Summary: Part 4 of a series on Blackaby’s Experiencing God: God speaks through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
The children were gathered for Sunday School, and the teacher knew that she had a particularly hard lesson to teach that day. She was to teach about the Trinity. She was supposed to teach the children that God is one but in three persons, and how do you explain the concept of the Trinity to young children, when theologians have struggled for ages to get it right?
Well, she did the best she could, but wasn’t real sure whether they understood. And so she did what every good teacher does, she resorted to art work! When all else fails, get out the construction paper and the crayons, haul out the paints and the easels, and let’s draw something!
Her assignment to the children: “I want you to draw a picture of one of the Persons of the Trinity. You can draw God the Father, you can do a picture of Jesus Christ the Son, or you can show me your portrait of the Holy Spirit. Just choose one of the three.”
One little boy found himself in a predicament. He just was not good at art. He could never draw anything so that you could recognize it. Others were busily scribbling away, some showing God the Father, seated on a great throne, sporting a long white Santa Claus beard. Others were drawing Jesus Christ teaching, healing, and the like. But he knew that if he were to attempt anything like that, the teacher would probably say, “What is this mess?” How do you do this drawing and not flunk Sunday School? What to do? He thought and he thought, and then he had it! He knew something to do that not even he could mess up. And I happen to have a copy of his art work right here!
HOLD UP BLANK SHEET OF PAPER
A totally blank sheet of paper! No image, not even a scratch. No picture, just invisibility! And he said, “This is a picture of the Holy Spirit.”!
Well, we laugh, but I suspect that that is the way many of us think of the Holy Spirit. A blur, a haze, an invisible something, who seems to hide more than He reveals. I suspect that that is what our own image of the Holy Spirit would be like; an unclear hint of somebody, somewhere, saying something.
But nothing could be further from the truth. God is not a God who hides behind masks or who makes Himself obscure. God speaks by the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself. God addresses us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and discloses Himself. Our problem is that we don’t recognize Him. The Holy Spirit is a blank page to many of us. And although the Spirit speaks to reveal God to us, He remains vague, abstract, and fuzzy. But that is because we have not realized that right in front of us the Holy Spirit is speaking in definite, concrete, and clear ways.
There are four ways the Holy Spirit speaks to reveal God. Four concrete, identifiable means through which God is speaking. Henry Blackaby in the book, Experiencing God, puts it like this: “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church, to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.”
I know that’s a mouthful. But maybe some of the graduates of “Experiencing God” can help us get it by repeating it with me.. “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church, to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.”
The closing chapter of the Colossian letter lays out these four things in a very special way. It’s a very personal way, because it comes from the great missionary Paul, speaking from a prison cell, trying to wrap up his teaching to the church at Colossae. This passage seems like just an add-on to the main body of the letter. But it is very revealing, and very important.
First, notice how Paul shows us that the Bible is God’s instrument to begin revealing Himself. The pages of this book are the starting point for us to know what God is like, and where God is headed. Paul asks the Colossian Christians to:
“pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.”
The word of God uncovers the mystery and reveals God’s truth. If you do not start here and let God speak, you will likely get lost and confused.
The other day I had to make a trip down to Upper Marlboro, way down in deepest Prince George’s County. No offense to the Hemsleys and the Wilkins, but Upper Marlboro is out in the sticks, a long way! Well, when I had finished my business there, I decided that it would be good to stop by a nursing home in Bowie where one of our homebound members lives. But I didn’t have a map in my car, and I wasn’t sure of the best way to go. I started out to navigate by my nose and my instincts. I steered in roughly the right direction, without knowing for sure that it was the right direction. I turned when I recognized a road name; I looked for landmarks. And I finally did actually get from Upper Marlboro to Bowie, but do you know the scenic route? By way of Landover, Dodge Park, Glenarden, and Bladensburg? Not very smart.