A Christian businessman’s job suddenly ended. He couldn’t imagine what he was going to do or why he was laid off. He said, “I prayed and asked God to show me if I should take that job, but I never heard anything. So, I took it.”
A pastor friend asked him, “What did your wife think about you taking that job?”
“She was against it from the beginning.”
“Did you have friends praying with you about this decision?”
“I had some friends from church pray with me about it. Several of them raised concerns, but none of them had led a company that size.”
“So, the pastor said, you asked God to guide you and then you ignored everything He said through the believers He placed around you.”
Can you identify with that story?
One of the great gifts that God has given us is His Church. God uses our fellow believers to help us grow in Christ—and to know His Will. For the past month, we have talked about God’s Will vs. our will, what the Bible says about God’s Will, and what part the Holy Spirit plays in God’s Will. Today, let’s talk about God’s Will and what part the church plays in that.
One of the primary ways God speaks to us is through other people. Like the business man in our opening story, we can be so set on what we want, or be so confused by our circumstances, that we don’t recognize God’s guidance. God may use someone else to help us see His Will.
But in order for you to be sure that God is using someone to show you His Will, it’s important that they first acknowledge the lordship of Christ—both in their words and in their life. In other words, if you don’t see and have never seen that person’s words line up with their actions, you may want to question, “Is God using them to show me His Will, or is it just that person trying to persuade me to think and do as they do?”
Well, that’s what Paul is addressing in 1 Cor. 12. READ 1-3. The Corinthian Christians that Paul was writing this letter to, used to worship idols. And even though these idols were mute, they led people astray. You might ask, “How could a lifeless idol lead someone astray? Sometimes money is an idol. Can money lead people astray? You see, people fashion idols to satisfy their own desires. If your god can’t talk, you tend to hear exactly what you want.
But in contrast to that, the Holy Spirit is a real person who actively guides people He doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear, but He always tells us what we need to hear. And if we truly seek to hear His voice, we can receive His loving guidance.
Before we even come to a saving faith in Jesus as our Savior, God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s first tole is to convince us that Jesus is Lord and Savior. We will NEVER come to that belief apart from the Spirit’s work. So, Paul is saying that anyone who is led by the Spirit Can’t blaspheme or reject Christ. Now listen to this:
Once we experience salvation, the Holy Spirit enters a person’s life. There’s no way around that. If you accepted Christ as your Savior, then the Holy Spirit lives in you right now. And there is nothing in Scripture that says that you can make Him leave. Sure, we can GRIEVE the Holy Spirit with our sins, and we can STIFLE His work, but He’s here to stay.
So, when a person professes to be a Christian but then later renounces Christ, it’s evidence that they never truly had the Spirit residing in them in the first place. They didn’t LOSE their salvation because they went through the motions and never had it to begin with. God speaks to use through His Word, He speaks to our hearts by His Holy Spirit, and He speaks to us through those who acknowledge and live out the truth that Jesus is Lord.
Paul goes on to say in 1 Cor. 12: 4-6. READ. In the NT, God placed His people in the church. Today, that universal church is seen in countless local churches all around the world. Each church is part of the body of Christ. Each has its own assignment. Churches “DO CHURCH” in many different ways. Our church service is different from any church down the street or on the other side of the world, but we all serve and worship the same God.
In comparison, our bodies consist of many different parts. Each part is distinct from one another, but they all depend upon and support one another for our bodies to function properly. In fact, Paul addresses this in verses 14-22. Let’s skip down to that for a moment. READ.
In the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit equips each of us for the part we play in His body. The gifts aren’t for our own individual use; they’re for the building up of the body. When God wants to reveal His Will to you, He may use other parts of the body to alert you to what He wants to do.
He may say, “I want you to sing this song for the church that I might speak to their hearts through the words of that song.” OR, “I want you to give your testimony because there is someone I want to touch through that testimony.” He might say, “Jerry, I want you to call on this person to pray because the prayer that I’m going to give them, I will use to finally reach someone’s heart.”
God has given us the gift of His guidance through others who are listening to the Holy Spirit. But, know this, the Holy Spirit will never tell you something through another Christian that contradicts what the Spirit is personally telling you or communicating through His Word. For instance, many a young lady has faced the confusing dilemma in which a young man claims God wanted the two of them to marry, even though the Holy Spirit had never informed the woman herself.
The Holy Spirit might confirm what a believer is telling you, OR He might alert you to be cautious about what someone is saying. For instance, I have had people tell me something they believed I should do. The Holy Spirit immediately affirmed in my spirit that what my friend had said was true. As I prayed about it and searched the Bible for guidance, I became convinced that the message I had received was God’s message for me.
At other times, someone may have told me what they thought I should do, but the Holy Spirit immediately threw up a red flag. I couldn’t get a peace over what they had shared was from God. Again, I prayed about it, and searched the Bible but couldn’t find any confirmation of what they said. So, in each case, the Holy Spirit was directly involved.
So, God gives each of us a particular gift for us to use so that He can communicate His Will to us. Paul mentions some of these gifts in 1 Cor. 12: 7-11. READ. Over the years, people have attempted to group the gifts in various ways, but I think the simplest might be to put them in four broad categories:
? Gifts that support. Gifts like helping and managing help to guide the work of the church and help to get it done.
? Gifts that share. Gifts like showing mercy and the gift of evangelism are ways of communicating God’s love.
? Gifts that speak. Gifts like teaching and prophecy help ground the church in God’s Word.
? Gifts that supplement. Gifts like wisdom, knowledge, and faith support the other gifts.
When you become a Christian, you don’t merely receive a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit: you receive the Spirit Himself. And once you have the Holy Spirit living within you, He equips you for the particular assignment God has granted you.
The Holy Spirit equips me and He equips you, yet the way He equips us can be totally different. But the church needs that diversity of gifts, because it’s through that diversity—each one of us carrying out our unique ministry and service—that the body grows and Christ is glorified.
God gives some more than one gift. And it’s when those combinations of gifts are used together that more and more ways of serving Christ and His church are added.
READ 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. Here’s another example of how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through other people. A man tells the story of the time his family was scheduled to take a photo for the church directory. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until his 18-year-old son came out of his room with his hair dyed bright blue. The wife could see all the thoughts that were brewing in dad’s mind. But before he could say anything, she tugged on his arm and asked if she could speak to him for a moment. They went into another room and this is what she said.
“Before you say anything to our son, I’d just like to remind you that our son currently plays drums for four different worship bands and he’s enrolled in Bible college. And I happen to know that the hair dye he used won’t last more than two weeks.”
Then she said something that he said he’ll never forget. “Don’t say something that will wound our son for the rest of his life over something that won’t last for more than two weeks.”
He said, instantly, I knew I had not only heard a word from my wife, I had just heard a word from God. God chose to speak to him through another Christian and in so doing, spared their family pain.
You might be asking, “How can God use me to express His Will to others?”
God has this infinite capacity to relate to people. Each one of us has a unique walk with God. My walk with God is not the same as yours. God has blessed me with certain gifts but has limited me in other areas. That’s where each of you come into play.
No matter what gift God has given you, it’s the same Holy Spirit who works in each of our lives. The Spirit doesn’t change, yet He arranges relationships with individuals that suit their personality and their particular assignments. Examples:
• In the OT, the Spirit came upon people to equip them for a divine assignment. The Holy Spirit equipped Samson with great strength to achieve victory against the Philistines.
• The Spirit equipped David to lead as a king.
• The Spirit equipped the prophets to prophesy.
Because people had different assignments, God prepared them uniquely. God has equipped each of you to express His Will for this church. He has equipped each of you that are listening in today to express His Will for your community, your family, your group of friends. What is it that God has equipped you to do?
If you are in doubt, go to God in prayer and ask Him to reveal to you what it is that He would have you to do. But be ready! When you ask, God will answer. Then it’s up to you to be obedient in His plan.
Let me wrap this up by expounding on what Paul said in verse 14-26. To follow Paul’s analogy of the body, you may be a “nose” in this body of Christ. So, when it comes to smell, you notice smells quickly. But you’re not an eye, so you aren’t equipped to see.
You need to listen to the eye when it alerts you to what it’s seeing, or when the ear warns you of what it’s hearing. A nose would be foolish to assume that as long as it knew how things smelled, it was fully aware of its circumstances.
And so, I close with what Paul writes to us in verses 23-31: READ.
Again, verse 31 says, “But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.”
What is that better way? Paul goes right into chapter 13 and if you read 1 Corinthians 13, you will find that that better way is love.
Now listen closely. The same Holy Spirit who indwells you inhabits other believers. Never underestimate what the Holy Spirit can communicate to you through someone else.
Now position yourself to hear from others. Initiate conversation, pursue fellowship opportunities, and take part in service opportunities that put you around other Christians who know you and care about you.
Because, as Paul said in verse 27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.”