For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (John 10:4-5)
How the body of Christ settles for so much less than what our Lord has for us!! Oh how they fall for lies that promise them more and yet they are missing the MUCH MORE that God desires for them! There was a time in my life I sought the "more," yet I sought it in the wrong way, in the wrong places, and was deceived as to what that "more" was that God had for me. I wanted more of God. I wanted the utmost I could have of God. Yet, in my pursuit of that, I discovered I was settling for what I thought was "more" but actually was less. People seek the gifts but forget the giver. They seek experiences, but lose sight of the Head. They have an insatiable hunger for exciting experiences but miss God Himself. They seek His voice but not from the Word that He reveals His voice to them. They seek to know God through other's testimonies and experiences but fail to find the communion they can have with Jesus, Himself, through the communion and fellowship the Holy Spirit opens us up to in His Word. What a communion there is there! What a joy when that Word comes alive and speaks to you, intimately, to your heart of hearts, and it's as though it were written just for you as a love letter from your Savior, revealing Himself to you personally. How sad when a child of His feels they don't need it, and can substitute it with the teachings or unction of others, or subjective experiences, or inner thoughts and impressions without knowing His Word. How little they have if all they have is someone else's "knowledge" of God rather than learning daily to walk in intimate communion with Him and letting that Word speak to them personally. I at one time, let others be the "Holy Spirit" to me. Never again! He is my companion, counselor, comforter, revealer of God's truth, and He came into my heart through the Word of God, when I put my faith in that Word. I was born again through the Word, as I believed it and received the Holy Spirit. I was given life through the Word. I found more and more life the more I learned of Him through the Word and as the Word gripped my heart and took over my heart, His Spirit filled me more and more and empowered me more and more. I found the "fullness of the Spirit" as His Spirit, through His Word filled my mind and heart, rather than what others told me that fullness was.
There's a popular trend today among believers that we can just "listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us" and ignore the Word, or without having to read the Word. I believe this is one more ploy of the enemy again to discredit the Word, as though it were not the mind of the Spirit, or what the Spirit says to the church, as if we could separate the two. The Holy Spirit gave the Word, speaks to us through the Word, and never ever disagrees with the Word that is written. There is no true discernment without the written Word. As I sit at His feet and read that Word...that very Word of God Himself given to me to learn of Him, to know Him, and to commune with Him, He speaks to me. He opens up my understanding. He brings tremendous joy and assurance and hope and faith. Through it I am able to truly hear the Spirit's voice and commune with Him. He also chastises me in it, quickens me, cleanses me, and restores me when I am in any way veering off the path. His Spirit bears witness with my spirit as I read it in faith and reveals His truth and wisdom to my heart there. He communes with me there and lets me know His very heart. He gives discernment so that I know what is of Him and what His will and heart is, so that I am not led astray by those who teach something opposed to His Word. I am alert as soon as I hear a teaching contrary to it, because I've become familiar with it, and I won't listen to the voice of another. Sometimes the fellowship I have with Him there raises me up to such ecstasy and joy that I feel I could just walk into Heaven itself! Yet it brings me down to earth where I must walk for now and empowers me to do so.
How very, very sad when we settle for less from God, than the real thing, thinking we are getting more. The Corinthians were like that. They thought themselves spiritually superior yet they settled for a very debase carnality that was exposed when Paul brought them the true Word of God to discern. They had false apostles coming to them discrediting the Word God gave to Paul and giving their own word claiming an authority that was not given by God. But Paul, who was chosen of God, approved of God, brought them back to the Word that was approved of God, given by God Himself, and proven to be of God - that Word which agreed with all the prophets and Jesus, which was predicted to come.
Robert Hawker, Poor Man's Commentary, on Philippians 4:4-7:
"Reader! bear with me, while I remind you again and again, (for I need to be continually reminded myself,) that these blessed Scriptures are not Paul’s, but the words of God the Holy Ghost. Paul is but the penman of them. It is God the Spirit which endited them; for all scripture is given by inspiration of God. 2 Timothy 3:16. We are too apt to lose sight of this. And when, we do, we forget with it, that the promises in Christ Jesus, are not yea, and nay; but yea, and Amen. 2 Corinthians 1:19-20. The one before us, is on this account, sweet. The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
That is the same Word we have today. It cuts, it divides, it proves what is good, and it discerns good from evil. And if we allow it to do that in our hearts, it sets us free to be in genuine fellowship with our Savior and have an intimacy with Him that we will never find otherwise. We won't find it through so-called spiritual experiences, but the faith in the Word and fellowship with Him there as we are washed and cleansed and strengthened in that Word will bring us precious experience that is genuine and will produce true fruit in our lives and through us to others. If we are listening to an "inner voice" alone, without the word, chances are that we are listening to our own heart and flesh, or worse yet, the voice of another. His Word is our protection and discernment. If we are truly "listening to the Spirit" we will also find that He directs us to His Word and we find agreement with the Word there where what He speaks to us is confirmed. We will find the Spirit and the written Word agree, and if we love one we love the other. It will glorify God and work in us a death of self and life unto Him. If we are not in the Word and learning to know God and listen to Him there, then we are in danger of another spirit deceiving us, masquerading as the Holy Spirit's voice, and that voice will draw us away from the Word and make us feel we don't need it, and will cause us to neglect the Word. It will glorify "self" and please the "self." God's Spirit NEVER tells us not to read the Word or that it is not important or that we don't need it or have to obey it. If you are "hearing" a voice tell you that, it is not God, I can assure you whole heartedly. This was the same problem Paul refuted in many of his epistles against the Gnostics of the day. Today we have Gnosticism again in the church: "The Gnostics thought that one must directly experience the spirit to learn the truth, this being apart from the word. Stepping over into the supernatural, experience becomes the teacher and gives them real knowledge. What was and is now being taught is spirit to spirit communication that is completely outside the Biblical revelation given by the apostles." http://letusreason.org/Latrain18.htm The Gnostic Jesus, A Gnostic Christianity
Part 2, http://letusreason.org/Latrain19.htm : "The recipients of the apostles letters had the Scriptures. Knowing God through a book was considered Head knowledge, it was inferior to the early Gnostics and it is today to the modern Gnostics! The teachings of the apostles was not sufficient, the spirit was the revelator for the new knowledge by experience. Those who hear God’s voice through the Scriptures are accused of worshipping a book called by some bibliolatry. But any voice that teaches outside the Scripture, and is not finding its source in Scripture-- will lead one away from the God of the Scripture. The book is to lead us and keep us in correct understanding and in the will of God. His word works with the Holy Spirit."
When I am truly hearing the Holy Spirit I am delighting in His Word and my heart is brought to a place where I am most able to do that. I am being made free of myself through the Word and cleansed from all in my heart that opposes it or fears it or repels me from it. If I am troubled by His Word and stay away from it, and think I am "hearing God" without facing that Word's examination of my heart and correction, just hearing niceties that make me feel good, I am deceiving myself and settling for so much less. When we face those difficulties in the Word, even agonize through them in prayer as we study the whole Word, we find that the Holy Spirit teaches us, uses that Word to cleanse us, to set us free in our hearts and minds, and fills us with the life that is meant to come to us through it. I've been so blessed when, at times, I have been confused over the Word and I simply asked the Holy Spirit to teach me and give me understanding, and He did! He opened up my understanding and made me see it clearly. And it brought life. Too often those who just think they "listen to the Spirit" listen to what they want to hear...and claim it is God telling them, even if it contradicts His Word. They are listening to their own spirit, their own flesh, and convincing themselves it's God. The enemy will oblige them and confirm that over and over through others as well, to assure them they don't have to obey the written Word of God, calling it "legalism" or "the letter that killeth." They take sides with the flesh rather than God by doing so. If our hearts want what we want, we'll find a way to even "hear God" tell us that's what we can have or do. I know! I've been there! Our hearts are deceptive. I've been deceived by my own heart and led to compromise. When I got into the Word, I was shown the truth and was convicted, cut to the heart, and finally as I submitted to Him, was set free so that I could truly hear Him, and not another voice. We must "die" before we can "live." It's the Word that unites us with Him in that death and raises us up to newness of life in Him, as we believe it, and yield to it.
If we want to hear God, we must have hearts that are cleansed of sin and self, and open to His will alone, and not our own. If we want to hear God we must come into His light where all is made plain. The Word does that. It is His light. I divides between soul and spirit. It reveals the holiness of God.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
That Word is Jesus, Himself, and He has revealed Himself in His written Word, which NEVER disagrees with Jesus "the living Word," but confirms, clarifies, reveals, and glorifies Him. If we want to know the heart of Jesus, we won't if we are not reading His Word.
There are those who say, "what about those who don't have the Word?" Wow! Those people would about give up anything to have it! They feel the lack without it and hunger for it! They know how much more they could know of God through His Word! Check out this video of Chinese Christians receiving Bibles for the first time. People in persecuted countries would give up all they have if someone would give them a Bible! Yet we who have the Word in abundance ignore it! I believe God gives supernatural grace and reveals Himself to those under such persecution, because their hearts are cleansed by the suffering they have endured as they surrender to Him and stand for Him regardless of what they must endure. If the Spirit speaks to them, it will always be His Word...in agreement with and the same as what the written Word is. That is no comparison to those in America who have a life of ease, and pleasure, thinking God is speaking to them telling them they don't need His Word, they can just "listen to His Spirit" and that He gives them everything they want, and who settle for less. He who has much, much will be required of him, on that day when we stand before Him. What will you say when you see that His Word was given to you and you ignored it, you didn't love it, you weren't hungry for it, and you neglected it thinking a "voice" in your heart was all you needed. What will you say when you see the treasure you could have had, and you settled for less? What will you say when you face the truth then, as you will, instead of facing His Word now and letting it work in you? What will you say when you see how much time you spent reading so many books ABOUT Him, and failed to seek out and understand His book and know Him through that? And why would a child of God not love and hunger for the very Word and will and heart of his Father? Only if he is not in fellowship with his Father.
Oh Lord, help us not to fall for something less than You! Less than Your Word! Less than everything You have provided for us and given to us and want to make us in Christ! Open eyes to see the deception of this teaching, and the lies of the enemy to rob them of all You have for them in Christ Jesus! Expose the lies that promise a "fullness of the Spirit" through experience, when they are actually being led to neglect the fullness of the Spirit that is true and which they can receive through Your powerful living Word! Open our eyes to the true Jesus of the Bible, and not the gnostic jesus of many today.
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.
Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, (Philippians 1:9)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.