Standing Upon the Shoulders of Giants

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 13, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

We in Western Civilization love the intellect. We love to think; we love logic; we love science. I am an intellectual type. I am very fact-driven and I do not like misinformation put forth. One of the very common statements made about our current society is that “We stand upon the shoulders of giants.” This is a very true statement. Our knowledge is dependent upon those who came before us. However, one thing I am learning is that there is also a significant problem with this mentality. It is easily seen in the scientific setting, but what about the religious setting?

In Jurassic Park, Ian Malcom gives a very powerful lecture about this issue. Here is a quote: “I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here: It did not require any discipline to attain it. You know, you read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any of the responsibility.”

In Jurassic Park, John Hammond stood upon the shoulders of the giants that did all the research before them, but he lacked the deep knowledge of the studies. And as a result, he misapplied a few concepts, missed a few things, and the central problem of the movie came out. Is not our current scientific community under the same issue?

Evolution most certainly applies to this. They took what the Bible-believing scientific field founders studied and established and they ran with it, claiming science to only belong under their worldview, and completely disregarding the work of those who went before them. I will even be bold enough to proclaim that atheism must commit the ultimate academic crime to maintain their position: plagiarism; taking that which someone else did and claim it for their own.

But there is a much more serious issue that follows the same train of thought. The vast majority of “Christianity” here in the US is guilty of the same thing. Leonard Ravenhill says it so poignantly and clearly: “Most preachers are only echoes, for if you listen hard, you will be able to tell what latest book they have read and how little of the Book they quote.” ~Leonard Ravenhill: Why Revival Tarries, pg 111

Tell me and tell you this right now: Guilty! I am guilty of this. If you look through my posts, and you know the different sources I have been reading, you can tell which ones are standing out to me. Paul Washer was the first to get my attention about this issue in this interview. He addresses the problem of living off the study, research, and prayer life of men like himself, John Piper, Eric Ludy, Ravenhill, Wilkerson, and others. We cannot be parasitic where they hear from God and we hear from them. WE must go to God ourselves. We must get directly fed from him.

There is a time where this happened in the Bible. In Exodus 20, right after God gave the Ten Commandments, the people greatly feared God and demanded that Moses go speak to God directly and they would listen to him. Same problem - they did not want to hear from God directly. I believe God intended to give the full Law to the people directly. The timing of things indicate that God spoke the 10 Commandments not to Moses privately but to everyone publicly. So what happened? After 40 days while Moses was with God, the people grew impatient and they turned to worship a golden calf. Here is the lesson of this passage (among others): we cannot be dependent upon others to get our spiritual nourishment. We need to get it from God directly DAILY!

Two months ago, I wrote about intercession in prayer. One of the things I warned you about is to let someone else delegate their prayer to you. You CANNOT delegate prayer. You CANNOT delegate studying the Word of God. You CANNOT delegate hearing from God. There is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ. Your parents cannot do that. Your pastor cannot do that. Your best friend cannot do that. Your spouse cannot do that. Your favorite TV or internet speaker cannot do that. Your children cannot do that. Only Jesus Christ can do that.

Too often, we depend upon the giants that go before us, as though they are doing the job only Jesus could do. Any of the truly great men of God: the Rees Howells, the George Whitefields, the Hudson Taylors, the William Booths, the David Wilkersons, and others, will always deflect any attention they get towards Christ. I am teaching my Monday night Bible study group through Eric Ludy’s “Wrestling Prayer” and before I started the study, I warned about this issue, mostly as a reminder for me. Ludy is my favorite preacher that I listen to. And I have to watch myself that I not become a parrot of him where I know he had done the research and the prayer life and he preaches a true message with pure passion. I can mimic the passion and I can mimic the truth. Paul Washer, in the interview I cited above, said he could tell in a heart-beat if there is any real truth in someone like me preaching the same message. The truth is there, but it’s not real. It is real to Ludy, to Piper, to Washer, to Ravenhill. They did the work. But is it real to me? Have I spent myself searching and digging and pursing God and discovered the truth for myself? Or am I just taking what they have said and running with it?

The Seven Sons of Sceva did that. They stood upon the shoulders of giants like Jesus and Paul claiming the truth they proclaimed, but the demon knew they had no power of their own. They tried to ride the coattails of Paul. They may have been loyal followers, soaking up every word Paul spoke. They may have been able to quote every line and tenant that came from Paul’s mouth. They may have had the same passion. But they did not have the POWER! They had not gotten their hands dirty and earned the right to drive that demon out. They had not spent their night hours in the battles of prayer to get the instructions from God in what to do. They took what Paul was doing and they tried to take the next step and the result was a disaster.

As I wrap up this post, please do not read what I am not saying. I am not saying throw out all your books. I am not saying never listen to another preacher again or attend another Bible study group. We do need to hear from others. We need others to hear from us. Paul even tells us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. The key to that? “As he imitates Christ.” No one is perfect. We have to get close to God ourselves so that we can know who is like Christ and who is not. We have to get close to God so that we can model Christ-likeness ourselves. And we cannot compare ourselves to another, nor can we depend upon someone else to carry us to that destination. We must get on our own two feet and walk ourselves. Others can walk with us, but they cannot walk for us. Get in the Word. Study the Bible. Spend time in prayer. Seek after God yourself. Learn from others, but do not base your entire existence upon them. Base it on God himself.

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