Ancient Israel had the city of Dan in the far north and Beersheba in the south. In the middle was Jerusalem. These cities may be used figuratively to illustrate overreacting to false teaching. In fleeing from one extreme (Dan), one might run to the opposite extreme (Beersheba), and in so doing would “run past Jerusalem.”
For example, the Reformers rightfully ran away from the Catholic doctrines of works-based salvation, but in so doing they ran past the truth into the other extreme of salvation by grace only or faith only.
This has also been witnessed in the churches of Christ, as (usually) a man leaving one extreme (e.g., the various forms of non-institutionalism) embraces the opposite extreme of liberalism.
Thinking of yesterday’s blog about false ideas regarding the work of the Holy Spirit, I thought of the overreaction to this error, namely, denying the work of the Spirit today. For many among the churches of Christ, there is at least an unwillingness to embrace or talk about the present work of the Holy Spirit for fear of being associated with those on the wrong side of the issue.
Acts 5 identifies the Holy Spirit as Deity. In verses 3-4 Peter accused Ananias of lying to the Holy Spirit, saying that Ananias had lied, not to men, but to God.
Perhaps there is some hesitancy to speak about the present work of the Spirit because His work is not known or understood. The one thing that must be understood from the outset is the means or medium through which the Spirit operates, namely, the word of God. We see the work of the Spirit and the work of the word as mirroring one another throughout the Bible. For example:
- We are born again by the Spirit (John 3:3-5) and by the word (James 1:18).
- We are made free by the Spirit (Romans 8:2) and by the word (John 8:31-32).
- We are indwelled by the Spirit (Romans 8:11) and by the word (Col 3:16).
- We are sanctified by the Spirit (2 Thes 2:13) and by the word (John 17:17).
- We are convicted by the Spirit (John 16:7-8) and by the word (Titus 1:9).
Many other examples could be cited. Let’s be careful not to overreact to one error by embracing another. Don’t run past Jerusalem!