“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NIV
Becoming competent in the Bible is not the same as “competence” in the Spirit. A few years ago I would have balked greatly at such a statement. But as the Lord has seen fit to allow me to live these years, I have discovered a wealth of “heart-knowledge” that previously was missed in my study of the Word.
I love the Word – all of it; from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. I have spent my life in the pursuit of the knowledge contained within these sacred pages. I have discovered fact upon fact that was not seen when I was younger. However, what our Lord is opening in me and through me now is not more “facts,” in the normal sense of the term, but His own heartbeat of love, care, empowerment, direction, mind, and life. It far surpasses what I had seen and understood previously. I am so deeply excited that I hardly know which passage to teach first. They are all brimming full of life and its fullness in my Lord.
The passage above is overflowing in heart knowledge. Paul was explaining to the people in the Corinthian body of believers that the confidence he lived in was not the confidence of arrogance, nor of self-accomplishment. It was instead the confidence in His Lord – or we could say, his trust that His Lord was accomplishing His will through Paul’s life. This confidence produced a trust in who Jesus had proven to be and then a willingness to live in that reality.
Paul had been trained by the best. His education was far beyond most of the Jewish nation and certainly far beyond the other apostles. Yet, that was not what qualified Him to be Apostle to the Corinthian believers. It was instead the teaching of Holy Spirit filled understanding of living a life in Christ – instead of by a law book. Teaching the Scriptures through an understanding of law creates creatures of brittleness and ugliness of heart. They are not capable of Spirit knowledge nor flight of life in His heart. They will know only what is written – not what is breathed.
No amount of “facts” can give that “breath” to an individual. We are always lacking. However, in Him, there is no lack and He empowers beyond our knowing. It is not the knowledge of men that he needs us to share, but the knowledge of His heart. We can say that the Word and all of its facts are exactly that. That is true – but only in the understanding of the Spirit. Otherwise, we are caught up on our own questions and their lack of answers.
So as we read, study, and dig out meanings and understandings, let’s remember to listen and to remain open to the heartbeat and breath that will come if we lean. It what He knows that we and the whole world are waiting to hear.