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Lowell Brueckner

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Seeking the Spirit of the Kingdom, chapter one





Paul had a clear revelation of the incomparable value of the benefits that Christ purchased for those that believed in Him. It made Paul a fiery enemy of every obstacle and deceit that would rob the Christian of anything that God has for him. If in the time of the apostles there existed the potential for believers to be detoured from the clear way, powerfully marked by someone so anointed as the Apostle Paul, think of the possibilities of that happening in these days of apostasy. These are times particularly influenced by manipulations of men, who do not have five percent of the biblical revelation or authority that Paul had.

For this reason, in the first verse of his letter to the Galatians, he enters powerfully into the theme, with which he will deal. He uses a parenthetical phrase that is not found in any other of his writings – “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man…)”. With these words, he launches an attack against the principle source of an element that threatened the faith, liberty, grace, and work of the Spirit in them. This threat was based on a doctrine and an effort merely human, deficient of true spiritual power and contrary to Jesus’ gospel. Paul affirmed that he, who had taken the gospel to them, was a “sent one” (meaning of the word “apostle”) by Jesus Christ and the Father. He was not a representative of men or any movement produced by them. His coming to the Galatians had not been made possible through an effort supported by human beings.

Paul knew that behind any human plan there existed the intention, conscious or not, to please men and this produced a kind of slavery. By personal experience, I have seen that men, who in the past have been enslaved by drugs, alcohol, or nicotine, are particularly vulnerable to spiritual dependency. Nevertheless, Paul does not exclude anyone from yielding to that tendency, because in fact, God created us as dependent beings, purposing that we should be dependent upon Him. This predisposition within us makes it easy to become dependent on other people to find security. It, however, demands an extremely high price in exchange. For this reason in verse 10, Paul asks, “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant (love slave) of Christ.” The devotion to Christ does not permit distractions that divert our attention. It is not possible to serve two masters. He wrote the same to the Corinthians: “You tolerate it if anyone enslaves you…” (2 Cor. 11:20). How sad it is to see people who, because they are enslaved to men and their systems, never are able to obtain the liberty of the Spirit. Certainly the teachers who came to Galatia were involved with others that Paul found in Jerusalem: “…false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4).

In order for a Christian to walk in the full liberty of the Spirit, he first must be freed from any kind of slavery to men. When the Israelites rejected God in order to have a man to be king, as the other nations, Samuel warned them of the consequences, “He will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots… some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest… to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers… your best young men… and use them for his work… Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us” (1 Sam. 8:11-19). However, in the New Testament times, we see a people falling into a slavery that is far worse, because the consequences have nothing to do with material and earthly matters, but that which is spiritual and eternal.


We should not misinterpret Paul’s intentions, as he recounts his experiences in the first two chapters of his letter. He is not trying to demonstrate his spirituality, in order that the Galatians will see him as a great leader, worthy to be followed. There can be no doubt that Paul’s experience was outstanding, in the sense that God kept him apart for so many years and also, because of the extreme importance of his revelation, in light of the entire future of the church. However, the question of being directly taught of God and not by men was not to be considered something exclusively for Paul. On the contrary, he used his experience as an example of what should be considered normal to every person called to have a relationship with God.

This is not a peripheral or secondary subject. It goes right to the heart of the gospel. Along with the promise of a new life beyond compare offered in the gospel, a prophecy stated that “they will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:34). God provided a safeguard to avoid the fallen human tendency, which can even become a diabolical obsession, for one man to dominate the will and movements of another. He desires an intimate and direct communion with the individual without intermediaries. From the very beginning of this relationship, which is initiated on the day that someone believes (the least of them) in Christ and is born again, God wants no one to come between and interfere with direct contact with Him. The same prophecy teaches us that Jesus did not go to the cross, principally, to save us from hell. The primary reason, for which He frees us from sin, is because it stands between us and God: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” is the conclusion of verse 34. When sin, which offends God, is removed, immediately we have access into His presence to enjoy communion with Him. Peter confirms the prophecy: “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…” (1 Pet. 3:18). The Father, for this reason, “was pleased to crush Him” (Is. 53:10) and Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2).

The Jews demonstrated a humanistic mentality, typical of worldly leaders, in an attempt to provoke John the Baptist to jealousy: “He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him” (John 3:26). John showed the heart of a true servant of Christ, when he answered, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom” (verse 29). He understood well the purpose and longing of God, as did Paul: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2). This testimony comes in the same chapter and just before his declaration that the Corinthians were tolerating men, who wanted to enslave them.

This teaching is so clear and basic that it would be difficult for anyone to refute it. What Bible believer has not heard of the necessity of having a personal relationship with God? Now let me ask you, “Is this our principal goal for new believers?” I remember being a little upset, when I read a warning by A. W. Tozer against the danger of referring to the formation and developing of churches as “the work”. Why was I upset? Because it was a term that I often used, but I had to confess that he was right. The terms that we utilize often reveal our intentions. The impression that the term “the work” gives is of something that relates to effort, organization and labor. The idea might indicate that we have forgotten or left behind, as a secondary cause, the fact that God and His gospel has everything to do with people. He loves every individual and everyone is important to Him. The longing of His heart is to give them a relationship with Himself and with others.

In practical form, too often in Christian spheres, psychological, authoritarian tricks are used to dominate the people of God. Some make themselves gods and lords over the Good Shepherd’s flock. Arrogantly, they pretend to carry a vision forward, affirming that they have the capacity to see things as God sees them and can pass judgment on anything involved to make “the work” function. They argue that “God speaks through men” and with this injunction they give little opportunity for individuals to personally hear and obey His voice.

Because these kinds of leaders are involved with many pressing obligations that demand much of their time and energy, today, few of them habitually take enough time to be alone with God in prayer, having the Bible open before them. As a result, in many cases, scriptural understanding is lacking. Their disciples, of course, show the same deficiencies in their spiritual life. As I look into history, the great and true leaders in the church have never had these characteristics, which are frighteningly common in our times.


It is true that God speaks to us also through other men, but never does He do so only through them. After Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus, he affirmed, “I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood” (Gal. 1:16). In his conversion, we see no evangelist pointing him to Jesus, but we see Jesus pointing him to an evangelist. God does not want this lamb to be diverted by the voice of a false messenger, so he takes care that Saul of Tarsus should hear a true voice: “He has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight” (Acts 9:12). Notice the same in the case of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, who God directed to a true man that would not divert him into a false way. He takes care of His own: “Send men to Joppa and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” (Acts. 10:5, 6-KJV).

Those who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and know it, “a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). In Pilgrim’s Progress, before the pilgrim has his first encounter with Evangelist, he receives a conviction that his city will be destroyed and he must flee from it. As he reads the Bible, he is conscious of a heavy burden upon his shoulders.

I think that for a long time the Apostle John was anxious to record the teachings of Jesus, which Matthew, Mark and Luke did not write. After observing the distinct tendencies in the primitive church, the success of some and the failures of others, he felt impelled by the Spirit to publish the doctrines that had been so important to him. He began to recite the words of Jesus in the parable of the Good Shepherd: “He who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:2). The Good Shepherd enters through legitimate means. He does not do things that are questionable or doubtful, nor does He need to exaggerate, deceive or hide Himself. It is the thief, who looks for dubious ways to enter. Principally, John is saying here that the Shepherd enters by the way that God has designated, that is, through the Scriptures. His actions and His teaching are entirely biblical. That is the testimony of Jesus. All His life and doctrines were in agreement with Scripture, which in His day comprised only the Old Testament. The writers of the Gospels presented Jesus of Nazareth, quoting the writings of Moses and the prophets.

“To him the doorkeeper opens…” (verse 3). He does not enter by forcing the door nor does he make use of devious ways. He comes in the name of the Lord, called and sent by the Father, and the Holy Spirit, who supports his ministry, is awaiting his coming to give him entrance and to open the door.

“He calls his own sheep by name” (verse 3). In the world, the individual is only a number. Sadly at times, the same happens in the church, the value of the individual sacrificed for that of the group or “the work”. However in Christ, one never has to be afraid of being treated that way. I never tire of telling the story of Jesus’ entrance into Jericho, where a small man with a strange fire burning in his breast waited for Him. Possibly without knowing the reason, he simply wanted to see Jesus and the longing was so strong that, as a child, he crawled up a tree. This publican had never had an encounter with Jesus, but He recognized him as one of His sheep and called him by his name. It is that first word that moves me: “Zacchaeus!” On another occasion, years later, probably with a less friendly voice, He called to the fervent Pharisee, whom He had chosen as an instrument to carry His name to the Gentiles, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” He also called him by name.

If we think this only has to do with people in Bible times, John carefully captured the words of Jesus towards individuals among the Gentiles: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice…” (verse 16). You can count on a personal call, using your name and coming directly from the Good Shepherd.


Paul was very aware of the great value of being led by the voice of the Shepherd. This must be understood, because, if not, we might consider him a rebel, who did not recognize the leadership of the church. He was not possessed by spiritual pride, nor did he consider himself superior to the rest of the apostles. Paul simply understood the supreme privilege of hearing the same voice that created the universe, instructed prophets, ordered nature, and would one day call the dead from their graves. What an insult it would be to Him, if we would give priority to human voices! “I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood.” How poor is the man that depends on those who have the same limitations as he himself has!

“Nor did I go up to Jerusalem, to those who were apostles before me” (Gal. 1:17). Paul prized the voice that had spoken to him on the way to Damascus and went aside to the desert of Arabia, in order to hear it again and again. The religions of this world have their Meccas. The Jewish teachers preached the superiority of the womb that had conceived them, meaning Jerusalem. The Galatians were highly impressed with the stories of the beginnings of the church and the deeds of the first apostles that concentrated in the holy city. This was not bad, except that these teachers supposed and taught that a ministry was not legitimate, unless the minister had first been trained and taught in Jerusalem. This was so deeply impressed upon their hearts that Paul had to say, “I assure you before God that I am not lying” (verse 20), to convince them that in his first 17 years as a Christian, he had only spent 15 days with Peter in Jerusalem (1:18, 2:1). When he went there, it was not for training and not because he was dependent upon the apostles, but he went there for a visit by revelation (2:2). He did not personally know any of the other apostles and he was not known in all the region of Judea (1:19, 22). He was not overly impressed with the leadership in Jerusalem, that is, those who were considered pillars there (2:9). No one contributed nor added to the things that he had received from the Lord in the desert (2:6). He was instructed directly and solely by the Holy Spirit.

Added to all that we have just considered, Paul also opposed the great apostle, Simon Peter, face-to-face. Peter had preached to thousands and was a worker of miracles. He even raised someone from the dead. On one occasion, two people fell dead at his word. Even though he did not become a pope in his day, in time Rome made him its first one. I ask you, what kind of scandal did Paul cause in Jerusalem, when they heard that in Antioch he had challenged Peter, an older man, who had been an apostle before him? I do not know what they had to say about it, but in the plan of God, Antioch became more and more important, while Jerusalem lost its position as the central city of the Christian movement. Those, who functioned as mere men in the realm of the flesh and did not know how to move in the Spirit, experienced a spiritual defeat. The church changed drastically in that period.

In the first-century church, leaders knew how to value the truth of God over their own authority. Men of God knew how to humble themselves after a verbal “beating”, such as Paul gave Peter in Antioch. Later, in one of his epistles, Peter wrote about the “beloved brother Paul” and esteemed his letters among the inspired works of the Spirit.


We have said that the experience of Paul, not having consulted or depended upon any man from his infancy as a Christian, should not be taken as something unique (1). We should not consider the way, in which he was taught, a one-time, exclusive, apostolic experience. It was not unique or special to be able to say, “The gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:11, 12). On the contrary and without exception, the people, who truly have received the genuine gospel, are those that have been taught directly from God, notwithstanding whatever other means He may have utilized. Again, it was John who recorded the teaching of Jesus about the prophecy of Isaiah: “They shall all be taught of God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me” (John 6:45).

(1)     I am not saying that he had no contact with other Christians or ever heard teaching from them. That would be erroneous and against the instructions of the word. What I mean is that he had one principle Tea­cher, who led him in all his ways; he had direct contact with Him and depended upon Him entirely. He did not submit himself to the idea, which many believed, that it was normal to be instructed only by men.

A person, who is born-again, has received the Spirit of God and this Spirit is the anointing that teaches: “The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but… His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie…” (1 Jn. 2:27). When I observe people, who profess to be Christians, but have no comprehension of the things of God, I know that there lies a great problem behind that state of being. Principally, the reason is not that older Christians have not been faithful in teaching them, but I doubt that they have any true life from God in them. If the Holy Spirit enters a life, that person instinctively begins to have an understanding about the things of God and, although it may not yet be highly developed in his mind, he does conceive it in his heart.

Jesus asked His disciples, who they believed this Son of a carpenter from Nazareth was, this One whom they followed so faithfully, leaving all else behind. It was Simon Peter who gave the right answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Probably Peter was taken by surprise, when he heard the declaration that Jesus made, because I doubt that he was conscious of the great work that had taken place in his heart. “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (verse 17). In this matter, very clearly Peter had been taught of God, but what Jesus said in the next verse applies to all the true members of Christ’s church: “Upon this rock I will build My church.” That means that the church is formed by people that have had a revelation of Jesus of Nazareth, as the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is not something that they have learned from men, but a revelation conceived in the depths of their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Today, we must be sure that the foundation of our faith in the person of Jesus Christ is not based on two thousand years of teaching concerning his deity, but that we also have had a personal revelation that has come directly from God.


Hosea speaks of spiritual disaster and then of the cause: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (4:6). The person, who has great problems with the Scriptures and cannot capture them or always misinterprets their meaning, does not have an intellectual problem, but a spiritual one. For some reason, he stubbornly is rejecting truth. How sad it is, when as priest and prophet in decadent Israel, he is influencing others! This is why Jesus taught about the blind leading the blind; he said that both fall into the ditch. We have frequently witnessed it with our eyes and many lives have ended in ruins.

I remember two very similar testimonies of two men in Mexico, who, upon receiving the gospel and a Bible, each returned to their villages, which had absolutely no gospel witness. No one taught them to abandon their vices, but they immediately threw their tobacco and “fire water” away. They shared their new faith with others in their towns and relatives and neighbors were soon converted. They all met together to pray and these two original converts taught from the Bible, as best they could. Then, they went to villages nearby, did the same, and in a short time, they were pastors of three congregations… all this, after hearing the gospel only once. In a similar fashion, my father left the city where he was born, leaving his entire past behind and took his family (a wife and three children) to live among Native Americans. He helped them in the ways of God, having become a Christian himself only one year previously. The anointing teaches and these had no need that some man should teach them.

“Take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given, and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Lk. 8:18). If a person cannot hear with the ears of his soul and if he only intends to comprehend spiritual teaching mentally, he deceives himself. He thinks that he has received something, when he has received nothing, because he only has captured it in a natural way. These things are not communicated from brain to brain, but only from heart to heart. God must be the teacher, not man, and if this is not so, all is in vain. All that the Galatians had received from the Jerusalem teachers was a deception. Not only were these teachers incapable of hearing from God, but the teaching that they gave was false and led their followers in an opposite direction. The ways of the flesh and those of the Spirit are at enmity. For that reason, “Take care how you listen.”


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