PARABLE OF OUR SPINAL COLUMN
In 1964 we had a guest speaker at Broadway Tabernacle of Seattle, shortly after taking over the church from Derek Prince. Bill Waltz from Portland, Oregon had a highly prophetic and revelatory teaching ministry. He presented to us insights into the 4 main sections of the human spinal column, and how they uniquely present spiritual truth through their counterparts.
He pointed out the following purposes God had in mind when He so wisely created us with our spinal column:
Protector of our spinal cord.
God’s method to give flexibility to our body.
Provides connection between the Head and our Body.
With 12 ribs, give protection to heart, lungs and liver.
By the lumbar vertebrae, gives lifting power.
By the lower vertebrae ending with the coccyx, provides protection and support.
But one of the chief teaching aspects that arises from this parable, are the 4 divisions alluded to above, in which we see the 33 vertebrae of the human body.
A. THE CERVICAL VERTEBRAE OF THE NECK AREA, attach the body to the Head. These 7 vertebrae can first be viewed from the perspective of the 7 unities of Ephesians 4:4-6. Look at these 7 from the vantage point of the New Living Translation: “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.” All believers in Christ belong to one body, all are united under one head, Christ himself (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Each believer has God-given abilities that can strengthen the whole body. Your special ability may seem small or large, but is yours to use in God’s service. Ask God to use your unique gifts to contribute to the strength and health of the body of believers.
God is “over all” – this shows his overruling care (transcendence). He is “in us all” and “living through us all” – this shows his active presence in the world and in the lives of believers (immanence). Any view of God that violates either his transcendence or his immanence does not paint a true picture of God. Creeds tend to separate Christians. Doctrinal statements based on a denominational position do also. But we can all unite on these 7 unities. These are essential. On non-essential creedal and doctrinal statements we can exercise tolerance. And then like the Moravians, we can exhibit love and grace one to another in all else.
Then to the 7 unities, let the 7 Redemptive Gifts of Romans 12:4-8 illustrate them. They are really God’s manifestation of Ephesians 4:4-6. “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” (NLT).
God gives us gifts so we can build up his church. To use them effectively, we must (1) realize that all gifts and abilities come from God; (2) understand that not everyone has the same gifts: (3) know who we are and what we do best; (4) dedicate our gifts to God’s service and not to our personal success; (5) be willing to utilize our gifts wholeheartedly, not holding back anything from God’s service.
God’s gifts differ in nature, power, and effectiveness according to his wisdom and graciousness, not according to our faith. God will give spiritual power necessary and appropriate to carry out each responsibility. We cannot, by our own effort or willpower, drum up more ability and thus be more effective teachers or servants. These are God’s gifts to his church, and he gives faith and power as he wills. Our role is to be faithful and to seek ways to serve others with what Christ has given us.
Look at this list of gifts and imagine the kinds of people who would have each gift. Prophets are often bold and articulate. Servers (those in ministry) are faithful and loyal. Teachers are clear thinkers. Encouragers know how to motivate others. Givers are generous and trusting. Leaders are good organizers and managers. Those who show kindness are caring people who are happy to give their time to others. It would be difficult for one person to embody all these gifts. An assertive prophet would not usually make a good counselor, and a generous giver might fail as a leader. When you identify your own gifts (and this list is far from complete), ask how you can use them to build up God’s family. At the same time, realize that your gifts can’t do the work of the church all alone. Be thankful for people whose gifts are completely different from yours. Let your strengths balance their weaknesses, and be grateful that their abilities make up for your deficiencies. Together you can build Christ’s church.
To fully appreciate the depth, scope and significance of this manifestation, click on Arthur Burk’s Website listed at the end of this paper. Dr. John Roddam of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Seattle lent me the 8 audio tapes produced by Arthur Burk on this subject. It is awesome in its perceptions, and is still in the process of development. Pastors, church leaders and intercessors will especially profit from this series, plus many other audio cassette series that are available through his catalogue.
There are some 50-100 Biblical teaching outlines listed in 7’s. A few of these are the 7 creative days, the 7 Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23), the 7 pieces of Tabernacle Furniture, the 7 churches of Revelation 2 & 3, plus many more. Let them be an “overlay” upon Romans 12:6-8, and the correspondence in each case provide as it were a Biblical commentary upon this key passage. Arthur Burk, an evangelical Biblical student, effectively makes a case for the above application. Try it. I have, and have been impressed at the insights I received. Look also at his tape on “Jealousy.”
B. THE 12 THORACIC VERTEBRAEI have linked since 1949 with the 12 Tribes of Israel. In 1973 I added the layer of the 12 Temperaments set forth by Dr. Tim LaHaye and many other Bible students. Since 1992 came the layer of the 12 Embryonic Revival Principles that came together in 1948 by God through His apostolic-servant George Hawtin.
Don’t worry about the negative article by Dr. Thomas Ice concerning the 1948 Latter Rain revival. Like every other revival, it had its negative parts as well as its positive. John Wesley experienced this same phenomenon. If it were perfect and Dr. Ice or any of the rest of us joined it, it would no longer be perfect. He approaches this subject by an academic “Head” vantage point. But truth is NOT a circle with a center, but an ellipse with two foci. One must add the “Heart” dimension to achieve balance in understanding what God does through men. Dr. Ice misses the “Spirit-heart” dimension, and therefore has a lopsided insight in the “The 1948 Visitation,” sometimes dubbed as “The New Order of Latter Rain.”
See my Website www.2rbetter.orgfor a more balanced perspective on this subject.
C. THE 5 LUMBAR VERTEBRAE.These show the importance and NECESSITY of the 5-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11-12, which Dr. Ice approaches from such a negative perspective.
But God is wise, and the Parable of the Spinal Column points out the importance and necessity of the 5-fold ministry. The apostles and prophets of Ephesians 2 are especially important, for with Jesus Christ as the Chief Corner Stone, they are the foundation stones.
And NOTE – God has provided a simple test to put our minds at rest concerning the continuance of these 5 ministries and the gifts of the Spirit of 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. Jesus GAVE to the church in Ephesians 4:11 these offices, and SET or PLACED in the church these gifts in 2 Corinthians 12:28. Both these verbs are in the AORIST tense. They carry the significance of something being done in the past for as long as the church exists, or with continuing consequences. Extreme Dispensationalists, from where Dr. Thomas Ice comes, woefully miss this important point. His “Pre-Trib Research Center” presents a one-sided, lop-sided perspective. Dr. Jack Deere presents a far more wholesome, balanced perspective.
D. THE LAST 9 VERTEBRAEend with the coccyx. They reflect the 9 Gifts of the Spirit of 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, and the 9-fold Fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22-23. Gifts of the Spirit can be manifested by carnal Christians as soon as they are saved – but theFruit of the Spirit is in line with the character of God, and only comes to those who move from the 60-fold to the 100-fold class of believer. He has entered the Holy of Holies. He has not only received the Holy Spirit, but as with Rees Howells, the Holy Spirit possesses him! Then the fruit of the Spirit is perfected in such a person, and the character of God shines forth. It is people like Madame Guyon, Fenelon, Michael Molinos, A.W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, George Mueller, Watchman Nee, George Fox, Count Zinzendorf and others from whom we learn in a practical way of the necessity and how to let the Holy Spirit possess us. Then carnality gives way to spirituality. Then our lives become pleasing to God. Then we leave the realm of the Theological nit-picker – and enter the realm of Intimacy with God.