Category Archives: Making a Defense

Does God Speak to Us Personally?

In one of the comments on my recent post Is Self Discipline Overrated?, the author objected to my contention that as believers in the church age we can “hear” God’s voice in our heads. His position was that God does not speak to us personally and directly, but communicates solely through our recall of His word as we have learned it from our pastor.

This may be a matter of semantics in describing the same function, because I do think that the Holy Spirit uses the doctrine we have learned to guide us. But I also think that He can communicate with us specifically about matters unique to our day-to-day lives. This is not to say you can ignore the word of God and fly off based on voices in your head, (I’m not even sure I’d call it a voice; more like a timely thought.) but when you have been consistent with Bible class and are faced with a situation where there are two opposing doctrines that can be applied, you have to go to Him for guidance. Which one do I apply? And He brings the appropriate, already learned doctrines and scriptures to mind.

With me, after that has occurred, God often sends someone into my life who unknowingly repeats what God’s just told me. Or he’ll use my timely discovery of some old notes tucked amidst manuscript pages, or a Thieme book falling off the shelf while I’m searching for something else which just “happens” to open to the page I need, where I’d previously highlighted the appropriate passage. Then, to make sure I get the message, that night in Bible class He’ll often have the pastor repeat it.

Other times we may be faced with making a decision about details of life that we don’t have enough information to make. For example awhile back when Quigley was a wild and crazy puppy who couldn’t be left alone for long, I had to go to the DMV to renew my driver’s license. It’s illegal to leave your dog in the car in Arizona, so I’d have to leave him at home. We had him crate trained, but he wasn’t old enough to be left longer than an hour. I’d already stopped by the DMV the afternoon before where I’d learned that the average wait time was three hours and so had come home before I could do anything. I was advised to come in the morning when it might be a little faster, so that night and the next morning I tried to sort through all the options, wondering when the best time to go would be.

It was not good to try to leave Quigley during his active times in those days. What if he took too long to settle down and I missed my window at the DMV? And should I leave him in the crate or the back yard where he might bay as if he’s dying for the entire time I would be gone, dig his way out or chew through the fence? All my attempts to see into the future so as to make a decision met with failure and only produced increasing anxiety. Finally I gave it up, rebounded the anxiety and handed it over to God. “I have no idea when would be the best time to go for the shortest wait,” I told Him, “or whether I should leave Quigley in the yard or in the crate. You told us to cast all our burdens on You, so that’s what I’m doing. You’re just going to have to handle it.”

With that, I let it go. About half an hour later I got the very strong “instruction” (conviction?) to leave Quigley in the yard and “Go now.” So I did. I arrived at the DMV to find no line whatsoever  and was back home within about forty-five minutes. Quigley did not bay or dig or chew his way out of the yard, and all was well. It was a turning point for me in seeing how God could handle things.

In tonight’s class Pastor Bob just “happened” to start a new subject on the indwelling of God the Father, and why He would indwell us. The first reason he gave is that God “wants us to be totally confident and convinced that He’s the creator of our portfolio of invisible assets.” These assets include all that we will ever need to live the Christian life and fulfill His plan for us; they include phenomenal escrow blessings and a specific, unique plan for each one of us — our personal sense of destiny. Part of that plan is that we get to know, personally and intimately, the One who dwells inside us.

When the Bible talks about God abiding in us and dwelling in us, the word refers to being at rest in, making oneself at home in. It’s an intimate relaxed relationship and I believe such relationships require communication. Prayer is communication. We talk to God through prayer, and sometimes He answers, personally. It can be by means of a thought, or a doctrine or some external “coincidence.”

Obviously there is great room for people to think that God has told them something when He hasn’t, especially if they have a zeal for Him but not a lot of knowledge. If what they say He’s told them doesn’t line up with His word, then it’s probably not from Him. Even if it does line up with the word, it still might not be.

But that’s between them and God. My concern is what He says to me, and whether I can believe that it’s really God and not some wishful thinking of my own manufacture. It takes time to gain confidence in this. It’s certainly taken me a long time to trust that this might actually be taking place. Even now, if I think He’s told me to do something but am not absolutely sure it’s from Him, I ask Him to make it clear or shut me down if it’s not what He wants me to do.

And mostly, He hasn’t shut me down. But even if I do blow it in this regard, it’s not going to ruin His day. And usually not even mine. We’re not here to be perfect. Which is a good thing since we aren’t going to be till we reach heaven. I’m thinking more and more that far too much is made of our performance. Did we make the wrong choice? The right one? How much does it really matter?

It’s Christ’s work that matters, that’s won the victory, not ours. We’re perfectly righteous already and can’t be made one bit more so, so why the angst about whether we might do something wrong? If we do, God makes it clear, we rebound, we adjust our thinking and move on. It’s “He must increase, I must decrease.” It’s all about His plan to bring glory to Himself through us, and one of the most brilliant and amazing ways He does that is through His grace toward us. If we were always good, and successful and perfect, where would be the room for grace? It’s a given that we’re going to seek to obey His commands and do what He wishes because we love Him. But we can bring glory to Him even in failure, if we just use the system He’s provided, pick ourselves up, rebound, face forward and move on.

CSFF Blog Tour Wrap-Up – Nephilim

Well, another CSFF Blog Tour comes to a close. I found it fun and informative, and was pleasantly surprised by the level of participation and the number of really good posts.

Becky Miller, apparently the CSFF Blog Tour Overlord (who would have guessed?) finally unveiled her own review of  The Enclave, which I found quite insightful.

Becky’s essay at Speculative Faith called The Truth in Speculative Fiction: a Look at The Enclave by Karen Hancock  is also well worth reading.

Rachel Starr Thomson did an excellent Third Day post on men trying to be God.

Elizabeth Williams did three detailed, thoughtful and very thorough posts on various aspects of the book. On Day 1 she gave an overview, on Day 2  she shared her observations about the scientific aspects of the story and her desire for … well, more development. At which point I was ruefully reminded of my struggles to keep to the allotted word count, which I exceeded, and to finish in the allotted time, which I grossly exceeded! But oh well. The book is what God wanted it to be and all books have flaws.

More than that, no book is going to satisfy everyone, though admittedly, from Elizabeth’s final post on Day 3, when she considered the Christian aspects, it seemed she was overall more satisfied than not. (I particularly appreciated this last post of hers)

For his Day 2 post, John Otte detailed his objection to my inclusion of Nephilim into the story, provoking a number of interesting comments. So many, in fact, that he decided to scrap his original Day 3 post and continue the discussion of Nephilim in Christian fiction . He also offered  a sort of apology. I love that he takes into account his own perspective and frame of reference and acknowledges it in his approach.

Because in all this talk of Nephilim several have suggested that the people who think these creatures were half human/half angel have arrived at that conclusion solely based on a reading of the English translation of Genesis 6:1-4, I’ve decided to address that issue today as something of a wrap-up.

Being one of those who believe they were indeed human/angelic crossbreeds, I can attest to the fact there’s more than just the English Gen 6 that has led me to that conclusion. And I’m not talking about The Book of Enoch, which one person cited as a probable source. I had arrived at my conclusion long before I’d ever heard of The Book of Enoch, though I did skim it in preparation for writing The Enclave. To me it seemed obviously not written by God but some legalistic somebody… so I give it no more credence than Greek myths — which like many other myths most likely contain seeds of truth, and may record the traditions of belief at the time of writing, but are not the absolute truth of God’s word.

No, my reasons come pretty much straight from the word of God:

Item #1

The phrase in Gen 6, “sons of God” is “beni ha Elohim” in the Hebrew. It is a phrase used only three other times in the scriptures, all three in Job. I would note that Job is regarded as the oldest book of the Bible in terms of content — that is, the events it records occurred before Abraham and were believed to have been part of an oral tradition that pre-existed the writings of Moses (which Moses would have known about), though it was actually preserved in written form some time after he wrote the Torah.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them.

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself to the Lord.

(Since they are presenting themselves to the Lord in heaven it’s pretty obvious these are angels)

Job 38:7 — the last line of a passage wherein God asks Job where he was when “I laid the foundation of the earth! Tell me if you have understanding. Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy…”

This reference is also pretty obviously depicting angels, if the earth was still in the process of being created as they were singing and shouting. Additionally, the morning star phrase links to Is 14:12 where it refers specifically to Satan, before his fall.

Item #2

First Mention Principle. One of the means of understanding what a term or phrase means in the Bible is the “First-Mention Principle” wherein you look at the first time a word/phrase is used to glean its meaning for later usages. Looking at beni ha Elohim in Genesis 6, its first usage could certainly be ascribed to angels, but it’s inconclusive. However, if you consider that Job is the earliest surviving account through oral tradition, then technically Job is the first mention of the phrase, where the usage is not at all inconclusive. And as I mentioned earlier, Moses was probably familiar with it.

Item #3

Genesis 6:2 says that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

“took wives” is laqach, the BDB Definition of which is “to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, marry, take a wife, snatch, take away”

Other scholars suggest “to take by sheer strength, overwhelming whoever protected them.”  Thus an alternate translation could be, “seized women for themselves, whomever they chose.”

Which sounds like rape and conquest to me. An examination of ancient history and cultures, especially Greek mythology, shows that women were more often taken and snatched and seized as wives than they were “married” as we know it today.

Item #4

If the sons of God were just men, and the daughters of men were just human women, then why bother referencing some special kind of progeny? ie, “Nephilim” who were around “in those days and also afterward.” Wouldn’t they be the same as other people? Why call them mighty men? Why use the same term later to refer to the giants in the land? Giants who clearly weren’t just regular men if the Jews saw themselves as grasshoppers in their sight.(Numbers 13:33)

Item #5

Jude and 2 Peter tell of a special group of angels who sinned in a particular way, different from the rest, who are currently being kept in prison:

Jude 6ff And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bounds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh (ie, flesh they were forbidden to go after, including flesh of a lower creation), are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

The angels who did not keep their own domain are equated in this passage with some sort of sexual sin comparable to the sin of homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah, a sin God refers to as an abomination in Lev 18:22 comparable with copulating with animals (a lower creation), forbidden in Lev 18:23

2 Peter 2: 4,5   For if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into hell (the Greek word here is Tartarus) and committed them to pits of darkness reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of rightousness with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

These verses tie the angels to a sin of “gross immorality” outside the boundaries God had apparently set up, and are here clearly linked to the judgment that came upon the pre-flood world.

I consider this, taken together with Gen 6 and the verses in Job to be convincing support for the angelic/human crossbreeding interpretation.

Item #6

Why would the angels do this? Just out of lust?

I think it’s because Satan was right there when God made his promise to the woman in Genesis 3 that the human race would be saved through her seed and that that same seed would crush Satan’s head. I think he wanted to thwart that plan by corrupting the genetics of the human race so that it was no longer human. Then the promise of a purely human female seed could not be fulfilled and God would be proven a liar.

The first sentence of that paragraph is supportable in Gen 3. The second is logical extrapolation. There are other verses that do support it indirectly, but that involves many more doctrines than I want to pursue in this wrap-up which is already long enough. I’ll save it for another time.

Again, I want to thank everyone who participated for taking the time to read and review The Enclave — or at the least just make mention of it on their blogs — and especially those who went the extra mile in providing additional reflections, comments and humor.

Right Pastor-Teacher

Last week I blogged about the importance of submitting to a pastor-teacher and listening regularly — almost daily, actually — to his teaching as the primary means of fulfilling Romans 12:1,2: “ …present your bodies a living and holy (set apart) sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is (divine) good, and acceptable and perfect (whole, matured).”

I believe the Bible teaches from such passages as I Th 5:12,13 and I Pe 5:1-3  that each of us is assigned a “right” pastor and each pastor is assigned a “right” congregation, and that it is the pastor’s teaching we present our bodies to, so that our minds may be renewed. 

Recently our church, located in Somerset, Massachusetts (which we attend online via Paltalk and through a same-day recorded video on Sunday), has been in a state of turmoil. Our pastor has been on leave, as has one of his main substitutes, a man he trained for the pastorate and ordained several years ago. This has left some of the newer pastors whom he has also trained) to stand in the gap to a much greater extent than they ever have before.

Official word has not gone out as to why our Pastor has taken such a lengthy period of leave (about two months now) and in the absense of official word, rumors have filled the void. Some people have found his absense not to their liking and left the church. Others have believed the rumors, and also left.  Still others talk of which pastors they like best, which ones they don’t like and suggest that perhaps our Pastor is no longer their right P-T but one of these newer ones is instead. It’s a situation of confusion and some, particularly those relatively new to this type of ministry, have struggled with it — the absence, the not-knowing, the confusion of loyalties, the concern for the future.

Struggle is all too often a good thing, however, as it has been in the case of my friend, Mary Hugill, for it challenged her to write down her thoughts to see what she really thought about it all, to see if once she set her emotions aside, could she think the matter through to some reasonable doctrinal conclusions? Indeed she could and I thought she did such a fine job, I asked if I might share her conclusions here as a “guest blogger.” (My first, I think! Although I have quoted from Mary’s emails at least once before; I just didn’t call her a guest blogger)

Mary is a military wife, living in Utah where her husband is stationed. She has two young children whom she homeschools and she and her husband have been involved in Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries for about five years. Here’s what she had to say:

What is Bible Doctrine all about?  Where in the scale of importance does the “right” Pastor Teacher fall?  Is it the main issue in Bible Doctrine?  My understanding is that positive volition is the main issue in Bible Doctrine.  My “right” Pastor Teacher is not really MY issue at all.  The Pastor Teacher is a grace gift from God and as such it doesn’t really have anything to do with me, or my personal choice.  It can seem in the current situation as if there is a list of voices and I should maybe pick from those voices the one that I might “think” is my Pastor Teacher.  It sounds reasonable but I think it’s a deception. I think it’s a tool of confusion in the hands of the kingdom of darkness. 

Nothing gets me more confused than too many choices.  God is not in a hurry — no, God is NEVER in a hurry.  He isn’t worried or concerned about anything.  He has a perfect plan. My issue is Positive volition so I’m going to go forward with my positive volition and have absolute confidence that when I need a different “right” Pastor Teacher, which I may or may not, He will make it certain and clear and I won’t have had to do a thing except be positive to the word of God. 
 
I have seen people reject the right Pastor Teacher doctrine and I have seen the shipwreck of their spiritual lives.  I believe it to be a very important doctrine and right up at the top of the scale of importance.  I also believe that one needs to have confidence in the timing and faithfulness of God, confidence in waiting on Him and not rushing out to do it all right.  I may go in the wrong direction at times, I may feel disturbed and uncertain but I am never ever to be in doubt of who holds me in the palm of His hand.  He can turn every curse into a blessing every wrong direction into a scenic route on the way to maturity.  I am NOT lost though I may feel it at times.  The way is narrow but I don’t have to find it by myself.  There is only one man to follow and that makes it easy.  Be positive towards The Lord Jesus Christ.  Love the brethren.  Endure.  Believe what you can’t see.  Be very strong and courageous…

Sometimes we have thought the spiritual battle was only something the Kingdom of Darkness was playing at.  Sometimes we haven’t believed they are really trying to destroy us.  On the battle field the fallen soldier is never left behind, never scorned or derided for getting wounded or killed.  No matter his condition his fellow soldiers go into the fire and get him even if it’s only the body left.  Those on the front lines take the greatest risk and the highest casualties.  Those who have poured out their lives for us deserve honor and respect.  It’s only those who wouldn’t go to the front, who ran from the battle before it began that get the scorn and punishment they deserve. 

We may be proud of those who have fought and served and were wounded in battle.  We must also continue in the battle ourselves and fight on without dwelling on our fallen.  If we fall to despair we are not useful.  And a good soldier is mindful of the purpose of the war and whom they fight for.  Don’t be afraid to hold your ground and don’t ever forget that the enemy is not trying to annoy you; he’s trying to destroy you.  Stand firm. 

New orders will be handed down at the proper time.  Until then we must always tune out the shouts and taunts of the enemy.  Their shadows and illusions must be ignored. 

Psalm 7:8 “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.  Though I fall I will rise, though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

2 Cor. 11:3 “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from simplicity and devotion to Christ”

“Life is not a bowl of cherries.  Sometimes the spiritual life is the pits.  Just keep listening.”  ~ Pastor Joe Sugrue

These are exciting times,

Mary


Thanks, Mary. I have some additional observations sparked by Mary’s words that I’ll share tomorrow.

Why Not Be Obvious?

Yesterday I wrote about why I believe the Bible teaches that the spiritual life is about submitting oneself to one’s assigned pastor-teacher and learning the word of God on a daily basis under the filling of the Spirit, thus transforming the mind as per the command in Romans 12. As I was pulling the verses together, however, I couldn’t help wondering why God hadn’t been clearer about it, like He was with salvation (Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.“). Why didn’t He just say somewhere, “Sit down and listen to your assigned pastor teacher every day and let the word of God transform you.” Then there wouldn’t be any arguing against it. No room for excuses. It’d be right there. Why isn’t it?

Because, for one thing, I think God wanted there to be room for excuses. He wants people to have an out, so they can decline to do what He asks without looking completely foolish and wrong in front of everyone else. Take the several recounted instances where Jesus has just done some miracles and a crowd has gathered and He suddenly “gave orders to depart to the other side” of the Sea of Galilee. (Like in Matt 8:18) 

All those people there get to make a choice — will they get in the boat and go “to the other side” (I love that choice of words) with Him or will they just go back to their homes, chattering excitedly about the day’s entertainment and how they actually saw the famous Jesus.

The idea of dropping everything in your life to get into a boat and go off with this guy is just… weird. Who would really expect anyone to do such a thing, let alone condemn them if they didn’t? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones they condemned were the disciples who did go. After all, leaving your family behind? Your job? Wandering about with no direction, no place to lay your head? Isn’t that flaky and irresponsible? Even outright fanatical?

 I think, too, that God’s not made the protocol of the Christian life as bluntly crystal clear as salvation because right away we humans would make it a law. It wouldn’t have to spring out of genuine love, but could come from duty. From a desire to look right before people, etc. Or to look good to God. To “obey,” be a good little girl (or boy), in which case the situation becomes about you. Your performance.

But if you love something, if it’s the most important thing in your life, if it’s a Body, a living, breathing, real-time thing, an interaction between pastor and pupil, and pupil and pupil, God the Holy Spirit flowing through all, talking through all, then you’ll want to do it all on your own. It’s not about obeying a law and doing “the right thing.” It’s about loving someone. Someone who IS truth. And when you hear the truth, you’ll know it for what it is. And it won’t have to be so plainly stated that anyone coming down the road can see it.

Godliness

Lately I’ve had cause to reflect on what I believe the Bible teaches about what the plan of God is for us as Christians after salvation, a reflection from the point of view of making a defense. If you’ve read my old blog for any length of time, you probably know that I believe scripture teaches  we are, in fact, called to a very specific plan and mode of operation: we are to submit ourselves to the prepared pastor teacher God has assigned to us and sit, filled with the Spirit, under his teaching, which, according to scripture should be done on a near daily basis. In this way the water of the word and the work of the Spirit transforms our thinking into our Lord’s, as per Ro 12.

It is a long, gradual process. In between classes, we are attacked by our flesh, the world system in which we live and sometimes agents of the kingdom of darkness, though that happens most frequently when one first becomes interested in following this mode of operation and then later when one has begun to move into spiritual maturity. The scripture terms this eusebeia, often translated “godliness,” the latter a word that’s frankly never really meant anything to me. Being good? Being like God? Being pious — and what is pious, for that matter?

A study of the word itself helps. Eusebeia comes from eu (well) and sebomai (to be devout) Thayer defines it has having reverence and respect for God, and characterized by being devoted to the fulfillment of religious obligations or mandates. Thus, perhaps a better, more meaningful translation and one my pastor uses is “the spiritual life” or  “the spiritual lifestyle.”

Vine’s Expository Dictionary notes that the releated word eusebes (also from euand sebomai)

“directs us [not toward piety of the inner being but] rather to the energy which, directed by holy awe of God, finds expression in devoted activity.”

It’s a manner of living where everything is directed toward God. Since you are what you think as Proverbs 23:7 says, this direction begins with thinking. What you think directs everything else. And if your thinking has been transformed into His thinking, and you spend much of your day filled with the Spirit and thinking His thoughts, obeying His commands, then you are living the spiritual life. So the primary objective is to take in the instruction that will cause one’s thinking to be changed — i.e., daily. It is a slow, incremental process since it’s estimated that in any given lesson, people are actually able to recall only about 5% and able to apply a mere 1%.

I don’t think this is the usual meaning people ascribe to the word “godliness,” nor is this the usual lifestyle most Christians pursue or even believe they should be pursuing. In fact my experience is that many argue against it as being fanatical, not supported by the word, weird, excessive, etc. Besides, the argument goes, what about 1 John 2:27, which says,

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

 Yes, there it is… you have no need for anyone to teach you. That does seem to contradict the view that says you must be taught on a daily basis.

But what about Eph 4:11 – 15?

“And He gave some as apostles…and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

The and between “pastors” and “teachers” is not accompanied by a definite article before teachers and so, according the Granville-Sharpe Rule, should rendered with a hyphen to indicate that both nouns refer to the same person. Hence, “pastor-teacher.”

2 Ti 4:1,2 makes it clear that pastor-teachers are supposed to be teaching. (“Preach in season and out of season.”)

I Thess 5:12, 13 instructs us to “appreciate those who have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.”

 I Pe 5:1-3 instructs pastors to feed the flock…”not lording it over those allotted to you.”

Okay, but where does it say it has to be daily?

Well, that is not quite as obvious, but still clear I think, if you pause to consider. First we have the example of Jesus, who taught daily (Lk 9:14;22:53), as did Paul (Acts 17:11; 19:9), the early church met daily (Acts 2:46) and even in the OT the devout were advised to wait daily at the gates where doctrine was taught (Pro 8:34)

Job considered doctrine or the teachings of the word of God to be more needful than his daily food (Job 23:12). We are told to live one day at a time. God gives us our daily bread, referring  not just to the physical food we need each day but also the spiritual. The manna given to the Israelites in the desert is a picture of the provision of daily spiritual food. Jeremiah wrote of the metaphor specifically: “Your words were found and I ate them…” (15:16)

It’s interesting to me that people consider the gathering together to listen to God’s word on a daily basis as fanatical, but no one has a problem with people gathering daily to eat food. They don’t even have any problem with a daily walking or running group gathering together to exercise. In fact, daily exercise is preached everywhere these days as needed for good health.   And if you should want to be a first class athlete (or artist or doctor or pianist or anything) it’s expected that you will put in daily practice time in that field . Of all things to be world class in in life, shouldn’t it be so with our Christian walk?

Okay…but what about that verse about not needing a teacher? Well, I believe that’s refering to the fact that as Church age believers we each have the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who, if we are under His control, makes whatever the pastor-teacher is teaching understandable. The Holy Spirit is the one who guides you to your pastor teacher, and it is His message you are receiving through the man. It’s not the man, it’s the message. In fact, I’ve been in correspondence with a pastor-teacher recently who told me that sometimes his experience of presenting a message is very much like my experience of writing The Enclave — you feel as if you have little idea what you’re doing, and yet the hearers are hit right between the eyes with information precisely targeted to issues they are dealing with.

As a message recipient, I have to say this happens to me constantly. Something I tusseled with earlier in the day, some question that arose in reflection, an argument, a difficulty, a discussion… hardly a day doesn’t go by that I don’t put on class live at the appointed time and somewhere in the message the exact issue is addressed. In such specificity it is truly like God is talking right to me.

And if you consider that the pastor-teacher, being filled with the Spirit himself, and having spent hours and days and weeks and years studying the Word and preparing his messages, then Spirit-filled when he delivers them to, ideally, an audience of Spirit-filled believers ready to receive them… you begin to see that the whole operation is the Spirit’s and not the man’s at all… Hence it’s not the man you need to teach you but the Spirit.

~~