Understanding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues. Part 2
(Ver 1.2) Today’s lesson is Part 2 in an advanced Bible study series about one of the most potentially controversial subjects in the New Testament Bible of “Understanding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues”. If you read the first lesson then you already understand that these lessons will be very different types of Bible teachings than what you might have expected when you started reading. However, I believe that the first lesson was a really good introduction to the topics and that it was certainly firmly based upon what the Bible says on the subjects. If you did not get to read Part 1, I would highly recommend that you go back and start there because it contains the basic foundational information for everything else that comes after it. To ignore it, would be like someone attempting to take a very advanced math course in college without first sitting through the basic math course prerequisites. I guess you can tell that it has been a long time since I posted any Bible lessons. I would love to tell you that I was on vacation, but that would not be correct. Satan has been attacking my family for the past several months in many new creative ways. I guess Satan is just not happy with anyone sharing the Gospel truth for free to everyone on the internet. Some people think that ministers of the Gospel never have any problems but that is not Biblical. Paul was beaten five times with 40 – 1 lashes, three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, was in ship wrecks 3 times and on and on I could go. A real minister’s life is not a life free from opposition. Satan is still alive and well in the world trying to kill us all. I would appreciate your prayers whenever the Lord places us upon your mind. I greatly appreciate your efforts in Bible study and the loyal time that you spend reading my website. Thank you for everything!
In the first lesson I introduced the subject by providing some very straightforward definitions for the Greek words “tongues” and “baptism” and introduced some brand new Bible study concepts and methods on how to approach the subject research. I have attempted to outline that the steps for correct Bible study is like solving a very complex jigsaw puzzle with a sequence of logical phases and processes to follow and I really hope that everyone fully grasped those concepts. I continued this Bible study by searching for every occurrence of the Greek word G1100 translated as the English word “tongues” and I believe that this is always an important first step to any Bible Study. Then I analyzed the information given in each of these verses within their context of the surrounding verses to learn what they say and how they apply. I know I did not include every one of those 47 verses in that first lesson, but that would have caused me to write an entire literal book in one Bible lesson and that lesson was already the longest lesson that I have ever done on this site. Fortunately 47 verses are not very many verses to read and to study and we will get to several more of these verses as we continue later in this series. Today’s lesson will be a more in-depth study of the subject verses found in the first two chapters of Acts along with several new verses on the subjects from other books of the Bible in the New Testament.
The key to understanding any subject in the Bible is always dependent upon us searching, finding, reading, assembling and studying every verse in the Bible that contains it, references it, describes it, defines it, or even implies it indirectly. I call this becoming a Sherlock Holmes type of Bible study Christian. This change in attitude to become a Bible detective causes us to look for every hidden clue in every verse that we can find. It causes us to have to assemble all of the facts and then to put them together correctly like the puzzle. It is a very complex and detailed oriented approach to try to see everything that God has revealed in His Word and this is why so many fail to understand the Bible. If we do not make this type of diligent search effort to perform these detailed study discovery steps, we will end up with a very limited scope of selective theological knowledge based more upon our human ignorance of the subject rather than on the full revealed truth of God’s Word. Limited knowledge of any subject in the Bible is a basic reality for every Bible student both novice or experienced. I heard this analogy of the Bible the other day and it warrants repeating in this lesson. The Bible is not a book of word trail mix that we can select from and eat only the words that we like and then ignore the words that we do not care for or do not want to believe in. This is why it is essential to learn to eat the entire package of God’s word. You still can only do this by taking one bite at a time.
We all begin to study the Bible because we desire to overcome our human ignorance. The primary problem with having limited knowledge is that this will always result in a discriminatory doctrinal teaching that lacks the important completeness and uniform scriptural balance of the subjects. If anyone of us knew everything in the Bible on a specific subject we would not need the Bible, Bible teachers or the Holy Spirit to help guide us into knowing His wonderful truth. Only after learning the whole truth can we eliminate our ignorance enough to understand a subject but until then we all still need to study to find some more clues to munch on. Do you desire to become a true Bible study detective? I hope that you do! Taste and see that the Lord is good. Let me go through one more analogy of Bible study before we get into the subjects of “tongues” and “baptism”.
Learning the truth is comparable to climbing a very tall mountain like Mt Everest. We all start out at the same bottom ground level of Truth Mountain in absolute ignorance not knowing anything about what waits ahead of us to learn or how difficult the climb might become. As the Holy Spirit guides us up the mountain side and we study to learn the subject, we are attempting to rise to the higher informed spiritual level of the information presented. This is what God calls “renewing your mind” (Eph 4:23) with a new spiritual perspective of how God understands the subjects. Mind renewal is nothing but a transformation from your old carnal way of thinking to see the spiritual point of view of God’s hidden information. We will all struggle during the climb and each will need to possess spiritual, mental and physical endurance in order to climb this complex truth mountain; taking it step by step learning every new fact that we can grasp. If we do not tire or give up and quit along the way simply because we think that we have arrived at all of the truth that we need to know, then we will all eventually rise to reach the summit peak of truth and thus for the first time achieve the same uniform complete view of the entire subject. Until we all reach this summit peak of complete knowledge and understanding, we each will have our own limited perspective view of the subject from the side of the mountain that we have chosen or were hopefully led to climb up on. This is exactly why there are currently thousands of Christian denominations today in the world with every one of them disagreeing with the others on the opposing sides of the mountain. Each denomination has climbed up only part of the way on their side of the mountain of truth leaving them in an incomplete viewing position and many have stopped moving forward and upward to see any other new perspectives on the subject. Still others like myself continue to climb and learn and we will become the ones that will know the truth and this knowledge of the truth will be what sets us free (John 8:32). I also believe that this is why we need to extend some love and mercy for those that do not see the same verses of truth exactly like we do. It could be that they just need to rise higher to see our viewpoint or it could be we need to rise higher to see their view point, so it does not do any good to criticize them or call them liars because that only reflects upon our own ignorance and our own lack of arriving at the summit peak. Many Christians are doing the best that they know how with their limited knowledge. I just wish we would all keep climbing.
During this Bible study I have been attempting to teach you my Bible study techniques while I am teaching the subjects. I call this my attempt at teaching you how to fish rather than just giving you a one-time fish dinner to eat. This makes my teaching job considerably more challenging but I believe it will be a worthwhile endeavor for both us. It is funny that this approach to teaching will eventually put me out of a job. If I give you all of my secrets, methods and techniques you will be able to do exactly what I do using the same approaches. However, God told me “freely you have received therefore freely give” (Mat 10:8) so that is what I am doing. I am withholding no secrets, no hidden techniques or any hidden methods. The only thing that I cannot teach you is what I have learned from over 20 years of experience. I can however teach you some of my mistakes and help you not to do likewise. After you learn how I study the Bible you should become a very similar clone Bible teacher applying your personality to it and together we can all reach the world with God’s Word.
CONTINUING THE STUDY OF BAPTISM AND TONGUES
The two primary keywords that initiated the study were “baptism” (G908) and “tongues” (G1100). From these two direct words, I showed you that there are other related words such as “baptize”, “baptized”, “baptizes”, “mouth”, “languages”, “lips”, “sounds” and some other variations of synonyms of the base form of these words that also need to be included in the complete search. I further said that baptism implies water, emersion and I linked in several other concepts like rivers that also should be included in the complete study. I believe that as we find these related verses containing these subjects we will observe still other related keywords that are also important to include in the study in order to understand their association to the primary subjects. For example, we talked about the subject of fire in the last lesson and we will definitely expand on that subject in more depth today in this lesson.
I want to re-emphasize that we cannot always depend upon the English translations of words to relate two verses together. When I search the Bible I many times start with the English words just to find a verse but then I usually switch and continue the search for related verses using the original Hebrew or Greek words. As I stated in the first lesson, some Greek and Hebrew words are translated into many different English words. Some different Greek and Hebrew words are translated into the same English word. God chose specific words for very specific reasons. Every word found in scripture is not placed into the verse by accident, chance or by human selection. We must view every scripture as the inspired Words from God given to man for a direct purpose. Then we need to find what the purpose was for that word to be placed into the verse. It sounds easy but it can get rather difficult.
This next part of the lesson might be a partial review of several points in the first lesson, but I believe they are essential to understand so I wanted to go through them with some new subject emphasis. As part of this review process I want to explore the main subject verses found in Acts 1 and 2 again to point out what else we need to know from them since this was the beginning of the church age and the first manifestation of a brand new type of Spiritual Baptism sent down from heaven and the first major spiritual experience poured out upon the entire church. The primary goal of this part of the study will be the accumulation of all of the important scriptural facts (clues) on the subjects of tongues and spiritual baptism. Let’s start with Acts 1:4:
Act 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Act 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Here we have Jesus directly speaking to us in the church, so this is very important information. Jesus begins by telling us that this is the “promise” of the Father that He has told us about. Right there we understand that this was a previously prophesied future event written from a long time ago based upon Amos 3:7. God says in Amos 3:7 that nothing will be done without Him first revealing it to His prophets. That would actually be a great study to do. Where, was this promised spiritual event prophesied and how did God state it so that it was not clearly presented or understood by the casual reader. Did you notice that Jesus had to tell them about it and describe it to them in order for it to be understood? Did you ever ask yourself how did John the Baptist know about this coming spiritual baptism and the disciple understudies of Jesus did not? Clearly John must have known based upon something that the Spirit of God had shown him that was written in the Old Testament. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus ever told John about this fire from heaven that was to come. You can however find verses that the Spirit of God filled the mother of John when he was still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15 & 41). Remember what I just said, because this is where we will be going later in this lesson.
This is a very good time to stop and ask why? Why, was it necessary for Jesus to tell us what was written? Why could it not be read by anyone directly in the O.T. and automatically understood by everyone? According to things like this found in the Bible, we can easily see that people really do not have much of an understanding about what the O.T. is about, do they? Jesus told the Jews to search their scriptures for in them they believed they had eternal life but then He said these are those that testify of me (John 5:39)! Why didn’t they already know this? Can’t they read? They had most of these O.T. books for 1500 years. What Jesus was saying to them, is that I’m found there but I’m hidden and you will not locate me unless you search for me diligently. Uh oh, here comes the stated need for us all to become the Sherlock Holmes type of Christian again. This concept pattern is repeated for every spiritual truth and subject in the O.T. None of them are self-evidently presented so that they can be understood by the unsaved reader, the casual reader or the natural mind unless God opens it up to them for them to see it and God does do this if their hearts are honest in their intentions to know Him like John the Baptist.
In verse 5 Jesus contrasts two different types of baptism truths using this one statement. I know I introduced you to this concept in lesson 1, but this is so critical that I’m going to say it again. Discovering spiritual things correctly in the Bible is the greatest stumbling block to carnal minds. Jesus just clearly stated that there are two revealed kinds or types of baptism found in the scriptures. Which one God is speaking of where is one of the greatest challenges to rightly dividing the Word of Truth? I’d like to say this as gently as possible. This is one of the greatest reasons why people do not understand things in the Bible correctly. God calls several different things by the same name and that makes them significantly difficult to separate. For example, if you have read my other lessons you already know that there are three separate distinct cities named “Jerusalem”. The name Jerusalem occurs in around 767 verses of the Bible. How do you know which Jerusalem that God is speaking of by reading any one verse? One Jerusalem is a natural earthly city in the Middle East. One Jerusalem is a heavenly spiritual city where the throne of God is located. Still another coming New Jerusalem is both of the other two cities combined into one new one. Multiple cities named Jerusalem makes it very complex to determine the correct city being spoken of when reading any isolated verse. I do not have the time to explain this, so if you want to learn about this concept more completely go and read the Bible lessons on “Hiding the Truth in Plain Sight” and the “Spiritual Family of God” to help get you started.
This information from Jesus in Acts is some of the most important that you can find on this subject of baptism because He is revealing the existence and the difference between two opposing realities of truth. One baptism truth was described as John’s natural water and the other baptism of truth being the promise of the Holy Spirit’s baptism where there is no natural physical water substance present. Clearly they are not the same and clearly what was coming is greater than what has already been in the past. Both are named types of “baptism” and that is the challenge that most face with their incorrect interpretations thinking only naturally ignoring the greater spiritual side of the truth. We cannot fail to understand the spiritual truth and continue to believe that the natural truth will save us. I know a lot of people that are heavily focused in on the natural truths and almost completely blind to the spiritual truths of the Bible. From these two verses we have the following basic facts given:
- This was a commandment directly from the mouth of God spoken to the church.
- This spiritual baptism was a hidden O.T. promise of God in Heaven for His N.T. people.
- The Spirit of God will be the one that baptizes us and not any human man.
- This Spiritual baptism is not a water baptism but it is still called by the same name.
- The Spiritual is clearly greater than the former water baptism experience and contains implied supersession.
- At the time of this spoken statement by Jesus no one being spoken to had yet experienced this type of baptism before since they were required to wait for it in Jerusalem.
Reading down in chapter 1 you will see some more important information about this coming event. Jesus stops to answer an unrelated question from his naturally thinking disciples in verses 6 and 7 but then He continues in verse 8 to tell them about the coming spiritual baptism that He needed to speak of:
Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Here is another key verse with very specific instructions. Jesus made four important points here and I’ll start with the third point first. Jesus said to them “after the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. This means that they had not already had this experience even though Jesus had already breathed on each of them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:22. Therefore this is further confirmation that this is something brand new that had not ever been given to them before. Then notice the part of the phrase that says “come upon you”. That is directly and inversely not an entering into them. Do you understand the difference between drinking water and wearing water? That is exactly what is being stated here. I’ll talk about this a little more in a bit, but just take note of the stated detail fact here.
Let’s back up to the first significant point in this verse. Jesus begins the statement by saying “you will receive”. Receiving is the correct counter action response to someone giving you something good like a valuable gift. If there is no willing giver or good gift then there is no need for any receiving action. What if I handed you a rattle snake and said this is for you. If you do not like snakes then that is nothing that you will want to receive. Therefore Jesus has just implied that this gift from God is worth you receiving and thus a very good gift from God. Wow I believe that was worth you reading the entire lesson for if you have never received this experience.
What if the giver does not give you a choice but to receive? Can the gift given still be “you receiving it”? I do not see how this is possible, any gift must be freely given and freely received or it becomes an act of forced acceptance. Therefore God must be the one that is going to freely give us the gift and we must be the ones that freely receive this good gift. This statement from Jesus presents both a personalization for the gift and accountability to receive the gift. In other words this gift is for me personally if I choose to accept it. There are always at least three possible responses to every free good gift that is presented to you. 1). You can receive it gratefully, enjoy and use it, 2). you can receive it reluctantly, not being impressed and not use it, or 3). you can simply ignore it, walk away and not accept it all. The attitude of the precipitant will always matter in any gift exchange. The gifts from the Holy Spirit are also this way in your life today. Evaluate your attitude and check up on what you think about the gift that God is offering you before you walk away or receive it.
This statement “you will receive” is an example displaying God’s infinite loving character and divine nature. God does not ever force a man or a woman to take what He has freely given to them as a gift from His divine sovereign grace. Forced gifts are never actually true gifts. I think you understand that don’t you? Obamacare in the U.S. is nothing but the forced gift of health care whether you want it or not, can afford it or not and that is not a freewill choice of any American to receive it as a free good gift. Salvation is a free gift from God presented to all of humanity that can be freely rejected by anyone in that group. In order for a person to be saved, that gift of free salvation must be freely received to make it effective. If you have not received salvation the Bible way, then you are not saved. In other words, you have a major answerable part to play in order to possess the spiritual gifts of God. The gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is this exact same way. God’s Spiritual Baptism, if not received by the saved Christian will also be easily missed.
I would highly recommend that you go and read the Strong’s definition for the Greek word (G2983) translated as “receive”. The definition for this powerful word literally means “to take” or “to get hold of”. Both of these definitions denote personal actions that are required for possession to become effective. It would be like me placing a package on the table and saying this gift is for you. You are now required to come, take hold of it, open it and possess it. If you choose to walk away from it instead then the gift is not known to you and you will do without. Therefore the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an automatic event that God is responsible for making happen in a Christian’s life. If you want this gift you have something to do to get it or take it.
Here is the time for the second point in Acts 1:8, which is also critical to understand. Jesus said after the Holy Ghost comes upon you and you receive (take hold of) Him, He will give you a new never before possessed power from on high. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit there is no significant power of God in a believer’s life to help change them or to help others. Without this power people are easily influenced, swayed, deceived, defeated and controlled by the devil. This power from God is critical to have as a Christian. Without the power of God, you are a natural human working in only your own ability and no match for Satan and his abilities. Let’s study the Greek word dunamis (G1411) that is translated as “power” in this verse. We get our English word “dynamite” from this Greek word. This Greek word has the meaning of “force”, “mighty work” and “ability”. It can also mean “miraculous power” which is always greater than natural power. It gives us the implied meaning that this is how miracles from God can occur. That makes perfect logical sense to me since this is a spiritual gift from God’s Holy Spirit who is all powerful and omnipotent. Are you lacking the power of God to help people? If you are you need this gift immediately.
Now we get to point 4 from Jesus, the reason for God giving us this power and I already implied it in a preceding statement. Jesus said with this newly acquired power, you will become my witnesses in the whole earth. The antithesis truth would be “without this power you will not be able to witness to anyone”. Now do you see why I said you will not be able to fully help other people see the truth without first receiving this gift from God? You see this gift of spiritual baptism is a partnership arrangement where God’s Spirit works in us and through us to help the people in the world to see the truth. Every preacher of God needs this gift or they are going to fail. Every Bible teacher of God needs this gift or they will have nothing of value to say. Every evangelist of God needs this gift or they will not reach the world. I’ll go one further and say every believer in Christ needs this gift or they can fail to overcome the enemy. So let’s recap the major points from verse 8:
- The Holy Spirit’s Baptism must be received (taken) by the Christian or they will never possess it.
- The Holy Spirit Baptism is a separately received experience from the initial believer’s experience of being born again of the Spirit of God.
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a very good gift worth receiving.
- The Holy Spirit’s Baptism is an external coming upon of His Spirit as opposed to the entrance within the spirit of man experience at the New Birth.
- After being baptized with the Holy Spirit a Christian will receive “power” (ability to do miracles) from God.
- This power is not natural or physical power but rather God’s spiritual power.
- The primary reason for God giving us this gift was so that after receiving this power from God people could become God’s “witnesses” to every nation.
- Therefore the number one reason for the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for you to bring the light of the Gospel and God’s power to get people saved and delivered from this world of darkness.
All of this that Jesus prophesied in Acts 1 is exactly what occurs in the church age beginning in Acts 2 and continuing until today. After God poured out His Spirit on the church and they received power, this was the beginning of the global church outreach ministry. The Gospel was first preached in Jerusalem and then spread to the rest of the world. If you have not experienced this baptism in a similar Bible way that they did then you have failed to be obedient and follow in what Jesus commanded the church to do and receive. No I’m not saying that you have to go to Jerusalem and tarry or wait for the power of God to be poured out again. What God did for the church there at the first, is still available for everyone, everywhere in the church still to receive! God’s timing and your physical location are no longer relative factors for receiving the gift. Let’s quickly review a few important verses from Acts 2 to see the recorded facts in this gift that was given and their receiving again:
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:1 says that the church was all in place in one accord on the day of Pentecost. They were being obedient to God’s Word and this is always the beginning of receiving God’s promise. We should know by now that this was the prophesied Baptism that was sent down from heaven as Jesus had foretold to them in Acts 1 and before. This baptism came at first like the sound of a rushing mighty wind. That is actually very relevant information. A “rushing wind” is a synonymous term for a moving spirit in the Bible. In fact the Greek word G4151 (pneuma) translated as “Spirit” in the Bible has the definition in Strong’s as being a “current of air” or “a breeze”. Clearly God is using figurative language in verse 2 to describe a spiritual outpouring experience sent down from heaven. You might or might not hear the same sound today when you receive. More than likely you will not since the Spirit of God is here already on the earth in this gift capacity and He does not need to be poured out in this same manner again. However there are verses in the Bible that imply God will pour out a greater portion of His Spirit during the end of the Church age like He did during this beginning of the church age. These are verses that speak of the Spirit falling like rain from heaven on the early church as the former raim and upon the end of the church as the later rain (James 5:7). Therefore I believe that the Spirit of God was initially poured out to get the church started and that He will again be poured out in a greater measure to help the church go out victoriously.
I did not hear this rushing mighty wind when I received, so that is definitely not an important factor for you receiving today. I believe that God was simply announcing the entrance of the Spirit from Heaven into the church that day. Then notice again the key word in verse 3 of “tongues” G1100 being connected directly to the new keyword fire (G4442). As you may recall I showed you where John told Jesus that he needed to be baptized of the Lord and John claimed that this experience was to be done with God’s spiritual fire (G4442). I find it very fascinating that God’s spiritual baptism experience is described as spiritual fire which is a direct antithesis or contradiction to John’s natural baptism of water. Natural fire is always quenched, suppressed or extinguished with water. However, you must also realize that God has also called the outpouring of the Spirit rain. So we have another challenge to resolve. God is giving us a paradox of is it rain or is it fire or can it be both depending upon the perspective? The baptism of the Spirit of God must be a spiritual rain of God’s spiritual fire. Why is God sending spiritual fire? That is a really excellent question. When you study the Bible if you do not ask God andy questions, you will never learn the truth.
I think that this would be an excellent time to describe fire. Natural fire is a very hot substance and a major source for natural heat. Fire can be a consuming force that also eliminates all of the consumable substances. I guess I should rephrase that because fire is a transforming substance that converts solid wood fuel into various gases and ashes. This consumption is more of a transformation process from a solid substance into gases leaving only the loose reduced solid ash. God is described to be a “consuming fire” (Heb 12:29) in the Bible. The same Greek word G4442 is used in both Hebrews 12:29 and Acts 2:3, so they are directly connected together by God’s word selection. If God’s Spirit is a consuming fire and He was poured out upon the church as the spiritual form of fire, for what purpose would this have been done and what was accomplished by this work? What can be found in the natural human experience that needs to be burnt up, consumed, and eliminated with God’s baptismal fire experience? Wow, we could preach on that for a long time. The human life is weighed down with self-indulgent works of the flesh. Before being saved and baptized with the Spirit of God, people are entirely focused upon “what is in it for me”. I believe that you can begin to see that there are numerous old habits that need to be dropped from your life in order to fulfill what God wants you to be. That is the beginning of what I am talking about with God consuming and transforming you by His Spirit.
Peter as you may recall went from denying Jesus three times nearly 50 days earlier to standing up before thousands in Jerusalem after experiencing this spiritual baptism and receiving the witnessing power sent from God in heaven. What was consumed, burnt up, taken away from Peter that allowed this rapid transformation from coward to bold preacher? I believe that it was the removal of his fear mostly. Suddenly his spiritual eyes had been opened to see God, Jesus and the truth differently. Suddenly the Spiritual things of God became more real and of greater importance than his fear of death, the Jews, the Romans, etc. Peter would eventually be crucified upside down because he felt he was unworthy to die like Jesus did. That is firm confirmation that he was no longer afraid of death to deny his Lord in public again. That is pretty awesome stuff. I am getting ahead of myself in this chapter but you can read ahead in the chapter to see that it happened this way.
What I am attempting to do is to show you a simultaneous multiple work from one spiritual experience from God. This demonstrates that God is multi-talented and more than powerful enough to accomplish concurrent actions with one spiritual action. I learned this concept when studying the Bible quickly. If you only look at God as being single-threaded you will miss the majority of what is accomplished. Take the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for example. If you believe that Jesus died to only save us and that is all then you have just ignored the many other things that were accomplished in the same work. Let’s review a verse that I quoted to you in the first lesson but also now show the following verse in context to see how it fits with the subject of this fire sent from God:
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
John as we know said God will baptize us with fire, but then does not stop talking. John continues the subject in the next verse and this is a very interesting new symbolic association to bring into the symbolic fire subject spiritual baptism discussion. God is being described now as the Supreme Judge. But, God is also the one that will purge or eliminate everything that is not desirable or righteous in His eyes from our lives. This symbolic representation is much different than the separation of the sheep from the goats given to us by Jesus in other parables. God is not speaking of the evil people being separated from the good people here in Matthew 3:12. You see a single wheat plant is a large stalk of various useable seed components called the wheat and unusable waste by-products called the chaff. The good parts of the plant need to be separated from the bad pieces of the plant and the bad parts were usually burnt up or consumed by a fire. Since no human is yet perfect, God is saying we are the wheat plants that need to have the chaff burnt away from the good fruit that will be gathered into God’s barn and saved. Do you understand the separation now and why the fire of God is being used symbolically? Now we need to go and find what these chaff parts are defined as in the Word of God to see what will not remain with us throughout eternity. If we search for the key term of fire (G4442) in the N.T. we should find the following descriptive text describing something being burnt up from a believers life:
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The central theme in this discourse is the subject of Christian works. That understanding eliminates the works of evil people or non-Christians from the equation or discussion. Thus God is discussing Christian works (good and bad from a single plant) like He was talking about two types of substances similar to chaff and wheat in Matthew. Works is one of those complex subjects found in the Bible that confuse many Christians. We are told that no Christian is saved by their works (Eph 2:8-9), however the Bible appears to say that we were saved by grace through faith so that we can do good works for God (Acts 9:36). According to these verses, these good works that we should be doing build upon the foundation of Christ’s works. Uh oh? That makes us (the Christians) co-laborers and the common builders of the same spiritual house of God established by the Lord Jesus Christ. God says our works will be placed into the fire (Spirit of God) and what remains will be what we are rewarded for. What we see being developed here is that the Holy Spirit was given to us in the church in Acts 2 to help us produce these good works that will last. This corresponds with our ability (power) to become witnesses for God from Acts 1:8. If you have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit since you have become a Christian, how can you expect to do any lasting good works without His direct guidance and assistance? That is one of the main problems with carnal Christians today. They are trying to do good works in their own human efforts apart from God and God says these will be consumed with fire leaving no eternal rewards. That is a major problem for some. Let’s see another verse statement from Jesus about works:
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
According to this verse Jesus is expecting good works from the church. God says for us to let our light shine so that our good works may be seen before the nations and these works should bring glory to God (and not us). Here is still the problem, doing some good works is not necessarily doing God’s works. How would you define good works? It is a very relative term that can be viewed from many different perspectives. What is good to you may or may not be what is good to God. We must go to the Word of God in order to determine the definition for good works. Bill Gates gives large sums of money to help fight disease in world countries. Is that the good works of God? Or will those works be burned up and not remain? I do not know if Bill Gates is a Christian but I can observe who gets the praise and glory for his works and it is not the nations glorifying God that I can see. I think I have spent enough time in this lesson on the subject of God’s fire and your works. I tried to introduce you to something new to think about in this lesson and I believe that I opened the door for a lot more study on these subjects later. Let’s get back to Acts 2 and continue with verse 3.
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Notice in verse 3 of Acts 2 that this Spirit of God sat upon them and did not enter into them. This is further confirmation that matches what Jesus said will happen to them in Acts 1. This is technically a new very complex subject since the Spirit that “sat upon them” is from a relative unstated perspective that can be adjusted depending upon application or definition of who “them” is describing. The Greek word translated as “sat” is very literal and it is used many times in the Bible when someone would sit on the ground or in a chair, seat or a throne. This act of sitting is of course symbolic for another greater spiritual truth. Jesus is described in the Bible as being seated on the throne in heaven. This denotes a position of rest and power. The Bible says God waits for His enemies to be made his footstool (Heb 10:13). The preceding verse in Hebrew 10:12 again states that Jesus is seated and uses the same Greek word (G2523) that was used in Acts 2:3. Therefore God is connecting the verses together to inform and teach you something new. If God sits upon you what is the symbolic message given? God is stating that we are now His kingdom where He reigns. Jesus is now seated in heaven, but His Spirit is now seated upon us. Do you understand that message?
Let’s do a quick review of the human triune make-up of a man/woman. A man was created as a spirit being that has a soul that lives in a physical body. We understand this concept from many verses in the Bible, but one is from Genesis 2:7 where God forms the body of the man Adam from the dust of the ground to be the physical container and then God breathes His Spirit into his nostrils to cause his body and soul to become alive. That single verse mentions all three human component parts of a created man. Now using that information if God sat upon a man, what part of the man did God sit down on? According to the Bible we know that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). Therefore, God is not flesh, even though God became flesh in the man Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14). However, flesh Jesus is now seated on the throne in heaven and is not physically present on the earth at this time. So Jesus is not physically sitting upon me today and has never sat upon anyone in the Gospels. That only leaves the Holy Spirit as a possible candidate for who sat upon me when I was baptized and that actually matches the scriptures that we have been studying precisely. This spiritual baptism is performed by the Holy Spirit in the unseen spiritual realm. Therefore the Spirit of God is the entity that sits upon us and we must define where this occurs more completely.
If the Spirit of God sits upon the triune designed human being, where exactly does He sit? Was it externally upon the flesh container, internally on the intermediate mind/soul layer, or deeper inside upon the core of the human spirit of the man/woman? I will tell you plainly that it was upon our spirit. The carnal flesh is a temporary dwelling place holder for the eternal spirit and soul and the current body will not be saved. It would make little sense to me for God to sit upon our flesh if your spirit does not gain any benefit being inside the flesh. Understand and apply the symbolism given, if God is sitting upon your flesh then God is now in control of your flesh and you should know from you own physical actions that this is not true. What you do in the flesh is still your personal responsibility. Do you understand that? I could give you a lot of Bible verses to confirm that statement but let’s move on for now. This is also why Christians can be entered and attacked by demons in their flesh.
The human mind/soul is an internal intermediate component placed between our external body and our internal spirit that we are commanded by God to renew (Rom 12:2). Therefore the mind is mostly a thought realm designed for human management. I do not see any logical reason for the Holy Spirit to sit upon our thoughts it would make God the ruler of our mind and that will conflict with Romans 12:2. God is not a mind, God is not a thought, God is still a Spirit and therefore the soul of man does not fit where God is ruling either. That only leaves the inner eternal spirit of man as the only other possible location for the Spirit of God to be sitting upon and ruling. I therefore have concluded that the Spirit of God now sits between the internal core spirit, soul and the external human flesh. In order to understand these spiritual concepts we are going to have to stop thinking naturally. Jesus stated something very important that should be included in this discussion of where God is located in a human.
Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Jesus reveals to us new spiritual information from a human perspective where the kingdom of God is now located. Jesus said if you are looking externally for God’s kingdom you are searching for Him in the wrong place. God is now inside of us living in our spirits seated upon our spirits if you have been baptized with the Spirit of God. Your spirit is the location for the eternal kingdom of God. I found another very important verse that is also very relevant to this discussion of where the Holy Spirit sits during the spiritual baptism and I want to introduce you to what it says right here:
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Keep in mind what water baptism is. Water baptism was the body putting on and wearing water externally. Therefore, this spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit would be of the same type but internally within us by us “putting on” Christ. Wow, did you see what that verse says and how it fits precisely with our study at this point of the lesson? If you are putting on Christ in baptism as this verse states what does that literally mean? Let’s examine the definition of the Greek word translated as “put on”. This Greek word is the Strong’s number G1476 and it means to “invest in clothing” or “to sink into a garment”. Did you hear that? What happened to you when you were water baptized? When you were water baptized you sank into and under the water and put on the water externally as your clothing or covering. That is what is being described to us in this verse precisely. Keep in mind what the people in the Bible wore predominantly. They walked around in robes that went from the shoulders to the ground. These garments were slipped into and then worn externally as a covering. That is what is being described by this verse.
We have been baptized into the Spirit of Christ Jesus and now wear Him as our robe of righteousness. That is a very great profound truth presented to us in the Bible. To be baptized into Christ in this verse is clearly not a natural water experience. But, the natural water experience describes the unseen spiritual experience that we can now understand more clearly. Therefore water baptism further defines the spiritual experience to help us understand what is taking place internally in the unseen spiritual man. I really hope and pray that you are getting these concepts built into your spiritual understanding on what God is doing. Are you wearing Christ today? Have you been baptized into Christ today? If you haven’t ever spoken in tongues before, I can tell that you are not and have not and thus your spirit is walking around naked.
I hesitate to tell you about my personal experiences, but I believe that this will be a benefit to some. You should never base your faith on the experience of a man, but should only learn to believe what the Word of God says and expect that to be what you experience. My personal experience of the Holy Ghost baptism was based upon what we have just read about in all of these preceding verses. Therefore I have scriptures to back what I am about to tell you that happened to me. I spent my early Christian life powerless and I tried to do things in life in my own power. I quickly found out that life was getting out of my control and that I needed help from God. I had grown up with people speaking in tongues all of my life in church. God tried to get me to receive at a church camp one year and I was really close but resisted out of ignorance. When I finally came to the end of myself, I asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit. I started listening to cassette tapes on the subject of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and how to receive the gift. I prayed and sought God for several days. One night going to bed with my wife I was laying in her arms with her hands on me and I felt the strangest new sensation. Something (God) new inside of me became like a river that was overflowing and it came out from my belly in the form of words that I had never learned or spoken before. You see I did not know that my wife had received this gift a short time before me. She did not tell me about it or say anything to me about it. The Spirit of God had been working to answer my prayer a long time before I even knew it. God had led my wife to two Christian ladies and they prayed for her and she received the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
After I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, the Spirit of God manifested inside of my body in the form of tangible perceptible heat, fire like a spiritual flame. In the center of my chest region I could sometimes feel this heat or flame of the Holy Ghost fire so strong that it was distracting to the extreme. At this time I can only conclude that I needed this natural experience to teach me about what was occurring spiritually since I hardly understood any of these scriptures at all. Before I was baptized in the Holy Ghost I understood barely anything of the entire Bible. After the Holy Spirit came upon me and I felt this internal spiritual flame inside of me I started seeing new things in the Bible that I had never seen before. This experience of God changed me more than anything else that I have ever experienced from God. Do not misunderstand what I just said. Being born again was the first most important factor for my eternal security, but without the second baptism experience of the Holy Spirit I would not have had the power or ability to teach you about either of them.
I cannot guarantee you that God will do for you exactly what and how He did it for and to me since I’m not God. I can guarantee you based upon His word that He will come upon you if you ask Him and that you will speak in tongues when He does this. I do not know if everyone feels the flame of fire like I did or if I was a unique case. If you would like to tell me about your experience, I would be glad to learn about it and how it was either similar or different than my experience that I just shared with you. I have felt this fire in my chest now for well over 20 years and still do on many occasions like right now as I type. I value the manifested presence of the Spirit of God inside of me and I know you will also if you ask Him to clothe your spirit with His Spirit.
We have been going through a lot of new spiritual information on these subjects using many of the verses that I have already touched on in the first lesson along with some new verses that were not found in the first lesson. I hope that you are following why I am doing this to teach what the Bible says. But, here now is one of the key verses that I was working up to for you to see today:
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Bible says that “they” were “all” what? God says they were “filled” with the Holy Ghost and that is the brand new keyword phrasing that we will need to grasp, fully, understand and add to our search list of topics to study. Normally when we think of something being filled we think of the natural concept of an empty pitcher or a cup that we can pour water into until it overflows. When the formerly empty pitcher or cup overflows we know that it has been filled to capacity. It is the same principle when putting gas into your car. You do not technically know that it is actually full until it spills out and you cannot put any more into the tank. Here is where we begin to get into new complex aspect of the baptism subject using a brand new perspective and description of a fresh creative process of the Spirit of God. Keep in mind that this is just a new perspective to the same subject of external baptism that we have previously looked at. If water baptism is an outward immersion and not the internal filling how can we resolve that definition and balance it with what we are observing with this statement of being “filled” to overflowing. Can you see the potential conflict and paradox that is being presented? We need to ask God a really deep question right about now. How can the Spirit of God both sit upon us and fill us at the same time? Wow, I think this is going to be tough to explain and probably harder for some to understand.
I’m going to ask you to think again and try to visualize and answer this question, how can you fill something and sit on something simultaneously? The only way that this is logically possible is when what you are filling and what you sitting upon are two different things. Think of it this way. What if you had a pitcher container within another pitcher container? Could you fill one outer pitcher container while sitting upon the other inner pitcher container? Let me ask you to think of your body as being one outer container with your mind being another in between container and finally your spirit being the inner-most container. Earlier I described your body not being alive until the inner spirit container has been occupied by your spirit. But, using this analogy we must also consider your mind as an empty container which would be void of knowledge until information is placed in it either good or bad. I can also see where each container compartment can be filled separately and not effect the other. Ok, I warned you that this was going to get deep.
Using my analogy of multiple levels of containers within containers I can see where Satan can attack a human at potentially three levels of human existence. Physical attacks of Satan may occur with manifestations of sickness and disease and this will be the outer level of his oppressive attack realm. The mind is a secondary level and he can cause you mental illness here in this realm or simply cause people not to be able to see the truth using vain imaginations and contrary or opposing thoughts against the Word of God. Now spiritual possession would be the utmost control of an individual. This level of control is not possible for Christians since our spirits are the dwelling place for the Spirit of God. You see in the Bible God says “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4). Did you notice that God says I’m in you here and that this is different than being upon you in Acts 2? Did you also notice that God says I’m not in those that are in the world and someone else is? This someone else is the devil. Let me try to clarify some of these statements using more verses in the Bible.
1Co 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Here we have a statement of unity that occurs between the born again man and God as they become one spirit. If we are “one in spirit” with the Lord God then no devil can enter into our spirit to dwell also. Spiritual demon possession is not possible for a real born again Christian. This is also why I said that the in-dwelling of the Spirit of God is not the same thing as the “sitting upon” baptism of the Spirit of God that we are studying. It also helps us to understand why the sitting upon is necessary. We need the power of God to help us in both the soul and physical body arenas. This does not mean that we cannot be attacked in our mind or our body, but again greater is He that is in us that he that is in the world. We draw upon the God that is inside of us and rest in His ability to deliver us. Since we are now on the subject of being “filled” with the Spirit of God I want to tell you that this act of filling is nothing new just occuring in the church age. We have already observed where John the Baptist was filled from his mother’s womb with the Spirit of God. So being filled is not the new part for the church, the speaking in tongues is the only new part that was never given before and we will talk about that more as we go. Let’s go to the Old Testament and see more men filled with the Spirit of God and what occurred when this happened to them:
Exo 28:3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
These are types and shadows of what was coming to the church. These were said to be wise hearted men filled with the Spirit of God. What does that mean? It means that God gave them an ability that they did not previously possess. It means that God’s Spirit sitting within them was able to give their mind and their bodies’ supernatural power to accomplish the plan of God. Remember that none of these men are born again with the Spirit of God living in their spirits (one spirit) like the church. Wisdom is a form of knowledge application that produces great or positive results in the world. I am describing a mental process that allowed these people in the O.T. an ability that they could not have achieved without God’s direct help. We can see that the Spirit of God gave to them knowledge, understanding and wisdom to create things in this world with their hands in work and labor. Wow, I think we are tying up many of the loose ends that I have left hanging today in this lesson. We are beginning to see why the Spirit of God desires to baptize us. Can you see it? Let me give you another O.T. verse that helps to confirm my point:
Exo 31:3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
God again says this, but much more directly in this statement. God says they have been given knowledge, understanding and wisdom by the Spirit of God for all manner of work. Wow, again and double wow! God is saying it is my Spirit that will help you to do good works on the earth. Apply these Old Testament examples and extend the pattern into the New Testament church. Take these natural abilities and make them spiritual abilities. God is saying it is His provided knowledge that we require. It is His provided understanding that we must possess. Then God says it is His provided wisdom that will allow us to become the good workers, laborers and witnesses to every nation.
I have gone very long in this lesson and I believe I need to wrap it up here. I pray that you are grasping the concepts. I believe the Spirit of God gave me this message for you and that Satan is not very happy with me doing it. I think I will end with a synopsis of the Acts 2 concepts that I just went through.
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament was an event that had never taken place at anytime previously in Biblical or human history.
- As stated before this spiritual baptism was given to the church by God to be the fulfillment of the promise that He made to His new covenant people.
- The Baptism of the Spirit of God was sent down from heaven by Jesus after His ascension into heaven.
- The first recorded occurrence of divine Spiritual baptism in the church age was described in Acts chapter 2. But also this was not the last.
- This experience was described by God as cloven tongues of fire that sat upon each of them.
- God’s spiritual baptism is the outpouring of His supernatural spiritual rain called the fire from heaven.
- God’s fire was given to the church to help us to eliminate and overcome the works of the flesh and teach us how to do the good spiritual works of God.
- The experience was given to the entire church for the corporate benefit of the whole body of Christ to achieve a greater purpose of God’s plan.
- Being filled with the Spirit of God is the same as being baptized with the Spirit of God they are just two different names, perspectives and views of the same event.
I know I said more than those few points, but you can go back and reread it again to get more out of it. Thank you for reading and studying the Bible. We will explore more of God’s word in the future. Keep us in your prayers and be blessed in all the works of your hands as the Spirit of God fills you with the Spirit of Wisdom.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 11! Part 13
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 13 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. My foundational scripture verse for the entire series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). We have covered a tremendous amount of new information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. The last two lessons have been focused on what God reveals about the early church’s growth and expansion in Acts 10 to include the Gentile people of the earth. Chapter 10 of Acts was an awesome chapter of spiritual information, divine guidance and church growth and I believe that we have learned a lot from it. I view the early church to be in the group called “the children of God” and therefore according to Romans 8:14 they are being led by God in everything that they are observed to be doing. Today’s lesson will be more about the events in chapter 10 because chapter 11 is a further overview and explanation of what happened in chapter 10. This will be the third time that God describes the same events. Any time God repeats Himself twice it is critical that you fully understand the importance of what is being spoken. However, any time God says the same thing three times then it has just exponentially grown to a factor that is way beyond critical to know. So today I’m going to go through chapter 11 and see what God is doing and saying to us in the modern church.
One of the key realizations to what I have observed in studying Acts 10 and 11 is God’s focused purpose and plan to increase the church’s spirituality level. God of course began this process by raining down His Spirit upon the Jewish church in Acts 2 and then we saw this continue as God’s Spirit fell on the Gentiles in Acts 10. But that was only the beginning of a longer spiritual process. I equate this beginning act of God to be similar to a garden planting analogy where God has planted His seed in us His church garden. God then expects this seed in us to grow and to increase and eventually to produce real spiritual fruit. Therefore the God seed planting was only the beginning of the process for the expected final outcome. We are God’s plants today that are created to produce God’s fruits of righteousness in the world. Jesus taught us that we can only do this if we become the branches that remain in Him our Vine source of life (John 15:5).
As we continue to go through chapter 11 I pray that this spiritual plant and garden growth process will become clearer to your understanding also. I have become totally convinced from this study that in order to be led by the Spirit of God that it requires God’s people to grow to understand what spiritual things are and how they work. The more you know the more you grow. People today want to be led by God, yet many do not want to make the effort to grow or increase spiritually. The Bible says that God is clearly a Spirit (John 4:24). Furthermore, God reveals to us in His Word that His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts, but they are higher than ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isa 55:9). Since God’s intelligence is on a level that is so far above ours what is it going to take for Him to communicate intelligently with you? God can only come down to your human level of ignorance and lack of spiritual understanding so far. Let me show you a statement that Jesus said to a teacher of Israel:
Joh 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Jesus is unscrambling and differentiating between two dimensional realms of reality within this statement. This God statement clearly causes new revelation to come to us, illuminating spiritual things to be higher and much more complex than the natural things of the earth. Jesus said I cannot tell you about heavenly things because you do not yet still understand these basic natural earthly things that I tell you. There is an implied necessary Christian growth process hidden in this statement. Jesus said you are basically incapable of hearing about any real complex spiritual things at this point in time. This would imply the need for something to occur in the man that was hearing in order for Jesus to be able to communicate the higher heavenly things to him. Is this too complicated for you? The thing that is required is called spiritual maturity or spiritual growth and this is combined with new increased spiritual knowledge and understanding of the God kind of things. All of these are contributing factors to being successfully led by the Spirit of God.
What Jesus was teaching us in John 3:12, is that we all need to develop spiritually in order to see something above our current natural capacity level to understand. You are going to have to rise up or grow closer to His spiritual level if you expect Him to give you something really useful. Think of it like this, what if a three or four year old human child wanted to talk to a great intellectual man like Albert Einstein and ask him for help to understand the theory of relativity. First the child would not even know what to ask of him and then there is the root of the child’s challenge called immaturity and ignorance that causes every complex statement revealed by Albert to be missed completely. What exactly do you think the child and Albert have to talk about? Sure Albert could come down to communicate on a certain elementary level about many things with the child. But, the deep things that Albert knew could never be transferred to the child no matter how much Albert would have loved to give them his vast knowledge because of the child’s inability to communicate on the Albert level. This is exactly the way it is with most Christians today and them asking God to help guide them. God will do the best at speaking to you on your level, but He would prefer that you came up higher to know Him better so that He can speak to you of the deeper complex things that He holds inside of Himself. Let me show you something else that Jesus said to us:
Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
You can clearly see that God says there are hidden things that come only from Him. These hidden things were given to us the “babes” in this statement. The people in the church are these “babes”. The wise ones that the things were hidden from are those like Satan, the angels of Satan and the people of the earth that follow him in darkness. Look up the definition of the word “babe” in this verse in the Strong’s dictionary. The Greek word translated as “babes” literally means an infant as in a non-speaking baby. That definition of “babes” has spiritual meaning hidden in it that goes very deep. This kind of a natural child is unable to communicate intelligently other than simple crying or laughing. These types of infants can only drink milk to grow. This natural reality corresponds to a spiritual reality that is on a very elementary level of spiritual knowledge, understanding and ability. This non-speaking spiritual baby level is where all Christians begin their life in Christ. In the eyes of God we in the church are just spiritual non-speaking children and God desires us to grow into speaking mature children. Spiritual growth is one of the greatest desired expectations of the heart of God for His children. However, the only way this is possible is if we continue to abide in Him and to listen. It goes back to what I said earlier about being a branch that is connected to Jesus the Vine.
Being a baby is exactly where we all start out naturally in this world, but this is also how we all start out spiritually when we are born again (John 3:3). To be born again is a “spiritual birth” process that replicates the natural birth process but in the unseen spiritual realm. This spiritual birth process results in a new spiritual baby being born into the spiritual family of God. This stated new spiritual baby can exist in the body of a fully grown mature natural man or woman. The external age of the human body is always independent from the internal age of the spiritual child (2 Cor 4:16). The body that is visible never reflects the condition or the age of the hidden internal spirit. Being a spiritual baby is exactly like being a natural baby. Like natural babies, spiritual babies need help to survive and to grow or they will die. Read this statement that Paul makes to the church at Corinth about the spiritual growth process:
1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
Paul tells the church in Corinth I cannot speak to you yet about spiritual things because you are still spiritual babies in Christ. This word for “babes” is the exact same Greek word that Jesus spoke in Matthew 11:25. This was clearly written to church people that were fully grown enough that could read and write, but yet they knew nothing about the spiritual things of God. God says you need to grow spiritually to be able to see the real complex spiritual subjects found in the Bible and in God. The complex subjects are only available to be understood after personal spiritual growth has occurred. Paul was telling the church I cannot communicate to you closer to God’s level because you are still non-speaking children in Christ. Those are pretty strong words aren’t they? Let’s read the next verse in 1 Corinthians:
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
God teaches us how spiritual growth occurs by using the very simple human concepts found in the natural baby growth cycle. If you do not understand natural baby things then you will never understand spiritual baby things as we have already seen by what Jesus was teaching us in John 3:12. If you read Romans 1:20 you will begin to see God telling us that His invisible spiritual qualities are clearly understood by the things that were created by Him in this world. You should be able to read 1 Corinthians 3:1 and 2 and see that God expects His spiritual babies to grow to eat meat. Meat symbolically represents the complex higher spiritual subjects of God. But in order to eat meat you must first drink the milk of the Word of God basics to grow. These concepts are critical and I pray that you are grasping them or you will never be led by the Spirit of God fully. Let’s read another witness of the truth in the Word of God:
Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
God reveals to us in these two verses that there are both simplistic milk subjects found in the Bible for spiritual babies and then there are also advanced meat subjects found in the Bible for the mature spiritual Christians. Clearly babies cannot take the really deep complex subjects because they do not understand even the simple milk subjects. That is what God is saying to the reader. Every complex meat truth found in the Bible is built upon several dependent layers of simpler milk truths that are necessary first to be understood. Hebrews 5:12 informs us that this understanding only comes from being taught. It is very much like learning to add and subtract as a school child using simple math concepts before you ever try to learn the algebra and calculus more complex math concepts. If you do not yet understand the simple it is impossible to grasp the complex. My Bible studies are normally intended for meat eating mature spiritual Christians. I recently had one person unsubscribe to my Bible study and I can only guess that it was because they did not like or could not take the meat that I was trying to feed them. That is OK, with me I’m not sent to teach everyone, if you cannot handle what I write you probably just need to go drink some more milk for a while and then come back later and try to eat the more complex topics from God. Don’t choke as a baby Christian trying to swallow spiritual meat when you have not yet developed any spiritual teeth to chew it. So while I lost one subscriber recently God blessed me and replaced them with 5 new subscribers. Praise God!
What I have just tried to describe to you is the spiritual growth process in a concise nutshell. God uses these things to teach each of us in the same way. This is exactly what I see happening to the church in the first 10 chapters of Acts. God was teaching the early church babies new spiritual things that were so much deeper than anything that they had ever seen or understood before. God is guiding them and giving them limited steps containing new ways to view the old scriptures to help them see God’s Word more through the spiritual eyes of God. Now with this new spiritual knowledge growing in them God can increasingly guide them by His Spirit to do even greater things with this new knowledge. That was my introduction so let’s get into the reality of chapter 11:
Act 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
This is an awesome verse. It helps to clarify many things we saw in Acts 10 by explaining to us that it was the Word of God that made everything else that happened possible. When the angel told Cornelius in the beginning of Acts 10 to go and get Peter it was for the sole purpose of Peter bringing the Word of God to Cornelius. This is the designed process from God and it is described to us in Romans 10:14. Peter came and Peter preached the Word of God and because Cornelius and his house received and believed the Word of God, the Spirit of God fell on them and they spoke with other tongues and praised God. Being saved, being filled with the Spirit of God or whatever you receive from God begins with you first receiving the Word of God that is spoken to you by a preacher sent from God. The Word of God is the foundational basis for everything else that you need, spiritual, mental, emotional or physical. After hearing the Word of God, you must believe it and then you must receive what was spoken to you. This is called receiving the Grace of God by your faith. I’m not going to teach you about faith and what it is and how it works, so if you do not understand this subject I have an in-depth lesson series called “Understanding Bible Faith” that you should go and check out.
Notice however what is happening here in verse 1, the brethren that are mentioned here are the saved Jews of the natural circumcision in Jerusalem. These are the men that were circumcised in their flesh by the hands of other men according the Law of Moses but they were also now circumcised by the hands of God in their spirits and they have not yet fully comprehended which one is the most important. They do not yet understand that the first natural was only given to teach them about the greater spiritual circumcision that occurred by the Hand of God. The fact is that the circumcision of the heart was just being revealed to the church and this means that they had not fully embraced the truth nor did they completely understand it. This was simply because they were all still babes in Christ growing up in the Lord.
Act 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
Here we have a potential firestorm division occurring in the church. This is a golden opportunity for the new baby believers of Jerusalem to depart the unity of the church body to create a new independent branch of believers called the Southern Jewish Church. Ok, that was a really bad joke on my part, but you understand what I meant. It is always man’s solution to create a new denomination when differences arise and it is always God’s proposed solution to resolve the conflict with new knowledge. The saved Jews in Jerusalem had heard about the Gentiles and they were not very happy Christians. In fact they were being very carnal, very jealous, very arrogant and very prideful types of Christians. It sounds a lot like some that I know of in the world today. It is very much like they felt themselves to be better or superior than those Gentiles because of something they had in their flesh that they could see. This is a dangerous approach to take before your fall and you will fall unless you change and release this attitude. Pride is always followed by the destruction of the individual (Prov 16:18). Any introduction of new Godly revelation to the people of God brings the opportunity to grow spiritually. It is also a potential opportunity to fail by rejecting it and remaining ignorant. Therefore, do not ever put yourself into a strict religious box of not being able to change, learn or grow from God’s new revelations. The Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 11 are about to reach a decision point as we continue to read through the chapter. They are going to be faced with some radical new spiritual information that is over their current spiritual level to understand it fully and they will have to make a choice to accept it or reject it. They will eventually learn that spiritual things will always take precedence over the natural external things but this is just a part of the normal growth process. We are about to explore the root of the problem being revealed to the early church:
Act 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Why is it important for a Jew not to eat with a Gentile? Why does this natural external action of Peter so concern the Jewish men at Jerusalem? That is an incredible thoughtful valid question that people today do not even consider or try to understand how to answer. People in the modern world eat with anybody, anytime, in anyplace without giving it considerable thought to the consequences of their actions. What did I just say? Are there really consequences for eating with people? You see because of your ignorance you do not know where I am probably going next but we are going to explore briefly some Old Testament Law that these Jews in Jerusalem understood better than you did:
Exo 12:43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:
Exo 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
Exo 29:33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
To an informed Old Covenant person, eating a meal with a Gentile was them making a covenant with a people that were not currently in covenant with their God. The Jews learned that the Passover meal was a covenant meal that was given to them while they were still in bondage in Egypt. Eating the Passover meal and placing the blood of the lamb on the doorpost allowed everyone in their house to live while the death angel took the firstborn of all that did not eat of the lamb and where the blood was not found on the doorway. God gives us these natural symbolic types to reveal the spiritual truths that have occurred in us in the church. In Exodus, God was telling the natural Jews that in order for a Gentile to participate with them in eating the meal, they must first be circumcised in their flesh. Did you not just read this? This was the Law of God that was being misapplied to the church in the minds of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem based upon their spiritual ignorance.
What I am saying is that eating with a Gentile was in effect the people of God joining themselves with their enemies. The sign of the circumcision was an external confirmation that they were in covenant with the same God you were in covenant with. However, that external sign of the covenant is now foolishness no matter who you are. The principle that was being taught to us is that you do not make covenant with anyone that is not in covenant with your God. That was the natural principle being taught to the Jewish people and that principle is still in effect in the spiritual realm today with the church (1 Cor 6:15). When you make covenant with a person not saved, the only advantage gained was given to the enemy that you covenanted with. Once you let your enemies into your house where you live you have just opened up your life to them for your complete destruction. What I just described to you has more spiritual relevance than what you probably understand right now, but I do not have the time to go there today. However, this was probably the driving reason behind the Jewish concern in Jerusalem extended to Peter. They were just in a state of shock that Peter had gone into a Gentile’s house and made covenant with them without them being circumcised in their flesh. They were in effect thinking very naturally and saying to Peter “What were you thinking?” “Why are you eating with these uncircumcised godless men?”
The natural Jewish believers were obviously not seeing things correctly through the eyes of God yet. They did not understand that Peter was being led by the Spirit of God in what he did and they for sure did not believe that the uncircumcised Gentiles were able to hear from God to do what they did. This is a grave mistake of people today that call themselves Christians. I saw a comment recently on Facebook from a Christian lady that is usually very sound in what she says. However she obviously got into the flesh with this statement and showed her spiritual immaturity. She was basically putting down people today that say they hear from God. I personally have more concern for people who do not hear from God than I do for those that say they heard from God. My Facebook friend even tried to justify her statement by using unfounded statements about Moses. She believed that even Moses never heard from God that much. I found her logic more than a little amusing. Moses after all wrote the first 5 books of the Bible and many of the Psalms so Moses obviously heard from God a lot. Do not get me wrong, there are people on the internet that say they hear from God and clearly they do not based upon what they say. If what is spoken contradicts the Written Word of God, then it is not from God. This is always an example of the real being counterfeited with the false. The presence of the false however proves that there is a real by implied antithesis. People in the world never counterfeit anything that does not already exist and is valuable or the counterfeit would have no value to anyone to deceive them. Satan will always introduce the fakes to discredit or distract form the genuine. God is speaking today in the world to His people and do not believe that He is not.
Act 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
Act 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
Act 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
Act 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
Act 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Act 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
Act 11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
Act 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
Act 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
Act 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Act 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Starting in Verse 5 and continuing through verse 16 in Acts 11 is now Peter’s account of what just happened in Acts 10 as it is replayed for the saved Jewish believers in Jerusalem. You might recall we got Cornelius’ account of the events at the end of chapter 10 telling Peter and now we are seeing Peter tell his side of the story to the other natural circumcised believers. You did notice that I said the “other” natural circumcised believers, yes? What is happening here? Why didn’t God speak to these believers directly like He did with Peter? Recall that Peter was dealt with on a personal spiritual level by God directly in Chapter 10. These Jewish men in chapter 11 were not. Why that was and what we can learn from it will now become more apparent. Revelation is never given to everyone in the church. Visions from God are never given to everyone in the church. Angels are never sent to everyone in the church. On and on I could go. These are all examples of divine sovereign choices of God and they are designed to help the whole body by allowing the one given the message to go and tell the others. That is exactly what is happening here in Acts 11. Peter was sent by God with the message from God to the natural Jewish believers in Jerusalem so they could hear what God has done.
Peter’s vision from God was not just for Peter’s personal benefit; it was for everyone else’s benefit in the church also that will hear it. Do you understand what I am saying? If Peter did not spread the message, the message would have died with Peter. God never gives one man any kind of revelation that is not intended for him to share with everyone else. I already tried to cover the difference between natural circumcision and God’s spiritual circumcision and I hope that you understand the differences. You can clearly see that this new spiritual way of thinking was causing a great division to occur in the church and if God does not deal with it then we would have the beginning of a new church denomination like I said before. Uh oh? God is actually working very hard to reverse the cause for the division by doing spectacular things like sending angels and giving visions, but the people in the church are still going to have to cooperate, believe and accept.
Act 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God.
I love this verse! It is so awesome! What did Peter just tell these Jewish believers? This is the best advice that people today can still get a hold of if they humbled themselves and tried. Peter just said “I’m not stupid, it is not my place to tell God what to do”. Do you ever try to tell God what to do? I see it on the internet every day. I’ve seen it in churches repeatedly. People speaking against what they do not agree with and they call the others not in their group false teachers and liars. They do not understand that God could have given someone else a new revelation and this was also for them but they have rejected it because it was new. I’m not going to go through everything that Peter said to the Jews verse by verse, but I do want to point out the key factors again for emphasis:
- Peter says “I was praying” in verse 5.
- Peter says “I was in a trance and I saw a vision” in verse 5.
- Peter described the vision and says he then heard a voice say “arise slay and eat” in verse 7.
- Peter says back to the Lord “No Lord nothing unclean has entered into my mouth” in verse 8.
- Peter then says that God answers back to him “Do not call unclean that which I have cleansed” in verse 9.
- Peter then says that all of this happened three times in verse 10.
- Peter then says the Spirit of God spoke to him again and said “These men that I have sent, go with them doubting nothing” in verse 12.
Let’s just stop right here and analyze the facts given to us. How many times did God speak and how many times did Peter speak to God in this conversation? Peter prayed so that is the first time where the spiritual conversation begins with God. The vision then begins, so God is now speaking back to Peter in a trance. We have one for Peter and one for God. Now the voice of God tells Peter “Kill and eat” and Peter says “no”. That gives me a count of two for God and two for Peter. God then answered back “Do not call unclean what I have cleaned”. My count is now three for God and two for Peter because Peter had no reply. What God was pointing out to Peter was “you don’t know what I have done or what I can do”. God was in effect teaching the man Peter during this whole vision. Peter then tell us that this happens three times. According to my calculation that would give us a subtotal of God speaking seven times and Peter speaking back to God four times. However, Peter then says God told Him to go with the men and that makes the count, God speaking 8 times and Peter speaking 4 times. Did this not say that God just spoke to Peter 8 times in one conversation? I mean can you count? How many people today is there that do not understand that God still does this for everyone since He is no respecter of persons? Does God still speak? You bet He does! Does God speak a lot? You bet He does, if you are listening. Let’s talk briefly about verses 15 and 16:
Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Act 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Here is further confirmation for what I was teaching you in the last lesson. God is revealing how things work in the spiritual realm by revealing to us little clues found within the natural realm. While Peter was preaching at Cornelius’ house the Word of God, the Holy Spirit was poured out exactly like He was in Acts 2 on the Jewish believers. We learned in chapter 10 this taught Peter that God was no respecter of persons. But, Peter also tells us when this was happening that he suddenly remembered something that Jesus had said to him. Do you think this was a coincidence or do you think this was also God speaking to him? I personally know it was the Spirit of God speaking to Peter. This is simply one way that God communicates with people and people do not understand it is God unless you learn to see what is said. The Spirit of God inside of Peter was giving Peter the thoughts to preach the message to Cornelius all along. God just revealed one thought of the many others that were implied. What was this thought that Peter just had? The thought was a memory recall of some of the words that Jesus spoke to him in the past. I have called this concept God drawing water out from a well. The thought was the water, God was the drawing out Spirit, and the well where the water was found is Peter’s spirit. The only reason water existed in the well was because it was placed there by Jesus’ teachings. This is not really rocket science kind of technical stuff here, but yet it is very profound if you get a hold of it. Jesus taught us “From the abundance of your heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat 12:34). Therefore put God’s Words into your heart if you want to get any of God’s Words to come out from your heart.
Do you understand what Jesus was teaching Peter and the other disciples from this thought in Acts 11:16 and how it applies to what is happening now with Cornelius? In other words why is God causing Peter to remember these words at this exact moment? Why is it relevant? Notice what Jesus was contrasting in the thought. Jesus was speaking of natural things like John and his water baptism to teach them of new coming spiritual things. Also understand that Jesus’ statement was a future prophetical reference to an event that had not yet occurred when it was spoken. If you research your Bible you will find that this statement was made by Jesus in Acts 1:5 right as He was about to ascend back to heaven. The Spirit of God was now revealing to Peter that this is the time of fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus told them that John had used water to baptize, but now God will use the Holy Spirit to do the exact same thing in the spiritual realm. It is again an example of how external things are being represented to reveal internal invisible things. If you learn nothing else from me today I pray that you begin to understand the differences between natural things and spiritual things. Learn today that spiritual things are always greater than the parallel natural things. Learn how natural things are nothing but physical pointers to the hidden spiritual things from God. So we have had Peter describe the intimate workings of the Holy Spirit during the process to the Jews in Jerusalem and we are now at the time for their decision. Do they accept it or do they reject it?
Act 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Here is the model example of the appropriate Christian reactive response to any new revelation. These Jewish men in Jerusalem just showed you what you should be doing today. Peter has just preached to the natural Jewish believers in Jerusalem a message that came from God and they believed it and accepted it. There are literally too many other possible human reactions for me to list what could have happened. Instead of focusing on what did not happen, just notice that they kept their mouths shut except to praise their God. That is probably one of the greatest lessons to learn from what is happening in these two chapters. When and if you do not fully agree, fully understand, or fully embrace what is happening it is wisest to hold your peace and just praise God. Don’t fight against God, observe what He is doing and go with it. How could these men at Jerusalem do this? It is because they knew their God and they knew Peter. They had to have a certain level of trust for this man of God that he was not misleading them. They also knew that he was the one that got them saved in the first place by preaching in Acts 2. So we have many factors contributing to trust and their spiritual growth.
Act 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
You can clearly see the problem that God was addressing in the church in this verse. Those that were being scattered from Jerusalem’s persecution were only going to other cities preaching to the natural Jews. God was revealing to the early church that it’s much bigger than that, guys! You people are missing the largest harvest fields and only focusing on the select ones that you think are good. It goes back to a truth that God revealed in the O.T. that says “God does not see as men see, for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). If people would only see things in the Bible like God sees them, there would be no divisions, debates or arguments in the church today and we could all reach a lot more people to get them saved.
This lesson is already long enough. Let’s just recap what else is revealed in this chapter to bring it to a close.
- Verse 20 says the Gentiles are now being actively preached to and converted.
- Verse 21 says the number of the Gentiles being added to the church is very significant.
- God also says in verse 21 that these Gentiles did two things to be saved. They believed the message and they turned to God for their salvation.
- Verse 21 also says the hand of the Lord was with them, proving God was leading them in what was happening.
- Verse 22 says the news of the church growth was spreading through the church and reached back to the church in Jerusalem.
- Verse 22 then says the brethren in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to preach and teach them. This was God again sending a man with a message to help them grow spiritually. I told you a mature Christian was always necessary to keep a new born spiritual baby alive.
- Verse 23 says Barnabas saw the Grace of God and was glad and he began to exhort them. Exhortation is a comforting and an encouraging word sent from God telling them to continue in the Lord. Meaning they have the opportunity to turn back or walk away.
- Verse 24 describes God’s messenger Barnabas as being a good man that was full of the Holy Ghost. Two things I learn from this. To be a good teacher of God you need to be full of the Spirit of God. Finally a mature teacher needs to be sent by God.
- Verse 24 says many people were added to the church as a result of sending Barnabas.
- Verse 25 does not give us a time frame of how long Barnabas was present in Antioch but it says he left there for Tarsus to seek for Saul. I take this as God guiding him because of Romans 8:14. Galatians 2:9 teaches us that Barnabas becomes an apostle to the Gentiles with Paul.
- Verse 26 is one of my favorites. It gives us the reason for seeking Paul. Paul is brought back to Antioch to help and this verse says they stayed there for a year and taught many people. Verse 26 also reveals this is where people in the church were first called “Christians”.
- Verse 27 says Jerusalem sent prophets to Antioch. This proves God is still working to bring messages through men to other men.
- Verse 28 is a warning from the Spirit of God spoken by the prophet sent to Antioch. He tells them of a great famine that would come upon the world.
- Verse 29 the church at Antioch gathers supplies to give to help those in Judea.
- Verse 30 says Barnabas and Paul leave Antioch to take the relief to the church elders.
We could literally write a book about all of the things revealed in these few verses. If you meditate on the verses long enough you will see what I mean. There are many lessons that can be transferred to the days that we live in. There is God leading the church individually and corporately to grow and increase in significant numbers. There is God leading and teaching individuals to grow up spiritually. There is God bringing warnings of coming events and helping to prepare them through a prophet. There are times of famine now in many parts of our world. People have physical needs and these should be taken to the elders in the church to be distributed to those in need. I believe that the church’s number one goal is to add to the number of believers to help the body grow. But, then the number two goal is to help those that are new in the church to grow spiritually so they do not fall away and they can become teachers also. I finally see the last goal of the church as being to help the physical needs of the people. This was God’s stated order of mention in chapter 11. I see God’s emphasis in Acts 11 being spiritual first and then physical. However, the famine did occur after a year from when Paul was sent into Antioch so the emphasis might have changed if the circumstances were different. Nevertheless, I want to say that I can see God was working in Acts 11 to supply both their spiritual needs as well as their physical needs. Both are necessary components to continued growth. We saw great examples f God sending teachers to the new church members. We can easily confirm that God wants to save you first, but then He wants you to grow spiritually so that He can continue to lead you in the process to help others get into the same process and the spiritual life cycles continues and repeats. The spiritual cycles of spiritual church population growth duplicates the natural human cycles of population growth. The spiritual cycle of development and maturity parallels the natural human cycle of development and maturity. Just as math students in the natural can become math teachers to others as they grow, so it is with Bible students in the spiritual dimension. Non-speaking baby Christians after spiritual development and maturity should all become speaking Christians (AKA Bible teachers) for others.
While you may not fully understand how much you have learned today or how it applies to you being led by the Spirit of God, I will tell you that what you have learned has gone much further than you realize. Someday soon you will become a teacher and then these lessons will be in you to help others. God will draw them out when it is time and you will speak the oracles of God with wisdom. God Bless you until next time and I greatly appreciate your effort to study the Word of God with me.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 10! Part 12
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 12 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain critical spiritual information, instructions, and corrections that are essential and necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to all of us in the modern church because we are all in the same body of Christ serving the same God in the same ways as those in the book of Acts. My foundational scripture verse for the entire series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). That verse informs us that it is more than just a good idea, more than optimal, more than important, or more than just advantageous to be led by the Spirit of God over those that are not led. Romans 8:14 actually tells us that it is an essential requirement to be led by God or you cannot even be called His child. Jesus stipulated that “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). But commandments from God are more than just reading and obeying the written Laws of Moses. There will always be the written Word of God that we must learn, but there is also an implied direction to hear His current spoken words also. What was written to us thousands of years ago in the Bible still definitely applies and is very relevant, but I believe that what we may need to know is more specific for the right now. How do we grow and what do we still need to learn today, is there anything that we need to change, who do we need to speak with today or to witness to, who do we need to pray for today, where do I need to go today and on and on we could go. Personal direction from God can only come from hearing the Holy Spirit speak on an individual intimate level. That is why I’m teaching about how you can hear from God in the right now.
I believe that it is so very important for us to know this subject in great detail. Learn how God speaks, learn when God speaks and learn why God speaks and then expect Him to speak to you. If you are not expecting, then you are not listening. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In recent lessons, I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the patterns and revelations of how God led the early church to grow and increase in great numbers. I believe that these are great teachings for the end-time church to go up and out on so that we can learn how to reach as many people as we can in the shortest amount of time. The Bible speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit of God as being like rain (James 5:7, Zec 10:1, Joel 2:23). The Bible also speaks of the Word of God coming down from heaven like rain (Isa 55:10-11). God called for the former and the later rain to fall in their respective seasons upon His people to produce a healthy fruitful spiritual crop. Two things happened in the Book of Acts former rain that stands out above all other facts to me. The Spirit of God was poured out on the Church and as a result God gave them such profound new revelation of His precious Holy written Word that it was unprecedented and beyond comparison. As a result of the Spirit of God being poured out like never before on everyone in the church and the knowledge of God increasing so profoundly, the church grew tremendously. It was a classic cause and effect reality from God. We are now living very near the time of the harvest and therefore we are abiding in the time of the later rain. We are currently writing the final chapters to the book of Acts today by what we do for God. I believe that what happened in the early church rain is what is reoccurring now in the later rain. This is the heavenly rainy season that we live in right now. Learn to get into the rain of God and see if He will not pour out on you a blessing that you cannot even contain. The revelation of God is increasing today like never before. We are to use this information to help the church to grow, to overcome and to unite in His purpose. Get involved in what God is doing and make sure you are standing under the spiritual rain cloud that is being poured out on the church today.
In the last lesson I was teaching on Acts chapter 10 and we did not get through the entire chapter. Let’s briefly review what we saw that was happening. I personally believe that chapter 10 of Acts is the most important chapter we have observed on this subject of being led. The chapter begins with Cornelius a Gentile man praying and suddenly seeing an angel sent from God. In this vision, the angel gives him a message from God and tells him to go and find Peter in another city in order to hear another message from God. That right there is a very strange request from God. I guess the angel was not told the real message. What I believe is happening is that God is revealing to us that we are living in the church age. The church was given the delegated authority and responsibility to go and preach to those on the earth to get them saved (Mark 16:15). There is coming a time in Revelation 14:6 where the angels will preach to the people on the earth because the church will already be in heaven. Therefore, I believe the angel in Acts 10 is pointing Cornelius to a church member to hear the Gospel. The angel tells Cornelius where Peter can be found and he sends three men to the city of Joppa where Peter is staying.
While the men are on the trip to find Peter, Peter is also said to be praying at the exact precise time and he also has a vision from God that is very disturbingly strange. Peter falls into a trance and sees a vision of a sheet being lowered from heaven with every kind of animal clean and unclean on it. Peter is then commanded by God to kill and eat, but Peter knows this will be an offense to his current understanding of the written Law of Moses and he refuses. Because of Peter’s refusal to participate, Peter sees the same vision three times and that is another interesting concept that visions may reoccur, but do not think that they must reoccur. I believe it is wiser to participate and obey the first time that God says something to you. Peter is still contemplating the meaning of the vision when all of the sudden the Spirit of God speaks to him in his spirit and tells him the men sent by God are here to see him. At this point in time Peter does not know what the vision means nor does he understand who the men are and why they are here to see him. So Peter goes down and meets with the men to find out what is going on.
What we have just observed is a divinely choreographed and well-orchestrated plan of God that has been unfolding in progressive steps and stages. This is a great example of the wisdom of God in manifestation. Every participant is given only very limited quantities of information to accomplish a single step of the greater unknown divine goal. No one at this point in time knows what God is doing or why they are doing it with Him. This is clearly an example of the people of God being led blindly by faith where God is the only one that understands fully what is happening and why. Of course if God knows what He is doing then we should not really care what He is telling us to do or even ask why. What is going on will always become apparent to us soon enough if we continue to obey. This is just called being a willing servant of God that walks by faith. We can clearly see how the factor of human obedience plays a significant role when yielding to a higher degree of wisdom than we possess. It is also based upon a factor that is called “TRUST” like a child trusts their parents to catch them when they jump into their arms. There is a further implied unstated factor of humility where we must acknowledge internally that we need to be led by God. The success of the whole plan of God is completely dependent upon the faithful participation of each individual involved being led and all of these qualities that I just mentioned play key roles in the successful outcome. If any one man in this chapter drops the ball and does not do or complete what God has instructed them to do, God would have needed to find some new church members to replace them to get the job done and thus the church would have not grown as fast or as efficiently.
THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S LEADING
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (NASB)
Here is a good time to confirm why God wants to lead us again. If you are being led by God it is not for your demise, harm, hurt or destruction. Jeremiah 29:11 teaches us that God is always working for your greater good and for a greater purpose than what might be apparent at the time. You should be able to recognize that in Acts 10 as we continue through the lesson to the fulfillment of the plan of God. In this chapter nothing but positive things happen to everyone participating. The Bible clearly informs us that God is FOR US and not against us (Romans 8:31). There are three different perspectives that we can use to see what is written in this verse in Jeremiah 29. First, it can be viewed corporately as a universal statement directed at everyone. Second it can be viewed from the perspective that it was written to others like natural Israel only. Finally it could be viewed as a verse that was written to ME personally. There are ways to reason away any one of the these three possibilities using human logic. However, because the verse does not say who it is written to using a noun qualification, I take it to be a verse that includes all of the above possibilities concurrently. The translators also thought this way because they used the personal pronoun as “you” being “me” the reader to state the truth. I take this verse as a direct quote from God spoken to me.
I can understand that this verse was originally written to the natural nation of Israel. But, I then can begin to expand my vision to view it to be a universal truth that crosses over from the natural realm into the spiritual realm to include everyone. Therefore, it is simple to me if I take the truth in this verse to be for me personally. You of course need to make up your own mind if it is for you and do with it whatever you like. If you can come to the realization that it is for you also, then you need to do something else. You need to believe that God has a good plan specifically for you like I believe God has a good plan specifically for me? Your plan is not my plan, and my plan is not your plan. They are both unique and separate while still being equally good for each. If you can believe that, then you have a strong basis of faith with the scriptures to stand upon when you pray and ask God what is your plan for me. Knowing this revelation will give you confidence that when God leads you it is for a positive outcome and for a greater good purpose.
Since I believe that this verse in Jeremiah 29:11 is universally true and for me as an individual I can conclude three new things from it that applies to why God was leading the early church in Acts 10. First, God is ultimately interested in the good plan for growing the church as the single whole body of Christ on the earth. This is what I will call a “ONE” church body approach to understanding the scriptures. Since I believed that Jeremiah 29:11 was for individuals and I view the body of Christ as an individual corporate body I believe God’s good plan must include us all as one group. I’m not going to teach you about the church being one body found in the scriptures today so if you do not understand that truth then you should do a separate study on the subject. Second, I believe that in order for God to grow the church that God must also be interested in helping all of the members in the church to grow up spiritually to learn how to be led by Him. What we have again is an approach that if one part of the body is ill, then the entire body is ill. You cannot cut off one part of your body and still be a whole person. Again I can see how God’s GOOD plans for the church are both individualized and simultaneously incorporated for the good of everyone for a unified positive purpose and outcome. I hope that you understand these concepts, because I do not have time to go into them in great detail. Last but not least I believe that God is interested in blessing you in the natural realm so that you can become a blessing to others on the earth in the natural realm to get them saved. Here is where church growth corresponds to human growth cycles. When a natural child is born into the world they are very small, weak and need assistance to survive. As their body develops they are increased in mass, strength and ability. These concepts can be transferred to the body of Christ. I believe that our church body is in a growth cycle right now and we are reaching out to those that are not a part of the body to help them to be added to the body of Christ. This is only possible while we are all still in the natural realm. If you die or they die then it is too late for each of you to participate in the increase to the body of believers. I can see all three of these things occurring in Acts 10 and I hope that you will also agree with me on them.
WHAT IS A GOOD PLAN FROM GOD?
Jeremiah 29:11 informs us that God has good plans for His people. What exactly is a plan? And what makes one plan good and another one not good? One definition of the word plan is a design or a scheme of arrangement. We might be able to view a plan as a set of project specifications. This is a concept that transfers to many things in the natural to be easily understood. A cook uses a recipe to create an edible delicacy which is tasty. A seamstress uses a pattern to create a dress that will knock your socks off when you see it worn. An architect creates a plan called a blueprint design with architectural diagrams to build a great building that we can live and work in. These are all designed stepped approaches to the creation of things in the world. These are all good planned approaches that benefit people in some way. No plan that I have just mentioned was intended for anyone’s harm or demise. However, you can clearly see how that any plan can be changed or modified to become evil. Good and evil are basic concepts found in the Bible. The Bible tells us that God is good and that Satan is evil. We should be able to conclude that God’s plans are for our good and Satan’s plans are for our hurt. This is really not that complicated, but Satan has used people’s human reasoning to try shift all plans to God’s control and that is a great error in judgment.
Does every plan on the earth automatically come to pass exactly as planned? If you have ever been a project manager you know that they do not. Rarely does a plan occur without a problem. Now, consider what if it is God’s plan for your personal life? Does that mean God’s plans for you will automatically come to pass just because God is omnipotent and controls everything that happens to you? Again, it certainly does not! If that was true it would be totally unnecessary to be led by the Spirit of God and we could just all sit back and let Him do everything. The requirement to be led by the Spirit of God dictates that every plan of God does not automatically transpire. All of this means that you need to first learn what the plan of God is or at the minimum learn what part of the plan that God wants you to do and then follow God’s instructions to fulfill it. What I am doing is attempting to go through some side trips that are informative enough to try to help you understand why things occur. Every plan is not good and every good plan does not always come to full fruition.
I have studied the Gospels and I have tried to observe what Jesus said and did in person for humanity in order to better understand what God in heaven wants to do for humanity today. I never did see Jesus kill someone, rob someone, hurt someone or do any evil to anyone. The Bible clearly says in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went about doing “GOOD” to all those oppressed of the devil. If Jesus wanted “good” for us on the earth when He was here physically then it is still the same today. This also teaches us that God is not the author of the evil and that Satan is the one doing evil to us. Read the Gospels and see that when people were hungry Jesus cared enough to feed them. When people were sick, blind or crippled many got healed and delivered. When people were in their ignorance Jesus spent vast amounts of time teaching them. Jesus even raised many from the dead. These were all examples of doing good things for people. How can you see anything but good coming from God since the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever? (Heb 13:8)
So why do bad things still happen to the good church members in Acts and to the people on the earth still today? We clearly saw Stephen being stoned and others being thrown into prison in Acts. There was definite persecution being leveled on the church by the Jews. I believe that there are possibly multiple reasons for bad things happening in the world to good church members. First the existence of evil in the world remains ever present and it will not be taken away until the time has been fulfilled. Understand that the world that we currently live in had a set beginning which requires a set ending by definition. Satan the initiator of all evil now understands the concept of the timed ending and he knows that his time left is growing rapidly shorter so he is intentionally stepping up the evil in the world and he is not trying to reduce it. Second, the whole concept of being led by the Spirit of God was a brand new idea that had just been initiated by God in all of the church in Acts 2. Previously in the Old Testament God would lead one man and they would hold the responsibility to lead everyone else. Today in the church we have a radical new concept where God says that He will lead everyone individually, corporately and simultaneously.
Being led by God is not an automatic spiritual skill that everyone understands when they become a Christian. In fact it is actually the opposite. Being led by the Spirit of God is an acquired spiritual ability or we could also say a learned spiritual skill as we can clearly see in the experiences of those in Acts 10. Normally humans are led by their senses, their experiences and their human reasoning. All of these are enemies to how God leads us by our spirit and we have to make the transition from these natural ways to be successfully led by the Spirit of God. No one in the book of Acts is yet an expert at being led by the Spirit of God. Everyone is still growing up spiritually as God teaches each of them. Keep in mind at this time there is still no New Testament Bibles that exist. Everything being taught by the church is from the Old Testament and these are concealed words about a hidden Jesus and the many other spiritual things that were just being revealed and taught for the first time by God. So the people in Acts are like the people today. We are all still learning to be led by God and we all still growing spiritually as we hear from Him. Like those in Acts we are all still imperfect men and women with faults, weaknesses, emotions, sense feelings, and the same oppositions, persecutions and distractions as they faced. Therefore, between the continued presences of evil in the world working with the fallible human condition of men in the world both continue to contribute to why bad things still happen to Christians.
What we have seen so far in Acts 10 is God’s usage of at least 4 or 5 different communication methods over the course of several days to accomplish the greater plan of God while simultaneously teaching the church how God operates to lead them. I have noticed that God is intelligent enough to multi-task and He is more than able to accomplish several stated goals with a single threaded process. This is one of the greatest examples in the Book of Acts that I have seen so far of how the Sovereign God works in conjunction with the imperfect people on the earth that have the freewill option and choice to listen, hear, understand, choose and to obey Him. We have clearly seen that God gives us all limited instructions in progressively sequenced steps to cause every participant to walk by faith and not by their own individual sight, knowledge or understanding. I call this God’s modus operandi or method of operation. It is how God operated with the early church and it is how God operates with us still today.
Think about the story in Acts 10. If God would have told Cornelius everything from the beginning using the angel there would have been no need for any messengers to go get Peter. There would have been no need for a Peter the preacher at all. If God would have told Peter everything that was happening, then he would have also not needed to go down and talk to the men from Caesarea or go and preach to Cornelius. Cornelius would have not needed a Peter and Peter would have not needed a Cornelius. These are clear examples of how the individual people in the church should be working together in unison to accomplish the greater goal of God. In other words no church member is an island that can stand alone in their own personal ministry isolation. God does not call any church member to live in solitary confinement. God called no Christian to be a Robinson Crusoe type of believer living in a monastery. If you think you can live a full Christian life like that then you are deceived. If you think no one else needs your participation then you are deceived. These are some of the greatest examples of God using ordinary people like you and me in the church.
WHY GOD LED THE CHRUCH IN ACTS 10
As you continue reading in the chapter we will finally begin to discover why God is doing what He has been doing. We will finally understand that everything that has occurred in Acts 10 is God causing the church to grow, expand and include the people of every nation and not just the people of natural Israel as it was found to be in the first 9 chapters of Acts. God is about to shake up the box of their religious beliefs and their understanding of God’s character and turn it all upside down. I guess technically I should say that God is turning things right side up, but you know what I mean. Read some verses found in the prophet Isaiah:
Isa 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
Isa 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Isa 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Isa 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Isa 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
If you search the Bible you will see that there are several prophecies in the O.T. like these that reveal salvation belongs to all nations through Jesus Christ. Here in Isaiah God says Jesus will be a light to the Gentiles and that His salvation will be displayed to the ends of the earth. God says this will be something brand new. What is a Gentile? From a natural O.T. Bible perspective a Gentile was anyone that was not of the circumcision of the flesh first given to Abraham. Every male descendant from Abraham on was circumcised as an outward sign of their covenant with God. This event usually occurred 8 days after a male child was born (Php 3:5) and it resulted in a cutting of their flesh, the shedding of some of the child’s blood, and it also hurt and was physically painful. Therefore a Gentile to the Jewish men in Acts 10 were any men that did not possess this physical mark in their flesh. Now a new problem is being revealed to those in the church in Acts 10. God is going to give them a totally new spiritual definition to an old natural understanding of what exactly circumcision was. God is revealing something so radical to them that it is very difficult for many of them to even accept. Here is a part of the new revelation that God would later write to the church at Rome:
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
You see these are verses that people today ignore because they do not understand what they say or mean. God is teaching the church that the outward mark of the flesh is not what makes a man a Jew anymore. God is revealing that the outward circumcision was only given to teach them all about a new inward circumcision of the heart that makes us all a brand new kind of Jew. Uh oh? What did I just say? Do you see why people still struggle with this revelation? We will discover that the early church had this same difficulty when we get to chapter 11. There was a huge movement in the early church by some Jewish believers to try to get all the new Gentile believers that came into the church to be circumcised like they were in their flesh. These Jewish Christians were thinking carnally and naturally that in order to be fully saved it required everyone to do something externally to keep the law of God. What God was doing is revealing that the natural things that He implemented under the law with Abraham only pointed them to the real spiritual things that ONLY God could do in the spiritual realm. The Bible says that no one will ever be justified by the works of the law (Gal 2:16). The circumcision of the heart (spirit) first started happening in the beginning of the church age as men received the Spirit of God. This same circumcision of the heart that only the natural Jews had received is now being expanded in Acts 10 to include all of the Gentiles that believe on Christ also. You cannot see or even understand the spiritual things of God and how they work without first understanding the natural things and how they worked. This is why God does the natural first to teach us about the spiritual works of God. This is really not that complicated yet many Christians still stumble over it constantly.
THE CONCLUSION TO ACTS 10
These were just cleverly designed ways of God to say behold I do a brand new thing and it is now open to everyone that wants to participate. The early church did not really fully understand these verses were even in their Bible. That is why God is revealing them to the church in Acts 10 and His written word can be used to confirm what He said to them. Always remember that what God tells you by His Spirit will never conflict or contradict with what God has said to you in His written Word. God is giving the church new revelation knowledge of the old prophecies in Isaiah. Revelation knowledge is never a modification to the words that were written on the page, it is always just an adjustment to our spiritual eyesight that increases our understanding of what the words meant in the first place. Let’s complete the study of the verses in Acts 10:
Act 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Here is a very classic example of how people can believe they understood what the Bible said and totally miss the real meaning until God reveals it to them. There was a strict literal natural interpretation of the law that said that no Jew could associate with a non-Jew. We could read this in the Gospels when the woman at the well was shocked that Jesus was talking to her a Samaritan (John 4:9). The natural Jewish religious leaders took this law to an extreme and fell into great error with it. Jesus understood what it said and knew it did not mean what they thought it meant. Taking any truth to an extreme is one of the greatest dangers to believing a lie. Peter in the presence of Cornelius begins to understand the vision from God. The new revelation from God was being taught that these uncircumcised men in Cornelius’ house were chosen by God and they were not the kind of men that God was saying not to associate with in the law. This was really an incredible new way to look at an old written rule. What God is doing is differentiating between natural truths and spiritual truths, natural laws and spiritual laws, and natural people and spiritual people. The natural Jews looked at this law as meaning one thing and now the church is being taught to see it with a completely new way of thinking spiritually. This quite literally proves that what we sometimes thought to be the truth is not always the truth in reality.
Act 10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
Cornelius begins to recount to Peter what God had done and what was told to him by the angel. God is now connecting the dots to allow everyone to see the bigger picture plan of God. Notice again that there was a span of 4 days that these events have transpired on. As you read down you will see Cornelius explaining what the angel said to him and how he was instructed to go to Joppa to get Peter to hear the message. This is now the second time we are told what God is doing in this chapter. Whenever God tells you something more than once it means it is very important and you better learn what is going on. It is a lot like when Jesus said “Verily, Verily”. Anytime there is repetition there is intended importance and emphasis.
Act 10:33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
I like the term “immediately”. Immediately denotes the factor of timing to be potentially critical to the entire process. If timing did not matter, God would not have told you about it. I believe that many times if there is a delay in doing what God has said we might just miss what is happening in God’s plan. Of course God could change the course of timings and if Cornelius delayed sending men to Joppa there could have been a delay of Peter praying and getting the vision. However you may remember that Peter just so happened to be hungry when he was praying so the timing of events appears to be critical for the whole process. Both Cornelius and Peter prayed at the exact set precise time for each to accomplish the plan. The angel appears to Cornelius at the specific set time needed. The men are sent to Joppa and they travel a set specific time that corresponds with Peter’s prayer time. God gave Peter a vision about food and eating a meal at the precise time he was hungry. The men from Cornelius just so happen to show up where Peter is at after a day’s journey and their arrival corresponds exactly after the vision was just completed. God just so happens to tell Peter they are there and on and on I could go. I feel that timing was an essential factor to getting the plan of God to happen in the exact order and sequence of events. If any participant delayed and did not do what they were supposed to do, would the plan of God still have fallen into place so precisely? That is a very interesting concept to consider. It sounds like to me we need to become aware of God’s timing and try to follow Him very closely. For example, if God tells you to wait five minutes before doing something, it is probably best to do it. You do not know what will happen if you do not do it and that is the risk of being disobedient. If God leads you only for your good, not being led by God could result in something evil happening to you. If God tells you now to do something and you do not, you also just might be missing out on the blessing that God was awaiting to give you. Keep reading in this chapter and see the blessings of God that are being poured out as a result of everyone being led by the Spirit of God. In Acts 10:34 through verse 44 is Peter’s sermon to the house of Cornelius. I will not go over the sermon, because it is basically the Gospel of Jesus foretold through the prophets.
Here is a good time to re-emphasize a point that I tried to make earlier in this series. At no time does it say that Peter thought about or prepared what to say or to preach to Cornelius’ house before getting to them. At no time does it say that Peter stopped to review his notes, read anything or to even make notes. I’ll shock you a little more here and say that Peter does not stop and pray to ask God what to do either. What comes out of Peter’s mouth is the spontaneous response from what God has already previously deposited in his heart through the teachings of Jesus and the experiences that he has had up until this point in time. Do you understand this? You probably do not yet understand fully what I am saying. A preacher should always prepare to preach by diligent study and prayer, but a preacher should never have a set written statement to read from for anyone. Doing this puts God in a human box of constraints and limitations and denies that God has the ability to speak to you directly to give the people a fresh new Word from heaven. What I am trying to say is that God brought to Peter’s remembrance what was necessary to preach to Cornelius at a flashed instance of spontaneity. It is a classic well and water analogous concept. The preacher is the well that has the deposits of God’s water (word) within his spirit. The spirit of man is like the well of water. This is exactly what Jesus was teaching the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus said the water that I give will cause a man to never thirst again and she said to Him give me this drink. God places good deposits in our spirit by us hearing His word over and over and us meditating on it. The Spirit of God will draw out this water from the well to give to others when it is needed at that precise moment. Jesus taught Peter this concept when he was here on the earth. Read this verse and see if you can apply it to what is happening in Cornelius’ house:
Luk 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Jesus taught them not to think beforehand or plan what they will say, because He clearly said that the Holy Spirit that will be in them will tell them what to say. This again is a major faith proposition for the preacher to trust God to give him what is needed when it is needed. Wow, that is a tough concept for many to understand. But this allows God to flow and to change to be spontaneous to fit the ever fluid changing situation of humanity. I have been in church services and seen where the pastor has started out with his written prepared sermon outline notes and all of sudden he went off on a topic that the Spirit of God brings to him and this was a right now fresh word for someone in the audience that needed to be there to hear it and to be ministered to. There is no way that the preacher would have known this and been able to prepare for it. Yes God could have told him, but that would allow the preacher to walk by sight and not by faith. Let’s try to finish Acts 10 today. What I want to show you next is what happened as Peter was preaching:
Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
This was the same outpouring of the former rain sent down from God in heaven. The Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles almost in the exact same way as He was given to the natural Jews in Acts 2. If you read Peter’s sermon he makes this revealed statement “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons”. What Peter was referring to was that it was not the external circumcision of the flesh that determined what the internal man could receive from God. To perceive is an inward increase in spiritual understanding. It was the revelation that God was revealing to Peter through the leading, the vision, the angel, the men in house of Cornelius and the other works that we have witnessed. All of this was the greater plan of God for the church from the beginning, but it has taken God almost 10 chapters of Acts to get it implemented.
Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Here we have the beginning of a new church controversy. The Jews that came with Peter, all being of the circumcision were blown away by what God has just done to those men that were never circumcised in their flesh. They all learned a great lesson with the house of Cornelius and all were blessed by what has just occurred. Notice that what is happening is almost a complete repeat of what happened to the natural Jews in Acts 2. The Spirit of God falls from heaven and they received and were all heard speaking in tongues and praising God. This is awesome information for us today. It means what they experienced is what we can still experience. In other words this was not a onetime event in Acts 2, it was a church age event that can occur over and over. Let’s review the sequence of events one more time:
- Cornelius Prays to God in Caesarea.
- Cornelius has an open vision of the angel.
- Angel was sent from God with instructions to go get Peter in Joppa for a message from God.
- Cornelius sends three men to Joppa to get Peter and takes over a day to get there.
- Peter was praying in Joppa at the precise time when the men neared the house.
- Peter was hungry while he prayed.
- God gives Peter a closed vision three times that needed interpretation to be understood about eating unclean animals.
- The Spirit of God speaks to Peter after the vision and tells him men sent by God are here to see him.
- Peter goes to Cornelius house and preaches the Gospel.
- While Peter is preaching the Spirit of God is poured out on the Gentiles and Jewish believers witness it and are amazed and perplexed.
- As a result God adds to the church the Gentile people.
Notice what is happening. God is never revealed to do the exact same thing twice in this entire process (with the exception that Peter was given the same vision three times because of his refusal to participate) proving God’s ways are not always our ways of doing things. People like to do things out of repetition or habit, but that is obviously not God’s way of doing things. God uses at least 5 different displayed methods to lead His people in one process plan. Everyone involved is required to walk by faith. Everyone involved benefits, learns, grows spiritually and the entire church of God also grows and increases in numbers. These are fundamental facts that are essential to grasp. These are some of the key ways that God will lead you and me to work together today. I go many times to listen to a man of God and will hear something new from them that helps me learn something else new from God. God will use one preacher to say one thing to someone and another preacher to say something else to the same person and all of this causes us all to grow together. If at anytime the people in Acts 10 wanted to isolate themselves and not participate with the plan of God it would have not been accomplished. Sometimes God’s plan will require you stretching out beyond your four walls to go to someone else to hear the complete message from God or give them a message from God. Begin today by praying and see what the Spirit of God says for you to do. If we are not praying we are probably not hearing from God as we should and getting directions that we need for today. Thanks for studying the Bible with me on this important subject and hopefully we can move to another chapter in the next lesson since we have spent so much time in this great chapter. Stay hungry and thirsty for more of God and God will bless you with more of Him.
If you wold like to cotinue reading in this series you may go to “Part 13“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 10! Part 11
(ver 1.2) This is now Part 11 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain critical spiritual information necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to us in the modern world because we are the same church body serving the same God as those in the book of Acts. My foundational scripture verse for the series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). That verse makes it sound essential to be led by God or you cannot be called His child. Therefore, I believe that it is essential to know this subject. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In recent lessons, I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the recorded (direct and indirect stated) methods used by God to lead the early church. We are beginning to see a set of repeated pattern of the same methods being used by God to build up and grow the Body of Christ. We are also beginning to understand an emphasis of certain methods of God over others that I have mentioned of how God leads His people. In the last lesson I introduced you to some new concepts when I described the contributing factors of peace and joy to be necessary for hearing from the Spirit of God. If you are depressed then you are not hearing from God. If you are not in peace you are not hearing from God. We have also seen repeatedly that those in the church that are being led by God are always those that are in unity with the other believers surrounding them. This means they were not arguing, fighting or debating over what anyone wanted to do individually, but that they were more concerned with what God was doing corporately for the greater plan and purpose of the church. Those being led today in the Church should be no different. God is not going to lead one part of a group of believers differently apart from another group of believers so that they fight over who is right and who is wrong. This is another important key to being led by the Spirit of God. Hearing from God should always cause love to flow which generates a spirit of oneness, agreement, harmony and unity.
Today I am only going to teach in chapter 10 of Acts. It has just been making my lessons too long by me trying to teach on multiple chapters in one lesson. Acts chapter 10 is only 48 verses long but it is so rich with new information on my subject of being led by the Spirit of God, that this again will probably be a long lesson and I will probably only get approximately half way through the chapter today. I apologize in advance for the length of the lesson, but I believe this information is really important on the subject of being led by the Spirit of God. Acts 10 is probably one of my favorite chapters in the book of Acts and hopefully as we go through it today, you will see why I say that and maybe it will become one of your new favorite chapters also. Let’s start at the beginning with verse 1 and read down to verse 3.
ACTS CHAPTER 10
Act 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
Act 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Act 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
It is very interesting for me to see the connecting and developing factors being tied together in these verses. It is also clear to me that God gives us many new clues and details like the hour of the day that these events occurred in this chapter. These details certainly have direct meaning and are not there by chance. There is nothing found in the Bible that occurs there by accident. Every word has a designed purpose of God. In the first verse, God is speaking about an Italian man, a Gentile by the flesh. Up until this point in time, the church was widely a Jewish set of believers that have accepted Jesus. But, Cornelius is clearly described as a Christian man; he is being labeled as someone who feared God. To fear God is not an indication of being afraid or terrified of God, but it is more the concept of being in an attitude of awe for God with a great reverential respect for His position, His power, His knowledge and His ability. This same Greek word is used in Ephesians 5 when God talks about a wife’s attitude towards her husband. This is clearly not the type of fear that she is to be afraid that her husband will hurt her. You see the risen Savior Jesus is the husband in this relationship with the church and the church is supposed to treat God with awe and respect. However, God’s attitude of love was first demonstrated towards us and He treats us with great tender kindness like the very valuable wife that He has given His all to find.
You can learn this concept of God giving His all by listening to what Jesus said about the kingdom of God when He teaches the parable of a merchant man seeking valuable pearls. This merchant man goes and sells all that he has in order to buy the pearl of great value that he has searched for and found (Mat 13:45-46). The merchant man in this parable is a type of Jesus and the pearl of great value is a type of us, the church. The great purchase price paid for us was the payment of His blood and His life. This was God giving everything that He possessed to buy us out of our major predicament of sin. What we learn as the symbolic pearl from this information is that how we view God will determine if God will be able to guide us with His Spirit. If we view Him as a God that will hurt us if we do not obey or make a mistake, then that is going to affect what we can hear and how we can hear Him. If someone obeys God out of terror then that someone becomes a slave to that fear. If someone obeys willingly out of their love for their God then that person actions are founded upon His love knowing if they do make a mistake that He is there to help them. You see you do not understand how much God values you if you believe that God will hurt you if you do wrong. One of the most important verses in the entire Bible is the one that states “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8)! Not God has love for us, but He is that Love for us. God has not given to us the spirit of fear. Fear is being afraid or terrified which is really an opposing force to love. This is why I wanted to briefly try to explain the type of fear being mentioned in Acts that Cornelius possessed that allowed him to hear from God.
In the first three verses in Acts 10, Cornelius is also described to be a giver and this is a characteristic of most real Christians. Most Christians love to give to others. The United States gets accused of many things, but the majority of the charity poured out on the world comes from this Christian nation. Giving may or may not be a factor for what you think about God, the Bible and being a Christian, but giving is a huge factor for if you desire to receive anything from God. I’m not preaching works based giving; I’m teaching Spirit led giving. Obeying the law will not justify you, but obeying God will cause great benefits and blessings to occur. You see giving is tied to receiving everywhere in the Bible. You can see this as a stated spiritual law of God. It is called the law of sowing and reaping and it occurs everywhere in the Bible as a predominant theme from Genesis to Revelation. Sowing and reaping is not usually a popular subject and frequently ignored because people teach it only in regards to money, but this subject is found ever present in many areas other than money. There are over 10 things in the Bible referred to as seeds and if you don’t know them, then your ignorance causes you to potentially miss them. I have a series of Bible lessons on this subject so I will not repeat them in this lesson. If you want to read them you can go and see “Understanding Seeds in the Bible”.
As you can see in verse 2 of Acts 10, Cornelius is praying. What happens when we pray? I think I tried to teach you that God hears and will respond. Here is another very clear example of that in Acts 10. Cornelius has a vision, but this time it is of a spiritual angel. So we have the spiritual realm becoming visible to a man in the natural realm through God’s use of a vision. This is an example of a combined method approach of spiritual communication. God used both a spiritual vision and a spiritual being or an angel simultaneously. This is certainly different, but it does happen. Other times in the Bible, God sends an angel into the natural realm and people see them physically and God can do either. This is also another example of an open type of vision. The man Cornelius is wide awake and his eyes are wide open. These are amazing confirmations that God will still use visions and angels directly in the modern church to give to us a specific message.
I want you to see the stated order of occurrence in this manifestation of God. It is stated that Cornelius did three things first before God sent the angel and gave the vision. Cornelius feared God, gave to others and prayed before God gave him a vision and sent the angel with the message. Is that not God responding or giving back based upon what Cornelius gave and did first? Most of the time, I believe that this is the way that things have happened in Acts. Saul was the only example that I have observed in Acts to be different so far. Jesus appeared to Saul an unsaved man the first time without Saul asking or doing anything, but notice after that, it was only when Saul prayed to God that God said that He had given to him another vision. The Spirit of God can do things progressively different as you continue to learn to grow up spiritually. For, example when I was first filled with the Spirit of God, God spoke to me in an audible voice one time. He has never done that again since then. However, that does not mean that I do not hear from the voice of God daily. It only means that I have grown enough spiritually to discern how else He speaks. God treats unsaved and baby Christians a little bit differently than the mature Christians because He expects the mature Christians to know more. This is true for babies in the natural realm and this is true for babies in the spiritual realm. Let’s now see what God’s response was to what we have seen so far from Cornelius:
Act 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
God declares that He has heard the prayers of Cornelius and has seen his giving and it sounds like God sees both of these as being positive things. Why else are they mentioned? One key word in this verse is the term “memorial”. A memorial in the natural is a way to remember someone or something”. This is what this word means, but it is easily taken the wrong way since God does know everything. What you do or say cannot cause God to suddenly remember you. God does not step back and say “Oh yea, I forgot about Jim, I guess I better do something. However, it is clear to me from these verses that God says the angel was sent and the message delivered because of his actions. What I want you to discover is that Cornelius’ actions and his words were observed by God and thus your words and actions are also viewed by God since God is no respecter of persons. I also want you to understand that if anything is pleasing in the eyes of God we need to remember clearly what it is that pleases God. It is not your giving and it is not your praying, but it is only your faith when doing both of these. You see the Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). So if you are giving without faith, you are still not pleasing to God and you do it in vain. If you are praying without faith then you are again not going to be pleasing to God and your words will fall empty. God places certain priorities on certain things and His Word is first and foremost above everything else and then your faith in His Word allows the connection to take place to access His Power. If you do things without learning about God’s priorities then you are more than likely doing them out of order. I do not have time to teach you about faith, but I have a series of lessons that will help you understand this critical subject called “Understanding Bible Faith”. I bring up faith because it is clearly Cornelius’ faith that played a role in hearing from God even though it was never directly mentioned. This is just another example of using the Bible to explain the Bible. If God is pleased with anyone, then God says that they have faith while doing what they have done. Let’s continue with the angel’s instructions from God:
Act 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
Act 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
The angel tells Cornelius to send men to Joppa for a man named Peter. Notice that Cornelius does not know Peter. Why didn’t the angel just show up where Peter was and tell Peter to go and see Cornelius? I find it very interesting how God does things in this chapter and that is why I’m spending so much time in talking about it. Here we have an angel sent by God with a message to tell Cornelius where to go and get another message from God. Wow, that is just mind blowing, to many Christians. God tells Cornelius to go find a man named Peter because Peter has a message for him but as we read down in the chapter we are going to find out that Peter doesn’t know this yet. Why is that? Do you see what is happening here? The man Cornelius has a vision and sees an angel but does not get the message from the angel but is told where to go to get the message from a very certain man named Peter. In other words if Cornelius tried to get the message from the apostle John, he would have missed it Was it only because the angel did not know the message or was it that God was teaching these people involved some new spiritual lessons on guidance, helping them all to grow? Both men of God are required to walk by faith and not by their sight. Cornelius had specific steps of instructions to get Peter and Peter will be given specific words of instruction for Cornelius. Using this information you should begin to understand how God is going to potentially lead you? He is not going to tell you everything personally all at once. Sometimes He will just tell others what to tell you. Sometimes I am used by God to speak to people and sometimes God uses other people to speak to me. Sometimes I hear directly from God and other times He does things differently with me reading His word or hearing a preacher or a teacher. There are so many ways that God can speak that you just need to be observant and attentive enough to hear Him when He does. That is just the way He does it. I just try to learn the best that I can to flow with Him and that is all that I can do by faith.
Act 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
Act 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
Ok, we are about to learn several new things in these verses. First, Cornelius sends men to get Peter and while they are traveling Peter is described to go up on top of the roof to pray. So again we see prayer as a major contributing factor for hearing from God. But, we should soon notice that it is not just the fact that Peter prays, but it becomes more significant that Peter prayed at just the right time that makes all of this really work together. This is why God is revealing the time factor in this chapter and teaching you that timing is everything with God. You can be told by God to do something and then do it too early or too late and miss what God wanted you to learn. During this prayer, Peter falls into a trance. That is the beginning of a very different manifestation of the Spirit of God. This is what I call a closed vision. A closed vision is one where the individual is not necessarily asleep, but not necessarily awake either. A vision during sleep is called a dream and this is not a dream. In other words, if you were observing Peter praying you might seem to think that he looked like a statue because he appeared motionless and fixed in one place. The condition of his eyes could be either shut or open, but they will definitely not be blinking. It might look like that he was sleeping if was not for the fact that he might be standing up or even kneeling down. Nowhere in the chapter does it say that Peter was directly lying down. It does say later in verse 20 that Peter is told to arise and this implies that he was not standing. But there are a lot of positions other than standing that it could be. What you need to observe is if God does not tell us the position then the position is not important. Too many Christians get focused on external things and totally miss the really important spiritual things. There is an unnamed church denomination that is highly ritualistic. They think that they will be heard by God by their faithful acts and works. However, that is just not the truth. During prayer what is important is the inward position of your heart and not your outward external posture or stance. Saul saw a vision while he was traveling. Stephen saw a vision while standing and being stoned. Here in Acts 10 we now have seen the third and fourth mentioned direct occurrence of someone having a vision and both of these times it was while they were praying.
Act 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
I’m not going to go through every verse, but this one is very good because it tells you directly that Peter heard a voice and we will find out in the next verse that Peter recognized that it was the voice of God speaking to him immediately. Remember what Jesus said to the Apostles? Jesus taught them about Him being the Shepherd and them being the sheep in John 10. Jesus also said that He knew His sheep and that His sheep knew Him (John 10:14). All of this information in that chapter teaches us that God’s children will recognize His voice. So God does not have to say “Thus saith the Great I Am”, He just speaks and Peters knows who is speaking. This is the same way with you and I. I hear His voice and I recognized Him to be my God and the voice of a stranger I do not follow because the stranger I do not recognize. That is called spiritual discernment. The more you understand about the Bible the more recognizable His voice becomes to you. God will never speak in opposition to His Word, but Satan will. You see in the Bible voices are always spirits and spirits are always voices. You will either know it or you will be deceived to follow another voice and that is usually fatal.
Act 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
As you can tell Peter understands who is speaking to Him because He calls Him his Lord. You may recall earlier that Cornelius had this same response calling the voice Lord. This was the Spirit of Jesus, the Great Shepherd the familiar known voice that was speaking to Peter. Here is where Peter’s problem begins, because he knows who is speaking and he thinks that his God is telling him to do something that was unlawful. Peter is greatly struggling with these instructions from God. What we learn from this is that God knows what He is doing and you don’t so you should not question, but should be obedient. As long you know the voice is from Him, you just need to do what He says. If you read down in the chapter God repeats these instructions 3 times, so Peter is on the verge of rebellion because of his lack of understanding of the purpose of the law. God says my people are destroyed for a lack of knowing (Hosea 4:6). So Peter must learn quickly or get left out. Why didn’t Peter just ask God to explain what was happening? Did you know that you cannot ask God any questions that are too hard to be answered? You can ask God a dumb question, but as long as it is not a question of doubt or unbelief then it is a valid question.
Let’s discuss briefly the vision of Peter. Did you notice that the vision was about food and in verse 10 it said that Peter was already hungry? Do you think that God can give you any physical feelings? I know the Bible says that God is a Spirit, but I’ll ask you again, do you think that the Spirit of God can give you a physical feeling like that of natural hunger? I know for a fact that God can manifest in these ways if He so desires. After all God invented natural feelings so it is not difficult to manifest them. Again I will tell you that this is God’s choice and not our choice. But, God can come into the natural realm to make Himself known for any purpose and in any way that helps to teach us.
When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit, I felt a strong heat like a fire from the Spirit of God inside of my chest and sometimes it was so strong that it was very distracting. I feel this heat of the Spirit of God in my chest right now as I type this lesson. This is clearly a physical feeling in my flesh caused by the Spirit of God residing in my spirit. If you do not believe me I’m sorry, I can’t prove it to you; this is for my benefit and not for yours. However, I do know that what I feel physically is scripturally based. Have you read the recorded words of John the Baptist? He said of Jesus that “I baptize you with water, but there will come one after me that is greater than I and He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” (Mat 3:11, Luke 3:16). I can tell you about this fire from God, but I can’t make it happen for you and neither can you. However, there is a difference, you can pray in faith and ask God for this experience since it is a recorded promise found in His Word for you. If you want the fire of God ask for it now.
Let’s go back to Peter’s vision. What I found significant about Peter’s vision was the fact that he was feeling very hungry and suddenly God gives him a closed vision about food that needed an interpretation in order to be understood. Visions and dreams that required interpretations were given by God many times in the Old Testament. But, this is the first time we can see that God is doing this again in Acts. Realize that God is still the same God today as He was back then, and He can do whatever He likes. Just learn to flow and then learn that God still uses dreams and visions that need interpretation. Verses 11-16 in Acts 10 describe the vision of Peter and since this is not my direct subject I’m going to skip it. They basically give several symbols, a sheet carrying many wild animals of the earth that are lowered down from heaven. God tells Peter to kill and eat and Peter tells God I have never eaten what is common or unclean. God then tells Peter “Don’t call common what I have made clean”. Uh, oh? God is definitely teaching Peter something new. This was God teaching Peter to get out of his box because He was doing a new thing on the earth.
Act 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,
Here is what I have been trying to say about Peter’s view of what was happening; that he did not understand what the vision meant yet even though God had just given it to him. This is what happens to Christians in the church still. Just because God gives you something does not mean you will understand it immediately. Peter had a conflict in his mind because he was attempting to interpret and judge the vision by his old knowledge of the law of God. God declares many things in the law to be unclean for human consumption but, now God has said to Peter to kill one of these and to eat it. This was a common problem for many converted Jews when they first become Christians. They tried to hold on to their old traditional understanding of the laws of God too tightly when God was clearly saying “those were only shadows of new coming spiritual things”. Paul taught this problem in Romans and Galatians and other places. There was a constant struggle for man to try to keep the law and God is teaching them to be led by the Spirit instead. However, what God was doing was using Peter’s knowledge of the scriptures in the Old Covenant to bring him a new revelation of what God was doing in the New Covenant. Go back and reread this chapter again very closely. It is actually a great lesson to learn many things. First see what timing plays in everything that occurs. Then realize that God must be guiding multiple people simultaneously to get all of these things to happen at just the right times. God gives multiple limited step directions using two types of visions, an angel and a voice directly from the Spirit of God and everything occurs at just exactly the right time. It is pretty amazing to me.
Act 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
I want you to realize that the Spirit of God is directly attributed with speaking to Peter and that this is the second recorded direct example of God doing this in the book of Acts so far. I’m not sure if I pointed out the first occurrence, but there was one recorded in Acts 8:29 that said the Lord spoke to Phillip directly. I really do not believe that these are all of the times that God speaks directly, but I do believe that these are mentioned to teach us that God still does this. I want you to understand also that it does not say what kind of voice these men heard. It could have been an external audible voice or more than likely it was the internal still small voice of God within them. Again, how God speaks is not as important as what God says. I hope you understand that. You should not really focus or care about the method, but you should care greatly what God said. Also notice that God speaks while Peter is using his God given mental reasoning faculty to try to determine what the vision means. In other words Peter was focused in on the very important content of the vision and not the fact that he had just had a great vision from Almighty God. Wow, what a lesson to learn today. Don’t stand in awe if God gives you a vision and miss the message!
Act 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
While all of this is happening to Peter, the men from Cornelius’ house just so happen to show up and the Spirit of God says they are here and to go down to see them because I have sent them. Notice God claims responsibility for what is transpiring. So is God doing it or are the men doing it, or is everyone doing it together? Take a look at what God is doing. God is teaching them all spiritual lessons by giving them many different limited steps to follow. These are examples of God teaching them using tiny baby steps of divine guidance. Things are beginning to fit together as each part of God’s designed plan is revealed and fulfilled. The men of God are definitely participating and this demonstrates clearly that they are all being led by the Spirit of God. What we are observing is men working with the Holy Spirit’s guidance to achieve a greater purpose. Without the participation of each man and the direction of the Spirit of God, we may not have any Gentiles in the church today.
Pay attention to the fact in verse 20 that God is directing Peter to not doubt and also to be obedient. Why is God doing this? What is doubt? Doubt is the opposite of having faith. If you have doubts then you are not fully in faith. I keep going back to faith, because this is the key factor for following God, being led by God and for being pleasing to God. Jesus taught Peter about doubt when Peter left the boat to walk on the water with Jesus. Because of Peter’s doubts God says Peter began to sink (Mat 14:31). So how does this knowledge that Peter possessed apply to his current situation? To me it is obvious that doubt causes people to go down or fail. That would mean the opposite truth would be that not to doubt would cause people to have a successful outcome. You have to understand that God has not told Peter who was at the door to see him. God only said, “Men are here and I sent them”. Here is the opportunity for Peter to doubt. These men sent by God were all Gentiles and that causes a problem of potential doubt in the mind of a man who feels special for being a natural born Jew. Peter could have looked at the circumstances and thought that these men can’t be from God. There was a great revelation coming that everyone is welcome in the New Covenant and not just the natural Jews and that was the plan of God to bless all nations in order to grow the church beyond the borders of natural Israel. But, Peter didn’t know this yet. Peter was about to learn a revelation that was hidden in God’s covenant with Abraham and this was how God chose to reveal it to him. I hope you understand the concept of revelation, I will do a separate Bible study on this subject soon.
Act 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
Peter still does not know why they are here even though God had just given him a vision to why they are there. God even told Peter that He had sent them but, Peter has just not put all of the pieces of the puzzle together yet. Have you ever realized that God gives us many things using a puzzle format in the Bible? If you do not understand this then you do not understand the joys found when solving a divine puzzle. There is great satisfaction gained from solving the complex puzzles given to us by God. Maybe only computer programmers, like me understand this. It causes a sense of accomplishment and God uses it to promote your morale, confidence and self-esteem. God is interested in teaching you how to do things. It is an error to think that God wants to do everything for you. God wants you to grow in spiritual things so that you can come up to a higher level. Did you know that? I think that is a little bit controversial to many and it sounds like I’m contradicting what I said in an earlier lesson that without God we labor in vain if we do things independent from God. There is a huge difference from doing your own things in independence and doing specific God kind of things by faith expecting Him to work with you and guide you. A guide will never come to you and carry you; that would be them doing everything and you watching. A guide should give directions and show you the way to go and you should make the effort to obey and to follow them. Wow, that is unity and harmony of God working with you and you following God.
You see when I write Bible studies for you to read, I do it, but I am expecting God to show me what to do using my faith in Him. This is what is happening in this chapter of Acts also. If that was not true then God would not be doing what He is doing, the way He is doing it in this chapter. If God simply wanted to get new information into the hands of the church the fastest way possible, He could have done things in a much more simplistic direct manner with both Cornelius and Peter. They could have all immediately known everything instead of having to walk by their faith. However, walking by sight is just not what is happening here in this chapter. Everyone is working through the process and learning and this is God’s hidden plan. I pray that I am describing these things in a way that teaches you how God will deal with you.
Act 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
I want to reemphasize that Peter still has no clue what is going on or what he is supposed to say to Cornelius. God has never told Peter that he was to go directly to see Cornelius either. God has only told Peter I sent these men to you. So what these men tell Peter is totally new to him and they bring words sent from God through a Gentile man. Peter is required to believe a message came from God from a Gentilie man. Cornelius is also required to beleive a message came from God from Peter. Do you really understand what is happening? God had just gotten through speaking to Peter directly but never gives any details to what is happening or why. Peter still does not have a clue what words he is supposed to share when he goes to Cornelius’ house to speak. Are you learning now what is happening? Do you see how everyone is required to walk by faith and not by their sight? I know I keep repeating myself, but that is so very important that I want you to really understand it. God purposely provides limited instructions in phases and stages of development that all will fit together eventually.
Act 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
So this is all news to Peter. Peter hears about an angel appearing to Cornelius the Italian. Peter has just had a vision from God that explains the whole situation, but the vision needs interpretation to be understood. I think I‘ll end this lesson with this discussion. Let’s review the key points given today:
- Cornelius’ giving was mentioned as a key factor for getting God’s attention.
- Prayer mentioned as a connecting reason twice for having a vision from God.
- Faith is always a key to being Led by the Spirit of God.
- An open vision was given to Cornelius and he sees an angel with a limited message from God to go get Peter to hear the real message from God.
- Peter experiences physical hunger and is given a closed vision about food and eating that needs an interpretation in order to be understood.
- A clear vision was given to Cornelius that needed no interpretation.
- God gives Peter a symbolic cloaked vision that needs interpretation.
- The interpretation of the vision required Peter’s knowledge of the Word of God.
- God spoke directly to the spirit of Peter with a very clear voice but with limited details being given and Peter was required to believe the words of the men sent to him.
- Timing in every event mentioned is a key to the success of the whole purpose of God.
- Every man involved heard from God, obeyed and cooperated with the Spirit of God to accomplish God’s plan.
- The purposed outcome of the plan will be a new revelation from God and the continued growth of the church.
This is what is happening today in the church whether you realize it or not. God is revealing the Bible, the knowledge of His people is greatly increasing and the church will grow until Jesus returns very soon. Get into the plan or you will be left behind. Be in unity, hear His voice and be led and we will exit as the victorious church body of Christ. Thanks for taking the time to study the Bible today. I will continue this series soon, but please leave me a comment about how you have heard from God. I guarantee that He is speaking, just be attentive, pray and listen. God Bless you and thank you for your time.
To continue reading in the series you may go to “Part 12” now.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 8 – 9! Part 10
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 10 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain critical spiritual information necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to us in the modern world because we are the same church body serving the same God as those in the book of Acts. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the recorded (direct and indirecly statedt) methods used by God to lead the early church. We have already observed at least 7 different direct methods either being observed in action or described in words. These methods will be the same ones that God will use to lead us in these last days. I believe that the church today requires the Holy Spirit’s involvement just as much and even possibly more than the early church. The early church certainly encountered great physical opposition and persecution, jail, beatings and even death and these are beginning to emerge on the earth again today as Christians continue to proclaim the same Gospel of Jesus Christ. Living here in the United States it is often too easy to ignore what is going on in the other parts of the world and in other countries. But, Christians are being murdered, imprisoned and persecuted for doing nothing but claiming to be a Christian. The Muslim populations of many countries kill people for them just looking or acting like Christians and doing nothing but giving humanitarian aid to their people. Christians in Egypt are now under attack from the Muslim Brotherhood and they have burned churches and killed several Christians in the streets in name of their new laws. A recent Christian in Iran was jailed and sentenced to death for not denouncing his faith in Jesus. These are the types of things that the Holy Spirit’s guidance can be very beneficial to us to help us avoid. God already knows the end from the beginning but that does not mean everything that happens is set in concrete. It means we need to learn to hear from God and be obedient to allow us to be in the right places at the right times to help the right people. If God knows which flights will crash, it would be best just to not be on that flight, do you agree? I believe that persecution will increase in these last days as we get nearer to the return of Christ. Let’s continue to go through the book of Acts to study God’s spiritual leading of the early Church:
ACTS CHAPTER 8
Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
We should recognize what is happening in this chapter because it goes along with many other verses in the New Testament that are pivotal to your spiritual understanding. The religious Jewish leadership in Jerusalem came down very hard on the rapid expansion of the church of Jesus Christ because they did not believe in the God of their father Abraham anymore. That statement probably shocks many Christians today that still view Israel as God’s chosen people, but they obviously ignore who it was that hung Jesus on the cross when the God of Abraham came to them personally in the flesh. This was a clear failure to recognize their God and a direct rejection of their God. You should learn many things from that reality. First don’t put your God in a box that limits what He can do. Because the Jews believed that God was not a man, they failed to see Him when He purposefully chose to come to the earth in the form of a man. There is a great deal of difference between being a man and appearing to us in the form of a man. This was God thinking outside of the box and it was a radical approach to take. The Jews at this time of God’s visitation had replaced the worship of the God of Abraham with a manmade religion full of rules, ignorance and unbelief. During this time, the church becomes highly motivated to widely disperse from Jerusalem to flee the Jewish persecution and the certain death as we witnessed with the loss of the life of Stephen in chapter 7. This is a very essential part of my lesson to why it is important to be led by the Spirit of God today. If you do not see the growing persecution of the church in the modern world then you are living in an ostrich like isolated false reality with your head buried in the proverbial sand.
Do you believe that these people in the church in Acts fled Jerusalem out of fear or by the guidance of the Holy Spirit? What was their motivation? I personally believe that they were led by God to safer places to carry on the spread of the church’s growth in other regions. You of course can believe whatever you like, but only this interpretation fits with my verse that says “those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’ (Rom 8:14). So if God was not leading them to flee Jerusalem then they are no longer the children of God. Yes I know they still had free wills and that they could have been doing things independently from God, but why would God write about their independent actions in a book about the acts of the Holy Spirit? It just doesn’t make sense to me. This is the book of Acts written about God’s work in the church and for the church. Therefore, pay attention to what the church is doing and you should be able to see what God is doing for them.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Here is an obviously brilliant strategy move that was missed by Satan. If Satan would have not persecuted the church they may have remained only in Jerusalem and probably never have grown into the rest of the world. But, since they were being persecuted relentlessly by the Jews, this verse says they went preaching the Gospel everywhere that they traveled. If someone is preaching Jesus, is this not God working through them to get others saved? If they were running away from Jerusalem to hide, this would indicate “fear” based actions, but since they are going and preaching this demonstrates “faith” based actions. Sometimes Satan is just not that entirely smart in what he does and how he does it. He never should have killed Jesus on the cross and now Satan should have never persecuted the church and helped them to spread the Gospel to the rest of the world. Probably the church would have been led by God to go to the rest of the world eventually, but this attack by Satan certainly sped up the process tremendously. I believe Satan is making the same mistake today in persecuting the church. I believe this persecution will help motivate the people of God to get the message out before it is too late for all of the other people that have not heard about Jesus.
Act 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Here we again see the church in unity. It would definitely appear to me that being led by the Spirit of God will promote the spirit of oneness and agreement. This is the seventh time in the first 8 chapters of the book of Acts that the church is described to be in unity. I believe that this is a coming sign of maturity for the body of Christ to go out on. We must begin to unify and become one harmonious group of believers as the Spirit of God continues to teach us and to guide us. Expect this to happen or do not expect it to happen, but it will happen either way and you might be left on the outside looking in like the natural Jews. It is better to be in agreement than to be left out, being offended or not in agreement with God. I just cannot see the church being raptured as a divided body of believers, if we are not ONE BODY in complete harmony then Satan has won. You see in the Bible Jesus said a HOUSE DIVIDED will not stand (Mk 3:25). If we are God’s house and we are divided we will also not stand and that only leaves us defeated. Do you think the church ends this age defeated? If not, then you better start praying with me for unity and harmony. Of course what I am saying is that we should pray what Jesus prayed to get in agreement with His prayer. Go and read it in John 17 and see what Jesus prayed and then see if you can agree and pray with Him.
Act 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.
If you notice this verse says that the church is filled with joy even in the face of all of the persecution that has recently occurred. This has to be the work of the Holy Spirit! Joy must be a sign that God is doing great things, like healing the sick, casting out devils, setting the captives free through His saving grace and doing many other miraculous signs and wonders. Joy is said to be one of the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22). So Joy should be a fruit present in those being led by the Spirit of God today. I believe that God will lead His people to help others to spread this same joy. These are the benefits of being led by the Spirit of God. If you are in despair and in gloom, downcast, looking down at the circumstances around you, then you are not being led by the Spirit of the Almighty God. Do you understand that? There are many other examples of men and women being led by the Spirit of God in this chapter but I’ll end the chapter 8 discussion with one more example of the repeated involvement of angels:
Act 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
An angel again appears to Phillip and gives him exact directions from God. This is clearly an external manifestation of the Spirit of God helping to guide the early church. This is at least the third time that angels were directly used by God in just the first 8 chapters of Acts. Always expect the involvement of angels and God will use them today as needed. Let’s move on quickly to chapter 9 and I’ll end this lesson with what we find in this chapter.
ACTS CHAPTER 9
Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
In chapter 9 of Acts we can see the manifestation of spiritual guidance through God’s use of visions that were first mentioned by Peter in Acts chapter 2. You may recall that Stephen while being stoned had a vision so this is not God’s first usage of visions in the book of Acts, but we are about to see a new emphasis placed on this subject as a very direct selected method of God to communicate with men on the earth. Take note of this fact as this chapter begins; Saul is an unsaved man on the road to Damascus. Saul is not born again when this vision occurs and he doesn’t even believe in Jesus yet. Saul is traveling on the road to Damascus to persecute the church and then Jesus suddenly appears to him in a vision as a bright shining light from heaven. Spiritual visions are a very legal communication method recorded in the Bible for Christians and non-Christians and these will continue to occur as the Lord desires to get a message to those as He wills. There are different categories of visions, but this vision was an open type of vision. Meaning Saul was wide awake and his eyes were wide open while it was happening. Jesus basically tells Saul in this vision to go into the city and wait there for further directions. This is clearly an example of Saul being led by God directly using certain limited instructions for guidance. This is a very important part of learning to be led by the Spirit of God. God will rarely tell you everything that you need to know and He will normally lead you using a step by step instruction methodology or process. This method insures your faithfulness and your obedience and forces you to walk by faith and not by your sight (2 Cor 5:7). This was not a pun that I intended to make but, since Saul was struck blind during this encounter it does apply. Saul is learning some things from God the hard way because of his past actions. As you read down in this chapter you will see Jesus also appearing to a disciple in Damascus named Ananias and Jesus tells him what to do and where to go to see Saul. This proves that God can give a vision to even a lowly disciple as well as a future apostle. This informs me that even I am qualified to be have a vision if God chooses to do that. Let’s read about the vision of Ananias:
Act 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
Act 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
Jesus appears to Ananias in another open vision and tells him where to go, what to do, who he is going to see and what to say to Saul. Jesus also reveals that Saul is praying and has seen another vision. We can conclude from this information that visions can occur many times while you are praying in private since Ananias and Saul are both said to have had visions this way. This is now God’s display of three different visions in this one chapter. So visions must still be a significant way of leading people even in the modern church based upon the frequency of the usage in this chapter alone. I knew one modern day preacher that gave his testimony of how God had given him several visions and in these he was also praying when they occurred. Therefore, praying and seeing visions is a potential connecting manifestations of God. But, I want to reemphasize that none of these men asked to see a vision in this chapter; this was clearly God’s choice and not theirs. I’m just teaching that you should not be surprised if God still selects this method. Ananias obeyed Jesus’ instructions and goes to the house where Saul is waiting and tells him the Lord has sent me to lay hands on you so that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. God is obviously working and leading the church to establish the greater purpose and plan of God and these are all examples of what God should be doing today in the church. Can you see how God is leading every church member in this book? I know some examples are only implied while others like Saul and Ananias are more plainly laid out. But, surely you can see how God is working to help guide and grow the church. Let’s move on to another manifestation of the Spirit of God at work in this chapter:
Act 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Here is another indirect New Testament spiritual concept of the background work of the Holy Spirit. The Jews were conspiring to kill Saul and Saul knew it. How did Saul know this? You could assume many possible explanations of the origination of this knowledge. For example, Saul could have based this knowledge upon his past experience with the Jews using him to kill the new members in the church. So this knowledge could have been based upon personal experience of the past. Now that Saul was a new member of the same body, he may have concluded that he was next on the list to be killed. However, this is still a mental thought process of reasoning and this could have still been God leading him. I personally believe that Saul heard from God, but that this hearing from God could have been his intuition at work. What is intuition? Females are often attributed with this feature, but it really is more a God quality or a spiritual quality than it is a female only quality. I really believe that females just normally have a greater sensitivity to listening to their intuition and this helps them more than males that ignore it and fall easily into troubles that God tried to get them out of. An intuition is like an internal knowing about something that has not yet happened. Of course an intuition does not mean that what you know will happen, it only means if you do nothing different then it will happen. In other words I believe that an intuition is a spiritual warning of what might occur if you continue to do nothing to change it. I have seen examples of this with mothers and their children many times. Perhaps you have also. I have seen this occur when one mother just has a sense that something is wrong and she goes and checks on a child and they needed her help. What do the disciples do with this knowledge of potential danger given to them by the leading of the Holy Spirit?
Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
You can clearly see they were led to avoid the danger and not to confront it. This is actually a great lesson to learn from. Danger and evil exists in the world. It is often better to avoid these rather than to try to fight against them or to overcome them. To be led by the Spirit of God to be in the right places at the right times is a very relevant method of avoiding danger, harm or even death as in this verse in Acts. Learn to listen to your internal intuitions and this could potentially save your life. Intuition is just an inner state of knowing or consciousness that occurs without any explanation and it could be very easily ignored. There will usually be no voices heard by you, you just will know something and this is normally the Spirit of God giving you guidance and protection. What occurred in this chapter based upon this knowing? The disciples lowered Saul from the city in a basket in the middle of the night and Saul departs to go back to Jerusalem avoiding the eminent danger. Clearly this was spiritual guidance to me, but yet it is not directly called that so it is easily explained away.
You are going to have to lern how to read the Bible with your spiritual eyes open wide to see what is being stated at times. Just learn what I am trying to teach you, that this method of guidance that I am calling intuition from God can be an internal knowing, awareness, consciousness or perception of a coming event in the world that you can avoid if you choose to listen and obey. This is really not that strange if you think about it. It happens in the wild animal kingdom every day. Back before the giant tsunami hit the coasts of Asia and Africa in 2004 killing literally many thousands of people, the majority of the wild animals had already fled to higher ground. How many people do you think had the same intuition as the wild animals and ignored it and died that day because they were too busy, distracted or occupied with other worldly things? I think that is a very good question.
That might have been one of my most important points of the entire lesson today about intuition. This method of spiritual guidance from God is used extensively in the lives of every believer. It is only when believers ignore this spiritual knowledge that they find themselves regretting that they should have done something different. Here is another example of this intuitive action of God and it occurs in the same chapter:
Act 9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
Here are the disciples in the church being led by the Spirit of God again by an internal knowledge. This is not well described and I understand that there are many ways to interpret this information as it is given. But, that is just the way God wrote the Bible to give every man a choice in what they believe. Seeing the spiritual things in the Bible is probably the most difficult part of understanding what God has written. This Greek word in this verse translated as “knew” is an internal perception and awareness that I believe occurred by the work of the Spirit of God even thought this is not directly stated. We are not clearly informed that this information came from God, nor are we taught directly that this was God leading His church in this verse alone. That is why we use the Bible to help us interpret the Bible. These are implied meanings that were hidden within the text. After all if God would have written everything about every subject in every verse you would have nothing to search to find in the Bible. Perhaps the next verse will help us to establish the context and the direct association of God’s leading to what is happening in this chapter:
Act 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
There is great deal of information in this single verse about my subject of being led by the Spirit of God. It introduces you to two new radical concepts that I have not directly discussed. It also shows the purpose or the reason for the leading of the Holy Spirit in this verse and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. First, the Greek word translated “rest” means to be quiet and at peace. Wow, that is an important part of my subject to grasp. If you are not at peace then you are not being led by the God of peace (Col 3:15). Being in peace and at peace is a major factor for hearing from God. Remember what has happened to the church in the previous chapters. The Jews in the synagogues are plotting to kill the disciples, beat them and put them all into prison. Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews and Saul in chapter 7. Then in one recent Acts 5 church service a man and his wife both fell down dead because they lied to the Holy Ghost. How can anyone be “at rest” when these types of events are happening all around them? I hope that you are getting the concepts that are being taught by God in these verses. According to God it should not matter what is happening around you if you believe that God is guiding you. According to God there should exist an atmosphere of being in peace regardless of the external circumstances. Do you understand this concept of being in peace and its role in being led by the Spirit of God? If not I may try to get into that in more depth in a future lesson or even later in this lesson. Just don’t let the concept of “peace” get away from you. You should be able to judge your heart and see if you are in peace right now. This will help you to know if you are being led by the Spirit of God. The other word in this verse that I want to focus in on is the Greek word translated as “comfort”. Because this act of comforting is the stated work of the Spirit of God by direct association. Do you recall what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit’s coming?
Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
The Holy Spirit is said to be another Comforter. That implies Jesus was the first Comforter for the human race because Jesus brought a light into the world that would help alleviate darkness’s dominion over man. So Jesus was a physical comfort to those that accepted Him while He was present upon the earth. But, Jesus also left this earth physically and He told us that it was better for Him to go than to stay (John 16:7). Why was that? Clearly Jesus leaving us physically left a void or a vacuum that needed to be filled for the church to continue. Jesus said that His departure was better for us because we would now have an even greater internal ever present comforter that was given called the indwelling Holy Spirit. You see the problem with a physical Jesus was that He was only one man in a world of millions and now billions of people. It would have been impossible for a physical Jesus to visit everyone personally and to listen to what each needed. However, in a Spiritual form He is ever present within every believer and able to listen to and to speak to everyone simultaneously. This was the wisdom of God being displayed:
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Can you read these verses and see the intimate working of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? This verse describes some of the behind the scene and seldom mentioned works of God in Acts. The Spirit of God was poured out on the church in Acts 2 and this activity of God permits the words of Jesus in this verse to be fulfilled in every believer that participates. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things and then the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance what Jesus has taught us. Right here we have a major clue to how God led the early church in Acts and how He will lead us even today. Do you remember that the very day the Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem in Acts 2? Peter stood up and spoke without being prepared to teach or preach anything? Peter had no notes, no prepared script, no Bible in front of him and yet he declared the precise right things for the moment to get many saved. How did Peter do this? This was clearly the Holy Spirit giving Peter thoughts on verses and words to preach to those that were standing around observing. This is clearly an example of the words of Jesus in John 14:26 being fulfilled. You can observe this occurring throughout the book of Acts several times. No one has any prepared notes; they just stand up and speak some very profound truths that came from within them. I do this all of the time in my Bible lessons. I start typing a lesson without a plan by faith and some of the lessons that I read after I have finished even I am amazed at what God has done and said. This is the Holy Spirit bringing to our remembrance what we have learned from the Bible. It is a mental process or a thought process, but yet it originates from the Spirit of God. It is very difficult to describe if you have never experienced it, you are either going to have to take my word for it or you are going to have to learn to listen for Him inside of you to learn how it works. Please note why this is so difficult to understand. Where do thoughts originate? They come from the soul realm which is also called your mind. But, there are three possible originations for every thought that you have. One possibility is you! You can have a thought. Two is God and God can give you a thought. But, three is Satan and he can also give you many evil and contrary thoughts. This is where discernment comes into play. If you have a thought about God, the Bible, Jesus, or things that are good, it probably originated from God. If you have a thought of lust, sin, or evil doing, then it probably came from the devil. God teaches us in John 14:26 that He will cause us to remember Him and His Words and therefore any other type of thoughts are probably something you should ignore especially if they are evil. I could talk a lot about thoughts but I do not want to get into that level of detail in this lesson today.
Let’s discuss briefly the term a “Comforter” or a “Counselor” and find the meaning of this word. If you research it, you will find that it means “intercessor” or “advocate”. Both of these are spoken word types of works. Someone who intercedes will speak words of intercession for someone. An advocate is a term many times associated with a lawyer. This is an occupation that is performed by an individual with a specialized education and ability to speak for you. Therefore, a comforter is always the spoken word based action of an individual to bring help to someone who is in need. Is that you? I know it is me; I would clearly have nothing to say without God’s help. Let’s go back to Act 9:31 again and review the “comfort of the Holy Ghost”. This Greek word is actually a different Greek word than what we found in John 14 when Jesus was describing the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. However it is merely the difference between a noun in one place and a verb in another place. Let’s look at the definition of this word G3874 in Acts 9:31 found in the Strong’s:
From G3870; imploration, hortation, solace: – comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty.
Here is a word that is an awesome display of the divine character and nature of God. God gets accused of orchestrating everything because of His sovereignty, but why would a sovereign God have to “implore” anyone if God was causing everything to occur? Do you know what “imploration” means? It is the extended effort of an individual to plead to someone, to beseech someone and to appeal to them to do something. It is a calling out to come. How did I teach you that the Spirit of God leads His people? I tried to teach you that the Spirit of God uses the Shepherd and sheep method. God calls His sheep to follow Him, and He does this, using His kind and loving soft words of imploration, beseeching them to come and for them to follow where He wants to lead them. However, God does not ever force anyone to follow Him as I have already stated. Neither does God yell and demand that you follow Him. Both of those would violate the character and the definition of what the Bible says about God. This Greek word as you can see comes from another root Greek word and it has the following meaning:
From G3844 and G2564; to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.
This word means “to call to be near”. Wow, is that God or what? These are clearly the words and the works of a loving Holy Spirit and not a forceful God. These are clearly words of a spoken invitation, meaning people who hear the invitation have the choice to do what they want with it. Anyone can ignore it to do their own thing. But, by following the invitation, you can see that you will remain close to the one that you need to follow and this is the Spirit of God. Finally why did God do all of this for the church in Acts 9:31? I told you that this verse gave us the reason, but I did not tell you what that reason was yet. The verse has another Greek word that was translated as “edified”. Edified is a past tense declarative that teaches of a completed action. Let’s review the Strong’s definition of this word for clarification:
From the same as G3619; to be a house builder, that is, construct or (figuratively) confirm: – (be in) build (-er, -ing, up), edify, embolden.
Do you see what this word means? Is God building a house? If you do not understand this, then you have not read all of my other Bible lessons on God’s Spiritual Family. There is a new House of God being built in the spiritual realm and God is doing this with us His people. We are the individual building blocks in this spiritual house of Jesus (1 Peter 2:5) and collectively we are called the New Jerusalem in Revelation. I do not have time to explain all of that to you, so you will have to go and read and study the other Bible lessons on this subject in order to fully comprehend what I just said. Just take note that edification is a building work of God. God is building us up and growing the church and this is His purpose and His plan being fulfilled. Therefore I have concluded that everything we have observed so far in the Book of Acts is our God doing things to help us, to grow us and to build us up together in unity. I think I have gone long enough in this lesson so I’ll end it here.
I have been going through the book of Acts to find out how God lead the early church in order to see how God might lead us today. I have covered a lot of information given to us in only 9 chapters out of 28. So far we have only briefly looked at one fourth of the book and I’m not sure if I should continue going through every chapter yet. If you feel this is beneficial let me know and this might help determine how I continue with this series. Let’s review some of the key points from today so that you do not let them slip away.
God has used at least 7 different direct methods to guide the church in the first 9 chapters of Acts.
- The Written Word of God
- Dreams and Visions
- Inward Witness (Intuition, thoughts)
- Still small voice of the Holy Spirit
- Preachers with a message from God
There were also five key related subjects that I either reviewed or introduced you to today about the subject of being led by the Spirit of God:
- The Church will be in united harmony when they are all led by the Spirit of God.
- The Church will be in a state of Joy if they are being led by the Spirit of God.
- The Peace of God/Rest will rule the church in order to hear from God.
- The Spirit of God is our eternal Comforter and
- God will bring to our remembrance what Jesus has taught us.
From these works of God, I said it was the peace that allowed us to hear God speak and direct us. What I meant by that was if you are in a state of busy, fear, turmoil, or internal confusion, your mind is incapable of hearing anything that God says clearly. There is a verse that is very applicable to my subject of you having peace and hearing from God and it says “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). This verse infers that it matters how and even when you can hear from God. To be still is the opposite of being very busy. To be still is a form of quietness that crosses into multiple realms of dimension. There is the physical realm, the emotional realm, the mental realm and the spiritual realm and you can be busy moving around in each of these and miss out on God’s leading. God is a perfect Gentleman. Meaning God is not going to interrupt your thoughts to give you His. That would be the ultimate sign of rudeness and disrespect and God is not that way. If you want to hear from God you are going to have to be quiet and listen. This is not always easy, I know. But, you will be glad if you will try to develop it. I’m not talking about Yoga, meditation or any other metaphysical type of demonic activity. That is not what I am teaching you to do. These are evil acts of Satan designed to attempt to get you off into another direction of spiritual evil guidance. I guess I better stop here for now because I could talk a lot about the counterfeit that is intended to distract you from the real. In conclusion I wanted to re-emphasize why the Holy Spirits guides anyone. We learned today that it was for our edification. To be edified is to be built up in the Lord. It is a building process or a spiritual construction process that only God can accomplish. This is why it is essential to hear from the Spirit of God before you do anything. I’ll end with this scripture:
Psa 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Did you see what God said in this verse about what He is doing? God is building a house and He even associates it to a city and this is not a physical house or city but it is rather a new spiritual house and city. He also says if we try to build it independently from Him, then we are laboring, working, extending effort, exerting or struggling in vain. This means that He must be directly involved in what we do or it is a worthless effort on our part. Now are you beginning to make the connection to what is happening in the Book of Acts? God is just doing a spiritual construction process and giving you some of the details to how it works in this lesson, but not every detail is clearly provided. However, this is why we are studying this subject today. Thanks for taking the time to read and to study the Bible with me and I pray that you were blessed with new spiritual insight and understanding. Leave me a comment or press like on this post if you understood the lesson. It will help me know that I am doing more than just casting God’s pearls before swine if someone actually acknowledges God’s work. God Bless you until next time.
If you would like to continue reading in this series you may go now to “Part 11“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 5 – 7! Part 9
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 9 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain spiritual information and not natural formulas so they are easily misunderstood by Christians. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. I am currently going through the book of Acts searching for the works of the Spirit of God to lead His people. Just in the first 4 chapters of Acts, I showed you 7 of my 12 guidance methods either displayed in actions or referenced by words. We are seeing God working through His church to guide them and direct them and by learning how God has done this in the past, it will help point us to how God will direct us in these last days. Christians today are in the same church, the same body of Christ, in the same covenant, we read the same Bible, have the same Holy Spirit in us and are the same kind of believers in Jesus Christ as all of those mentioned in the early church that we are reading about in Acts. The mistake many modern Christians make is thinking that God now does something different today than what He did with the early church or perhaps that those in the early church were superior and God did something special and different for them. Somehow these types of Christians have missed the point that the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Not believing this Bible truth causes many today to believe God changed how He operates and what He does with His people. That is clearly a misguided teaching that attempts to explain away what God did in Acts as not applying to the church today. I refute that kind of teaching categorically and declare with boldness that I’m in the same Church as Peter, James and John. What they did, I can do, what God did through them God can do through me. But, you can choose to believe whatever you like. Let’s move in the study to read in chapter 5.
ACTS CHAPTER 5
The fifth chapter of Acts is a difficult chapter to comprehend because of the many types of things that transpire. In this chapter a man and his wife sold a piece of property and they brought some of the money to the church to give to others and they claimed that they gave it all, when in reality they withheld a portion for themselves. Here is where it starts to get complicated. This does not mean that they were supposed to give it all; it only means they were not supposed to lie to say that they did when they didn’t give it all. Here is what Peter said to what was happening in verse 3:
Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Peter reveals things that are impossible for him to know personally. Peter would have had to follow them around and to be invisible to know what they had done in private. How did Peter know what was going on? I think that is an excellent question and people ignore it because they do not understand God and spiritual guidance. Peter knew that Ananias was lying because of the work of the Spirit of God within him and a spiritual gift of discernment called the “Word of Knowledge”. This is a spiritual gift from God that causes people to know things in their spirits that they did not witness personally in the physical realm. In other words this type of knowledge did not come from the sense realm. Here is where we need to ask how then did Peter know this private intimate information if he did not observe what they did with his senses? Let me give you another direct verse that speaks of this very special gift from God to help us understand what is being spoken of in this chapter:
1Co 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
Clearly not everyone possesses these gifts. It is God’s work that causes these gifts to come and never man’s desire just to have them. Man cannot cause them to happen nor can he ask for them to happen. I want you to notice what Peter was doing when this occurred. He was in the middle of a church service and he was not praying but he was speaking to the people that were gathered. Therefore, Peter was clearly not asking God for the gift when it was given. You see that would be like me coming to you and asking you to give me a thousand dollars when I just saw you get 1000 dollars from the bank. What right would I have to do that? Why would you even consider giving me anything just because I asked for it? You would be very foolish and become very poor rapidly if you gave to everyone that came along and wanted a free hand out. The word would get around quickly that he is giving away free money and then you could never stop the onslaught of people that would knock on your door. Think of children. Children ask for many things constantly that they want. As a parent are we supposed to give them everything they ask for? I hope you can see that would not work. They would want every toy and every sweet thing to eat and would sit around doing nothing but play games. We are no different than children in the world to God. God is not going to give you something just because you asked for it. I guess that is getting too deep for this lesson, because there are promises in God’s word that He has already given to us many things and we still do not possess them because we have failed to learn how to receive things from a spiritual God.
Just as parents should not be foolish to give their children everything they ask for, God is not foolish either. God is all knowing and all wise and He will decide when to give a spiritual gift. Here in 1 Corinthians 12:8 God gives some the “word of wisdom” and others the “word of knowledge”. Both are different gifts and manifestations of the Spirit of God to lead you and to guide you and to guide those that are being spoken about or to. A “word of wisdom” occurs when you spiritually know what to do in a certain situation in your life when you would not have known otherwise. A “word of wisdom” is a future knowledge of something to do, unlike the “word of knowledge” which is a past knowledge of something that was done. The “word of knowledge” occurs when you know of something that has occurred in the past to someone other than you and you would have not known of it without God showing you what had occurred to them. This is normally sin related, but not always. One pastor said this happened to him many times while he was in charge of the church that God had sent him to. God would bring a word of knowledge about someone doing wrong in the church like someone that was committing adultery or some other sin. This was done to help bring correction to the situation. But, the word of knowledge does not always have to be a sin. Now the word of wisdom is slightly different. Another pastor once said that he was in preparation at home doing something and God told him that this certain member of his flock was going to die today. So this pastor went immediately to where the individual was to help him and to bring comfort. Both examples were God’s Spirit giving gifts of guidance to help the church. These gifts were examples of God leading His people by His Spirit. I hope you understand them, because they happen every day to those that cooperate with them. Let’s briefly go back and read the context of 1 Corinthians 12 and verify that God is speaking about spiritual guidance.
1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
God is writing concerning the spiritual. The word “gifts” was added by the translators and it is not necessarily accurate but it is not necessarily bad either. Anything you get from God is a gift of His grace. But always remember that God is a Spirit (Jo 4:24). Therefore, whatever God has given to anyone first came from the Spiritual realm. Here in this verse God is declaring ignorance to be an evil. If God does not want you to be ignorant then why are there so many ignorant people in the world? Primarily they do not make the effort to learn about spiritual things so they remain in their natural thinking ignorant processes. Let’s look at the next verse and eliminate some of our spiritual ignorance:
1Co 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
God is telling the church you use to be Gentiles that were previously led astray, but implies that the Holy Spirit is now leading them to know Grace. What we learn from this verse is that every human on the planet is being led by some spirit. Those that are in the world are being led by Satan and his demons, and those that are saved should be led by the Spirit of God. This verse is a very direct statement concerning being led, but we have to add our reasoning to determine who was doing the leading of the unsaved because it is not directly mentioned in this verse. If you read the next verse you will hopefully see that God is speaking and declaring that no one says Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit of God and the no one curses the Lord Jesus by the Holy Ghost either. Here are two contrasting works that proceed from humans. The Spirit of God says I do one but not the other. This is simply another implied reference to Satan vs. God’s work on the earth. Satan causes men to curse God and the Lord Jesus and God helps men to say Jesus is their Lord. I’m not going to go through every verse but here are the next 4 vreses in 1 Corinthians 12:
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
What I wanted you to see in context is that God is speaking of leading the church and that He helps us to understand why He does this in these verses. There are three unique descriptions that are interesting to take note of. These are “diversities of gifts”, “differences of administrations” and “diversities of operations”. What are these speaking of? I personally believe they are simply informing us that God gives us different things at different times in different ways. In other words you can never put God in a box or try to say that He will always do things one way. The key words are diversities and differences. You are not God and you are not in charge of anything. Finally in verse 7, God tells us what it is that motivates Him to do things this way. God directly says it is for the profit or benefit of the entire church. That means God intends His leading to be a positive outcome for the church. Keep this in mind as we continue to study in the fifth chapter of Acts about Ananias.
Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Continuing in the fifth chapter of Acts Ananias falls down dead and is carried out by the church. I guess the lesson and the word of knowledge on this day was not for the benefit of Ananias the dead man, but rather for those that were watching and listening to what was said and done and they all learned that lying to the Spirit of God was not a very smart thing to do. They also learned that God knew when they were lying so it was impossible to get away it. They also saw the demonstration of the Word of Knowledge. This one act put the fear of God in the whole church and they got the message very quickly. What I want you to notice was that this was God leading the church through a spiritual gift called the word of knowledge for what we read was the greater good of the church. Even though we are never told this directly in the chapter, but that was what was happening. The Spirit of God spoke to Peter and Peter spoke what God had shown him to the church. I also want you to notice that Peter described Ananias as having Satan filling his heart and not God. That is an example of another manifestation gift of the Spirit of God called the “discerning of spirits”. It is also clear evidence that Satan was leading Ananias what to do and this was the wrong spirit to listen to. There are so many lessons to learn in this chapter that I really cannot spend the time to speak to them all. I do want you to understand that Ananias’ listening to Satan is why God did not correct Ananias, but allowed Satan to kill him and he fell dead immediately. You’ll probably ask me why I said Satan killed him and this is because Paul writes about another incident in the N.T. that is related.
1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
I do not have time to talk about this verse in full or the context of this verse. But, I wanted you to see that a Christian was going to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit would be saved. Wow, that is pretty revealing. First you can see that Satan can cause physical death but not spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. The sin of the Christian allowed Satan’s access to his physical body. I have concluded that this is potentially what happened to Ananias and his wife also. But, I’m not going to be able to go any further with this line of teaching today. Let’s continue going through Acts 5:
Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Do you see the effect that this event had on the church? What would happen today if things like this happened again when the church met? I believe the effect would be the exact same. It would promote an attitude of holiness where the church would see that doing right was a good thing and sin was a very bad thing. I’m not predicting that this will happen again, but I would not be surprised if it did.
Act 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
As you read in Acts chapter 5, the apostles continue to do many signs and wonders and preach the name of Jesus until they are thrown in prison in verse 18. If you read Acts 5:12 in isolation, it will give you the impression that the disciples were in control of what was happening, but this is clearly a misunderstood application of God’s works being made manifest through natural men using spiritual guidance, direction and His anointing. If the disciples do any great works they were done by the Gifts and the Grace of God’s power being made available to them and displayed through them. It is only by God’s direct power and man’s faith in His power that anything positive occurred in the book of Acts. I also want to point out that the church in this verse is again stated to be in one accord. This means there was a spirit of church unity and harmony which abounded in everyone and I am convinced that this is how the church will leave this planet very soon. Let me briefly describe the anointing of God and its role in what is happening in chapter 5.
2Co 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Here are just two verses that speak of God giving the church an anointing. Why the anointing was necessary and what the anointing is are two very valid questions? If you do not understand the concepts behind the anointing of God then you will not understand the book of Acts. In Acts 10:38 it tells us “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power who went about doing good and healing all those oppressed of the devil”. The anointing of God was the power of God according to this verse and it makes available this miracle working substance to others that Jesus encountered. If God had to anoint Jesus (God in the flesh) to heal people in the Gospels, then God must use the same anointing power in the lives of the disciples to heal also. These are repeated patterns given from God to Jesus that was handed down to the members of the church. We in the church are called the “Body of Christ”. That title alone promotes the fact that the anointing is present upon us. The Greek word translated as Christ means “anointed one”. It corresponds to the Hebrew word for “Messiah”. God is clearly saying that it is My Anointing on you that caused anything good to occur. Let’s continue through chapter 5. Verse 18 tells us that the disciples are thrown in prison, but then in verse 19:
Act 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Act 5:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
We can again see the involvement of angels at work for the church. We are once more not told every detail. We do not know if the disciples prayed or if the church prayed, but nonetheless the angels show up and release all of them from prison. The angels come and shake the prison and release them to go back into the temple to continue to preach the name of Jesus. You can clearly see that the angels give them a message from God and tell them what to do. This is again very strong evidence that God is directing them and that they are being led by the Spirit of God. You have to understand that the disciples were new born spiritual babies in Christ less than a few weeks old at this time. They have much to learn about spiritual things and how God will lead them. Many times Christians want to be led like someone who has been a Christian for 50 years and they do not realize that these people grew to that level of spiritual maturity and awareness and that this was not how they were led by God from the start of their Christian conversion. Spiritual growth is a very basic principle to learning how to be led by the Spirit of God. Just as a new born natural baby is not independent from their parents for many years, so a new born spiritual baby is not able to do what a Christian of mature age and experience can do. That is just the way it works and you cannot sidestep the issue and jump beyond where you are right now just because you want to. You are going to have to grow and continue to learn. Let’s review briefly what we have observed and learned from chapter 5:
- God used Peter again to be a human messenger for other people to hear.
- The Holy Spirit gave Peter a word of knowledge concerning someone who was being influenced by Satan to sin.
- God also gave Peter the gift of discerning spirits to identify Satan’s involvement.
- All of this was done for the benefit of the church to teach them and guide them into holiness.
- Angels again are sent by God for deliverance of the church and for a message from God.
- Based upon other stories found in the Bible it is implied someone was praying but it is not mentioned directly in this chapter.
- Therefore, there are at the least three different direct methods of leading being taught in this chapter and a forth that was implied.
- We can observe the Holy Spirits involvement in this chapter, even though He is never directly mentioned.
ACTS CHAPTER 6 & 7
Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Here in this chapter, we are going to see another manifestation of the inward work of the Spirit of God. I want you to notice that the number of the church has multiplied considerably and this is the first time that I know of in the book of Acts where the church is said NOT to be in complete harmony and unity. Uh oh? That is certainly not good. I think this is an example of what happens in any church as they grow. But what I want to do is to teach what God’s response to this disharmony was? If you continue reading in the chapter you will see that the disciples are led by the Spirit of God to elect a church organization with structure assigning certain men jobs within the ministry of helps. These men are selected, prayed over and hands were laid on them to also anoint them for their new roles of responsibility. I want to teach you what is happening by showing you a verse in the New Testament that proves this was God working through the disciples and not the disciples acting independently from God.
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Can we read? Can we see what it says? Who set up the ministry of helps and governments in the church? The Bible said that God did this yet we see the disciples only mentioned in Acts 6 like they were acting independent from God. Do you understand the dangers now of reading the Bible without using the Bible to interpret itself? Clearly this is one of the most prevalent errors in the teachings that many people listen to today. When the disciples set up an organized church structured government we were directly informed that God did this in Corinthians. We must therefore conclude that they were being led by the Spirit of God to do what they are doing in this chapter even though the Holy Spirit is not mentioned directly. Now notice the recorded reaction of the church to what is happening:
Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Whenever you can get the whole church in attendance pleased over anything this has to be the Spirit of God’s direct involvement that is helping to influence the church. Can you see the problem of disunity within in the church and the solution that God has implemented to fix it? What does the Greek word translated as “pleased” mean? This Greek word means “to be agreeable”. It also means to be emotionally excited. Wow, here we go with more difficult spiritual concepts to relate with natural words and phrasings. Believe it or not this had to be an example of God leading the early church and helping to guide them. There is no mention of any angels, any voices, any external signs or any physical manifestations of God. No, you see the Spirit of God was present, but He was present in every believer having filled each of them with the Spirit of God a short time earlier. I want to show you something that Jesus said that is applicable to what is occurring in this chapter.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
If the church was gathered in the name of Jesus, then Jesus declares “I will be there with you”. Here we have another contradiction of information given verses information not directly mentioned in the book of Acts. You can clearly read in Acts 6 that there is no direct mention of Jesus being present, yet clearly Jesus was a liar in Matthew if He is not present Acts 6. Uh oh? It is very obvious to me that they were conducting church business and since Jesus is the Head of the Church therefore, Jesus has to be present in a spiritual form to oversee this operation, administration and to give them guidance, direction and instruction. Something is occurring internally within every believer that caused them to become excited and very agreeable together and I believe that both of these are signs of being led by the Spirit of that you can rely on today also. If what the Spirit of God does is not exciting to you then you are probably not saved. If you do not agree with what the Spirit of God is speaking to the church, then again you are probably not saved. Two signs of being led by God are that you will agree and that you will be excited about what He says. I am going to skip down to Stephen in verse 8 to continue:
Act 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
We can again see a bad translation or at least an easily misunderstood translation of the Bible demonstrated in this verse. It was not Stephen that was doing anything, but yet it was. Because Stephen was full of faith, God’s power was able to flow through Stephen to cause many miracles to occur. There is a clear connection that it was the partnership of a man’s faith and God’s power working together that causes the positive things to occur. We can clearly understand this was the anointed power of God that permitted the miracles and wonders to be performed. Stephen had no power in of himself to help anyone. It was only because Stephen was being led by the Spirit of God that Stephen could be at the right place at the right time to do anything. I do not know how to say that any more clearly and I hope you understand that God can and will use you the exact same way as He did Stephen if you cooperate, believe and expect Him to do it. In chapter 7 of Acts Stephen preaches with boldness the truth of the Word of God and as a result he is stoned and killed. It is very interesting to note that the Bible says that Jesus is seated at the right hand of majesty and in this chapter; Stephen sees a vision of Jesus standing up and watching the murder of a Spirit Filled church member by the ignorant overzealous misguided Jews. If it was God in heaven watching this event on the earth, who was on the earth causing the death of Stephen? It was definitely not God. Who was leading the Jews spiritually to kill this man of God? Based upon scripture it is Satan (Jo 10:10). It is very clear to me that Jesus took this action of the Jews very personally. I’ll think I’ll end here today since I have already gone too long. Let’s review what has happened in chapter 6 and 7:
- The church was meeting and Jesus said whenever you meet in my name, there I am also.
- God sees disharmony in the church and moves to solve the problem through spiritual guidance.
- God leads the church to organize and to create delegated levels of administrations and responsibilities.
- All of the church is well pleased and church unity is restored.
- God was working through many different people and in chapter 5 we read about God using Stephen a man not of the original twelve. Proving God can lead us and use us all mightily.
- In this information God has grown the church to some very large and significant numbers proving God’s involvement in what we are reading about.
- When disharmony breaks out God is involved in bringing correction proving God has our best interest at heart.
There are probably many other things to learn in these chapters but I believe we have covered many of the important ones that I wanted to emphasize on how and why God was leading His people. I also introduced you to the concept of God’s guidance being a gift from God given to us by His Grace. That is actually a very import concept to consider. Anything we get from God is not something we earned or even deserved. If God gave us direction, then it was His love that motivated Him to give it to us. I hope you are enjoying these lessons and I’m sorry I did not cover as many chapters as I would have liked to have covered today. We certainly learned several new concepts about spiritual guidance and I believe that was worth your time in reading and studying with me. If you would like to share a comment on this subject, I would really love to hear it. So feel free to be a blessing and share what is on your heart. God Bless!
If you would like to continue reading in the series to learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit you may continue with “Part 10“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 1 – 4! Part 8
(ver 1.2) This is now Part 8 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God still speaks in the modern world to His children the same as He did in recorded Bible days. Since the Bible teaches us that God does not change nor does He show any favoritism, what He did for others in the past is what He will do for those that wish to participate with Him today. Today’s lesson will emphasize this reality by beginning to focus directly on how God led the early church in the book of Acts. In today’s lesson we will explore the first 4 chapters and the major scriptures found in those chapters that deal with the documented methods that the Spirit of God provides for evidence for His involvement in guiding everything positive that occurred in this book. By studying the book of Acts we should quickly come to understand that God was heavily involved in everything that takes place that causes men and women to be added to the church, for safety of the church, for deliverance from evil, the preservation of the Body of Christ and the spread of the Gospel. God accomplished all of this by leading His people by His Spirit. Many people today in error call the book of Acts the “Acts of the Apostles”, but this is a classic misnomer and the direct misapplication of the key importance of God working through man to accomplish His will and purpose on the earth. The Apostles did not do anything in this book independent from God. Nor could they have done anything without His guidance. So we will begin to go through the book of Acts to discover how God accomplished these great feats through such ordinary men and women and we will learn in doing this how God will do the same with us today before Jesus returns. I will probably warn you that this is going to be a long Bible lesson since I’m covering selective information from 4 chapters.
Let me tell you what I will be attempting to cover today in this lesson. I hope by telling you what to expect you will learn how to study the book of Acts and the Bible for that matter with greater accuracy. We will be reading the book of Acts looking for the leading of the Holy Spirit. This sounds very simple, but if you read the whole book of Acts you will never see God say “Peter was led by the Spirit” or anyone else. Therefore we are going to have to dig a little deeper to learn the truth other than looking for the obvious. Many truths in the Bible are not obviously presented and this is certainly one of them. Nevertheless we will be searching for explicit leadings of the Holy Spirit and implied leadings of the Holy Spirit. What else can we learn about this subject? Why does the Holy Spirit lead anyone? What are the benefits of being led by the Spirit of God? In order to answer these questions we are going to have to find examples that teach us the answers. Therefore we are going to look for why the Spirit of God led the early church and what resulted from these leadings. Here is my list of things to look for as you read the book of Acts with me:
- Explicit or Implied Leadings of the Holy Spirit.
- The Methods of God Leading Used.
- Reasons for the Leadings.
- Results of the Leadings.
Hopefully by studying these subjects and answering these questions we will learn how God will lead us and for what purpose.
ACTS CHAPTER 1
The Book of Acts begins with the brief description of the time period after the resurrection of Jesus prior to His ascension back into heaven where He now remains awaiting the time of His return to catch away the church. In chapter 1 we are told that Jesus has met personally and physically with the disciples for 40 days teaching them. This was the resurrected God in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form and He could speak to each of them directly. Jesus during this time must have taught them many things and no doubt He must have given them instructions like those recorded in this chapter when He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Acts 1:8). However, Jesus was taken up into heaven in verse 9 to await the soon coming end of the church age which will run for a time of approximately 2000 years. In chapter 1 of Acts after Jesus is taken up into the clouds, two men appear to the disciples with a message, asking them “Why stand ye here gazing into heaven, this same Jesus that went up will return in like manner” (Acts 1:11). These two men were dressed in all white and they were no doubt angels sent from God with a message to the early church. This is the first recorded occurrence of divine direction being given to the church without the personal involvement of a physical Jesus being present. Also, what these angels said to the apostles applies to us directly especially in these last days. Understanding that any words spoken to the early church are still words that were spoken to us today is essential to learning that we are all the same growing Body of Christ. Angels throughout the Bible have always been used by God as messengers for the people on the earth. As we continue through the book of Acts we will see that angels will be used by God repeatedly when dealing with the church, so you can conclude that angels will also be used by God before Jesus returns. It is further identified in Chapter 1 that Peter quotes David’s writings in Psalms concerning Judas (Acts 1:16, Psalms 109:8). Peter uses the words of the Holy Ghost written in the Old Testament to justify the election of a new disciple to replace the traitor Judas. Therefore we can further conclude that the early church was directly led by the written Word of God in what they did the same as we are to be led by our knowledge of the Bible today. From reading chapter 1 of Acts we can see that it contains two directly named methods of my 12 methods previously listed that I taught from in this series.
Therefore just in chapter 1 of Acts, God has used three different directly mentioned methods to communicate with the early church to provide spiritual guidance. There was God in the flesh, the angels and the written Word of God all specified as valid communication methods, but I would not expect Jesus to appear in the flesh to you today until you are raptured away from this earth. You see there are other Bible verses that God is awaiting to be fulfilled before Jesus comes back to the earth in a physical form. I know many people would disagree with that last statement, because of what they call the doctrine of eminence. This church doctrine reports that there is nothing left to be fulfilled for the Lord Jesus Christ to return. I wonder how many of these people have actually read the Bible and have seen what it says? I have a lesson about this subject, so I will not repeat that here. If you want to read about it, you can go and study the lesson called “What in the World is God Waiting For”. I also want to point out that these three manifestations of guidance were all physical sense realm leadings as I have already tried to teach as being the primary methods used by God in the Old Testament. The more carnal the Christian the more God has to come down to the human level to communicate with us. What we will begin to see after chapter 2 is a transition into greater spiritual realm guidance methods as they become the primary methods of guidance from God. However we will still see angels potentially at work at any time.
What have we learned from Chapter 1?
- Jesus taught the disciples for 40 days in the flesh to give them understanding.
- The angels appeared to the disciples to give them a message from God proving God is involved in the Book of Act leading His people.
- Peter used the Word of God to direct their actions to replace Judas, therefore God’s Word offers guidance in our everyday life as well as specific actions to take in specific situations.
ACTS CHAPTER 2
Chapter 2 of Acts begins with the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church and this was technically the beginning of God’s use of purer new spiritual communication methods to guide the church. In this chapter the church started and consisted of the 120 believers in the upper room that were anxiously waiting the fulfillment of the promise made by Jesus of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This event occurred on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. You can read this chapter carefully and see that when the Spirit of God was given, He was described as coming like a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:2) from heaven. As He fell on all that were present in the room in Jerusalem they began to speak with other tongues as they were each filled with the Spirit of God. It is very interesting to note that the Greek word translated as “wind” can mean “breath”. I personally believe that this wind was God breathing on them from Heaven. When you speak words, do you breathe? You bet people breathe when they speak. This breath of God implies the beginning of a new spiritual ability and a way for God to lead His people. To breathe on the church in this chapter is an amazing fact to consider, since Jesus had already personally breathed on every disciple that was present in the room and had already told each of them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). You can read this very clearly in the book of John if you like, but realize that this occurs over 40 days prior to Acts 2. Is God confused or are people confused to what this means? We must conclude from this information that the Holy Spirit that they had previously received from Jesus directly could not have been the same manifestation or work of the Acts 2 Holy Spirit that they were now being filled with. Uh oh? Yes they were both from the same Holy Spirit from God, but in two different manifestations and demonstrations of the Spirit of God. This fact obviously boggles the mind of many people in the church today who do not understand that the same God can do different things to the same people. These Christians usually mistakenly believe that they were filled with the Spirit of God when they were born again and that this was the only spiritual experience that is required. It is funny that God did not think that was all for the early church, so why have men changed today to believe differently? What some Christians do today is to settle for less of what they could have had in this life and miss out on God’s fullness. I’ll tell you very plainly, if you have never spoken in tongues, you have never been filled with the Spirit of God and you are missing out on the best of what Jesus commanded the church to receive. You can ignore this command and still go to heaven potentially, but I would not want to be you in trying to explain why you thought it was important not to be obedient to God. I am a firm believer that in John 20:22 the disciples were born of the Spirit of God when Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit, but in Acts 2 they were filled with the Spirit of God and that these were two separate spiritual experiences. I believe this primarily because that is what the Bible says and it is also what I have experienced personally, so that is two witnesses that you can choose to believe or ignore.
Act 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
After the church was filled with the Holy Ghost, Peter stands up to preach to those that have gathered in amazement at what was happening. Read this chapter closely and remember that this is the same Peter that we can see in the Gospels who denied Jesus 3 times approximately 50 days earlier. It is funny that this same man now has something boldly to say publically about His Lord Jesus. Therefore, something obviously occurred to change him from a man who was a mess to a man with a message. This transformation occurred when he was baptized and filled with the Spirit of God in this chapter, because Jesus said that you will receive power to be a witnesses (Acts 1:8) and that was what Peter demonstrated to us in this chapter. Peter suddenly had the power to become this great witness for Jesus and when Peter denied Jesus, he lacked this power. If you have trouble witnessing to people, then you probably need this same power today. Here in chapter 2 Peter again quotes the Old Testament speaking of the words recorded by the prophet Joel. Peter says “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28). This verse also informs us that God will use visions and dreams so these are two more relevant New Testament methods of God to guide His people. What is happening in this chapter? How did Peter suddenly having not prepared a sermon have a sermon to preach? I think that is an excellent question which Jesus answered in the Gospels:
Luk 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Do you see what Jesus said? Do you see how this applies to what Peter did? Peter suddenly quotes scriptures out of nowhere without having a Bible in front of him, no notes or anything prepared ahead of time and he knows exactly what to say to get those standing around saved. I would call this a miracle if I did not understand what Jesus was teaching us in Luke. You see the Holy Spirit was inside of these men speaking through them. Technically Peter was doing the speaking, but the Holy Spirit was giving the words to speak. What is the lesson that we need to learn? We need to learn to trust the Holy Spirit in us to give us the right words to speak when we run into people we have never seen before. What God does in this chapter with Peter, He will do for you if you get filled with the Holy Spirit. As we continue through the book of Acts, notice this is a repeated pattern that occurs many times for many different men of God.
Peter after being filled with the Spirit of God still hangs all of his beliefs and what was happening to them upon the written Word of God, further establishing and confirming the importance of the Bible to the modern believer. Peter was justifying what they were doing and what God had done based upon what God had written about many hundreds of years before. Make sure what you believe is only based upon God’s Word. So far we have looked at two chapters and discovered God using 5 different methods of communication to lead His people being stated. These are all very important so do not let them go or ignore them. What were the methods of leading revealed in this chapter and what resulted from this chapter?
- God says people will be led by visions and dreams in the last days.
- The Holy Spirit gave Peter utterance and taught Him what to preach to get others saved.
- Peter declares that what was happening was prophesied by God through the prophet Joel thus confirming the importance of the written Word of God.
- Therefore God led those that were listening in the crowd by what was spoken by Peter so that they could believe. This was a God’s use of a preaher a man with a message from God that was believed on and resulted in their salvation.
- The church was expanded greatly from 120 to over 3000 this day and so God was at work through the early church to save many others.
ACTS CHAPTER 3
Act 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
If you read the Bible in isolation you will be very confused to try to understand what is happening. You see God does not tell you everything that happens in every verse or you would never be able to finish reading the Bible because it would be so huge that no library could contain it. God writes the Bible using a technique of very incomplete information with random clues spread throughout the text to what is occurring. All of the information given to you in any single verse is very important, but it is never all-inclusive. This just means that it is the truth, but not the entire truth. I try to teach that in every Bible lesson that I do to some degree either by stated rule or by example. The name of my Bible study is “Using the Bible to Understand the Bible” and that is how I interpret the Word of God. You are going to have to read and study the entire rest of the Bible to figure out what is going on and how things are working in what you are reading in this chapter because God is just not going to tell you everything in one verse that would be impossible to do. If you read this verse and ignored the rest of the Bible you would be forced to conclude that Peter and John just randomly decide to go up to the temple by chance or by accident. However, I do not believe that there are any random chances or accidents written about in the book of Acts. If you read the Gospels closely you will discover that Jesus was always in the right place at the right time for a very specific given purpose and plan of God. I believe that Jesus was the ultimate example of being led by the Spirit of God and perhaps I’ll do a lesson just on Jesus later. But understand what the Bible says:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
I have already used this verse in this lesson series, but I want to re-emphasize it again for clarity on its application to what the disciples are doing in this chapter. Are these disciples the sons of God? If you do not know it, they are definitely the foundations of the church and the New Jerusalem that all the other stones are built upon. This is critical information then to apply to what Peter and John are doing. If you read down in chapter 3 you will see that they come to the gate and see a lame man. Was this an accident? There is no way that this was accidental. Peter grabs the lame man by the hand and says to him in the name of Jesus walk. Did Peter heal the man or was it the Spirit of God working through Peter that healed the lame man? That was not a trick question. Peter could not heal a fly, so the Spirit of God was directly working through Peter to bring a miracle of healing and deliverance to a man in need. Therefore I have concluded that Peter and John were being led by the Spirit of God even though we are not told directly how they were being led. There are vast numbers of implied works of guidance in this chapter displayed in the recorded actions of the disciples. However, nowhere does it say directly that God was involved. Do you understand the challenge being presented? We are told the external actions of the disciples, but we are not told the internal spiritual action s of God. Peter and John could have been led by any of the 12 methods that I listed in this series, but since we are not told which one it was, I will not try to assume I know and I will just say based upon scripture, they were being led by the Spirit of God to be at the temple that very day, hour and minute.
- Peter and John were led by the Spirit of God to be at the right place and time where a lame man was sitting.
- The Spirit of God heals the lame man and this resulted in great attention being drawn to the church and God as well as the lame man could now walk about and testify for them.
ACTS CHAPTER 4
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
In chapter 4 we are again told that Peter was filled with the Spirit of God and this implies that this is the reason for his new found boldness to declare Jesus Christ before those that he previously feared. Being full of the Holy Ghost appears to be a key factor for being led by the Spirit of God for Peter at least in the first 4 chapters of Acts. If you read chapter 4, you will see the disciples standing before the Jewish rulers being questioned. These men of Israel obviously thought they were right and all others were wrong, but they were missing the greatest manifestation of a new work of God and did not realize it. Peter is again directed by the Holy Ghost what to preach to these men. Just as Peter and God had done in Acts 2 is being repeated in Acts 4. If you read verse 4 you will see that the Church grows by another 5000 new believers. Therefore God is at work causing the church to grow greatly even though some disciples spent the night in prison. Let’s skip down to verse 24:
Act 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
In the latter part of chapter 4 we can see that the disciples and the early church were gathered together and that they prayed to God all in one accord. Therefore, prayer as you may recall was one of my observable triggered methods that will get God to respond to give people guidance. What we will observe as we continue to go through the book of Acts is that prayer always gets God to respond. Therefore, prayer is still a valid trigger method for the modern church to communicate with God and to get God to give us guidance and direction. The Bible says in James “You have not because you ask not”. Informing us that guidance and direction is not a foregone conclusion. If you want God to guide you today then you get up in the morning and you ask for His guidance. Do not assume that He will guide you without you asking, or you might also totally miss out on the greatest display of God that you could have never imagined. I do want you to notice that the church is stated more than once to be in total agreement. I personally believe this is a sign of those that are being led by the Spirit of God.
Joh 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
Being one is what Jesus prayed and asked God for in this chapter of John. If you do not remember this prayer then go and reread it because it applies to our study of being led in the book of Acts extensively. As we continue through this lesson I will try to point out how many times we encounter the term “one accord”. This is clearly a sign of being led by the Spirit of God. Why is the Christian church today not in one accord? It is primarily because they are not all being led by the Spirit of God. We have many people who think they are Christians who are going to be very surprised when the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night and they are left outside trying to get in. Do you remember the parable of the 10 virgins? Weren’t the 5 virgins that went in with Christ all in one accord? Weren’t the 5 virgins that were left out also in one accord but just not with those that went in? Uh oh? I’ll talk more about this as we continue through the lesson on Acts and being led by the Spirit of God.
Act 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Here in this verse is God’s response to their prayer; proving prayer gets God to respond. The place where they were gathered was shaken and they were all filled with the Spirit of God again. Wow, this is really getting good. You see in this prayer they asked for the ability to speak the Word of God with boldness and this is what they received. Let’s list the lessons learned from chapter 4:
- Being filled with the Spirit of God is a stated reason for what was happening in this chapter.
- Peter was again led by God what to say in the midst of the crowd and the leaders of Israel.
- Many new believers were added and the church again grew by great numbers.
- The church prayed and asked God for a specific request and God responded and granted the request.
- Therefore, prayer caused God to respond.
I think I have gone long enough in this lesson for today. I was originally going to go through many more chapters, but I think the lessons are getting too long for some people. So I’ll try not to write such long lessons in the future or at least to break them down into smaller chunks. Hopefully you can see what is happening in just the first four chapters of the book of Acts. God is causing the church to grow by leaps and bounds and adding many new people through the disciples who were being led by the Spirit of God to be in the right places at the right times. There are several different methods of leading that God has used or referenced in these first four chapters of Acts and these are a follows:
- Angels sent by God with a message.
- The Written Word of God used to Direct Men.
- Inward Witness (Spirit of God shows Peter what to Preach).
- Prayer of the Church.
- Visions and Dreams (Not yet demonstrated but referenced by Peter in Acts 2).
- God’s use of preachers to bring a message from God to the people.
Believe it or not we have just gone through the first 4 chapters in Acts and found 7 of my 12 methods of communication listed or demonstrated by the words or the actions of the people recorded. That is pretty significant if you ask me. You can clearly understand based upon this information that God is intimately involved in guiding His people to cause them to be successful. Of course success is a relative term that is highly subjective. Too many people view success as monetary gain or wealth accumulation or even fame. That is not what I am talking about. God’s success may not be your success but many times the eternal rewards will far outweigh what you could have earned in this life. If you get on God’s side He will cause you to be successful and He will reward you and that is all I should have to say about that. Thanks for reading and studying the Bible with me and if you have any questions or comments please be as BOLD as the disciples were and share them, but also be led by the Spirit of God in you. God Bless!
If you like to coninue to study in this series you may go to “Part 9“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! The Spirit of God Bears Witness with Our Spirit! Part 7
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 7 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information and topics that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God still speaks in the modern world to His children the same as He did in recorded Bible days. Since the Bible teaches us that God does not change nor does He show any favoritism, what He did for others is what He will do for those that wish to participate with Him today. This will probably not be the last lesson in this series because of the amount of information that is still needed to cover it. After I looked into what remained, I think I have decided that there is just too much that you need to know to cover everything in one lesson today. This is a complex subject and it is getting more complicated as I have transitioned into the spiritual dominated parts of the subject. I tried to start teaching with the easier subjects first that were sense realm manifestations of the Spirit of God like prophets, angels, the audible voice of God, creation, signs and wonders, etc. and I have moved into the purer spiritual realm methods like the still small voice and today’s subject of the inward witness. God is a Spirit and in order to be led by Him you are going to have to learn how He operates as a Spirit. People generally do not know what they do not know and therefore they fail to realize what they are missing out on. God says “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Therefore, people do not even realize that God desires to speak and to direct them in their present circumstances. The ultimate goal of being led by the Spirit of God is for you to hear something that you did not know that will help you to avoid a potential negative outcome that you were heading into. This is what God did for the people in the Bible consistently. Here again is the list of 12 methods that God has recorded in the Bible to lead His people. This is probably not a complete list but it has most of the ones that I feel are important for every Christian to understand.
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of the Spirit of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to every one of God’s methods that I have found in the Bible except for number 11. This method number 11 is actually a composite of several related methods that I placed all together and I probably should not have done that. These spiritual methods of God leading His people are probably the most prevalent ways that God uses on a daily basis and it is going to be very challenging to try to explain to you since they are mostly pure Spiritual encounters with God. To discuss spiritual things using only natural words, terms and descriptions is where the challenge truly comes in for me today. Jesus would very often teach about spiritual things using natural parables, symbols and types that people understood more clearly. Teaching on spiritual leadings is very much like trying to describe the emotion of love to someone who has never experienced this feeling. Since love is usually experienced in different ways to each individual, how do you describe this feeling of emotion so that everyone will see it the same way? It is really almost impossible to do this. In every other communication method of God that I have discussed, there was always a basic sense realm manifestation either involving your vision or your hearing. But with a pure spiritual inward leading it is certainly not this way.
There is a major difference to the way the Spirit of God was able to direct His people after Jesus was raised from the dead to the time before when no one was born again of the Spirit of God. When Jesus was raised from the dead He appeared to His disciples and He breathed on each of them and told them to “Receive the Holy Ghost” (Jo 20:22). This was something that had never happened in all of human history. It was a radical departure from the way things were done in the Old Covenant to the new way for God to be intimately involved in the day to day life of every believer in the New Covenant. For the first time, the Spirit of God lived not in structures made by the hands of men and in the Ark of the Covenant apart from the people, but now He was much closer than you could imagine living inside of every person’s spirit. This is why the new Spiritual methods of being led are so much more important for us to know. The old physical/natural methods are still valid, but God can use new spiritual methods that were never available before to a much greater advantage to everyone. Let me introduce you to my subject today:
The Spirit of God Bears Witness with our Spirit!
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
I am going to talk about a new internal spiritual guidance method using several new descriptive terms. These are new methods of God that He did not use in the Old Testament. Here in Romans 8:16 is the portrayal of one of the new works of the Holy Spirit and it is very different than anything we have seen before. The term “bears witness” is a unique phrase that is easily misunderstood. If you have a witness in a court setting that is testifying, that is the independent isolated words and work of a single individual speaking about what they know or have seen. In this setting, there is only one person on the witness stand at that time and that is not what this Greek word means. Therefore we are going to have to shift our focus and perspective to see what God is speaking of in this verse. This Greek word means “Joint” testimony and in the context God’s participation is dependent upon your concurrent participation and agreement. If you do not agree with God, He will not agree with you. Always remember who changes and who stays the same and never changes in the God man relationship. People changing to be in agreement together with God will cause you to have power available. There is an implied dependence that God will confirm (bear witness) what you believe and speak. There is another verse in Romans 8:16 that says “The Spirit of God will bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God”, but first you had to do something to become a child of God and then God does His part and bears witness inside of you. This does not mean you will necessarily hear God speak words of confirmation. It is much like you do not have to hear your wife say she agrees with you because you can look at her and know what she thinks by her facial expressions, smiles or nods. Words are not the only way the Spirit of God communicates with men and women on the earth in the spiritual dimension. I’ll try to talk more about this as we continue through this lesson, but for now I want to shift to a very specific type of internal spiritual leading that is labeled the human conscience.
God’s Guidance through the Human Conscience
I am actually going to focus on this single part of the inward witness of the Holy Ghost called the human conscience in the rest of this lesson. Every aspect of the inward witness of the Holy Spirit will be a method that is beyond the realm of the 5 physical senses. The human conscience will always be a method that can be very easily ignored in the sense dominated realm especially for newborn or carnal Christians. I also want to say that the Human Conscience is a valid tool to be led by the Holy Spirit if you are a true Christian. For others that are not Christians the Human Conscience is not a reliable guide for anything. What is a conscience? Does everyone have a conscience? Where is the conscience? How does God use the conscience to help guide people on the earth? These are the basic questions that I will attempt to introduce you to. I’ll start by saying that I could not find any reference in the Old Testament to the word “conscience”. It appears that “conscience” is never directly mentioned by God in the Old Testament anywhere. That does not necessarily mean that it was something that did not exist in the O.T., but rather I believe it was something that God places no emphasis on since how do you explain spiritual things to natural people? It is very much like Satan is rarely mentioned in the O.T. either, but in the New Testament we have been given authority over him so we now have tools at our disposal to exercise and demonstrate his defeat. The word “conscience” appears in the KJV of the Bible in only 29 verses in the N.T., but I will not be talking about them all today. Let me begin by giving you one of my foundational scriptures in this lesson on conscience:
Rom 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
You see Paul describes something in this verse that is really beyond natural description. There is no reference to hearing a voice from God; there are no references to any physical feelings from God and there are not any external sense realm references at all given in this verse. One key word that is directly mentioned is Paul’s “conscience” that is qualified with the usage of the personal possessive pronoun “my”. That is where I will try to begin today’s lesson. Wow, here I go with trying to explain a spiritual concept that many people ignore on a daily basis. The human conscience can be defined as an inner spiritual sense of knowing right from wrong that is attempting to guide us to do what is right. Having a conscience is not based upon any new spoken words from God, but rather I believe a good conscience is always based upon your past knowledge of the Word of God. The lack of the knowledge of God’s word is the root cause of everyone’s problem in the world today. Because of the lack of teaching of God’s word in schools, children are growing up without a moral conscience foundation. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes and they do this in ignorance mostly. So I believe the human conscience is based upon your Word knowledge of the truth. If you know no truth you have no basis for having a conscience. The Human Conscience is always an internal reality that is expressed in the external realm by your freewill actions and this originates from the heart of men and women in the world depending upon the deposit of the good treasure of the Word of God that has been heard by the individual. Paul claims that this conscience was a part of him and that he possessed it. There is another factor given to us in the Bible that is related to conscience and this is the complex association of sin and the law that are both interrelated subjects, but I will not have time to teach on these subjects in this lesson fully.
It is like the Bible says, without God’s law man would have not known what sin was (Rom 3:20). Therefore the knowledge of the law of God brought men correction to teach them the difference between good versus evil. But there is more to it than that based upon the story of Saul in the Bible. Think about the story of Saul in the Bible who became Paul that has written many of these verses that I am talking about today. Saul knew the Law of God better than most men in his day and he thought that he was doing good works for God by persecuting the church. While he was Saul he caught Christians accusing them, imprisoning them, beating them and even killing them. Where was Saul’s conscience during these times? Wow, that is a really good question. Obviously it takes more than the knowledge of God’s word to guide someone to do the right things. This is an example of a man who was zealous for God but knew Him not. Paul later tells us that what he did to Christians in the past he did in ignorance. Therefore the ignorance of Saul (lack of understanding) is directly related to Saul not having any conscience to be led by God to help the church. Do you understand the destructive power of the ignorance of God’s truth? It is very profound when you see it. Let me give you a direct verse about the danger of ignorance:
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
If you do not know God’s righteousness this verse says you will attempt to establish your own definition of righteousness. This is just saying people will by nature live by their own law and ignore God’s ways. This is usually based upon sense realm leadings of what feels good to me, what I like, what I want to do, what looks good to me and on and on. It is a ME, MYSELF and I existence with a complete disregard for all others. These types of people have little to no conscience and will not generally care what they do to others. I’ll try to talk more about this soon.
I’m now going to talk about a story of conscience found in the Gospels where a group of religious men bring a woman caught in the act of adultery and ask Jesus what should we do with her? They were quoting that the Law says to stone her, but then they ask Jesus “what do you say”? These men obviously knew the law of God, but understood it not at all. These men were just looking for ways to accuse Jesus of violating God’s law, but Jesus used great wisdom in His answer to them and He said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”. Jesus then stoops down on the ground and begins to write in the dirt ignoring everyone around Him. While I do not believe the Bible says what He was writing, I personally envision it to be the places, dates and times of every man’s sin that was present. Here is what the Bible says next in this story:
Joh 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
There are two key words in this verse that have direct application to my main subject. Of course one is “conscience” that we have already looked at briefly. The Greek word translated as “conscience” is again “H4893” and it means morals. Next the word before that is one that relates to having morals and that is “conviction” or “convicted”. What does it mean to be convicted? To be convicted in law/legal terms means to be found guilty. Is that what we are talking about? I believe it is. When someone is found guilty of an offense they can have at the least two different contrasting reactions. One is called sorrow and the other one is called pride. Having no remorse for being found guilty is like having no conscience and it is a major problem that I will try to talk about more in a minute.
Notice what happens in this verse. The men who were ready to stone the woman without any regard to their conscience suddenly start disappearing from the oldest to the youngest appearing to get a conscience. This helps me to envision what Jesus was writing on the ground that caused the men to suddenly walk away one after the other. What was happening during this time? What was the internal process that was taking place to cause them to have a change of heart and to walk away? I obviously believe it was their memory being jogged from whatever Jesus was writing on the ground. There were no spoken words from Jesus so Jesus is giving us all a lesson on the human conscience without preaching to anyone. Therefore, human memory must be involved in having a conscience. Memories are always based upon past experiences or the recollection of words that we have lived through. These are mental pictures of the things we have been taught from the lessons in our past. Jesus could have been writing on the ground about when each man had committed the same offense with this woman or with someone else and this caused them to see that they might be stoned next. How did God in the flesh use their conscience to help guide them? If you can begin to see the application found in this story to what you do every day then you will begin to understand that your conscience is still your potential guide into doing positive, good and right things. After all of the men walked away Jesus looks at the woman and asks her “Woman where are your accusers”? Then Jesus says “neither do I accuse you go your way and sin no more”. Do you think that this woman learned a lesson also that day and how did her conscience going forward change? I’ll guess she never did what she was accused of doing again.
This was a very powerful lesson on how people can change to do right when they desired to do something very wrong. There are lots of lessons that we can learn from this story. Every man had a choice to make. Therefore conscience is the exercised choices of the freewill of mankind. Every man could have ignored the actions of Jesus and still stoned the woman based upon their knowledge of the law. Therefore any man can ignore his conscience and still do the wrong thing. The law never changed in this story, it remained constant. It was only the viewed perspective of the men that changed. What I believe happened is that the men suddenly understood that one sin does not justify another sin so they walked away. Did God use their conscience to help guide them? I believe that He did. Could the men have chosen to ignore their conscience? I believe they could. A good conscience prevailed in this situation and they made the right choice, but this is not the case in every situation in the Bible, is it? Let me show you another story in the Gospels with a slightly different result:
Mar 14:30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Let’s briefly talk about this story in the Gospels about Peter one of the key disciples of Jesus. Right before the crucifixion of Christ, Jesus looks at Peter and tells him “before the cock crows two times you shall deny me three times”. The prophet Jesus is telling Peter what will happen before it happens. Does this mean Jesus caused it to happen? Foreknowledge is never forced behavior. Peter always has a freewill choice, but the situation becomes more than he can handle and the prophecy is fulfilled just as Jesus predicted. Remember what is happening here. An armed group of men comes and takes Peter’s teacher by force and arrests him. Jesus is placed on trial immediately, beaten tortured and them condemned to death. Peter is observing what is taking place and is of course very concerned with these developments because they could do the same to him. So when a young servant comes to him and asks him if he is one of them, Peter forgets what Jesus has warned will happen and goes in self-preservation mode and begins to deny Jesus. The cock crows and Peter is still scared. Some more people come to him and tell him you were one of them and again Peter denies it. Finally here is how this chapter ends:
Mar 14:71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
Mar 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Here we again see a connection and an indirect reference to the conscience of Peter. Peter obviously was not thinking clearly before this or he would have remembered sooner the words of Jesus. Notice the connection to the soul realm and the mind in this scripture. Peter suddenly “remembered” the words of Jesus. Does this mean if he would have remembered sooner that he might have also remembered telling Jesus I will die with you? The pressures of this world can be very overwhelming at times and there are circumstances when it is difficult to be led by the Spirit of God regardless of your intent or desires. What is noteworthy is that even after Peter did wrong by denying Jesus, his response indicates that he still had a good conscience that led him to be sorrowful and repentant. If he had no conscience at this time, then he would have just walked away and we would have never read of Peter again in the Bible. Avoiding making the bad choices in life is the ultimate goal of being led by the Spirit of God, but if you do make a wrong choice then you are not lost unless you ignore your conscience and you continue to go down the paths of destruction without sorrow for what you have done. Let me show you some other scriptures that will help clarify what I just said:
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1Ti 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Here is God speaking of former Christians. These were some of the faithful that were no longer believers because of Satan’s deceptions and their bad choices. They have fallen away from the truth and bought into the lie of Satan. Notice what verse two says; because this was the important part that I needed to get you to understand. This verse states these lost people still had a conscience, but that it had been hardened by a process that is referred to in the terms of searing meant like branding a cow. To sear meat or the flesh occurs only with the application of metal raised to a temperature of intense heat. What did God say that He would do for Christians? God said I will take out your stony heart (unfeeling and insensitive spirit) and I will put within you a heart of flesh (that has sensitive feelings). Do these verses mean that these people are once saved and always saved? According to God their heart of flesh can become insensitive to the Spirit of God and even become hard again. Therefore, God says those who are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God. If your heart is no longer sensitive to His leading I do not believe you can still be saved or be called a child of God. Being led by the Spirit of God always requires the individual’s sensitivity and desire to be led by the Spirit of God.
I have given you two examples of conscience found in the Gospels. Once God used the human conscience to change the people’s intended actions to do something good and positive instead of the evil that they desired originally and another time God used a man’s conscience to help him repent and become one of the foundations of the church. Both are positive outcomes from the direction of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Both times every man involved could have overridden their conscience and done more wrong things. The subject of conscience is very deep and I’m not convinced that I know it all either. But, I’m still learning and growing and God will cause me to increase in knowledge and understanding just like you.
Conscience is God’s internal moral guidance to help you to do right and good things and this results in positive things coming your way. You see God says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom 6:23). Listening to your conscience will help you avoid the wages of death and will help you to receive the reverse wages of life from Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:10? Jesus said “The thief has come to kill, steal and to destroy, but I have come that you might have life and that life more abundantly”. God intends you to have abundant life in this natural dimension right now and the only way you are going to get there is to be led by the Spirit of God. If you spend time in prayer and in the Word of God you have a conscience that you can depend on. Jesus also said “I give unto a new commandment, that you love one another” (John 13:34). Therefore, being led by the Spirit of God and your conscience can be reduced to the simplicity of you doing only what is love based towards your neighbor. It is very similar to the golden rule of you doing to others what you desire them to do to you.
There is still a lot more to talk about on this subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. I hope and pray that you are still learning and enjoying these lessons and that you will continue to study the Bible with me. I also would love to hear your experiences of being led by the Spirit of God. However God has done it or what method that He used to cause you to have good success in this life, it would be awesome to hear about it. Share it with me and it might be a tremendous blessing to someone that needs to hear it to give them confidence that they also have heard from God the same way. If you have any questions or comment on these lessons, you are free to give those to me also. Until next time God bless and continue to study and grow in His truth and learn to listen to your conscience.
If you would like to continue reading and learning in this series you can continue with “Part 8“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Hearing from the Spirit of God Today! Part 6
(ver 1.2) This is Part 6 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God speaks to those who will listen. Knowing that God speaks begins the process that allows you to hear from God. But, also knowing how God speaks plays a key role that can change your level of expectation and your ability to find God speaking. Too often people look for the spectacular and miss the simple supernatural. What this means is that you may have already heard from God but since you did not know it was God you wrote it off as not being important. A friend of mine that was a new born baby Christian thought he heard God speaking to him through his car radio and a commercial on the radio. While I do not discount God’s ability to do that, you have to be very careful with that natural approach to communicating with a God who is a Spirit. Expecting to hear God speak to you in a thunderous spectacular voice from heaven will usually leave you very disappointed when He does not do this. Of course you could be like my friend and think that you heard something that was not really there. Since I was not there I did not tell him it was not God. I would have believed it more if it was a Christian radio station and it was a spirit-filled preacher who was speaking, but since it was a secular station I knew God does not speak thru unsaved people who are not led by God to speak. This would make God someone who takes control of a human to make them do or say something and this is not the nature or character of a loving God. I have found that God has many ways of getting you the answer and just when you think you have Him all figured out He will show you a new one to keep you on your toes and help you to grow up spiritually. I’ll start today by reviewing the list of 12 divine methods recorded in the Bible that God has used to communicate with the people on the earth. I have been using this list to teach on this subject and we are getting closer to the end.
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The Inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to God’s methods 12, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 so far using many personal and Bible examples. I will tell you that every method of God that He has recorded in His Word is important to learn, but some are certainly more prevalently used by God than others in the Bible and in the world today. You see you will probably not see God writing in the tablets of stone for a message to the world today. This was an example of a spectacular display of the power of God and He does not normally do things like this to prove His existence to anyone in the world. In the previous lesson I showed you that God uses people to speak to other people on the earth. This is a great revealed truth in the Bible found in almost every book. This method of using a mediator with a message permits God to remain hidden behind the scenes. This method allows all of the people on the earth to have a freewill choice to what they believe. This method also forces everyone to have faith in a God that they have never seen before and to believe in the words of God that were sent. You see if God suddenly appeared in the natural realm everyone would have no choice but to know that God is real. Even if God sent a 12 foot tall angel into the world that suddenly was broadcasted to every TV on the planet, people on the earth would suddenly have an opportunity to see that the supernatural realm was real. However with the advent of movies and entertainment computer graphics, nothing that you see on TV or the internet can be considered to be real anymore. Photoshop and other programs permit creative creations of fiction that are very hard to detect to the untrained computer expert. If a massive angel suddenly appeared in Jerusalem on international TV with a message that the end is tomorrow you would have the majority of the planet laugh and scoff at the creative ways of Hollywood to sensationalize fiction. The book of Revelation teaches us that angels will preach the Gospel during the tribulation, but this proves that they will need to do this because the church is not there to do it. In my opinion it is getting much more difficult to reach the majority of the people in the world because of the growing hardness of their hearts.
Here is another potential complication to the last lesson on God’s usage of men and women that I did not get into. How do you recognize a true man of God? Just because a man says that he is a prophet does not make him a prophet. There is a Bible concept of false that I have not addressed. Everything that God has done that can be considered to be true has been countered with a contradictory opposite called the false that has been authored by Satan. Satan purposefully sends many false speakers and teachers that are designed to cause confusion. The Bible informs us that there are and will be false Christs in the world in the last days. There have been and will be false prophets in the world. There have been and continue to be false teachers in the world. That complicates our lives tremendously doesn’t it? Not only do you have to hear from God you have to weed through all of the false to find the truth. Who you trust and who you place your confidence in will determine if you are deceived into destruction or led into the correct paths of life. This is why you need to learn the Word of God extensively and ask Him for the understanding. Like I told you before God will never contradict His word in anything that He tells you by His Spirit. God’s words are forever established and will never pass away. So how do you recognize the true man of God? You verify what he says by you looking it up in your Bible and seeing if that is really what God says. If you do not see it for yourself, then refuse to believe it. This is a principle taught to us by the early church and Paul. You can read about it in Acts 17:11 and see what the early church did to confirm what Paul was teaching by searching their Bibles. What they did is what you should be doing today as I teach.
PRAYER THE KEY TO HEARING FROM GOD
Today I’m going to continue teaching with number 10 the personal prayer life of the individual. I believe that God hears and responds to the prayers of the people on the earth. There are many people who would disagree with me because they believe God is sovereign and that God predetermines everything that happens in the world and this philosophy is popularly called Predestination, Selection or Election. While you can find scriptures to support this position, what these teachers do not realize is that there is more than one truth in the Bible and they have abandoned all of the others to exalt their one truth to be the complete truth. If those concepts of selection were all the complete truth then why are there so many other things in the Bible recorded that contradict that belief? For example, the recorded prayers of the people on the earth are clearly contradictory to a sovereign God making every decision for man. Why is it necessary for anyone to ever pray if God has already predetermined what will happen? Why did Jesus ever pray on the earth and why did He teach his disciples to pray? Those are tough questions that Predestination teachers ignore.
We are going to talk about the subject of prayer in conjunction with being led by Spirit of God. I believe that prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s relationship with their Father God. You can read over and over where people needed God and they fell on their face to seek Him and He was found. Prayer is certainly more than just asking God for things, but this is certainly a valid part of prayer since God is the giver of all things that are valuable. You can find more examples of men and women asking God for things than you can for any other type of prayer. If I possess anything of value it is only by the grace of God that I have it. You can read about the positive effects of prayer in Genesis 20:17, Numbers 11:2, Numbers 21:7, 1 Samuel 1:12 to name a very few places where men and women prayed and God responded. What would have happened if no one prayed in these examples? Do you think the same outcome would have resulted? I certainly do not believe that at all. I know I oversimplified this introduction, but you should at least begin to see that prayer was a key part of any success that anyone had in the Bible. Let me show you another example in more detail:
Dan 9:17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
One thing I noticed about reading the book of Daniel is that he liked to pray to his God. Could this be one of the key reasons that God gave him the visions of the end times and the understanding of so much? Prayer has to be a major contributing positive factor for hearing from God based upon only learning about the experiences of Daniel. I personally believe that most people do not hear from God because they do not give God an opportunity to speak to them. Prayer should always be a two way conversation and it never should be a one way directional speech from you only. Think of it this way, what can you ever tell God that He does not already know? Knowing that alone should shorten your prayers considerably when you think about that. However, what can God tell you that you had no clue that you even needed to know? Could it be everything? Yes, God is all knowing (omniscient) and He is the one that we should learn to listen to for everything. But there is a hidden factor that determines if God will tell you anything. The Bible says “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). What does that mean? That means God will not force His knowledge upon anyone. If you don’t want to know don’t ask. If you want to know something from God then you must ask Him for it. The Bible also says “If any man lacks wisdom let Him ask from God who gives to every man liberally” (James 1:5). The Bible also says “seek you will find, knock and it will be opened, ask and you will be answered” (Mat 7:7). I know these were my paraphrased versions of these scriptures, but you can go and read them for yourself and see that is basically what they are teaching. The key factor to receiving anything begins by you asking for it. People like to assume God is in control, but according to what I just read if you do not give God control then you are in control. Assuming God to be in control does not make God in control of your destiny. God is going to expect you to ask for His guidance if you want to hear what He has to say. So Daniel 9:17 says Daniel is praying to God and then read down and see what happens:
Dan 9:21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
We can clearly see that the angel Gabriel came from God and shows up while Daniel is still speaking to God in prayer. This is very conclusive evidence that you can hear from God while you pray. It is also direct evidence that it was the prayer of Daniel that was the initiating factor to him hearing from God. If you read in this chapter you can never find where Daniel tells God how to speak to him. Clearly God chose the method of communication and not Daniel. That is a very important point that I wish to drive home again. I also find it fascinating that the angel shows up while Daniel is still praying and not after Daniel is finished praying. The answer from God to what you are praying for can come either during your prayer or after your prayer. There is a major factor that is different today from Daniel’s prayer back in the Old Covenant. In Daniel’s day God was in heaven and heard the prayer and sent the angel Gabriel with the answer from heaven. But, today in the church, the Spirit of God abides within me and you and our prayers do not need to reach to heaven to be heard anymore. Many times Christians believe that they have to bombard heaven with a prayer request and they forget God is inside of them and can speak immediately back to them internally. Today’s prayer conversations with God should always come with replies from inside of us instead of how Daniel prayed and God sent the answer back to the earth from heaven using an angel. Do not misunderstand what I just said. God can still use an angel, but normally He will just speak to you Himself if you are quiet enough and listening.
Dan 9:22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
I want you to notice what God gives to Daniel based upon his original prayer. Believe it or not this is what you should be seeking from God also. Skill is of course ability to do something. Understanding is one of the greatest benefits of knowing God that He can share with you. We are all in need of God’s understanding and wisdom to do anything in the world. These are things that God is looking to give. You can go back and read the story of Solomon and see how he prayed and you will see that because Solomon asked God for wisdom and understanding, Solomon was blessed to be one of the richest men in the world at that time. What I learned from reading Daniel 9 is that prayer is an initiating request for the responses of God. You can clearly see that God sends an angel with the message because of Daniels’s prayers. These are simple but yet profound concepts found in the Bible. Let me give you another example from the prayer life of Daniel.
Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
The angel Gabriel is speaking these words to Daniel and they are very deep. The angel tells Daniel I am sent because of your words. This verse teaches us several things. First, prayer is always based upon words spoken and never your silence. There is no such thing as a silent prayer. Next, God heard the words of Daniel and sent an angel with the answer. Whenever you pray if you do not believe God heard, you will pray again and again and again and this is not scriptural. This is the acts of a desperate man who lacks faith and let’s doubts and fears take away what God has already sent the answer to. God does not answer for your much repetition and constant prayer request needs. God hears you the first time and after that if you want to pray it is not for God’s benefit, but for your doubts that God did not hear you the first time. This is another divine example of the sovereign will of God in response to the request of a man on the earth. Daniel did not ask for an angel, he asked God for the answer and God sent the angel. Learning how prayer works and how faith works are key factors to being led by the Spirit of God.
Daniel 10:12 implies that you do not have to be praying in order to speak words that get God’s response. You see there is another Hebrew word in the O.T. that is often translated as “prayer” and it is not this word that the angel said I am here for. Do not misunderstand what I am saying; I’m not saying not to pray I just think we need to expand our definition of what prayer is sometimes to include every word that we speak. You see sometimes people pray and ask God for a job and then look at the economy and circumstances and say “I’ll never get a job” to their friends. When you do that you have in effect canceled your prayer with your words of unbelief that God did not hear and answer you already. If you do not think your words matter then you are highly deceived. After you pray and ask God for the answer it is time to praise God for the answer until the answer arrives. Everything that you do matters in this world and I could give you Bible verses that teach these last statements, but I’ll try to teach on prayer in more depth in other future lessons.
THE STILL SMALL VOICE FROM A VERY BIG GOD!
Prayer and hearing from God is a very simple linked dependent concept taught to us in the Bible. I could give you many more examples of prayer in the Bible, but they are fairly easy to find so I’m going to move on to another method that God uses to communicate with man called the “Still small voice”. Here is why many people in the world do not believe that they ever hear from God. Many times they expect God to speak in a miraculous spectacular strong way and they miss the very basic supernatural soft voice of the Almighty God. God constantly manifests Himself using a very insignificant small voice and this is not what people expect. Why does the Almighty God do this? I guess you should also ask why the creator of the universe washed the feet of His own disciples. For God to make Himself a subordinate intentionally is a sovereign divine sign of exhibited humility. Humility is the ultimate sign of true greatness. Humility is the opposed force of pride. Did you know that no one who is anyone can ever exhibit true humility? Humility is only possible for anyone with greatness. Since God is the greatest of them all, God exhibits true humility in everything that He does. If you are at the bottom of the spiritual food chain you cannot lower yourself beyond where you are any further so you can only attempt to raise yourself and that is called pride. But if you are at the top of the spiritual food chain then you can display great character by being humble. To exalt yourself above where you are is a sign of pride and this is what Satan did and God is the direct opposite to Satan. Not understanding the character and the nature of God will cause you to miss God many times. How you expect God to answer will affect your ability to hear and recognize His voice. Did you know that this is one of the main reasons that the Jews did not recognize the manifestation of their Messiah? Jesus appeared to be a normal man like everyone else and this confounded the wisdom of the religious men that was expecting a powerful King to rule over them and set them free from the oppression of man. Jesus came as the humble servant to earth and He did not fit the picture of the conquering King that the Jews had in their mind for their Messiah. What I am trying to teach you is that it matters how you expect God to come to you to give you the answer also. If you are not open to a still small very quiet voice then you are probably going to miss out on God’s directions for your life.
1Ki 19:11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
Here is one of the most awesome verses in the Bible followed by an even greater verse in the next coming one that I’m about to give you. This verse is about the prophet Elijah but it also has direct applications to me and you today. The prophet must be seeking God and God is said to pass by on the mountain. Here is a great lesson about God and His character. It just so happens that a very strong wind comes and tears up the mountain as the Lord passed by, but God says in His word that He was not in the wind. Why is that important? God gets blamed for the winds of adversity like hurricanes and tornados constantly and I want to scream at preachers who accuse my God of killing, stealing and destroying things when God clearly says it was not me in this verse. Next you can see an earthquake also takes place and again God is not found in the earthquake either. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Why are you looking at the hugely spectacular expecting to find a God that is clearly not to be found there? That is probably one the most important questions you can learn from this lesson. Here is the verse that I want to focus in on today:
1Ki 19:12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
After the earthquake a fire came, but again the Lord is not found in the fire. Here in the U.S. we have had a major hurricane flood the east coast recently and we have had earthquakes and now we have had major fires in Texas and Oregon and God says I’m not in any of these. Please do not claim these are the judgments of God trying to get America to change or get saved because that Gospel conflicts with the God of the Bible. Look at how this verse ends. A still small voice came to Elijah and guess what, that was God! If you read the next couple of verses you will see that Elijah is finally able to hold a conversation with the Almighty God of Israel. The Hebrew word translated as “still” means quiet and implies a peaceful atmosphere like a very gentle stream of water. The Hebrew word translated as “small” means low or thin as in something crushed. It is technically implying that it can be easily missed or ignored. Finally the Hebrew word for “voice” means audible spoken words. This still small voice from God asks Elijah a direct question to start the conversation. Did you know that you can learn a lot from God asking you a question if you are paying attention? How God asks the question and what is said in the question is almost always much greater than you can imagine. God’s intelligence is so far beyond your intelligence that all God has to do is ask you a simple question and suddenly you know many things that you needed to know. Go through the Bible and see how many times you can find God asking people questions to start a conversation. It might surprise you. God asked Adam two questions in Genesis 3 to start the conversation with the man. God then asks Eve a question in Genesis 3 next to continue the conversation with her. When He got to Satan suddenly the questions stopped. Why is that? I guess I won’t go there today, but it is very amazing to understand.
While I have been reading the Bible and studying a chapter I have had the Spirit of God in His still small voice ask me direct questions like “Did you notice that didn’t say…”. This simple question from the Spirit of God opened my eyes to the hidden meaning of the verses. God was teaching me and God taught me by asking me very simple questions. That is extreme wisdom to follow when you need to try to teach people something. When you ask the right questions, the light bulbs can be turned on in someone’s mind to bring illumination. I want you to learn two things from the example of Elijah that God speaks to him using a very quiet insignificant sound inside of him and that this can be a question that will bring great information to us. Finally I also want you to see that in the book of James written to us in the church, God says Elijah was a man just like us. In other words God is saying what Elijah did you can do and what I did for Elijah I will do for you. That is some amazing facts that God is still the same today as He was with the men in the Bible. Expect to hear God speak to you in a very faint quiet voice and this is usually for your benefit to help you possibly to help someone else.
Today’s lesson has been about two key methods of communication that God has taught us in His Word. Your prayer life will always initiate God’s response. Then your ability to learn to hear the still small voice of God inside of you is another key factor for your spiritual education to hearing from God’s Spirit. I’ll try to wrap this series up in the next lesson by giving you the last method that God uses to communicate with people on the earth that I have found in the Bible. This method is probably the most prevalent method and it could be the most important one also for you to know. Sorry to leave the most important to last. I will be discussing some more relevant examples of God’s communication methods found in the Bible in the next lesson. Finally, in the next Bible lesson on this subject I will explore some related topics that are also very important to learn about in being led by the Spirit of God. I hope and pray that you are learning something new and that this information is helping you to grow to be a better man or woman of God. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to ask me, for it is as God says “you have not because you ask not”. Thanks for sharing your time in reading my Bible studies and I will bring you another one soon. God Bless.
To continue readin in this series you may go to “Part 7“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Being Led by a Man of God with a Message from God! Part 5
(ver 1.2) This is Part 5 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In the last lesson I attempted to emphasize the importance of hearing, learning and understanding the written Word of God and then becoming a doer of the Word of God and not just a hearer only. Learning God’s Word and then following your knowledge of God’s Word by acting it out, makes you a disciple follower of Jesus Christ permitting the Spirit of God to guide you. Ignoring God’s word and being independent from God’s word will prohibit the Spirit of God from leading you. Therefore I believe that the written Word of God is the number one method that God has chosen to communicate with all of humanity in order to lead them out of the dangers, adversities and the negative consequences of living in a world of darkness ruled by Satan. It is also essential to understand that whatever the Spirit of God speaks to your heart will always be established upon the written Word of God. The voice of the Spirit of God will never instruct you to do anything that is contrary or opposed to the written word of God. God will never lead anyone into sin. Do you understand that? This is probably the main reason why it is essential to know the Word of God intimately.
ESTABLISHING AN INDEPENDENT BELIEF APART FROM GOD’S WORD
You see I once heard the story of a woman who claimed that the Spirit of God had spoken to her and told her that she was going to become the wife of a well-known preacher. This lady went about telling her friends and they even held a mock wedding by faith to proclaim and confirm God’s direction. The only problem was that this preacher already had a wife, but this woman and her church friends were not going to let the Bible or the facts get in the way of what they believed that God had articulated to her in her private prayer time. That is clearly an example of a woman being deceived by a spiritual voice other than the voice of God. The Bible teaches us that God’s words are forever established in heaven (Ps 119:89), therefore they do not change. What God speaks today will not ever contradict what God has spoken yesterday. The Bible clearly teaches us not to covet or desire what your neighbor already possesses (Exo 20:17) nor is it ever legal or permissible to commit adultery (Exo 20:14) or murder (Exo 20:13). God would have to kill the current preacher’s wife in order for another woman to be married to him. This woman was perfectly content to ignore these key Bible verses thinking God has suddenly changed His mind to what is allowed within His established Laws. All you need to do is to go and read the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam 11) and you will see clearly that God did not indorse this type of behavior of taking another person’s spouse. Wow, that is a crazy dangerous approach to Christianity if you choose to ignore the Bible to establish an independent belief system of right and wrong. Clearly Jesus called this a type of behavior the acts of a foolish man building his spiritual house on shifting sand and this will result in a great destruction of that house when the storm arrives (Mat 7:26-27).
THE TIME FOR KNOWING THE WORD OF GOD IS NOW!
Also in the last lesson, I used the example of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke to show you the appointed time of salvation and learning the Word of God is right NOW while you still can! No human non-Christian is guaranteed a tomorrow. No one likes to contemplate death, but death is inevitable for everyone if Jesus tarries long enough. Many people in hell today probably thought they had more time before they had to make a choice. However making no selection is still a conscious choice and people don’t always realize that. We are all born into the world ignorant of the truth. Therefore everyone is required to seek the truth in order to find it. Those in hell today have either ignored the truth, did not seek the truth, refused to believe the truth and their ignorance of God and His word has caused them reap what they have sown and that is not good news for them. I like to think of the Bible to be like the manufacturer’s handbook of instructions for the men and women on the earth. Clearly we are God’s creation so there is no better place to learn about what God has created than learning it from the Creator’s own Owner’s Manual! I also like to think that the Bible is God’s divine service plan of maintenance and repair for the human mind and spirit. Without these inspired words written on the pages, no one could be saved today, including me! Therefore knowing the Bible is the foundation for everything else that occurs in our life that is positive. I guess the flip side (inverse truth) of that statement is that everything else that happens negatively in your life could come as a result of you not knowing the Word of God and doing it. I really hope you understand the awesome importance of the Bible to some greater extent. I’m going to give you the list of the twelve divine methods of communication that I have been teaching from again today so that you can review them:
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to methods 12, 9, 8, 7, 6, 3, 2 and 1 so far. So we are getting nearer to the end, but we still have a lot to cover and maybe some of the most important methods are still left to come. I think today I am going to focus only on number 4 and speak to you about a method that God has used extensively in the Bible to communicate with many people. Like the written Word of God, the use of a human messenger like a prophet has been comprehensively established by God from cover to cover. There are certainly overlaps between the written word of God and God’s usage of a man to bring a verbal message to God’s people. Many of the prophetical Old Testament books were God’s messages to the nation of Israel and these messages were always designed to ultimately point Israel to Jesus. However these books also still hold information that is relevant to the church that we need to learn from today. As the population of the earth increased from the two original father and mother of us all, God came down to one man or one woman usually to bring a message to all of the others. The first recorded human messenger of God could possibly be viewed to be Adam. Clearly we are told that God spoke to Adam and Eve and prophesied many things to come. However, if Adam ever left us a message from God I do not know of its existence today. The major problem with believing Adam was a prophet is the lack of anyone else on the earth to prophesy it to. Everyone present on earth heard what God said in Genesis 3 and this is the last time that I know of that this has occurred. It was only when Adam and Eve had children that they could teach them anything about what God had said and I do not know where that is recorded in the Bible either. In the book of Jude God declares that Enoch the seventh son from Adam prophesied about the coming of the Lord. This is the first time that I know of where God says a man brought a direct message from God to others, but it is certainly not the last time this occurred.
BELIEVE HIS PROPHETS BY FAITH
2Ch 20:20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
God is basically equating your belief in God to your belief in hearing the words of His prophets to be the same. This verse is informing you of one way you can prosper in the world. To prosper is an all-inclusive term including health and wealth. Of course this verse is written to natural Israel, but it has a double referenced intentional truth that applies to the modern church today also. God is declaring a greater truth in this verse than you can imagine. God had to speak to the prophet in order for the prophet to speak to the people. The people had to hear the message an then believe the message and finally accept and do the message. This is an example of being led by a prophet and this is very valid in the Old Testament, but I’ll have to explain why it is not so valid in the New Testament soon.
Everything that God does on the earth is based upon a spiritual law called faith (Rom 3:27). If God would come to everyone individually or corporately and reveal His existence, no one would be permitted a freewill choice not to believe in Him. However if a single man of God comes from God to you with the Words of God you now have a freewill choice to make immediately! Do I believe that God sent this man and do I believe that he speaks for God? These are now faith based choices built upon you hearing and believing or hearing and rejecting the words spoken to you. If you choose to believe them, then you are saved, but if you refuse to believe them God says you will perish (Mark 16:16). This is clearly an example of the divine sovereign choice of God. God allows all men freewill to do as they please. God never forces anyone to believe anything. Here is a scripture that reveals the faith based process created by God.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Hearing a preacher is a concept that dominates the entire Bible from Genesis to the Revelation. Noah was revealed to us to be a righteous preacher (2 Peter 2:5) of the truth of God and he proclaimed the end is near for nearly 100 years while building the ark. Everyone heard the message and laughed at the words of God and then the rains came and washed them all away. It is also this exact same way today. Jesus said as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days before the coming of the Son of Man! (Mat 24:37). Today, when I tell people that the end is near, I have people laugh at me and perhaps you do to. What would have happened if God suddenly appeared to everyone on the earth in Noah’s day? Would anyone have doubted Noah then? I do not think they could. It is clear to me that God’s ways of doing things are not our ways of doing things.
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND GOD’S MEDIATOR MOSES
When God heard the cries of Israel in bondage in Egypt, what did God do? God selected one man named Moses to be the deliver with the message of deliverance. Moses continued to be the man with the message from God right up until he died in the wilderness. This is called a mediator approach to communication between two parties. Not listening to the preachers of God today may cause you to be washed away or even left in symbolic Egypt very soon also. This is one of the main reasons that I listen to every preacher that I can. I have over 10,000 MP3 files of preachers and teachers and I have listened to most of them and some of the lessons I have listened to a 100 times because they were so good. Please understand why God has done what He has done. God forces everyone involved to have faith and believe His words. The children of Israel definitely had this choice and wavered back and forth based upon whether Moses was actually present or not. Pharaoh clearly did not believe Moses had the words of God and hardened his heart against God. God sent plagues and eventually convinced Pharaoh after the firstborn of his family was killed. There are always consequences for not hearing the Word of God and doing it. This is an important lesson but I’m going to move on and continue teaching on being led by the Spirit of God.
THE 5 FOLD MINISTRY GIFTS IN THE CHURCH
Let’s shift our focus off of the Old Testament examples to more modern relevant teachings found within the New Covenant for the church:
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Here in Ephesians 4:11-12 is the same concept of a Noah or a Moses being repeated in the modern church today. Sometimes people don’t realize that what God did in the Old Covenant is a foreshadowing of what He will do again in the New Covenant. There is truly nothing new under the sun as it says in Ecclesiastes. The thing that has been in the natural realm is the exact same thing that shall be again in the spiritual realm. We know from reading here in Ephesians that not everyone in the church is an apostle. Not everyone in the church is a prophet. Not everyone in the church is an evangelist. Finally not everyone is called to be a pastor or a teacher either. This is a divine designed hierarchical structured approach to spiritual organization. It is a classic set and sub-set teaching from high school math. We are all in the Body of Christ Set, but we are not all in the Apostle subset, for example. Without structure we would have a body of all leaders and no followers or all followers and no leaders. Jesus of course is the Head of the Body and He takes preeminence over everyone else. Jesus Christ is also the only physical man on the earth that occupied every office of the 5 fold ministry. However what God does today is to give some men and women on the earth today a specific role of responsibility with a message and these individuals are held accountable for teaching it to everyone else. The Bible says that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom 11:29). It was this way with Moses and the children of Israel and it will continue to be this way until the church is taken up very soon. Why does God do things this way? You need to immediately stop and ask yourself are you a called apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher or are you just a disciple? Finding your place in the body will determine what you need to do next. If you are NOT one of the classic 5 fold ministers then why are they needed, if the same Spirit of God is resident in you as it is in them? Can’t the Spirit of God just teach me everything that I need to know directly? I think that is an excellent question! This method that God has implemented, gives everyone individual responsibility and future accountability for doing what God has said. Again it is based upon the requirement of the spiritual faith of each individual to respond and to believe the message from God when no one has ever seen God. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6) God says. Ignoring the subject of faith will cause you to be unpleasing to God and miss out on the blessings of God and that is a tragedy. Many times I have seen God lead people with questions to the men of God who know the answers. This is a modern example of being led into the truth by the Spirit of God. God leads some men to find certain things in the Bible and to teach them and then God leads others who wish to know the truth to those that are teaching it.
God declares that He has established apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the “perfecting” of the saints. Did you know that you were a saint RIGHT NOW? There are many Christians who do not include themselves in the “saint” category of spiritual beings. One unnamed church denomination votes people to sainthood based upon some undocumented and unscriptural working of miracles supposedly? Therefore in this church no one can be a saint unless some men on the earth say they can be one and this is usually after they are dead and gone. So technically to them there can be no benefit on the earth of being a saint and it appears to have benefits only in the afterlife. Wow, that makes the Christian life pretty tough if you have to please men and you choose to ignore God. That is another example of how some people have ignored the Bible to teach another man-made doctrine. I am a saint right now according to the Bible and if you are born again you are a saint also right now according to the Bible! Use your Bible program on your computer and search for the word “saint(s)” and go read about yourself and find the truth. There are 62 verses in the New Testament that use this word in KJV Bible. If you don’t have a Bible program you can download one for free. You have no excuse not to search and find what the truth is.
The Greek word translated as “Perfecting” does not mean you will become perfect! The Greek word translated as perfecting comes from a word that means to “repair”. What does it mean to repair something? Does it mean that something must first be broken or in need of repair? I believe that it does. I never fixed anything that was not broken. Also I do not know about you but anytime I ever repaired something I could never call it perfect again. Even if you glue it back and fill the cracks no matter what you attempt to do to it, it can never be called perfect again. The Bible is more complex than this one verse however. There is a verse that says “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature” (2 Cor 5:17). After being born again you become a brand new creation in your spirit, but your mind is still not renewed until you replace all of the old natural junk with God’s Word. Do you feel like you were broken before Christ came along? After you were a believer, did you feel like you were a new creature? This is why we do not walk by feelings, we walk by faith in God’s Word. I need to get back to the main subject and talk about God’s usage of the 5 ministry gifts. God says that the ministry gifts as described in Ephesians have been given for the good of the whole church body. If you are a teacher then teach. If you are not a teacher then learn to study from a teacher called by God. If you are an apostle go to who God has sent you to. If you are an evangelist preach the gospel of salvation to everyone. If you are a pastor become a shepherd to God’s sheep. If you are a prophet prophesy what God gives you for the edifying of the body. Soon I will give you an example of just because you are an apostle that does not mean you do not need a prophet.
I have heard many people say to me I can read and study the Bible all by myself and the Spirit of God will teach me everything that I need to know! That is a belief built upon a partial truth ignoring all other truths. If that was the complete truth there would be no need for God to have teachers like me in the church. If that was the complete truth, there would also be no requirement for you to have faith! The scripture in John 16:13 that people embrace incorrectly says “The Spirit of Truth will guide you into all truth”. But, if you expect the Spirit of God to teach you all truth you have misapplied the verse. There is a great deal of difference between being led into the truth and being taught the truth directly by the Spirit. I have people being led by God to my website to get answers that they have been searching for and this is how God works. When you try to misapply the Bible you paint yourself into a corner that limits God’s ability to reach you. If you expect God to teach you what He has already taught someone else to give you the answer, then you are expecting things to happen outside of the designed plan of God. It is true that everyone is required to study the Bible for themselves (including me) and to research and prove all things that anyone else teaches by confirming it in the Word of God! (Acts 17:11) But that does not mean that God is going to come to you and tell you everything nor does it mean God will give everyone the same revelation knowledge or understanding of the Bible. You just cannot find this in the Bible. God gave Paul specific revelation that He gave no one else. God gave John the revelation of the end times and you cannot find anyone else that wrote the same book of information unless you go back to Daniel and see some specific parallels. Guess what I’m a Bible teacher and I do not know everything. Only God knows everything. No man is God! That is another reason why I listen to other Bible teachers. God will never give any one man the complete knowledge of the entire Bible. So I’ll tell you very plainly you need to read and study from many teachers of God and not just one. The more you know the faster you will be able to recognize which ones are stronger in their knowledge of God and which ones are less mature than maybe you are. Some preachers I listen to one time and move on because they have no clue what they are saying. You need to learn to let the Spirit of God within you confirm what a man is teaching you and I’ll get into that more soon.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE OF GUIDANCE FROM A PREACHER
I went to a church that had a pastor that is still one of my favorites. When I lost my job over twenty years ago because the company went bankrupt, I started seeking God for help and guidance. I told you in the last lesson that I began to seek God by looking first to the Word of God and God spoke to me about having a job for me from a verse that I saw in the Bible. But, that was not the end of the story. Within two weeks I had two job offers from two different companies. At that time I was standing at a fork in the road of life decision point. I knew that God had said that He had a job for me by me believing His Word, but which one do I take? If I only had one job offer I could assume that this was the one that God had opened up for me. But since I had two job offers I had to assume that one was the right one and the other one was the wrong one. So I began to pray again and ask God for which one to take. One Sunday night in church my favorite preacher was speaking and all of sudden he said something that rang true in my spirit to which job to take. This is a prime example of how the Spirit of God can answer your prayer request by speaking through another Spirit filled man of God. The preacher never knew he was speaking to me and I never told him I needed to hear from God. This makes it more spectacular when God answers in this way. It also proves He heard my prayer request because the preacher was led by the Spirit of God and he was able to deliver the message to me from God. I took the words of the preacher to be from God and not from the preacher and I made the choice and worked for that company that I felt led to go to. I hope you understand what I am saying today. God sometimes uses other people to get you a message. I have to admit I was not expecting to hear it from the preacher, but God did it this way to teach me a new lesson. The preacher that is speaking to you may never be talking directly to you, looking at you and they may not tell you anything specifically like your name or your choices that you should make but they may simply just say enough to give you the direction to go in and you know it in your spirit. I don’t know how God does it exactly or why God does it this way sometimes, but I am a witness to the fact that it is done this way often in churches that are led by the Spirit of God. If you are not getting directions or guidance from you pastor to the events of life you are going to the wrong church.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF BEING LED BY A MAN OF GOD
I’ll give you another example from a preacher that gave his testimony of how God led him. This preacher was offered a church position in Texas. He really wanted to make sure he was being led by God and not by an offer so he began to pray and seek God for what to do! Do I stay here or do I go to Texas? This was another example of a fork in the road of life with no visible sign posts for the direction to travel in. Always remember if any road could get you where you needed to be then it would not matter which decision you made. However when I studied the Bible, I learned that just any road is not the right answer. Only the narrow right path will lead you to life and the wide path leads you to destruction. So it definitely matters in life which road you select in everything that you do. This preacher continued for several days praying and asking God for direction and one day he was walking outside down the road praying again for what to do and another minister of God not from his church came running by getting his exercise. He suddenly stopped and said something to the effect of you better stay where you are at and then kept running by. This running preacher did not know the situation nor was he asked to give his opinion of what was being contemplated. It was simply the Spirit of God speaking through him confirming what the other preacher should do, but was debating in his mind because of a new church offer. Again this is just how God does things sometimes. The preacher stayed in the church he was at and that church is now one of the largest churches in that city.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU NEED TO KNOW WHICH ROAD TO TAKE?
If you are ever faced with a fork in the road life decision like should I marry that man? Or should I work for that company? Or should I move to another city? Then you need to stop and seek God for what to do. Don’t do anything or be pressured to do anything until you actually are confident that you have heard from God. Did you hear what I said? This could be a matter of minutes or even a matter of several days. Look for the answer to come in several different ways depending upon your spiritual maturity and your ability to hear the Spirit of God. I’ll use a famous movie line that I remember which the teacher said to the student “Don’t move till you see it”. If you move before you hear from God you will probably regret it very soon. If you pray and ask for directions then expect to hear God answer, but you are going to have to exercise some patience and wait until you hear. Let me give you another Bible example from the New Testament:
Act 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
Act 21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
People, we are told are tarrying in Jerusalem for many days? To tarry is an act of waiting and exercising patience. Why were these people in Jerusalem waiting? I guess they were waiting to hear from God? I based that upon what happened next! God sends a prophet to the group in Jerusalem with a very specific message for them. Remember we are talking about the Apostle Paul here in this group of people! Apparently even an apostle needs a prophet occasionally. The prophet takes Paul’s girdle and binds his hands and feet and here is the part that I want you to see. The prophet says “Thus says the Holy Ghost”. Wow is that important? These are not the words of the prophet, they are clearly the words carried to be delivered to Paul from God. God teaches us that men still bring messages from God to other men even if they are great apostles and wrote 2/3 of the New Testament. If you think you will never need your brother or your sister in Christ you might just miss one of the most important messages from God that you have ever needed to hear. Are you grasping these concepts today?
Why didn’t God just speak to Paul directly? I personally believe that God did speak to Paul directly and the prophet sent was just a confirmation to what Paul already knew in his spirit. I will definitely speak more in the future about being led by the Spirit of God personally, but today I am just trying to teach you how God still uses men to get messages to other men. I also want you to see that you do not have to be a preacher, teacher, apostle, prophet or evangelist to be sent by God with a message.
Act 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
Act 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
I want you to see in these two verses that there is a lot going on. The spiritual information being taught is extremely complex and very extensive. Before these verses Saul was on the road to Damascus and Jesus shows up in a vision and this is another demonstration of the sovereign will of God getting the attention of a future great man of God. In this vision Saul was saved, did you know that can happen? The Bible says Saul must have believed in the Lord because that is what Saul calls Him, his Lord! According to what God says in Romans 10:9-10, that is all it takes to be saved. It is also interesting to note what Jesus said to Saul as instructions. Let me give you verse 6 quickly:
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Jesus was speaking to Saul personally in a vision and He tells Saul to go into the city and basically wait for further instructions. Why didn’t God just tell Saul what was going to happen right then? God has his full attention, but the full disclosure of information was never given. This is how God operates. God will tell you the step by step instructions of what to do and He will hardly ever give you the end step before the first step. As you can see Saul is required to obey and to believe which is called walking by faith. The Spirit of God then speaks to Ananias in a vision and tells him to go to the house where Saul is for the next steps to take place. Both men are required to walk by faith.
We are told that Saul is in a house praying and then before that it says a certain disciple named Ananias must also have been praying because He was given a vision from God to go to see Saul. Saul is the future Apostle Paul and God uses a relatively unknown spirit-filled disciple to deliver a message so that Saul can receive his sight and be filled with the Spirit of God. What I am attempting to teach you is that you do not have to hold an office of one of the five-fold ministry positions in order to be used mightily by God. Anyone available can be used by God to bring someone a message of help so that they can receive an answer to their prayer. What we learn from this story is that if Saul would have refused to be ministered to by a simple disciple because he was looking for a great prophet, or an angel or another vision from Jesus, he would have not written the greatest part of the New Testament. Do you see my points found in this story? Can you learn anything from this that you can apply to your situation today? I know I can! Maybe you should go back and reread the entire chapter and see what other nuggets of spiritual knowledge you can find hidden there.
ASKING GOD THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!
Let me speak to another issue in closing concerning how to be led by God with greater precision. Does it matter how you ask God for direction? You better believe it matters. Everything you do and how you do it always matters. If you ask without using any wisdom you may paint God into a corner where He has to choose between the lesser of two evils. You see there are three different types of questions generally speaking. These are Yes/No Questions, closed questions and open questions. If you are faced with a fork in the road life decision choosing between two obvious choices, always leave God a different answer or option. This in effect changes the question from a closed question to an open type of question. In other words when I look back upon my decision of choosing between two jobs that were offered to me and I only asked God “Do I work for company A or do I work for company B?” Do you see the problem with that question? What if there was a company C that was the optimal way to go and I missed that one because God had to choose between the lesser of the two bad choices that I gave Him to select from? Wow, that is some very good and valuable teaching and I hope you understand what I am saying? Remember when Jesus came up to the boat walking on the water in Matthew 14 and there was a great storm raging and the disciples cried out in fear and then suddenly Peter says “Lord if it is you bid me to come on the water”! That is a clear example of painting God into a corner with a closed question without thinking about what you are asking. Because it was Jesus He had no choice but to say come! There were no other correct answers for Jesus. Jesus could not say no Peter it is not me, don’t come! He could also not say “Yes it is me but don’t come”. Neither of these would have been permissible for the question being asked. So Peter goes out to walk on the water like Jesus and eventually is shrouded in new found doubts of uncertainty and begins to sink. Now Jesus is forced to save Peter because he was not ready for water walking faith. Peter should have asked “Lord if it is you and it is your will tell me to come” or “If I am able to stay above the water and it is you, bid me to come”. Would either of these different types of questions resulted in a different answer from Jesus? Potentially yes! What I have learned is we would all benefit if we would learn to think before we speak. Always give God an out for a different better possible direction to go in. Never place specific limitations on God’s answer by your question. Never stop and say “Should I stay here or should I go to Texas”? There could be something else behind door number 3 that is way the best choice for you but you missed it because you were not open to that possibility. I began to learn this lesson from how Jesus prayed and asked His father things. Once Jesus is recorded praying and saying “If it be possible, take this cup from me, nevertheless not my will, but thine be done”. You can see that Jesus left it open ended to do the will of God and did not elminate any possible choices.
I hope you have learned something new about being led by the Spirit of God today. This subject is very complex and God has many ways to get a message to you. Being open and smart to these methods will allow God to get to you faster than if you were narrow minded and placed constraints on God’s ways to communicate. We still have several more methods to discuss and hopefully we will go a bit faster now, but I cannot guarantee that. I will have to wait and see how the Lord leads me and then try to follow what He wants to say. If you have ever heard God speak through a minister to answer your question to God, please tell me about it. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has experienced this. Thanks for taking the time to read and study the Bible today and until next time God Bless you tremendously.
If you would like to continue reading in this series of lessons you may continue to “Part 6” now.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Being Led by the Written Word of God! Part 4
(ver 1.2) This is Part 4 in a series of basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. If you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start reading with “Part 1“. The spiritual importance of this series will be significantly greater than most other lessons that I have done if you can grasp them. Learning this series intimately will build a strong foundation for further spiritual growth. Why did Jesus constantly say, “Let him who has ears to hear, hear”? (Mat 11:15, Mat 13:9, Mat 13:43) Jesus understood that when anyone teaches spiritual things the human mind is so cluttered with natural thingsand that these natural things are used by Satan to block or blind the hearer so they do not understand the truth. I am currently going through a list in random order of the recorded methods in the Bible that God has used to communicate with the human race in an attempt to lead them into the paths that they should go. I have attempted to emphasize that whenever God leads an individual, it is always intended to cause them a positive outcome. God will never lead you into harm, hurt or the paths of destruction. I based this belief upon a scripture found in Jeremiah 29:11 that says God has thoughts of peace towards us and not evil and that God desires us to have a positive outcome. Therefore I have concluded that God speaks to people in order to cause an expected specific greater outcome than one that may have occurred without this divine impartation of information. I completely believe that the leading of the Lord will benefit all those who have selected to listen. There are many other types of people in the earth today that believe God is sitting in heaven just waiting for us to do wrong so that He can strike us down with His iron fist of judgment. However, that is not the loving God that I know who wants us to listen to His Word to have good success (Joshua 1:8). Let’s review my list of 12 methods that I gave you in the last three lessons:
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
These are the 12 methods that I have discovered while reading and studying the Bible. Some I have experienced personally and others I have learned about from people that have experienced them and all of them can be found in the Bible to establish their importance. From this list I have introduced you to methods 12, 9, 8, 3, 2 and 1 so far. I also briefly talked about number 7 in conjunction with other methods that God has used to lead people primarily in the Old Testament. For example, the burning bush that Moses encountered was clearly an external visible sign that was designed to get his attention. We also know that the children of Israel were led in the wilderness with a visible pillar of fire by night and the visible clouds by day and I taught you these were Old Testament typologies of how God will also lead the church today by His Spirit. I think today I’m going to teach on only number 6, the written word of God. The importance of the Word of God is so obvious to me yet to others it is the last place they look to find out what they should be doing in the present situations of their life. That is a dangerous attitude that will result in their eventual doomed failure. I’m going to start by talking about why the Bible is so important for us to know:
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
If “all scripture” (notice that it does not say some) was given to us by the inspiration of God why, is the Bible disrespected, treated as unimportant and even trivialized by so many on the earth today? Clearly the Bible is the most well-read book in the world. Clearly the Bible is the besting selling book in the world. Yet these facts are ignored by the media and the press and that attitude has even crept into the church. I have heard ministers of God (?) get up and speak and they never opened the Bible to teach from it and that is a grave mistake. This verse claims that all of the scriptures on the pages of the Bible have been God breathed. The English word “inspiration” is built upon a fascinating concept. To “inspire” someone is to build them up in confidence and to cause them to potentially do something they would have or could have never done otherwise. A good sport’s coach will always give great inspiring words to the team to help motivate them to success and to build their confidence. The coach’s words are success seeds planted in the player’s minds and hearts. This is how the Word of God also works. The Greek word here translated as “inspiration” is a compound word meaning “divine breath”. It could literally be stated as the wind of God; thus Wind of God = Word of God! Meaning the Words written on the pages of the Bible came from the mouth of God and they were only given to a man to write down by the Spirit of God for everyone else to read. This is just like getting a personal letter or an email from God today. The Words were all carefully selected and designed by God to build us up in confidence, to educate us spiritually, then to give to us the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of God so that we would know what to do at the right times in our life.
DON’T LET THE TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR BELIEFS!
I recently had a man tell me what I wrote about homosexuality offended him. He told me his life style was not his choice and God loved him just like he was. He went on to say that homosexuality was not a sin. This is a classic example of self-righteous blindness. To exalt yourself to a place or to a level beyond where you actually are is clearly an act of prideful ignorance. Satan failed in this same way first as the anointed cherub Lucifer and now he causes men to be deceived in the same way to cause them to fall into this same flattering trap of pride. Satan has said “I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). You can see that Satan is attempting to exalt himself to a level that he was clearly not at. Can you see the parallels to my homosexual commenter? I do not isolate any sin to exclude all of the rest intentionally. I only have done this because they are ignoring the Bible to try to proclaim a new reality outside of the Bible. It is very obvious to me that the Bible teaches against homosexuality. To ignore the Bible and continue the way you are going is like ignoring the highway warning signs and going against the traffic the wrong way. Then there is this fact also that the Bible clearly says “ALL have sinned” (Rom 3:23). Another Bible verse says “if anyone says they have no sin, they have deceived themselves (1 John 1:8) Therefore my homosexual commenter has self-deceived himself into believing he has no sin. To not be humble enough to admit you have done wrong, is a dangerous cliff to stand on or even near. Ignorance of the Word of God is the same as ignoring the Word of God. Both will result in the same self-desructive end.
I AM THE LORD AND I CHANGE NOT!
What I am teaching you right now, is that God is not going to tell you anything on Judgment day that is not already written in His word today. You will have no excuse if you did not read His Word and try to find out what God has already said on the subject when you are standing to be judged. To ignore the Bible and to live the life you want to in full disregard of the God breathed words will cause the eventual judgment of God to fall. God does love sinners but He died for their sins in order to permit them to repent and come out of their sin. I’m trying to tell you that reading the Bible deserves the same level of respect and reverential treatment as if you were standing before God right now. If you go into reading the Bible with this attitude you will be approaching the throne of His knowledge, grace, mercy, wisdom and counsel with the right attitude. I’ll tell you this also, the Spirit of God will speak to you while you are reading His word if you ask Him to and if you ask the right questions and you are reading with this humble attitude. If you ask the Spirit of God to prove your doctrinal theology do not expect to hear from God. But, if you ask God to show you the truth this is a Biblical request that is founded on the Word of God and I’ll talk more about that in a bit. I have had the Spirit of God speak to me while I was studying the Bible so plainly that it opened up the verses so that I could understand them very clearly. It was like turning a spiritual light on and suddenly I could see what the words on the page said. People in the world read the Bible with their limited natural light and ignore the spiritual light and thus they never see the words on the page and they remain in their spiritual darkness.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF BEING LED BY THE WORD OF GOD!
When I was first filled with the Spirit of God I was a new born babe in Christ and I did not understand how God leads us. So I had a major problem in my life at that time and I was praying and seeking God for direction and help. I had recently lost my job because the software company that I was working for in California went bankrupt and we were all let go rather abruptly with no further income. The job market back then was not as bad as it is now, but it was also not great either. I needed God’s help desperately. One evening I asked the Lord to speak to me and I opened my Bible randomly and put my finger on a verse and read it and saw that God was speaking through what was written there and it said that He had a job for me. I do not recommend this approach unless you are a new born baby Christian like I was. This is technically like playing Russian roulette with the Word of God. I know it worked out for me and encouraged me, but what if I had landed on a verse that said something about someone’s death or destruction would that mean that is what will happen to me? I hope you see the problem with this approach of hearing God speak from His Word about a specific personal job problem. I do not know how to explain to you why it worked for me, but somehow the Spirit of God understood my situation and directed me to the right book, the right chapter and the right verse and there it was, God speaking to me. From this early Christian experience I have concluded that any verse in the Bible has the potential to be a right now Word from God that is applicable to the current situation in your life. If God’s words are inspired like the Bible teaches us, then these are the Words that He wrote thousands of years ago for you and I today. I will also say I do not do this anymore, nor did I do it again. I learned and grew in spiritual things over the years and now God uses other methods of communication that I will teach on later.
YOU CANNOT SEPARATE GOD FROM HIS WORD!
The Word of God is directly connected to the Spirit of God. According to the Bible, they are technically one in the same. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. Jesus said in John “The Words that I speak they are Spirit…” (John 6:63). The Bible also says that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word will never pass away” (Mat 24:35). Therefore the Word of God is infinitely eternal like the Spirit of God is infinitely eternal. From these verses I have learned a lot about God and God’s Word. They have also brought new emphasis to me knowing the Word of God. Remember that the Bible contains the general knowledge of God and the historical account of God’s coming to the earth in the flesh, His covenants, His purpose and His prophesied plans for us. But also understand that it contains far greater advanced spiritual information of how He works, what He thinks, His character and many other hidden qualities of our God. The knowledge of this information should inspire you greatly to rise above the evils of this present world and to achieve the great plan that He has laid out for you to follow.
BEING A DISCIPLE OF THE WORD OF GOD!
To be a disciple is to be a student. Jesus was called a Rabbi and a teacher (John 3:2). As we read in 2 Timothy 3:16, the Bible was given to us for instruction and this means it can teach us spiritual things that we would never have learned from anywhere else. The Word of God is also a place to find correction. If you feel you do not need correction you are deceived in a state of self-righteousness. If you have ever steered a sailboat in the ocean or piloted an airplane on a trip, then you understand that course corrections are always necessary. When I learned to sail a boat in San Diego I quickly learned that you can never sail directly into the wind. Uh oh? I was talking about the Word of God being the Wind of God earlier. Did you know if the wind is coming out of the north and you want to go north that you have to zigzag between going northwest and northeast to eventually get north? I actually believe that this applies to Bible study. Constant course corrections are required to arrive at the true north of God’s word. Everyone needs correction, including me and especially me. So while we read the Bible we need to look to hear God speak in the areas that fit these descriptive terms of instruction and correction. While the Bible does not have any place written in it that tells you who to marry, where to work or where to live, you can learn character and establish basic moral standards that will help to guide you into making the right choices in these other areas of life. Later I will teach you that the Spirit of God will lead you in those other more personal areas also.
Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
I want you to see one aspect of the guidance of the Holy Spirit that is absolutely essential to know and understand. Jesus is speaking to the His disciples and He tells them they have a problem. Wow, this is so amazing if you can see it. What can’t Jesus say now that He can wait and say later that will be understood at that time? I run across people like this on the internet constantly. They are not able to receive spiritual things so they become offended and never speak to me again. I had one commenter that I recently tried to help and they shut down the conversation and I never heard from the again. Spiritual things are tough to handle if you are a naturally dominated being. Paul calls this being a spiritual child trying to eat spiritual meat when they can only handle spiritual milk ( 1 Cor 3;2). Since I do not know people on the internet always at first, I find out very quickly and sometimes too late when they cannot handle spiritual meat. This is a major challenge to teaching on the internet an advanced Bible study that wants to focus on the deep meaty subjects and when children come in and try to read the lessons and they begin to spiritually choke and what do I do? This is probably the greatest challenge that I face. If I only teach milk lessons nobody will grow to learn to eat meat. If I only teach meat lessons the baby Christians are easily offended and never come back. Wow, it is tough to be me sometimes; that was just a joke!
What I want you to focus in on in John 16:13, is where Jesus says the Spirit of Truth is responsible to be our guide into us knowing the truth. A guide is someone who will lead you, yes? Being led is the main subject of this series so this verse is of central importance to knowing God’s responsibility and your responsibility. In every leader and follower relationship it is always important to not get the roles reversed in your mind. You need to remember who you are and who God is! Following a leader who knows where they are going is also essential for success. Since God is omniscient, He is the best qualified to be our guide to the truth. If the Spirit of God leads those that are His children, John 16:13 states Him to be our Spiritual Truth Guide. So technically being led by the Spirit of God is a multi-layered partnership between man and God with each holding equal responsibilities. Actually I’m going to modify that last statement somewhat. The responsibility of being led falls more on us than it does God. God leading us is a very easy task for Him to do, even if He is leading a billion people simultaneously. No, the majority of the effort of being led by the Spirit of God is placed directly upon our shoulders. We are responsible to know how God leads. We are responsible for hearing God lead us. We are then responsible to being willing and obedient to be led. Finally we are responsible to follow the instructions. That makes the life of following infinitely more complex than the Spirit of God leading us. I hope you understand that concept?
Knowing you do not know the truth is the first step to being led into the paths of truth. I’m not sure if you heard what I just said, but it was important. I meet people on the internet monthly who believe they already know everything and I can see that they know nothing of any spiritual value of how things work. I want you to remember a verse that Jesus taught us in the book of John:
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
There are too many Christians who like to misquote this verse and take it out of context to say Jesus is the truth and He has set us free, but that is not what this verse says. That would be really great if that was true, but what is the rest of the truth? Did you know that truth is relative based upon your current level of knowledge of it? Doctors today are a prime example of an ever changing truth. Doctors are said to be “practicing” medicine and this is based only on the truth that they currently know today. Everyday new research, new studies and new information shines forth that changes the reality of the truth in the field of medicine. Knowing the truth is a moving target in the medical field and this is exactly how it is in the Bible world also. This is another example of constant course corrections. Since none of us are God and we do not know everything we must always be in a state of ever increasing truth. If you read the context of this verse you discover knowing the truth is conditional and dependent upon you continuing to be a disciple of the Word of God. This means you must continue learning everything that you can while you have the chance.
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
There is so much that I could say about the Word of God. It is designed to hide information from those who are perishing while simultaneously giving us the comfort of the knowledge of this hope being described to us in Romans 15:4. If you read the lessons that I did on Understanding Bible Faith you should have learned that Bible hope is different than hope found in the world. Bible hope is based upon our confidence in the Word of God coming to pass in our lives. The world’s hope is based upon “I wish it would happen” and this Bible hope is more like when you order a package off of the internet and you look daily out your window to see if it is being delivered. In other words you are in full expecting mode believing in or having faith in the place you purchased the package the delivery company bringing you the package. Bible hope is like a pregnant woman awaiting the delivery of her child. This is the basis of Bible hope. Knowing that there is a set outcome before the outcome arrives is faith and hope in God’s Word. This verse in Romans 15:4 declares God Word to be for our place of learning. This is where I just stated that your knowledge is an ever increasing moving target. To learn means you don’t know it already. Just because you read the Bible from cover to cover does not mean you have arrived at knowing it all. Learning should never cease. It must be a continual process of information gathering from the Bible. That should describe you in detail especially if you are reading my Bible lessons.
IT’S TIME NOW TO LEARN THE WORD OF GOD!
When Jesus described the rich man and Lazarus after death in Luke 16 there is a realty that is presented that is very important to understand. The moral to the story is timing is everything! The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back to the earth so neither the rich man nor Lazarus was on the earth at this time of the story. The rich man asks for Lazarus to warn his brothers not to come to this place of torment. The rich man obviously understands in his mind that the consequences of his past decisions have determined his current eternal situation. The rich man however was hoping to change the destiny of someone who had not died yet. Here is where we clearly learn that the choice has been made for the rich man and it is too late for him to be saved. But, what does Abraham tell the rich man about his five brother’s future choices?
Luk 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Luk 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Abraham says the brothers have the written words of Moses and the Prophets and they need to listen to them. Of course this is another clear reference to the importance of the written Word of God given to all men and it indicates the effective timing factor for being accepted is a narrow window of life on this planet. There is a very clear emphasis given to us that if you want to be saved and not go to hell it is based upon you hearing and believing in the Word of God. This is why I teach so much on the importance of the Bible. Hearing the Bible and believing in the Bible is your only chance at a positive outcome spiritually, naturally, mentally and eternally. If you want to ignore the Bible and make your own path of salvation, you will find yourself in hell with the rich man who regretted his choice.
ARE YOU LIVING IN THE SPECTATOR WORLD?
I’m going to end this lesson with this last point. Reading the Word of God is not the complete answer to your every problem. We live in a modern spectator society. Those who sit and watch those who actually do. I hope I have have shocked some people with that statement, but I alluded to this fact earlier that it takes multiple steps of personal responsibility to be led by the Spirit of God and your participation is certainly one of the keys to your success. Watching a race is incredibly different than being in the race and we are told to run in the race of life in Hebrews 12:1. Now read this verse in James and see if you can determine which part you are fulfilling?
Jas 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
You should be able to see that there is a major difference between hearing the Word of God and doing the word of God. People hear the spirit of God many times and ignore Him and continue down their own paths. God gave us examples of this negative behavior in the Bible so we could learn from them. The man Balaam in Numbers 22 is a prime example of someone failing to be led by the Spirit of God. A king comes to Balaam and offers him things to curse the children of Israel so they do not defeat him and take his kingdom from him. Balaam is told by God not to do it repeatedly. However, Balaam still gets on his ass and goes to do what God said not to do. An angel of God stands in the path and is about to kill Balaam but the ass sees the angel and does not move forward. Balaam beats the ass and still refuses to be obedient to God. You can obviously see that Balaam was a hearer of the Word of God but not a Doer of the Word of God and he is not spoken of positively in the rest of the Bible. This is a key lesson for everyone today.
THEREFORE DOES IT MATTER WHAT YOU DO?
You bet it matters. If God says not to marry that man and you marry him anyway the evil that God had tried to help you avoid will now come upon you and then when you may cry out for God’s help later when you realize the mistake you have made and He might just tell you I tried to tell you and you wouldn’t listen to me. There are always major consequences to not being obedient to the Spirit of God. Frequently when something negative happens to a Christian, they can look back and determine a time that they knew they should not have done that and that was God trying to lead them. I’ll end this lesson with these verses:
Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
Mat 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Jesus is teaching us about spiritual houses and not about physical houses! Both of these houses are people who we call Christians. There are two types of Christians being contrasted; the hearers only versus the hearers and the doers. Which one are you? God is giving you an example that states the storms of life are inevitable to every Christian. We could call these storms types of symbolic physical troubles and the calamities of this world. But, Jesus tells us how to overcome these negatives by introducing a greater positive called the Word of God. However both houses heard the same Word of God so hearing was not the determining factor for the successful outlasting of the storm, was it? Only the house that understood what was said, believed what was written and finally did what was written overcame the storm and emerged victorious. This is very much like the children’s story of the three little pigs and their enemy the big bad wolf. The wise Christian is always the one that Satan cannot blow his house down, because it is founded on the Word of God. The other house fell and Jesus said great was the destruction of that house. I’ll ask you again, is it important to know the Word of God? Is it important to understand the Word of God? Is it important to believe the Word of God? Finally, is it important to actually do the Word of God? According to God Himself it is most certainly VERY IMPORTANT to be led by the Word of God! Thanks for reading and studying about being led by the Spirit of God and we will continue this lesson series soon. God Bless!
If you would like to continue learning in this series, you may continue with “Part 5“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Methods that God Uses to Lead His People! Part 3
(ver 1.2) This is Part 3 in a series of basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. The spiritual value contained within this series will be significantly greater than most other lessons that I have done if you can grasp them. I am currently going through a list in random order of the recorded methods in the Bible that God has used to communicate with the human race in order to lead them into the paths that they should go. I believe that by studying the past we can better understand the present and even possibly the future. I am convinced that God wrote these things in the Bible to teach us who He is and how He operates. While God is certainly not limited to these methods, He has set precedence for establishing their validity and importance for us knowing about them by recording them in His Word. God reveals His unique character and His personalities to us in many ways that are often missed. In the first lesson I showed you that God says the secret hidden qualities of God are clearly seen in the things that He has created. This of course confounds the wisdom of natural men who proclaim a self-creating world. These people deny the intelligent design patterns found in plain sight and believe they have occurred by random chance and an unexplained origination of order from a disordered big bang. Organization and structure from chaos is a popular imaginative theory of man used to explain away God’s involvement. However I have never seen an explosion bring anything but destruction. That is a scary approach to base your eternal destiny. I would suggest if you have not read this series from the beginning that you would go to “Part 1” and start there first. So today I will continue with the Spirit of God’s methods of speaking to us and hopefully someone out there will see and understand them to know how God can still communicate with them today. Let’s review my list of 12 methods that I gave you in the last lesson:
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
These are the 12 methods that I have discovered while reading and studying the Bible. Some I have experienced and others I have learned about from others who have experienced them and all of them can be found in the Bible to establish their importance. From this list I have introduced you to methods 12, 7, 2 and 1. We saw the Finger of God writing on the tablets of stone which contained the Words of God for the children of Israel. We saw the voice of God walking in the Garden in Genesis and speaking to Adam and Eve. We also reviewed some of the facts presented in creation that reveal God’s hidden characteristics. Let’s go to number 3 on the list now and see how God has used angels to communicate with man in the Bible.
ANGELS, GOD’S MESSENGERS!
I’ll start by saying that I have never seen an angel that I know of. But, I have spoken with people who have seen them so I believe that they exist by reading the Word of God and hearing the testimony of Christian witnesses. There are several verses in the Bible that indicate the angels can appear as men and look exactly like one of us and therefore we are not always able to know when we have encountered one. Read in Genesis 19 and see what God says about the angels visiting Lot in Sodom. They come walking up to the city just like any normal man would have done and they eat and sleep in Lot’s house like any normal man would also do. Finally, the next morning they take Lot and his family out of the city before it is supernaturally destroyed. It sounds more like the actions of men rather than it does of angels from reading the description of them in this chapter. However, this was the direct ministry of the angels of God in full demonstration. These angels were sent by God because of God’s conversation with Abram. Lot’s family was saved because of the covenant relationship that God had with Abram at this point in time and Abraham’s request to save the righteous Lot. Lot is a type of the church in the present evil world before the coming of Christ, if you did not know it? It is also important to know that Jesus taught about this in the Gospels as a direct patterned type of the end times that we are living within right now. Let’ me show you:
Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Understanding that angels will be involved in the last days exactly like they were in the days of Lot should cause you to rethink what to look for in the coming days before Christ’s return. If angels came to Lot and ate and drank with them and even slept in their houses we should really come up to a higher level of expectation to what they will be doing right now before the coming tribulation. It also says that the angels will be the ones to take us out of here before the destruction of the world comes to fruition. You can learn this by seeing the parable that Jesus taught on the wheat and the tares where the harvesters or the reapers we are told are the angels and the wheat are the children of God and the tares are the children of Satan (Mat 13:39). The story of Lot proves two things to me; we (the church) will know the day that the destruction will come because it will begin the day that we are taken out by God. I did not set any dates, so do not misunderstand what I just said. Let’s continue to study the subject of angels and see what else the Bible says about their work methods. The New Testament actually has a verse that will fit here very nicely on this subject of angels:
Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
You can see that we are requested or even required to entertain strangers because we might be entertaining angels and even be unaware of the encounter. What would have happened to Lot’s family if they would have not hosted the men that came to them in Sodom? That is a very good question to consider. What you need to know about reading Hebrews 13:2 is that you may not always know what is happening when an angel shows up to help you. There are clearly instances when angels do not present themselves as humans in the Bible, but there are also those times when they do. This seems to be another demonstration of the sovereign will of God in determining how to manifest and how to communicate with people. This makes walking with God much more complicated doesn’t it? Or perhaps it makes it more simple depending upon your point of view. To be consistently kind and loving to everyone will result in a simpler Christian life rather than trying to be kind to some and then to ignore all of the others. This however can be misleading when you are good to evil men and they do nothing but hurt you. That is where wisdom comes in. One night I was walking in downtown Dallas TX late at night with my two young children. All of sudden I noticed two teenagers coming towards me rapidly and the situation looked grave. I then pleaded the blood of Jesus Christ for divine protection and turned to walk the other way when I saw 4 people out of nowhere come towards me who were very safe and peaceful feeling so I walked to them and then turned and walked with them. The two thugs came to the 7 of us in a group and started asking stupid questions and eventually ran off. One of the ladies in the group turned to me and said “thank you”. I had not said anything to them about me or what was happening to me. So why did she say “thank you”? I do not know other than me praying and asking God for help. That is all I did. Were these angels that came to answer my prayer from God? I honestly cannot say. I just know they came at the right time and then disappeared in the darkness and I never saw them or spoke to them again. Maybe it was just an amazing coincidence, but I believe otherwise. I believe Hebrews 13:2 is saying that we should be kind to everyone because it just might be an angel with a message from God that we are speaking with. I have heard the testimony of other people where a man suddenly appears and saves them or pulls them out of a burning car and the man disappears not to be known again. These could all be examples of modern angelic encounters and we will probably learn about them someday when the Bible says that we will Judge the angels (1 Cor 6:3).
Exo 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Here are actually two methods of God communicating with humans combined into one. Understand that God can combine methods for greater emphasis when it is necessary. Exodus 3:2 says that God has sent an angel to Moses with a message and the angel appears to him in a visible form of a burning bush, but the bush is never consumed by the flame. Clearly this was an example of a supernatural fire and not a natural one. It is also not an angel in the form of a man with a message either. Reading the rest of the chapter we can see that the angel was given a very direct and specific message for Moses by God. It is actually very interesting to read this conversation. It is clearly as if God was present and speaking to Moses in the first hand. In each verse it says “The Lord said” and “God called unto him”. So was it the LORD or was it the angel present or was there a difference between the two? In other words did it matter? Here is where you should begin to understand if an angel shows up with a message, it is not the words of the angel, it is the Words of the Holy God sent through an angel. So when the words come out and are spoken by the angel, they are the direct Words from God. This makes the words as important as if you were standing before the throne of God and listening to God in person. This is a factor that is very important for you to grasp. Treat the Words spoken to you by an angel to be God’s Words with respect, awe and reverence. The Words of God have great significance, power and meaning no matter how they are delivered to you. If God has a message for you using any of the 12 methods in my list, you should treat it like you were hearing it directly from God. This is called faith and it demonstrates reverence, respect and humility. God is never required to speak to anyone, but He does this out of love by His grace.
We can clearly see that the angel got Moses’ attention using the external visible sign post of a burning bush. Sometimes on rare occasions God will do spectacular supernatural things to get people’s attention that are either stubborn, hard headed, spiritually deaf, dull of hearing, unaware of God’s leading or do not want to listen to God’s voice. This normally occurred more often in the Old Testament before people were saved and the Spirit of God becomes resident within them. Keep this in mind that the more dull or dense that you are spiritually speaking the more spectacular God may have to become to get your full attention. It is always much better to rise up and become receptive and aware of spiritual things than it may be to try to wait for God to come down to your level of carnal awareness. In other words you should be gravitating upwards towards spiritual things and away from the downward natural things of this world. This is called spiritual growth and it is a key factor in learning to be led by the Spirit of God.
Angels are common messengers sent by God to deliver messages to His people from Genesis to Revelation. If you look up the Greek or the Hebrew words translated as angel you will see that it means a literal “messenger”. I equate angels to be like our modern delivery services like UPS or FedEx. These companies do not generate packages, they just deliver them. You can see the activity of angels in almost every book of the Bible. Even today an angel can still appear to you with a message from God. I have heard several people tell me about how they saw angels and even heard a message from God from one of them. Do not discount or discourage angels and do not seek for their manifestations either. If God so chooses He can use an angel to deliver a personal message of direction to you, but it is up to God. You can see angels coming to Lot, Abraham and Jacob in Genesis. You can see angels coming to Moses and Daniel. You can even see God’s usage of angels in the books of Acts with Peter and Paul. Finally you can see that angels play a very key role in the book of Revelation. I did not attempt to mention every example, I just wanted you to see that angels are real and that they can be used by God to deliver a message at any time in several different forms. Let’s jump down to number 9 in the list and look at dreams next.
VISIONS OF THE NIGHT AKA DREAMS!
Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.
Dreams from God are nothing but spiritual visions of the night when the body is at complete rest and the human mind is still enough to be able to hear the voice of God. Most of the time you have to realize that one reason why people do not think they ever hear from God is because their mind is constantly active thinking on something unrelated to God. God will not interrupt your thoughts to even give you an important message. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate Gentleman. He never interrupts and He is always courteous using the utmost gentlemanly manners. Dreams are mentioned in nearly 90 different verses of the Bible, but mostly in the Old Testament. Dreams are used by God many times in the Bible to get the attention of people to deliver them an important message. God used dreams in the life of Joseph in Genesis to help prepare him for the coming hard life that he was going to go through. God also used dreams to help the future husband of Mary who was also named Joseph in Matthew to marry her. God uses a dream here in Genesis 20:3 to tell the king that he was a dead man for taking another man’s wife. God is in effect directly warning the king that what he has done violates common decency and the plan of God for Abraham and Sarah. Abimelech could have ignored the dream as just a bad meal that he ate before he went to bed or it could be that he gave it the priority it deserved and changed what he was about to do. Sometimes dreams are more vivid and real than at other times. You might know what I am a talking about. I believe Abimelech must have had one of these dramatic vivid dreams to get his full attention. Dreams are mentioned by God even in the book of Acts so we know they are still an active method used by God to communicate with people today:
Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
There are actually three methods of God used to communicate with people on the earth in this single verse. God clearly tells us that dreams will continue to be used even in the last days (final two thousand years). This means you should give dreams greater priority than you probably do today. A dream that you had last night might have been a direct message from God. Sometimes dreams need interpretation from God and other times they do not. The dream in Genesis 20:3 needed no interpretation. But, the dream of the pharaoh in Egypt when Joseph was in prison needed interpretation from Joseph in order to be understood. Not too long ago I had a dream about somebody I knew. I dreamed that they were killed and died a very young death. So I took it to be a message from God to pray for them and I did that. I do not discount or discourage dreams from occurring. I try to take them and use them as a message from God and I hope you will do this also. I probably could spend a lot more time on the subject of dreams, but I do not want to get into that level of detail in an overview lesson about how God speaks to people today. I’ll end the subject of dreams with this important verse:
Dan 2:19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
God declares to us that Daniel was given secrets from God in a dream of the night. God called this a night vision into the spiritual dimension. What is a secret? Why is it sometimes good to know secrets? I guess it depends on who has the secret, but in this case if God gives you a secret it will be incredibly important new information. I believe that God leads His people by occasionally disclosing secrets. I hope you are grasping the concepts that I am giving you about why it is important to listen to even a dream. You can see that Daniel was called blessed because of this supernatural encounter. Awesome stuff to know! The other two methods in Acts 2:17 of divine communication are the Prophet prophesying and the use of visions by the Spirit of God. Since we are discussing night visions let’s talk about number 8 in my list, the subject of day visions briefly and we will do prophets later.
DAY VISIONS – WINDOWS INTO THE SPIRITUAL REALM
Gen 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
God comes to people with guidance in the Bible using spiritual visions many times. I’ve done other lessons on what visions are so I will not go into great detail about them again today. However, a spiritual vision is a temporary window into the unseen spiritual dimension seen or observed from someone within the natural realm. In other words you do not have visions in heaven, you can see the real first hand there, but here in the temporary natural realm we are occasionally given glimpse of the supernatural realm to help us or teach us something that is important for us to understand. Natural human vision is limited to the narrow natural light spectrum and I personally believe that the spiritual dimension is on a much higher frequency level that is way beyond this normal visual range. I believe that spiritual beings like angels and demons are moving at much higher frequencies than is necessary for humans to perceive them with their natural eyes. I certainly do believe that spiritual beings exist all around us at all times, but that we just do not perceive them with our physical senses. We however see that angels and spiritual beings can manifest in the Bible within the natural realm. How they do this is not given to us by God in the Bible that I know of right now. I speculate that the angels slow down their movement to allow their frequency of measure to become visible but that is just my opinion and probably not valid. God says in Genesis 15:1 that the Word of God came to Abraham in the form of a vision. This is clearly just another method that God uses to communicate with people on the earth. God is doing something supernatural to Abram in this verse to permit him to hear the voice of God and to see the things that he could have never seen otherwise. If you read this chapter we are told that Abram sees a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passing through the bloody covenant animal pieces on the ground. This is clearly symbolism for a greater spiritual truth that is being presented. Jesus when speaking to the Jewish leaders said “Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). You see the vision that God gave to Abraham was a future display of Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth. That is another good lesson to learn, but I do not have the time to expand it fully. However know that many times when God speaks to people it is an attempt to point them to Jesus who is the only way to be saved.
John was given a major vision in order to write the book of Revelation. God showed Him many things that would not occur for nearly two thousand years. This is just another New Testament example that God still uses visions. Saul had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. You can read about this vision in Acts 26 being described by Paul. In Acts 16 and 18 there are two other night visions described that happen to Paul. These are potentially dreams, but he may have been awake and just having a vision in the dark of night while praying. Visions can be open or closed and I do not have time to fully explain the difference. One occurs with your eyes wide open and the other is you with your eyes closed in a trance like state. In the Old Testament the servant of Elisha came to him while they were surrounded by an army that was about to wipe them out and Elisha said this to the servant:
2Ki 6:16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
This is a great example of an open vision in the Bible. The natural eyes of the servant were opened to see that the mountains around them were full of spiritual chariots of fire. The servant was permitted by the prayer of Elisha the prophet and the grace of God to be able to see what he normally would not have been able to see. This is still how it can occur today also. Prayer can cause your eyes to be opened if God chooses to enlighten you with this privilege. It is still up to God. You are not going to make God do anything.
I know I have not covered every example that I wanted to today, but I have gone long enough for another lesson. We covered three more methods in this lesson so in all I have introduced you to half of the ways that God has recorded in the Bible to speak to us. If God has ever used one of these methods in my list to get your attention, I would like to hear about it. If you know of other methods that God used to communicate with you, I would like to hear about that also. You may share your personal experience with me and my readers to help us all grow in the knowledge of the Lord. If you have ever seen angels I would like to hear about them. If you have ever seen a vision or had a dream it would be great to hear about that also, but you do not have to tell me what they said. Please come back and we will cover more examples of how the Spirit of God communicates with the people on the earth in the next lesson. If you have comments or questions on anything that I have said or if you want to share your experience of how God has communicated with you, then please do that. God Bless you until next time.
If you would like to continue reading in this series you may go to “Part 4“.