© 2007 Ron Schwartz
Here A Little, And There A Little
January 29, 2007
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Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?
them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line
upon line; here a little, and there a little:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and
this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon
precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little;
that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
other things, this prophecy foretold the birth of the New Testament Church.
It began on the day of Pentecost with stammering lips and other tongues
just as this prophecy foretold. But
what of the rest of this prophecy? What
did it mean?
the Old Testament, which was all given at one time in its entirety to a single
man (Moses), God made it clear through this prophecy that the New Testament
would come in parts, like series of building blocks.
It would come “precept
upon precept, line upon line.”
The word translated “precept”
is tsav (Hebrew) meaning “commandment,” and the word translated “line”
is qav (Hebrew) “a cord (as means of measuring).”
Thus this verse foretold the New Covenant, its statutes and measure would
come over the course of time through many people.
It would literally be “here
a little, and there a little.”
Paul described it “as
a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.
But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon (1 Corinthians 3:10).”
is an inherent weakness in this form of structure: anyone can claim to have part
of that revelation and set forth statutes that are contrary to true revelation.
To counter this, God sent two messengers, the prophet John the Baptist
and His Son Jesus Christ, to preach the message of the kingdom.
Their ministries set in place the fundamentals and foundational doctrine
of the New Testament. It was meant
that others would follow and build (“precept
upon precept, line upon line”)
upon this foundation, not try to replace it.
As Paul wrote, “For
other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1
is clear that the original disciples understood this.
Both the example and the words of Jesus were to be the foundation.
What the apostles did and spoke was only to build upon it.
Everything about Christianity should be traceable back to the fundamental
teaching of Christ. Therefore, following the Day of Pentecost the Church
immediately began to practice the teaching of Jesus.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in
breaking of bread, and in prayers.
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as
every man had need.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking
bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the
church daily such as should be saved.
the beginning, the precepts of the church were uncomplicated: they simply
embraced the teachings of Jesus. For
instance, Jesus taught, “Whosoever
he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (Luke
The church embraced this teaching in its simplicity in that “all
that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their
possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”
Jesus taught brotherhood and equality among all his disciples when He
said that “by
this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another
one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren (Matthew 23:8).”
continuing daily with one accord in the temple... with gladness and singleness
Also Jesus, when serving the last supper, told His disciples “This
do in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19).”
As a result, they went forth “breaking
bread from house to house.”
short, everything they did, everything they practiced, and everything they
believed was directly influenced by the words of Jesus.
The early church broke forth as a mighty river, consuming everything in
its path and having only the teachings of Jesus as their foundation.
His words reflected in everything they did.
was something more that these men had beyond just the teachings of Jesus.
They knew His lifestyle. God
knew that the hearts of men are individualistic in nature and therefore
divisive. So Christ demonstrated how He wanted them to operate.
He kept them together for more than three years.
They traveled together,
they served together, they slept together, and they ate together.
So when Jesus left, they continued to follow His example as well as His
teachings. They simply stayed
together. They saw no reason to
Jesus had done it this
way, so they continued in His practices. They
prayerfully searched the scripture and considered the words of Jesus to
understand this New Covenant. The
benefit provided by staying together and searching together is that as the
Spirit moved on each of them “here
a little, and there a little,”
they were able to act as balances for one another.
find, then, in the beginning a powerful church. It was a church that was founded on the teachings of Jesus
Christ alone, and it grew into a brotherhood of believers. It grew copiously! It
seemed that nothing could prevent it. So
happened to the once powerful church is that it began to stray from the teaching
of Christ as its foundation. Divisions
began to occur among its leaders.
Corinthians 1:12-13 KJV
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and
I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name
time went on, more and more leaders began to emerge. Questions regarding the law, church leadership, giving, and
even morality began to arise. Many
of these leaders, most of whom did not have the benefit of the teaching of
Christ, used reasoning and Old Testament teaching to derive an answer.
As a result, the foundational teaching of Christ began to erode, giving
way to a host of other ideas and teaching.
The brotherhood of believers fractured into denominational parts,
following after the influence of men.
describes one such event in the following:
When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with
them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should
go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of
the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto
them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among
us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and
this example, the division that was beginning to separate the church was over
the conflicting teaching of two very power and influential men.
Paul, an apostle chosen of the Lord and sent with Barnabas to deliver the
gospel to the Gentiles, became the author and primary proponent to a doctrine of
salvation by grace and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This flew in the face of James, the half brother of Jesus, who was
quickly becoming the most powerful Christian leader in Jerusalem.
He was considered by many to be the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
It appears that James did not approve of the fact that Paul taught the
Gentile Christians they were free from the need to observe the law.
He insisted that grace is proven by its works and therefore insufficient
in and of itself (James 2:15-26). Clearly,
neither of them was about to budge from his position. The teaching of Christ as the foundation of the church was
ready to crumble as these two powerful men collided.
This is only one example of disparity between first generation believers.
There were many others.
as Paul and James were divided, Christianity today is heavily divided over many
things. Surprisingly, nearly
everything that divides the church can be traced back to either the Old
Testament or the epistles of New Testament authors.
The division arises from the practice of weighing all scripture as equal.
All you need to do is to find some obscure verse, and you can establish a
new doctrine based on it. You can
find justification for any doctrine if you weigh all scripture the same.
We do not believe that this was God’s intention.
We believe that God intended for Jesus’ teachings to act as a
foundation for other teachings. That
is why the words and example of Jesus was given to us in four books (for
validation). But if you weigh all
scripture the same, and two parties are divided over two seemingly conflicting
scriptures, there is no hope for unity. Therefore,
what we must do is what the disciples did in the beginning, when the church was
strong and unified, we must go back to the teachings of Jesus as our foundation.
You have heard it before: “Read the red!”
interesting that the slow spiritual spiral downward that the early church took
was directly proportional to the theological writings that followed.
What would have happened if the church had kept its original passion and
vision for the words of Jesus? There
is far too much weight placed on the epistles and far too little on the words of
Jesus. This weight has led many (without realizing it) to deify
great men like Paul. Their writings
become sacred rather than simply recognized as the epistles of godly men who
were deeply anointed and passionate for God.
None of their writings must be placed above the words of Jesus.
we find today is a church so deeply divided that there is no hope of
authors base much of their writing on the established writings of prominent men
like Calvin, Wesley, and Finney. These
men based their ideas on even earlier authors who in turn based their theology
on both Old and New Testament authors.
It is very much like making copies of copies.
Eventually, you cannot make out much of the detail.
the first part of this note, we wrote: There is an inherent weakness in this
form of structure: anyone can claim to have part of that revelation and set
forth statutes that are contrary to true revelation. To counter this, God sent two messengers, the prophet
John the Baptist and His Son Jesus Christ, to preach the message of the kingdom.
For this reason, we need to once again embrace the teachings of Jesus as
never before. We cannot weigh contemporary Christian literature to the
epistles. They must be weighed
against the original foundational teachings of Christ.
We are not suggesting that we dismiss scripture.
We are saying that we must interpret scripture by the gospels instead
of re-interpreting the gospels by other scripture.
In other words, allow the gospels to be a filter to determine how certain
(vague) scriptures should be understood. It
is obvious that the words and teachings of Jesus held center stage for the first
church, and it must do so again today.
few weeks ago, as I drove home, I was deeply troubled by the division I see
among Christian brothers and churches. Each
church and each brother claims to have solid scriptural foundation for their
beliefs. I cried out to God,
“Why? You must have known this
would happen. Why allow a Bible to
come together that divides Your people? Why?”
didn’t hear anything then, but in the days that followed, God spoke very
clearly to my heart: “I’m not the one who has caused division, you (the
church) are. You (the church)
deified men into gods. I came and
taught you My will and My ways for over three years.
Why don’t you listen to Me?”
realize that the church will never again be the wild river of unbridled passion
for God that it once was as long as it remains divided.
Its focus will remain as it has for two thousand years: fighting internal
civil wars and continuing toward self-destruction.
For it to become what it once was, Christian leaders must come down from
their deified pedestals of authority to live by Jesus’ example and teachings
instead of their doctrinal distinctiveness.
we have a prayer of seeing this? Not
in our Western culture, but perhaps there is still a chance for third and fourth
world nations where Western Christianity has not yet spoiled men away from the
foundational teachings of Jesus.
looking to men. At best, they have
a little, and there a little”
of the revelation of God. Anyone who claims to have it all is probably the leader of a
cult. Stay away from them.
That is not how God has chosen to operate in the New Testament.
Instead, start looking toward Christ.
He does have all the answers. Weigh
everything you hear against His words.
of reading all the books in your local Christian bookstore, try living by the
words of Jesus. There are no more
challenging words ever written to the Church than His.
Set aside your commentaries and books by contemporary authors, and reread
what Jesus had to say. To even get
close to His standards will require more courage and prayer than you have ever
known. What would happen to us if
we would simply weigh our differences against the teaching of Jesus, who said,
is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John
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