What did God say?

A few thought on Holy Spirit Fire, God Speaking and other unsolved mysteries...

I Thess. 4:19-22
19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

I so desire a life that joins the Spirit instead of Quenching him. A life that treats prophecies with welcoming care instead of criticizing contempt.

**How do people put out the Spirit’s fire?
- Two extremes - Over Control or Out of Control
- Two extremes – God isn’t speaking anymore or God is speaking all the time

To avoid the danger of Rogue Spiritual Dictatorship, I’ve noticed some shifts that are helpful for me to discern what is the Holy Spirit and what is the Human Spirit when it comes to “God Speaking”:
1. From God is “Telling me” to “God impressed upon me or is stirring me.”
2. From “God is saying” to “I am sensing”
3. From “God spoke to me and He said…” to “God laid this on my heart and I sense him saying…”

When we have people saying “God said…” or “God told me…” it creates a Schizophrenic God who can’t make up his mind and is confusingly telling everyone something different and capriciously changing his mind without warning. It also makes you feel like you can’t say anything if you disagree because you feel like you’re disagreeing with God. This is not our God.

It says in the Scripture that he is not a God of confusion…and then goes on to say that he is a God of order in...

I Cor. 14:33 - For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

That’s why I believe God’s speaks primarily through what I call “communal conscience”. The Scriptures even attest to this in the early church…

Acts 15:22-28
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers.

23 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.

25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.

28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…"

Austin, a guy on our Creative Arts Collective who is currently in A.A., brought up in our programming meeting something that I thought was very interesting about Alcoholics Anonymous.

The First Two A.A. Traditions:
1. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.

There is something about communal conscience and consensus mixed with "God Speaking" that gets to the heart of what God is after...

That’s why the verse goes on to say…

I Thess. 5:21-22
21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.

Yes, don’t put out the Spirit’s fire, but don’t check your brains out at the door either! Don't hold prophecies with contempt, but don’t hold testing with contempt either! Leaders in this passage were trying to discern what was good or bad as it relates to what was surfacing.

1 John 4:1
Test the Spirits
1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Proverbs 11:14 - Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety (wisdom).

Here are five signs of the presence of spiritual abuse, manipulation, domination, or intimidation within a church body. Spiritual Abuse (which is always expressed in varying degrees) is occurring when a pastor, leader, or even a friend:

1. “Hear” God for you. God apparently “goes through” him/her to speak to you. (This requires a sense of superiority – from him or her and is often framed as being “more mature,” and a sense of being “less” from you.)

2. Alienates (shuns, ignores) you if you do not adhere to his/her guidance, leadership, or authority. (This is usually VERY subtle – so it is easy to deny.)

3. Suggests that rejection of his/her “higher understanding” is done so at your spiritual or even physical peril. (You will hear things like, “Be careful. You will move yourself from the covering and protection of God.”)

4. Rewards your obedience with inclusion, and punishes your questioning or resistance with withdrawal. Remember: “They heard from God.” (Compliance gets stroked, resistance gets struck!)

5. They typically leave behind a trail of cut-off relationships.

Many have contracted what I call RTD’s over the years – “Religiously Transmitted Disease’s” and it’s usually through “Spiritual Abuse” of Authority. In my research the most common universal beginning point of spiritual abuse is one person hearing from God for the whole. Rather than entering into a relational and communal dialogue, they function as if they have special access to God and a special ear to hear his voice.

If God is speaking to someone or through someone is will be evident in three ways:
1. The words from God will come with Humility more than Authority.
2. The words from God will be Communal more than Personal.
3. The words from God will be Intra-biblical more than Extra-biblical.

I have watched a good many churches led by a good many well-meaning people implode because of this controversial issue of "The-Holy-Spirit-told-me" business. Though I think God speaks to individuals and through individuals, I believe that these impressions/promptings/sensations need to be tested in the light of community before decisions are made.

"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to Us..." Seemed, not Was. Holy Spirit, not Human Spirit. Us, not I.

We, not me.

Help us to follow your Spirit without checking our brains out at the door.


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