As I’ve mentioned previously, last spring our church and a number of others have gone through an upheaval of sorts in re-examining and ultimately discarding a “doctrine” that had been a mainstay of doctrinal (and many other) ministries for years. That doctrine, of course, is the doctrine of Rebound, or the confession of sins as supposedly commanded in 1 Jn 1:9, as well as in a number of Old Testament passages.
Rebound, we were taught, was key to living the spiritual life, for it was the only way to regain the filling of the Holy Spirit once the latter had been lost as a result of personal sinning. If you were not filled with the Spirit, you would not be able to understand Bible teaching, and nothing you did would be done in the power of the Spirit but rather in the power of the flesh. Thus all such fleshly and “Spiritless” deeds would be considered wood, hay and straw at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Even worse, none of your prayers would go “any higher than the ceiling,” since God would neither hear them nor answer them.
For those of my seven regular readers who are not familiar with this doctrine, you can see that it was crucial to everything we did. Challenging it was not something one would take on lightly.
For our congregation this wild and bumpy ride began back in March with Pastor Farley’s unexpected announcement at the beginning of a Sunday morning message: “I have a confession to make.”
That confession was that he “could not find in the Bible where it tells Church Age believers, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that confessing our sins results in the filling of the Holy Spirit.”
Nor could he “see how the Bible makes our confessing our sins in 1 John 1:9 the determining factor in our being filled with the Spirit in Eph 5:18.”
If he couldn’t find it, how could he teach it?
As far as I was concerned, as soon as he began to suggest that rebound might not be what we’d always been taught, something resonated in me. In a “Yes! That makes total sense!” way. As he taught in more depth in ensuing lessons, the resonance solidified. I kept recalling a phrase from former teaching, that had been added to justify the concept:
“‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…’ and the cleansed vessel is then filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Except that last bit about the cleansed vessel isn’t part of 1 Jn1:9 or 10; it is just an … extrapolation? Unwarranted connection? I don’t know. I just remember thinking for years that it was shaky and that I’d have a hard time justifying this interpretation to someone who didn’t agree.
In addition, over the last few years I’d been experiencing moments of dismay when I would realize, after a day spent alone working on the book, that I’d forgotten to rebound before I started and would any of the day be worth anything now?
At the same time, I was finding more and more that when I’d set about the formal “rebound” prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind any sins for me to confess, nothing would happen. I wondered if there was something wrong with me; if I was doing it wrong. Why weren’t all these sins coming to mind? Surely I’d committed some sin — if only mental attitude — in the previous eight hours! When I could think of nothing, I would just confess “arrogance” since that’s a pretty good catch-all when it comes to sinning…
The truth is, my besetting mental attitude sins are usually so intrusive that I have to deal with them before I can ever get to work on the book — not through an official rebound prayer, but in writing out my tumultuous thoughts in a journal or nonstop. Then, as I see what I’m thinking on the page, I realize how wrong and stupid those thoughts are, how NOT the mind of Christ they are, and am then reminded of exactly what the mind of Christ would be in this situation. Once I’ve done that I’m pretty much at peace and ready to work. Which isn’t exactly “rebound” as I’ve known it.
Now, with this new teaching, I’ve come to understand that it is more in line with what the Bible actually teaches in the New Testament (eg, Ephesians 4 where we’re told to lay aside the old man and put on the new — exactly what I was doing in the exercise described above.)
I lay all this down as as a part of the journey I’ve been on with regard to this subject and how God had already begun to till the soil of my soul in preparation for the change. Of course, feelings and experiences can not be the standard by which we ultimately evaluate the truth of a doctrine or not. The standard has to be “What does the word of God say?” Is it true that the Bible really doesn’t support the doctrine of Rebound?”
I believe it is, and I shall try to explain why I’ve come to this conclusion in subsequent posts.
For those of you familiar with this doctrine and even those who are not, please feel free to question, object, read me the riot act, support/affirm (!), and/or bring up relevant scriptures that perhaps I’m ignoring. I might not be able to answer, rebut or explain my position to your satisfaction right now, but I would welcome the opportunity to see if my conclusions can stand up to the challenge — at least in my own mind, if not in others’.