In my last post, Surprised by Jesus, I related the story of my conversion and early Christian life, when I was taught out of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Major Bible Themes. The man who led me to the Lord, taught both the beginners Bible Classes I attended and the College Student Sunday School class I also attended, was a postman back in the Dark Ages when people didn’t use trucks but walked their routes carrying large leather bags full of mail. While he did this he memorized verses, so you can imagine by the time I met him, he’d learned quite a few.
He’d also taught himself Greek, and had a number of serious Bible study resources in his library, including Strong’s Concordance, Vines New Testament Dictionary and many others. I had tremendous respect for him. After my husband and I had moved to Northern Arizona and searched for someone to replace him, we had even more respect for him.
We visited a number of churches and home Bible Studies, finally settling somewhat reluctantly on a Southern Baptist Church in Show Low. I was also having troubles adjusting to my new life, which was quite isolated, and both of us were suffering from the effects of moving to a much higher elevation than we were accustomed to — one of those effects was being constantly tired and wanting to sleep.
So I was sinning quite a bit in the realms of fear, worry, self-pity, complaining, etc.
One Sunday a visiting pastor came to our church and taught a message on “yielding to the Spirit”. If we’d just do that, said he, we wouldn’t sin any more (at least that is what I perceived him to have said). I wanted very much to stop sinning, and so listened carefully. In order to yield, he taught, we should write down all our sins on a piece of paper — as many of them as we can remember — and then burn the paper. Then we would be “yielded.”
This sounds so ridiculous to me now, I suspect I missed something in his teaching, but nevertheless, I went home, wrote down my sins and burned the paper in the kitchen sink, really, really hoping this would work and I would no longer be grumpy, crabby, upset that my husband was sleeping all the time and whatever other assorted complaints I had, which I can no longer recall.
Alas. Before the day was out, I had again sinned, and was no more clear on what yielding meant than before the burning of the list.
I was reading the Bible every day, and memorizing versus, but there were still an awful lot of passages that weren’t making a lot of sense to me. It was frustrating.
Not long after that, my husband started teaching at one of the schools up there and was invited to a Bible study one of the other teachers hosted. Actually, the way it went down was, he came home late for dinner, told me to put the meatballs I’d made into the refrigerator, because we were going to a Bible study that we were already late for, and that was that.
It was our first introduction to Col Thieme. I was not impressed. He was too harsh, too authoritarian, too critical, too arrogant… We critiqued his delivery and at least some of the content of his message all the way home, and not in a good way.
But for some reason when the next week came round, my husband wanted to give it another try. So I agreed. Since Col Thieme had been mentored by L.S. Chafer, much of what he taught was familiar and stuff I agreed with, and the second time around I was more amenable to listening.
And then he taught Rebound. In the context of yielding.
Sin, he said, puts a believer out of the control of the Holy Spirit, out of fellowship with Him. Naming the sin privately to God puts the believer back under the Spirit’s control and restores fellowship. As per 1 John 1:9, “if we confess (name, cite) our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (unknown sins).” And the cleansed vessel is then free to be filled with the Spirit. This is what is meant by “yielding.”
I was very excited to hear all this! Finally yielding made sense. Chafer had taught of our need to confess our sins to be filled by the Spirit and so had my first teacher, as well as my first pastor. Even the Baptist church we were attending taught the need to confess sins, though they often threw in the need to confess them to others, or to feel bad about them while confessing. Thieme cut through both of the latter… and I liked that. He used the term “rebound” from the analogy of a basketball player missing a shot but then catching the ball again and getting back in the game. Trying again…
For years that’s what I believed, how I lived, what I taught my son and what I presented to the various youth groups and Sunday School classes I taught.
The only problem was, it wasn’t correct…
How I came to discover that will be tomorrow’s post.