Stepping from her kitchen into the garage, a mother accidentally locked herself out of the house. When she tried to persuade her 18-month-old son to open the door, none of the tactics worked. Finally, she walked around the house to check for an open window. To her amazement, she found the front door open and her son standing there with a salesman. “I’ve been locked out for 20 minutes,” she said. “How did you get him to open the door?” Looking puzzled, the man replied, “I rang the doorbell.”
In this whole issue of hearing the voice of God we are very good at making things much more complicated than they really are.
Everything that you’re going to hear about how God speaks is subservient to the scriptures; and furthermore, must be supported unmistakably by the scriptures to be embraced as a Word from the Lord. It has to come to terms with what the Bible teaches – not only about what God says, but also about what God is like – is that His character?
Prophecy and Preaching
One of the ways God speaks – a means He uses to speak to us – is by talking about prophecy.
I Cor 14:3-4, “But the one who prophecies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”
The people of God need to hear the voice of God and one way is through reiteration – preaching the Word. Never for new doctrine, but for the application of the doctrine that has been given us in the Bible.
In I Cor 14, one of the things the apostle Paul himself said was, “If you fancy yourself a prophet, fine, you just make sure that what you’re saying lines up with what I’m saying.” Prophets did not get direct revelation concerning doctrine. They got direct revelation concerning how to apply doctrine.
John the Baptist, a prophet, is a great example. He came with the message of “Repent.” So, is what he said scriptural – “repent?” Yes, that’s scriptural. What was revealed to John the Baptist was not a new doctrine. What was revealed to him was the specific message that those people needed to hear at that time.
It’s possible that I could stand before you and say repent! And it would be scriptural, and it would be doctrinally correct, and it could also not be necessarily appropriate at that time for that situation.
The reiteration of prophesy is not one of “new doctrine.” The reiteration of prophesy is taking established doctrine and knowing that a certain message needs to be heard by God’s people at a certain time.
But, I believe there’s another category, and I believe it too is at work today.
Not only reiteration, but revelation
There are times when I will begin to get a sense in my own spirit of something that God wants to do, and as I share it with someone else, it will be confirmed in their life as well.
I believe God speaks to His people. I believe God speaks through His people – giving to the church direction, and an ability to make decisions, to know which way to go. I believe He does that. That is a revelatory dimension of the prophetic word.
Acts 13:2, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” The whole missionary journey began as they were worshipping, praying and fasting. Then, the Lord spoke to them. I don’t think that was an audible announcement. I believe it happened then in much the same way as it happens now.
As people are in a position to hear from God, praying and seeking God, spending time listening in His presence, I believe, without a doubt, they are going to hear from God and get His direction.
Direction for ministry must come from God as we seek Him together and pray together. Not only can I not lead without God, I can’t do it without you.
We need men and women who know how to hear from God and spend the time in prayer to be in a position to hear. We need to learn to listen because God speaks to His church today.
“Thus Saith the Lord?”
Now in saying that God speaks, I realize there is a possibility that we open up the door, and that people will come and they’ll get this feeling – this quiver in the liver and say, “well, it just kind of came to me and I’m going to say it.” And then at the end they do that wonderful thing – they go, “thus, saith the Lord.” And, Oh man, who can argue with “thus saith the Lord!?”
Argue with “thus saith the Lord!” Just because someone says, “thus saith the Lord,” doesn’t mean you’ve heard the voice of God.
I Thess 5:19-20 says something very interesting, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt.” Again, it’s Paul speaking of prophetic utterances – the kind I’m talking about.
But then he gives the balance in the next verses, 21-22, “But test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
Test everything, examine what they say to see if it is good. Examine it thoroughly, carefully and then do what? Hold on to the good. That means if it’s not good, if it isn’t right, if it doesn’t minister truth, you confront it and you say, “That’s a bunch of baloney folks, I don’t buy that. That’s not something we’re going to do – the spirit of God is not affirming that to the body.”
Is it consistent with scripture? If it’s not scriptural then it’s obviously not true and there’s no need to look further.
Obviously, the Lord can work however He chooses to, but whenever He has spoken to me personally from His Word, it’s always been during my regular devotions, or my regular study, as I’m in the Word on a regular, consistent basis.
The Bible must never be regarded as an end but utilized as the means by which God brings us to Himself through Jesus.
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