By Shou Yang
In August 1995 God gave me an open vision. I saw something that I knew was the Tower of Babel. I saw a man standing on the top of the tower trying to reach God. There were many people on the ground admiring the man and his tower. Then the Spirit said to me, "The men in the plain of Shinar built the first Tower of Babel using bricks and tar. They tried to reach the heavens by their physical abilities. Today's church tries to reach God by building another Tower of Babel. This tower is built using human logic and man's wisdom. Many church people of today try to understand God's truths using their intellectual and logical abilities. The people in the church measure a man's spiritual maturity by the height and the massiveness of his tower. They measure a man's spiritual status by his theological training, degrees, and the success of his ministry."
Then in the vision I started to see another tower appearing. This tower has its base in the sky, and grows downwards towards the earth. Another man stood on this inverted tower. The people of the church looked at this man. Because they could not see the inverted tower, they thought the man was suspended upside down in mid-air. The Spirit then said to me, "God builds His servants from heaven downwards. The towers these people stand on are made of 'faith', which unspiritual people cannot see. The more mature my servants are, the more down to earth they are, and the more humble they become. Faith, the building blocks of God's towers, represents the attitude of taking God's claim seriously and applying God's commandments in our lives. This will result in righteousness and holiness, and the bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Contrasting the two towers - Man's wisdom vs faith
For many years I spent a lot of my free time reading Christian books and studying bible commentaries. I taught several bible study groups each week. I discussed all issues of doctrine and theology with other Christians. I usually won my arguments by saying, 'C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity says...' or 'Tyndale's commentary on John's Gospel says...' Then one year I had a rude awakening when the Lord showed me that I was a blind person leading the blind. The Lord said that I was the 'rich fool'. I was shocked!
The Lord started to show me that I should not be studying the Bible to accumulate head knowledge. My knowledge of the Bible should cause a change in my life. In Matthew 7:26, Jesus said 'But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practise is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.' I was like the foolish builder, accumulating head knowledge to impress man. For many years the purpose of my studying the Bible and Christian books was to be accepted by other Christians. I was not serious about pursuing holiness nor changing my life. Not many people in my church seem to bother about holiness either. I told God that I would have some fun first, and pursue holiness later. After more than ten years of 'serving in the church', I was too busy with ministry to check my real motives.
On 25th February 1994 God gave me this word. "Yang, do not spend your time busily collecting human wisdom, rearranging information and displaying it, in the name of 'sharing', with the motive of showing off, proving your ability, impressing others and establishing your own self-importance. Spend more time praying to Me, plea in tongues. It is not human wisdom but My power that accomplishes My will. Use your ability to convert human wisdom into changes in your life with My strength, and witness to others using your life and not your words."
The relationship between Biblical knowledge and spiritual growth
Then the Lord proceeded to teach me the relationship between Biblical knowledge and spiritual growth. The Lord uses the following passage found in Rick Joyner's book 'The Harvest,' page 23: "Spiritual seeds require the same basic conditions as natural seeds: water, heat, and light. Water speaks of the Word of God, of which there must be an abundance. Heat speaks of circumstances; most have to be in the fire of trials before they will turn to the Lord. Light speaks of Divine revelation which enables us to realise that it is God who is speaking through the Word and circumstances.'
The Lord then expanded the passage to me as follows. "Water represents knowledge. You can acquire knowledge from many sources such as books, the Bible, direct listening to God, prophecies, fellowship sharing, sermons, and the secular mass media. Light represents understanding as revealed by the Holy Spirit. Heat represents life's experiences such as human relationships, pressures, temptations, hardships, pain, sicknesses, failures, successes."
The Holy Spirit then revealed to me that according to God's original design, we will be absorbing what God provides in the proportions and quantities that God has determined. We should pursue perfection and holiness, and God will provide just enough water, light and heat to meet the need for growth. But we live in a fallen world and we are fallen creatures. The world as an environment has changed. It has become a world ruled by Satan instead of by God. We turn to ourselves for survival. We believe in the survival of the fittest. We depend on our own control to survive instead of depending on God. God used to be the source of everything we needed. But now we have turned to stealing the water, light and heat that we desired.
I then received a reprimand from the Lord. "If you trust that God will remain faithful, then why do you control the situation and store up unused knowledge? Aim to assimilate, to use the water for spiritual growth. Allow the water to be part of you. God will always provide you with enough water to grow. Seeking to store up water for later use is failure to trust God, and is an attempt to find security in what man can do. Have I warned you enough from doing things with human wisdom? You are like conservative traditional churches who store up finance to fund future events. Do they not know that the money comes from God? And if it is My plan, will I not continue to supply and sustain? I will provide in due time. Likewise, why do you find security in shelves full of books and folders full of notes? You do not need that much yet. When there is a need, I will provide!"
Understanding God's truth using Human Logic
The Bible contains many examples of God acting illogically.
In the Old Testament God asked Abraham to leave his clan and go into the desert without giving Abraham a plan nor a destination. God asked Abraham to kill his only son even when this was against what the Levitical Law would later teach. God led the Israelites across the Red Sea on dry land yet left them wandering in the desert for forty years. God spoke through a donkey.
In the New Testament Jesus said that the last will be first, and the first will be last. Jesus said 'offer the other cheek'. Jesus said 'love your enemies.' Jesus raised the dead and walked on water. Jesus was born of a virgin in a manger. Jesus never studied Bible College, and His twelve apostles were mostly uneducated.
In 1Cor 1:25-27 Paul said that 'For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.' In 1Cor 3:19 Paul said 'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.'
The Pharisees in Jesus' days knew the Old Testament of the Bible very well. And they used human logic when trying to understand God's ways. Nicodemus tried to defend Jesus and said, 'Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?' Another Pharisee replied 'Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find a prophet does not come out of Galilee.' (John 7:51,52 ). The Pharisee was saying, 'Go home and study your Bible carefully. There is no precedence that God's prophets ever came out of Galilee.' That was human logic at work. Just because in the Old Testament there were no prophets who came out of Galilee, he confidently came to the conclusion that no prophets would come out of Galilee in the future. And he rejected Jesus.
God's left handed ways
Christians of today tend to follow the example of this Pharisee, and use human logic when approaching God's truths. Many pastors I have spoken to reject out of hand that anybody today can hear directly from God. There are others who emphasis strongly that 'we must base our beliefs solidly on God's Word alone', and to 'test all things'. What they really mean is that only ideas derived logically from the written words in the Bible can be considered as correct. And they judge all things based on their interpretation of the Bible.
Unfortunately that is not how the God of the Bible works. After a vision, Peter the apostle was asked to enter the house of a Roman gentile, thus breaking the rules and traditions of a Jew. Peter said 'You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean...' (Acts 10:28) To Peter, visions and Word of Wisdom alone had enough authority to make him do something forbidden in the Old Testament.
Throughout the Bible, from cover to cover, God speaks to people. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. I need to seek God diligently, and to know Him intimately, so that when God changes direction I may be aware and I may change direction with Him.
A good example is the prophet Samuel. God used Samuel to anoint Saul as king. Later God changed His decision and wanted David to be king instead. Samuel did not associate himself too closely with Saul. Samuel associated himself closely with God instead. Samuel was later used by God to anoint David. Samuel would not join Saul in persecuting young David in blind loyalty, just because it was God who anointed Saul as king in the beginning.
I must learn to hear God's voice so well that when God's Spirit leaves a movement or a church or a ministry, I should also leave when the Holy Spirit prompts me to. And when God starts to raise up a new movement, I should join the new movement when asked by God to do so. Samuel was faithful to God, not to Saul. I must also remain faithful to God, not to a ministry, a movement, or a particular church.
The Lord once told a prophet in our church, 'What I give you will not cause you to drown. But if you drown, it is because you choose that.' The prophet complained, 'What you are saying is not logical.' The Lord said, 'I am not logical. Logic is a tool ignorant man uses to discover more truths. This may not always work. But I am omniscient. I know all things. Therefore I do not need logic.' The Holy Spirit then explained to us that if we put garbage in, we will get garbage out of our 'logic systems'. We sinners tend to distort our perception of facts according to our desires, and very often we do not know enough about the whole situation. Thus our application of logic frequently brings forth erroneous conclusions.
The Bible says:
'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.' (Isa 55:9)
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.' (Prov 3:5)
'The wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.' (1Cor 3:19)
'For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.' (John 9:39)
Watch out! God will do it again
The first of the Ten Commandments states that 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.' I can study the Bible carefully, then pull out a piece of paper, and write down 'There is only one God.' This is my truth, thoroughly tested, and is solidly based on the teachings of the Bible. If an uneducated young man comes before me and claims to be God, and claims to be the 'Ancient of Days' mentioned in Daniel 7:9, I can pull out my piece of paper with my truth written on it, wave this in the young man's face, and tell the young man to get lost.
Caiaphas the high priest did something similar to this when Jesus appeared before the Sanhedrin, and claimed to be 'the Son of the Blessed One'. 'I am,' said Jesus. 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.' The high priest tore his clothes. 'Why do you need any more witnesses?' he said. 'You have heard this blasphemy. What do you think?' (Mark 14:61-64) They decided to kill Jesus.
What went wrong? How can a straight forward application of a simple truth based solidly on the teaching of the Word of God results in such a disaster for the Jews in Jesus' days? Though they were the chosen people, most of them did not recognise God. They tortured and killed God incarnated. Even Satan, with all his wisdom and thousands of years of experience in dealing with God, made the mistake of thinking that killing Jesus would defeat God's plan. Yet through dying on the cross, Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Passover Lamb and brought salvation to all His people, thus defeating Satan instead.
There was a new doctrine which Caiaphas had no knowledge of: the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which Jesus was revealing to His Church. This made foolishness out of Caiaphas' wisdom of 'just one God.' Some people may object here and protest that the doctrine of Trinity existed in the Old Testament too. But not for the Jews! Not for Caiaphas - and he was in charge...
The Church of today is making the same mistake as Caiaphas did. Christians fill their heads with truths written on pieces of paper. When Jesus comes again, it will be in such a shape and such a form that many Christians will not be able to recognise Him. In fact, they will not even be able to tolerate the teachings and doctrines that the Lord will be bringing with Him. To many, these teachings will be blatantly opposed to the 'solid teachings' of God's Word (as they understand them). These teachings will be just as unacceptable to these Christians as Jesus' claiming to be God was to the Jews in His days. Many Christians will be seething in anger, and will wish to kill the true followers of Christ while all the time thinking that they are serving God.
When Jesus first came into the world, most of the learned Jews and even Satan were stumbled. Some years ago I felt that Jesus was not playing according to the established rules of His days. Who could have dreamed of something as improbable as the promised Messiah coming to save the Jews turned out to be a carpenter living in Galilee, instead of a successful, mighty warrior?
I started to have a small suspicion that during His second coming Jesus will be bringing some new revelations to render null and void my human wisdom and my doctrinal knowledge.
I asked the Lord, 'Will You be cheating again this time (the Second Coming), as You did in Your first coming?' I received this message, 'Yang, if you consider anything beyond your intelligence as cheating then yes, the Father God will be cheating.'
Only rarely did God repeat the same miracles in the Bible. There were many surprises indeed. I am expecting a most spectacular surprise for God's finale for the ending of the history of this world. Holding onto my own doctrines tightly and relying on my own wisdom is most unwise in these last days.
God Given Intelligence
In these days many people are proud of their scientific knowledge and achievements. Many times I have heard Christian leaders say that 'Becoming a Christian does not mean we have to abandon our God given intelligence.' And we long to agree with this statement. We want to be the 'wise and learned.' We want to 'lean on our own understanding.' We want to proclaim loudly that 'we can see.' We want to please and to impress the people around us. We want to worship our intellect.
Several times when I have visited universities and well-stocked Christian bookshops, the Holy Spirit has told me, 'You are entering the modern temple of Baal.' Human wisdom gives us man's knowledge which 'puffs up' (1Cor 8:1). Knowledge makes us confident of our own correctness, makes us judgmental of others, and makes us proud.
Conversely, godly wisdom makes us aware of our foolishness before God, and keeps us humble. The Lord told a brother several times, 'Hold onto your doctrines loosely.' This is godly wisdom. God also mean 'hold on to your ministry loosely' and 'hold on to your church loosely.' Today's church is 'wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.' Truth is the person Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. Truth is not a list of facts written on a piece of paper. The only way to know God's truth is to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and then obey. For example, the Holy Spirit may ask us to go out to love and care for the poor and the needy. Jesus said 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matt 25:40). If we obey and go out to give food to the hungry out of love, we come closer to Jesus who is 'the truth.'
God's standards of a successful person, church and ministry are quite different from the standards of many Christians. God once told me the following:
• Be careful not to confuse "successful" churches with the work of the Holy Spirit. A person cannot discern how the Holy Spirit must be working by a church's "blessing". Do not confuse a prosperous church as a church greatly under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is because most people do not understand what it really means for a church to be greatly blessed. Many churches consider wealth, status in society, financial state and the number of members as a blessing and an obvious help of the Holy Spirit. This is not the case. Many truly blessed churches are undergoing persecution, experiencing the rejection by the world, and are struggling with sin. So how can a person discern the works of the Holy Spirit if that person cannot distinguish between curses and blessings?
• When an organisation raises funds using the methods of the world, God will stop supplying the organisation's needs in His way. Some ministries lack funds because they do not ask God to provide for their needs. Some ask God for money and did not receive because what they were doing was not pleasing to the Lord.
For a godly discussion on this topic, I would recommend reading the book 'The Golden Cow-Materialism in the Twentieth-Century Church' by John White.
When I feel that I own a ministry, my ministry is already glorifying myself. If God is not in full control of a ministry, the ministry is dead. If a ministry belongs totally to God, God can take away the ministry at any time and the leaders will not oppose, nor feel bad.
Any move of God, or any human endeavour, if they exist as an individual entity (with its own goal and identity), would have become a 'dead ministry.' In fact the very word 'ministry' denotes something of an entity which exists separate from God, which cannot be true. All human endeavour: science, philosophical thinking, leisure activity etc. should be seen as pathways to discover, find and experience God.
If we are dead to our own lives, and living completely for God, then we must always obey God. Many ministries and churches band together and form themselves into groups: 'I am a Baptist!' or whatever. But God does not see us that way. We each are precious to Him, and each one of our hearts needs to be cleansed and purified. Each individual must get a "Heart that is holy." This is the harvest that God desires.
God has great displeasure with some Christian 'Ministries'. Many of these ministries are little more than commercial 'franchises' and businesses similar to the McDonald Restaurants. They discovered a little corner of truth and then 'steal' it away from God. They set up shop and 'sell' it to those who will come and buy that truth. This is disgusting to the Lord!
Learning to Diminish
I think we can learn a lesson from John the Baptist on how to deal with seeing our successful ministry slipping away before our eyes.
In John 3:26-30, John is depicted as having a very popular ministry, with thousands of people coming to the desert to listen to his preaching and being baptised by him. Then Jesus comes onto the scene and 'everyone is going to him (Jesus).' John answered, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven... He must become greater; I must become less.'
Similarly Jesus was very popular when He healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed thousands of people without charging them money. But when the Father asked Jesus to retreat into secrecy to train His apostles, He disappeared from the eyes of the public without debate. He later willingly went onto the cross and die, giving away a successful public ministry.
Many of God's servants welcome God's blessings in expanding their ministries, but obstruct or openly rebel against God when He moves the anointing to other ministries, or apparently moves to shut them down. The leaders of one movement of God may turn out to be the most vehement opposition of the next move of God. In the Bible King Saul persecuted young David, who was anointed by God to be the next king. Some leaders cling onto the memories of God's great manifestations after the Holy Spirit has left their ministries.
I have seen pastors who taught their congregations how to speak in tongues, instructing them to follow their examples in making certain noises. I have seen pastors praying for the sick, and then blaming the people they prayed for that they were not healed because they lack faith. In the Bible Jesus told people 'You are healed because of your faith.' Jesus never told the sick people 'You are not healed because of your lack of faith'!
Jesus would however, scold His disciples for their lack of faith, resulting in prayers that could not cast out evil spirits. If we apply these Bible verses faithfully to ourselves then it is the pastor whose lack of faith results in the ineffective prayers, not the sick people. I have seen pastors praying for healing and resulting in people being slain in the spirit. Then they claimed that the sick were healed. They were not. When the 'slain' struggled to their feet again, their sicknesses remained.
Job said in Job 1:21 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.' Sometimes God does take ministries away.
Many Christians are familiar with the Great Commission given by Jesus to His church in Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.'
One problem with the church of today is that many of us ignore the first half of verse 20: 'And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.' Few obey Jesus' commands to love one another, to share their belongings with the poor, to die to self, to hate the world, to love your enemies, to forgive one another, and to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Instead of forgiving one another and loving one another, we use our human logic to devise doctrines and theologies to argue and attack and compete with one another.
This article explains that we should not use human logic when trying to understand God’s truths.
'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.' (Isa 55:9)