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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 3

Does God Speak To You? Part 3

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the November-December 1979 issue of the Midnight Cry Messenger.)

This is the third and final part on the subject “Does God Speak To You?” In a day of religious form when God for the most part is theory to many professing Christians, it is challenging and refreshing to believe that the God of miracles and the early church is our God.

Our desire in this article is to simply provoke God’s people to the realization that the days of miracles have not passed away. The cause of our spiritual dearth is apostate unbelief. Even Jesus was limited in what he could do when he went back to Nazareth because of their unbelief. Matt. 13:5b. When we begin believing in the God of the Bible then the God of the Bible will confirm his word as he did in New Testament times.

Although we personally are not very good examples of this spiritual reality we are convinced that God has, on certain occasions, confirmed his word and spoken to us. May we share some of these experiences with you?

Experiences

I could relate many experiences of my own and others in which God used his word in a most unusual way to speak in times of need. However I will confine my remarks to three examples.

Once I was disturbed, and praying, because of certain things taking place which affected the church. As I was praying, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Who are you trusting?”

Immediately I said, “Lord, I am trusting you.”

The Lord replied, “If you are trusting me, what does that make you?”

Immediately I thought of Jeremiah 17:7 which says, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”

As this scripture came to my mind, I said, “Why Lord, that makes me blessed. I am a blessed man.”

With this revelation from God’s word all anxiety left me and I experienced the peace and rest of God. Needless to say, I got up from my knees and began to rejoice in the goodness of the Lord.

Another time I was walking in the woods and praying. I was discouraged and dissatisfied with the lack of results in the church at that time. As I prayed I began to compare myself with myself in times past. I was telling the Lord about my revivals and the successes I had experienced at one time. Compared to the past I felt I was doing very little.

I was actually complaining and telling the Lord I wanted to quit if I couldn’t accomplish any more than I was at the present time. Suddenly as I prayed in this manner, the Lord spoke to me using a passage of scripture I had never fully understood.

He said, “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” John 21:18.

To say the least, I was stunned. I knew the Lord had spoken these words to Peter. But I also knew he was saying this to me. I wasn’t imagining this. Under no circumstances would I have ever applied this scripture to myself. What did it mean? As I meditated on the meaning, it became as clear as a bell.

The Lord was telling me that those things of the past that I thought were so great weren’t as great as I thought they were. It was actually me girding myself and doing my own thing. He was telling me that when I grew old I would realize I had no strength of my own. I would no longer run in my own wisdom and strength. In my destitution I would stretch forth my hands to him and he would give me his strength and carry me where I couldn’t and wouldn’t go in myself.

Although I had never thought of this scripture as applying to anyone other than self-willed, head-strong Peter, I could see now that it would apply to thousands of God’s people who were as blind and head-strong as Peter was.

An even more unusual experience took place several years ago when I was going over to the North Carolina coast to minister to a small group of people. While over there I stayed with a man that was sick in body who didn’t have much confidence in preachers, especially preachers who prayed for the sick. This man would almost explode if somebody wanted to pray for him. He seemed bitter and blamed preachers because they didn’t heal people like Jesus did.

Despite all this, the man and his wife welcomed me into their home and, strange as it may seem, I had wonderful fellowship with them. I was very careful to avoid controversy and stay with things we could agree on.

However, at the first night’s service I preached on the subject “According To Your Faith Be It Unto You.” I wanted him to see he was responsible to believe God himself instead of blaming the preachers. Needless to say, things were very quiet in the car on the trip back to the house after the service that night. At the house I was very careful to avoid the touchy subject.

As I prepared for bed I noticed this man settling down in a chair in the hall. Upon inquiry he told me there was no need to go to bed as he couldn’t sleep. He had some kind of a thyroid condition that was worse when he would lie down and try to sleep. In fact, he told me he hadn’t been to bed in several nights.

As I went to my room I felt sort of guilty leaving the poor man out in the hall, sitting in a chair. Feeling there was nothing I could do I went to bed and tried to go to sleep. However, I found I could not relax and go to sleep for thinking about the poor man sitting outside in the chair.

After about thirty minutes a small, still voice spoke to my heart and said, “Get up and pray for him that he might go to bed and get some rest and that he might know that you are my servant and I have sent you.” I said to myself, “I’m imagining things. This couldn’t be the Lord. Why would he want this man to know that I am the Lord’s servant?”

Feeling confident that this wasn’t the Lord, I turned over and tried to relax and forget it. After a few minutes the same words came to me again and I gave the same argument again only this time I added another reason why this couldn’t be the Lord. It wouldn’t do to suggest prayer for this man knowing how he felt about preachers. I didn’t want to get run off in the middle of the night. Once again I turned over and tried to go to sleep.

But sleep fled from me as I lay there still arguing with myself. I was actually arguing with the Lord but not aware of it. After a few more minutes those words came to me the third time, only more forcefully. This time I told the Lord I wanted to do his will if I could believe it was his will.

Suddenly I had an idea that I thought would settle this thing. I told the Lord if he could speak to me through the scriptures I would have faith to obey him. Frankly I could not think of any scripture that would apply to this situation. How wrong I was!

I got an answer from the Lord as soon as I had made this proposition. The Lord said, “When I sent the disciples out I told them to let their peace be upon the homes of those that received them.” I said, “Lord, do you mean that scripture can be applied to this situation?”

The Lord said to me, “Haven’t these people opened their home and welcomed you into it? This makes them worthy. They are entitled to the benefits of this promise.” Matt. 10:11-14.

Never in all of my life had I heard of this scripture being used. It had always been something strictly for the disciples during the days of Christ. Truly the Bible is a living book. It is for us today.

Neither the man nor his wife knew what was going on between the Lord and me in that room. With the revelation of this scripture I had faith to get up and call the man to the door for prayer. I simply told him I wanted to pray for him that he could go to bed and get some rest. Standing with the door ajar he humbly submitted while I prayed a short, simple prayer. I went back to bed then and was able to relax and go to sleep.

Shortly after prayer the man went to bed and fell into a deep, peaceful sleep. I was awake an hour or so after daybreak and resting quietly when I heard the man awaken in the room next to mine. Upon awakening he exclaimed to his wife, “Lord, have mercy, I have slept all night long.” As his feet hit the floor, he cried out, “Brother Thomas, are you awake?” When I told him I was, he said, “Can I come in?” Of course I said “yes” and he came on into the room.

Upon reaching my bed the man fell on his knees with tears in his eyes and said to me, “Brother Thomas, there is a man of God in the house.”

Some may wonder at this display of emotion which I certainly did not anticipate, nor want. But as I considered what had taken place I could see what the Lord had done.

First of all he wanted to change the man’s attitude which was actually bitter. He wanted him to know that despite his attitude he did have servants in the earth that he honored. When we are overcome by a wrong attitude, even though we are technically right, we may be in a worse condition than those we condemn.

Secondly, the Lord wanted to teach me a lesson. He wanted me to see how wrong we are in many of our religious concepts. And he wanted me to realize that his word is just as applicable today as it was two thousand years ago. I might add that we don’t have to seek the praise or approval of men, God himself will bear witness and honor us as he sees fit.

Yes, God speaks to men today. But he does not want us to be overly concerned about how, when or where this takes place. Our great concern should be to love and worship him and simply seek to do his will. He will not leave us in the dark when we need light. When there is a need we must trust him, knowing he fully understands our condition and will do what is best for us in process of time.

Things To Guard Against

We need to be careful about telling anyone about the source of wisdom we need. Too many people love to give advice and there are always some who can conjure up just the answer they think you need. The Lord will honor you when you look to him directly. Jesus said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matt. 6:6.

Genuine faith is when we look to the Lord alone for our help, not trusting in the arm of flesh, including our own. Although the Lord uses various means to answer or meet our needs he is honored when we let him make that choice. This alone is the faith that pleases God. Heb. 11:6.

Not only do we need to guard against trusting in the arm of flesh for our help but we need to be careful lest we dictate to the Lord about how he answers us. God has promised us wisdom liberally but it is his sovereign prerogative to give us that wisdom when and how he pleases. Being God he knows better than we do.

Many times the Lord will answer us without others being aware of it. When the answer comes it will minister faith to us and satisfy our inquiring heart. Whether the Lord speaks to our heart personally, sends an angel to us, gives us a dream, a vision, or speaks to us through the word, wisdom from above always brings peace and rest with it. James 3:17.

The next thing we need to guard against is moving in a state of anxiety or fear. Move in faith. Faith brings peace and rest. Wait on the Lord until you can move in faith. Satan, through unbelief, ministers fear and anxiety to us. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” II Tim. 1:7.

Waiting on God requires time and patience. We are to “ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” James 1:6-7.

It is when we are in a state of anxiety, fear and unrest that the winds (evil spirits) of error and misdirection come against us. Hold on to God until the wind (Holy Spirit) of peace comes to your rescue. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7.

Signs

Some do not think that God speaks to man unless it is attended by a spiritual earthquake. This is the spirit of the sign seeker. Instead of having signs following them that believe, this is a case of supposed believers following signs.

Actually this is a manifestation of unbelief. God does not answer unbelief. When religious man persists in seeking signs he may get them but not from God. Such unbelief as this attracts satanic power with lying signs and wonders.

Religious unbelief that seeks signs is responsible for so much fanaticism and emphasis of experience. Most of the people caught up in this web of satanic conspiracy have little knowledge of the word of God and are very unstable. Many of them will follow the devil if he shows them a sign. Deut. 13:1-5, Matt. 12:38-39, John 6:28-30, I Cor. 1:22-23.

From Deut. 13:1-5, Matt. 24:24 and II Thess. 2:9-12 it will be seen that God permits signs by the false prophet to prove his people. Even though God may see fit to give us a sign, we certainly shouldn’t seek signs. God’s people should seek their answers in faith based upon his word.

The Church

In seeking to hear from God we need to honor and respect the church which is Christ’s body. It is not a building, an organization or just any group of people. The church is his habitation or earthly dwelling place. Ps. 132:13-18, Eph. 2:19-22 and Matt. 18:20.

It is by the church that God has ordained to make known the manifold wisdom of God. Eph. 3:10. To despise the church is to despise the Lord. Jesus said those that would not hear the church were to be looked upon as heathen and publicans. Matt. 18:17.

However, in considering the church we realize that much of the professing church world offers little help to those seeking God. Much of it is in spiritual darkness bound by creeds, doctrines and vain traditions. Some have been led astray by seducing spirits into doctrines of devils. I Tim. 4:1. Some, though fundamentally sound, are destitute of the life-giving Spirit.

All of this means that the seeker needs spiritual discernment. In addition to discerning the negative things in the professing church we need to be careful that we do not discount some particular church on the strength of gossip or common report. As is often the case, Satan sees to it that a church with light to help people is maligned and falsely accused.

Knowing that proud religious man is greatly influenced by reproach, Satan seeks to brand such a church as quickly as possible. As a rule the most vehement accusers of such a church are the organized church world around it. This is Satan’s most effective means of keeping potential seekers from hearing the truth.

Ostracism and reproach heaped upon a church is often a badge of honor and indication that Christ is in the midst. One thing is for sure, Christ is outside the world system and religious respectability. “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Heb. 13:13.

What To Look For

In seeking a church where the Lord is in the midst and speaking to his people, we need to know what to look for. Since there are by far more churches without a true testimony of Christ in them we need to be able to recognize these churches also.

Tradition

Blind tradition was one of the reasons the Pharisees could not recognize Jesus nor receive his word. In fact they considered him a transgressor because he did not honor their cherished traditions. Matt. 15:1-9. It was because of their tradition that the word of God was made of none effect to them. Matt. 15:6.

Religious tradition is very deceptive because it is often so close to the truth. It could be truth misapplied, truth misunderstood or truth mixed with error. It is also truth devoid of life because it is not relevant to man’s needs.

Tradition does not always ignore the scriptures but rather uses them the wrong way. Usually they are taken out of context, misinterpreted and misapplied to confirm a church’s pet doctrines and creeds.

Tradition glories in the revelation or blessings of yesterday, but it cannot see nor receive what God is saying today. Although religious tradition claims great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostles and the prophets of old, it is unable to recognize those sent of God in its day. John 5:38-46.

Religious tradition without Christ is a spirit that killed the prophets, yet built their tombs and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous. It was this spirit in Cain that slew Abel. It was this spirit in the scribes and the Pharisees that rejected and crucified Christ. It is this spirit in religion today that despises the truth. Matt. 23:29-36.

Tradition is often a manifestation of the carnal or natural man that seeks to perpetuate the glory of today’s experience. It lives in the past because it does not have the revelation of the Holy Spirit today. Being antichrist it does not seek nor honor Christ as the head of the church.

Peter’s desire to build three tabernacles, supposedly in honor of Jesus, Moses and Elijah, is an example. However, it is evident from the Father’s answer to Peter that he was not interested in perpetuating today’s experience however glorious it might be. His answer to Peter was, “...This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matt. 17:1-5.

This same principle is true today. God is not interested in our religious shrines commemorating the past. This includes experiences involving the Lord Jesus Christ, Moses and Elijah. The deader a church becomes the more statues of Jesus and the saints it builds and the more religious relics it enshrines.

Earthly Jerusalem

Idolatrous man has made religious shrines out of the supposed tomb of Jesus, the well of Samaria, Nazareth, Bethlehem, etc. This same spirit still insists on calling the natural Jew God’s chosen people. Although I will be accused of blaspheming by some, God’s word calls Jerusalem Sodom and Egypt. Rev. 11:8. Religious idolatry plus the opportunity for a fast buck is responsible for many of these trips to the Holy Land.

Ironically, earthly Jerusalem (city of peace) has been one of the most strife-filled, war-torn and bloodiest cities in the world. It was religious hatred in the hearts of those who revered Jerusalem that sent our Lord Jesus Christ to the cross.

Jerusalem was an earthly type that had to give way for the true heavenly Jerusalem that is from above and eternal. It is this Jerusalem that Jew and Gentile have come to since the birth of the church at Pentecost. Gal. 4:26, Heb. 12:18-24.

Our God is the great “I Am,” not “has been” or “will be.” He is a living God who raised Christ from the dead. By the Spirit, Christ came back and indwelt the church on the day of Pentecost. He is in our midst and speaking today to those who can hear his voice.

Religious Extremes

Churches that go to extremes, or put a strong emphasis on certain doctrines, ordinances or religious experiences may be under the influence of demons. Knowing that some people cannot be led away into obvious doctrines of devils, Satan cleverly leads some into religious extremes that accomplish the same purpose.

It is very easy to detect this condition in a church or people if you are around them very long. The religious spirit that is in them will not let them remain silent concerning their pet views. Where people have received religious spirits they feel a compulsion to share their views with others.

If a spirit has sidetracked them on the doctrine of the Godhead they will seek to minister their belief to you.

If their hang-up is sanctification, baptism, predestination, tongues evidence or otherwise, the result is the same. It is not so much the doctrine as it is the spirit ministering the doctrine. In fact, it is possible for the doctrine to be technically right and the spirit wrong.

Of necessity, religious spirits use some truth mixed in with error or wrong emphasis to deceive the listener. It is when the emphasis magnifies a doctrine or teaching to the degree that it eclipses other doctrines of the Bible that something is wrong.

Take note of any church or ministry whose main emphasis is something other than Christ and him crucified. I Cor. 2:2. The gospel has to do with Christ, the cross and the atoning blood. Man cannot be saved without it. It is the power of God unto salvation. Rom. 1:16, I Cor. 1:18. A religious emphasis that focuses attention on something else is a deception of Satan to cause man to miss Christ.

Examples

An example of this is the strong emphasis of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit that is so popular today. This appeals to the natural man because it offers him supernatural power, spiritual reality, religious ecstasy and preeminence.

This is the basic appeal of the thousand and one charismatics that have sprung up all over the world. I’m afraid most of it is natural religious man devoid of faith seeking a sign. In reality, the Holy Spirit was not given to preach or magnify the Holy Spirit. John 16:13-14.

When the ministering spirit in an individual, a group or a church is more interested in telling people about the Holy Spirit than they are Christ, something is wrong. It is not the Holy Spirit ministering through them. The center of the ministry of the Spirit is Christ and him crucified.

This is not to say that the Holy Spirit will not minister other aspects of truth relative to the needs of God’s people. This will be done as the occasion demands but the ministry of the Spirit will always come back to the emphasis that glorifies and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ.

Easy Believism

Another wrong emphasis that many are guilty of is easy believism. The desire to make it easy for seekers to become Christians and join the church is responsible for this. Like Sarah, the fear of reproach for being barren is a strong factor. Gen. 16:1-4.

Easy believism does not preach a gospel that causes the seeker to count the cost. Luke 14:28-33. This would eliminate many of their potential converts. To avoid this their message is designed to spare the flesh and get a quick easy decision. Although there is a measure of truth in easy believism much of it is devoid of the Spirit of life. It takes truth and spirit to set men free.

Without the word and the anointing man has to resort to psychological or natural means to gain converts. But the converts are children of the flesh like Ishmael and not children of promise like Isaac. Gal. 4:22-31.

It is said that D. L. Moody, although anointed of the Lord, was the forerunner of easy believism. He was a master at getting decisions. A follow-up of his converts showed that eighty percent (80%) of them fell away after awhile.

Charles G. Finney, a man mightily anointed by the Holy Spirit preached an uncompromising gospel that demanded repentance. He did not try to get decisions but depended on the Holy Spirit through the word to convict men of their sins. A follow-up of his converts revealed just the opposite result from Mr. Moody’s. Eighty percent (80%) of Mr. Finney’s converts continued on with the Lord with only twenty percent (20%) falling away.

Basically, this is what is wrong with modern evangelism. A follow-up of Billy Graham’s campaigns in several places revealed a shocking lack of results. Although thousands of professions of faith were reported they could not find a single convert in many of the churches that participated.

An anointing alone with a meager or insufficient knowledge of truth is not enough to bring men to Christ. The messenger of the Lord must have a spiritual insight into the word that enables him to employ such truth as is relevant to the need.

An example of what we mean is found in the ministry of Apollos. Acts 18:24-28, 19:1-7. Before being instructed in the way of God more perfectly by Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos was said to be an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures and fervent in the Spirit.

Although he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord he was unable to bring men into spiritual reality. Knowing only the baptism of John he could not minister apostolic baptism. This is why Paul further instructed the twelve converts of Apollos and rebaptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:1-7.

If the mighty ministry of Apollos was limited in what it could do because of a lack of spiritual knowledge, what about the modern preacher today. It is my conviction that when we get back to apostolic revelation and methods we will get apostolic results.

What We Can Expect

Although I do not know of any church moving in apostolic power and revelation today I believe God is working with a remnant church. The work of restoration spoken of by the prophet (Joel 2:25-32) is under way.

The outpouring of the Spirit promised by Joel had a near and far fulfillment. Pentecost was the former rain. The signs in the heavens and earth with the sun turned into darkness and the moon into blood did not take place as quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:16-21. These signs will follow the outpouring of the latter rain and precede the coming of Christ.

Jesus himself spoke of these signs preceding his coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matt. 24:27-31. At this coming he will gather together his elect from the four winds (Matt. 24:31) and take vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. II Thess. 2:7-10.

From the scripture above it is obvious that two things will happen at the second coming of Christ. The wicked will be punished with everlasting destruction and Jesus will be glorified in his saints.

This teaching does not give the wicked a false hope of another chance during a so-called millennial reign of a thousand years. Paul’s teaching is in harmony with Jesus’ teaching on the subject. As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the son of man.

What happened to the wicked when God sent the flood upon the earth? Matt. 24:37-39. What happened to the wicked left in Sodom when the Lord took Lot out? Luke 17:28-30. In both cases the wicked were destroyed. Peter likewise teaches the destruction of all things at the coming of Christ. II Peter 3:1-15. Jesus’ parables that have to do with his coming teach exactly the same thing, hope and deliverance for the righteous and destruction for the wicked. Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43 and 47-50.

Even as God spoke to Noah giving him instructions to build the ark in preparation for the flood the Lord is speaking to his remnant church today. The revelation today is to prepare the church for the end of this age and the coming of Christ.

It is going to take a restored church to stand against the increasing power of darkness and the flood tide of iniquity that is rising in the earth. Isa. 59:19, 60:1-2. This restored church, like the ark, will be a refuge of safety and a means of deliverance for God’s people. Isa. 4:5-6.

This is relevant truth that we need to be prepared for the end of this age. This is the truth that the church and the ministry must have to help God’s people. This is why it is so important that the seeker of God finds a church that the Lord is using to help his people.

In conclusion, let me say that there is so much wrong with the church world today it would be impossible for this writer to put his finger on everything. If I could, you wouldn’t need to seek God for divine wisdom in your search for a church with the testimony of Christ. The Lord wants you to personally seek him. Matt. 7:7-11. When you honor the Lord in your dependence upon him he will honor you. “In all thy way acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Pro. 3:6.

When you are led to such a church you will know it. There will be a spiritual liberty among the people. II Cor. 3:17. They will appreciate and honor the word of God. Compared to most churches a spirit of welcome and love will be manifest among the people. Although such a church will have a balance of relevant truth it will be Christ centered.

The spiritual atmosphere of the services will be conducive to worship and praise. You will be edified, cleansed and strengthened in the inner man. Such a church will minister life to you in the form of faith, hope and charity. I Cor. 13:13.

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