mountains, though they neither have the know-how or the power to drive one demon out of one possessed man.
Leighton Ford once put it like this, “There are too many churches with impeccable credentials for orthodox theology whose outreach is nil. They are sound, but also sound asleep. It is far too easy for the church to become sort of a religious clique where Christians retreat from the world.”
In that regard, I just the other day bumped into a precious brother in the Lord from my former denomination whose church very recently went through an agonizing split and lost two thirds of its members. Why? Because, if you can fathom this, the remaining one third desires fervently to reach out to the community and bring them to Christ and into the church! Two thirds of this church didn’t want others coming into their ecclesiastical club. They are strangers to the evangelistic heart of our Lord, and have never been gripped by that which grips Christ. And what is that? The following dynamic:
“FOR CHRIST 99 ARE NEVER ENOUGH.”
Unbelievable! No wonder people think of the church as a finished product and a closed book. They have no concept of building the church for they are too busy barricading themselves in their church. Notice that I said “Their Church,” for it surely isn’t “Christ’s Church” in that instance.
Back to the point at hand! Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18,
“…I will build My church….”
Jesus said, “I!” Not you, not me, not them, not anybody! “I will build My church.” He is the sole “Architect!” He is the “Master Builder!” He is the “Chief Contractor!”
The Christian Church is the Church of Jesus Christ. Why? Because He also said, “MY” church! “I will build MY church.” He paid for the church with His own blood. No one else did! I will never forget the elder in my rookie pastorate who visited my wife and me early on and said to us, “I like to think of this as my church.” I got the heebie geebies when I heard him say it. I knew that he was going to be trouble. And he was! He was a nightmare from Hell!
Nonetheless, because it is Christ’s church, He can build it however and with whatever He chooses. Should we be that shocked that the supernatural Son of God would not simply use natural means alone to build His church? If you will:
“WOULD CHRIST, WHO IS GOD THE WORD, BUILD HIS CHURCH WITH THE
SUPER-NATURAL GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THEN CAUSE
US TO CO-BUILD HIS CHURCH WITH HIM BY PREACHING
THE WORD WITHOUT THE GIFTS OF THE
What sense does that make, beside the fact that it is unbiblical? That would be like an author writing a stunning and powerful prologue, and then follow it with a weak and uninviting book.
When Peter exposed the falsehood of Ananias and Sapphira through a supernatural word of knowledge, that word judged them on the spot so that they died just as surely as they had lied. Great fear came upon the church and all who heard about it. We read soon after this, with many more signs and wonders added that multitudes of men and women believed in the Lord and were added to the numbers of the growing church. (Acts 5:14) No doubt many of them were scared straight!
Christ’s church was not then and is not now allowed to be viewed as a meager power or a minor league outfit. It was, is and will be built with the super-sufficiencies and awe-inspiring gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, the words of our Lord in Scripture will always remain in the future tense, because Christ knew that there would always be more building to be done, and the same tools needed. He didn’t say:
“I have built My church.”
And he surely didn’t say:
“I will insulate My church.”
“I WILL build My church.”
It is a building process that will only be completed in the future tense. And when He says, “I will,” you can count on it! It will be done! It will never be completed in the past tense. For by the time the church will be completed, she will be in eternity where there will be no past or future, just one eternal glorious present.
THE EMERGING CHURCH
The Greek verb for building in Matthew 16:18 is oikomodeo, and is the very word that is used for the building of a house. Have you ever seen and heard a house being built? Nothing dormant there! No stagnancy! All action! Dynamic! Full of progress! Lots of effort and sweat! Noisy! Busy! A very laborious word is oikomodeo. The Divine energy that is moving history to its inevitable finale is also building and moving His church forward to its grand completion.
However, we have today a church that is not being Divinely built, but a church that is mystically emerging. It is being referred to as “The Emerging Church.” It is a throwback to Eastern mysticism couched in Christian terminology. I recently talked to folks who were attending a Pentecostal church that was involved in aroma-therapy, dimmed lights and soft new age music as part of their evening worship services.
The smell was sweet to the human nostrils but noxious to the Lord. Why? Because the “The Emerging Church” is based on mysticism and experientialism with a Eastern Mysticism and Judeo-Christian hybrid theology tacked on. Christianity is founded upon the Apostles and the Prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:20) In short:
“THE EMERGENT CHURCH IS FOUNDED UPON MYSTICISM AND EXPERIENTIALISM,
AND ENDS IN A HYBRID THEOLOGY.
In stark contrast:
“THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IS BUILT UPON BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THAT LEADS TO
AN EXPERIENTIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LIVING CHRIST.
“THE EMERGING CHURCH EXISTS TO SOOTHE, TITILLATE, STIMULATE
“THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH EXISTS TO CONVICT, CONVERT, CONFORM
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the noun emergent as arising unexpectedly, calling for prompt action, urgent. I agree! And the prompt action required is to come against and warn our people from the pulpit about the heresies of “The Emergent Church.” Christ is not building “The Emerging Church,” eastern mysticism is.
The graciousness of God is found in the humbling fact that we are privileged and commanded to be part of the building process. As a matter of fact, we are greatly dignified in the Word of God by being called Christ’s co-laborers. We read in I Corinthians 3:9 these revealing words:
“For we are God’s fellow workers….”
If you will:
“For we are God’s co-laborers….”
It does not say:
“For we are God’s co-retirees….”
There are no such people as retired church builders. It is a complete contradiction in terms. And be sure of this, everything else that we build here will one day be no more. But:
“ONLY WHEN WE BUILD WITH CHRIST HIS CHURCH QUALITATIVELY
AND QUANTITATIVELY ARE WE BUILDING FOR ETERNITY.”
We all know what oikomodeo conveys. Every board nailed, every cement block laid is done with the prospect of progress and growth. No program must be instituted that in any way bangs the door shut on an expanding future. There are two ways to live – open or shut. Everything we do must be done with the eye to the next step toward a stronger and larger church.
The church of Jesus Christ has been growing and strengthening for twenty centuries. Nothing seems to be able to stunt her growth, not even dead church wood or dry sermons. Jesus wants everyone to come to Him and to come into His church, for He is not willing that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
We are not to be first of all co-maintainers with Christ. We are not co-insulaters with Christ. We are not co-preservers with Christ. We are not co-protectors with Christ. We are not co-organizers with Christ. We are not co-committee members with Christ We are not co-fund raisers with Christ. We are co-builders with Christ! And if we are not co-builders with Christ, we are nothing because who we really are is not being fulfilled. Let’s get this straight!
There should be in the church of Jesus Christ the constant sounds, hustle and sweat of building and construction taking place. The first church in which I became a part of this constant building-buzz on an ongoing basis was First Assembly of God in Grand Rapid, Michigan which was then being pastored by M. Wayne Benson. I had never seen anything like it in my life before. I can still hear his voice concerning all of the multiple church ministries, “If your ministry is not saving souls, we will scrap it.” And that included the choir. New solid and living stones were being put in place on a constant basis on every level, as the Lord was adding daily such as were saved. If there isn’t that building-buzz in the church, it is not the church of Jesus Christ.
(Please Go To “Spiritual Gifts Ended – Three Bogus Theories” Pt. 3)