“But Jesus answered them,
‘You are wrong, because you know neither
the Scriptures nor the power of God…’
This is part of our Lord’s answer to Sadducees who tried to trap him in something he said during Passion Week.
They were the political power in Jesus’ day who rejected the traditions of the Pharisees, holding on to the written Law. They were mainly distinguished by the fact that they denied any of the supernatural in the Old Testament (angels, spirit, etc.). This included a belief in one of the core issues of the Old Testament (OT)—the resurrection of the body.
On that basis, they came to Jesus with a story rooted in the injunction found in Deuteronomy 25; that if a man dies without offspring his brother must take her as his wife. Based on this commandment, they concocted the story of seven brothers who all died, sharing the same wife. Their question was, “in the resurrection, whose wife would she be?”
As usual, our Lord goes to the heart of the issue. They are in error because they are deficient in knowledge relating to two realms: the Scriptures and the power of God. If they knew the Scriptures, they would have no problem with the concept of resurrection which is clearly an OT teaching. If they knew the power of God, they would know that in the resurrection men and women are transformed and brought into a realm similar to angels (no more marriage). If they knew the Scriptures and the power of God, they would have avoided the error. Jesus expected them to know both but they didn’t and so they drifted into error.
There is an important warning in the words of Jesus for us. If a church is to be healthy, it must seek to know both the Scriptures and the power of God. It is not necessary to choose between them in that both constitute our heritage. As far as Jesus is concerned, both of these belong together if error is to be avoided.
But the fact remains, until lately we rarely saw churches where these two things are wedded together. In fact, two distinct camps have emerged today, each stressing one to the exclusion of the other. And until lately, each camp viewed the other with antagonism. Those two camps are Evangelicalism, which emphasizes our need to know the Scriptures so that we pursue a biblically-based religion, and the Charismatic church, which rightly emphasizes our need for the power of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit in operation.
Until a few decades ago, these two camps were bitterly separated. But in recent years, these two camps have begun to recognize the need for each other. Evangelicals continue to insist on the importance of biblical knowledge and scholarship. But the danger for them is that things can become cerebral only. In this, they can resemble the Pharisees to whom Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These Scriptures testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39).
Charismatics saw this tendency and reacted against it, but in their reaction, they forgot God’s power is not a substitute for a knowledge of the truth. Jesus calls the Spirit the “Spirit of truth.” No matter what our experience of the Spirit is, we can’t divorce if from the knowledge of the truth.
One of the problems regarding this is that we have accepted the notion that it has to be ‘either/or’ instead of ‘both/and’. Jim Collins a researcher, spent six years researching great companies. He found that those companies which eliminated the notion of either/or and discovered the power of both/and in the long run, turned out to be the best companies. He cited a pharmaceutical company that found out how to both make a profit, while at the same time serve the needs of humanity. But in the long run, I believe the Church should be the ultimate example of the: both/and paradigm.
If we want to recapture the genius of the apostolic church, we must embrace both of these camps. We will not shun serious, biblical study, while recognizing the importance of theology in our ministries. At the same time, we will recognize that the New Testament church is a supernatural church, walking comfortably in the realm of the miraculous.
Perhaps an Old Testament example of the need of both can be seen in the twin men, Ezra and Nehemiah, whom God used to restore God’s house. Ezra is the scribe of the Lord who restored the authority of Scripture in Israel, while Nehemiah (whose name means Comforter) is a perfect picture of the Holy Spirit working alongside the Word to bring full restoration.
May the Lord continue to raise up in the land today both Word and power churches, both being fully exhibited so as to ensure maximum fruitfulness.