John Gavazzoni
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Stripped-Down Convictions
By John Gavazzoni

I almost chose as the title for this article, "Bare-Bones Convictions," but that would have been pushing an analogy a bit too far. There ought to be some meat, sinew, muscle and flesh on the least anointing- informed skeleton of convictions. This subject has been on my mind and heart for a long time, feeling the necessity of distinguishing between that which God has made a believer to truly know, and that which the believer thinks he/she knows, but their knowing is not real knowing.

The Greek for the kind of knowing I'm talking about is the knowing that comes from the anointing which we have all received from the Father, which is an experiential, intimate knowing that comes from communion with God, which is not the kind of knowing that is merely an exercise of natural logic. When we are taught by the anointing, logic (from logos) does enter in, but it is raised to a supernal level, so that in the measure given to us, we know as Christ has been made to know by our Father.

It is probably true in all of our cases, that if the body of true spiritual knowledge were reduced down to its almost bare bones, that is, consisting only of what God has truly taught us, a lot of fat, at the very least, would be missing. To know, as from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, entails a process that begins with an influence upon the mind, out from our spirit joined to the Spirit of the Lord, which influence presses upon us until we not merely THINK something to be true, we have been persuaded, convinced, convicted by Truth in the absolute.

To change the analogy, we are prone to building huge edifices of theological presumption upon a foundation of some true knowing OF God, so that if all that doesn't belong upon that foundation were to be removed, almost nothing of any significant edifice would remain. This is the kind of knowing that broke through from the Spirit of Jesus as He was bearing the darkness of our alienation from God. Breaking through that darkness that was expressed by Him crying, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,"

He faced down that darkness by knowing what the Father knew, that the darkness in no way affected in Whom He safely dwelt, so that He could leave the darkness behind and say with absolute conviction, "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit." Likewise, Stephen, shared in such knowing, so that as he was being stoned, He cried, "Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit." THAT'S knowing. So much of what we teach and preach comes from extrapolation - extrapolating based on what's been truly revealed to us, but from there into realms of conclusion that are theological constructs much energized by our soulish preferences that have much to do with our particular intellectual temperament.

Beyond the territory of, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth, Jesus as Lord, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved," is territory where we need to tread carefully, and as it were, removing the shoes from off our feet, for we are on holy ground. That statement by Paul is not essentially about what a man has to say, but what God has said, and by saying, catches us up into the dynamic of that Word, producing the result of the believing and confessing imperative. "What we have seen and heard, declare we unto you."

Much, if not most, of what draws us together into various forms of belief distinctives, is not the drawing of the Holy Spirit around the unveiling of Jesus Christ, but it's the kind of drawing together that is about likeness of natural intellectual and emotional temperament. My brother-in-law and I, way back when we ministered together as evangelists, began to notice after some Bible school training and quite extensive experience among many kinds of believers - quite extensive experience for two such young men as we were, that we could almost unerringly spot a Calvinist (especially what we called a hyper-Calvinist), from an Arminian, or a more or less mainline fundamentalist/evangelical from, for instance, a dear Pentecostal or Holiness brother (particularly when it came to preachers within those camps), by their general demeanor.

They hardly had to open their mouth before we could nail down their type of Christian. Simply put, natural temperament is a powerful influence as to which Christian camp a person can settle into and be religiously comfortable. Speaking with exaggeration, we used to joke that we could spot whatever kind they were as they were walking toward us from a block away.

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