Reactions to authoritative teaching

Explanation with reference to the study ‘Spirit, soul and body – and the power of trinity’.

Teaching, given from a heart, a soul, fixed on Jesus, will be confirmed by the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the listener and, as a result, will be experienced as having authority.

People generally react to this teaching in three different ways:

1. With anger:
If someone’s own conviction feels under attack, with resistance to the Holy Spirit’s witness as a result.
For example, as happened when Stephen said to his interrogators:

You stiff-necked people! Your hearts (as the seat of the soul) and ears are still uncircumcised. …  You always resist the Holy Spirit!
(Acts 7:51)

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious (in their heart, as the seat of the soul) and gnashed their teeth at him. … At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. (Acts 7:54 and 57-58)

2. With mockery and indifference:
If the soul shuts itself off from the Holy Spirit’s witness and casts it aside, like some people reacted to Paul’s preaching:

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”   (Acts 17:32)

3. With faith and conversion:
If the soul opens itself up in the spirit to the Truth, like the apostle Paul, who, having been educated in the wisdom and the teaching of the Pharisees, laid waste the early church and had disciples of Jesus killed.   (Acts 8:3 / 9:1)
He met Jesus in a vision on the way to Damascus. He was blinded by the bright light that shone around him at that moment. This blindness lasted for three days.

During those three days Paul realised that he had studied the Bible within the framework of  thought as a Pharisee, which resulted in legalism because his heart/soul was not open to the working of God’s Spirit. As a result of this he persecuted people who believed in Jesus.
This is why he wrote later:

… the letter (the written word – meaning here: legalism) kills …   (2 Corinthians 3:6)

In meeting Jesus Paul was confronted with the fact that Jesus was the promised Messiah and he discovered the truth of what Jesus had previously told the Pharisees:

You study the Scriptures (the books of the O.T.) diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.   (John 5:39)

When Paul opened his heart/soul to the working of the Holy Spirit, so that He could confirm the truth in his heart, Paul became, as he wrote later, a:

… minister of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for … the Spirit gives life.   (2 Corinthians 3:6)

The result was that he, with all his knowledge as a Pharisee, …

… began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  (Acts 9:20)


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Reactions to authoritative teaching.