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Trusting the Voice

• Greg Boyd

This week we continue our short sermon series about the spiritual gifts. The first of the gifts we discuss in detail are words of wisdom and words of knowledge. Greg talks about how we discern these words from the Holy Spirit and tells us how we can best use them for building up the body of Christ.

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Last week we began a mini-series about the spiritual gifts. Woodland Hills Church has always ascribed to the belief that the spiritual gifts are for today, which means the Holy Spirit is still giving these gifts to people in the church and is doing so that we can use them in furthering the Kingdom of God. This topic has often been a controversial issue throughout church history. Part of the reason this topic remains controversial is because these particular spiritual gifts are easy to abuse (unlike the gift of generosity, for example). This week we discussed in detailed two of the gifts the Apostle Paul described in 1 Corinthians–words of knowledge and words of wisdom.

Words of knowledge are gifts that are given to person, not necessarily so they will act on what they hear, but so that they can be better equipped in their ministry work. These words of knowledge are described in the New Testament by the Greek word logos, which means a word or message. A word of knowledge is a message given by the Spirit for a Kingdom purpose. These messages are always given through a word, but this does not mean that the word we have been given is one that we should share. We find this kind of prophesy used by Jesus in the Gospels. In the Gospels we are told on a number of occasions that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of people. However, Jesus didn’t share this knowledge; he used it in order to fulfill his ministry.

A word of knowledge can be thought of by what is true, and in contrast, a word of wisdom is what to do. Words of wisdom are given for us to act upon in order to minister to another person. Like we discussed in last week’s sermon, we must keep in mind that if we are going to be more intentional about listening to the Spirit, then we must be ready to act upon what the Spirit is telling us.

These gifts can be useful in those times of our lives when we run into a conflict or decision. During these times it is important for us to give room in our inner space to hear from the Holy Spirit. There are times when we receive words from the Lord that will help us in our own lives, and there are other times when these words will help us to minister to others. We have a responsibility when the Spirit gives us such a gift. We must discern the message through prayer, as well as whether or not the message is one that we are to share or act on. In honoring the gifts of the Spirit, we can then come alongside God and help further his Kingdom, build up the body, and heal the people around us.

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Topics: Controversial Issues, Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

    7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

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2 thoughts on “Trusting the Voice

  1. Peter says:

    While the pitfalls of what Greg described in this week’s message and what Dave posted last week, point towards how easy it can be for ‘believers’ to be sidetracked from the work of the Spirit and seek to ‘control’ their gifts as part of their ‘own kingdom’….and not for the work of The Kingdom.

    Rather than to become susceptible to the types of situations described, it is helpful to study the role and purpose of the members of the Godhead to give a better understanding of the work they are undertaking and how that affects our everyday faith life.

    Some commentators describe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in terms of the Father being the Initiator, the Son as the Mediator and the Holy Spirit as the Agent (or Implementer). The Father works in Providence from when the world was created while the Son upholds the world by His word, causing it to have its coherence and integrity in Himself, with the Spirit as the Spirit of life, which is given both in creating and sustaining the universe.

    (As an example, we have at the beginning of creation,
    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
    And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
    The Father initiates the action, the Son or the Word, Mediates the outcome and the Spirit as Agent brings about the action. The unity and diversity of creation is evident with the mention in Gen 1:31, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”….that is very good both in form and functionality.)

    So we see the role of the Spirit in creation (while there are other examples, there is a constraint on the length of this post…the aim here is to deal with the main themes), we also see the role of the Spirit in redemption as per Matt 1:20, “But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;”

    Then we find the Spirit in the life of Jesus at His baptism Matt3:16, “And when Jesus was baptised, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him;” And following His baptism Matt 4:1, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” and then following the temptation we have in Luke 4:14, “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee”, followed by Jesus quoting from Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”, which, in a way, parallels Matt 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.””

    So as Jesus set aside His divinity and became a human being, He is empowered by the Spirit to fulfil His ministry.

    After commencing His ministry, the encounter Jesus has with Nicodemus described in John’s gospel (John 3) becomes very interesting,
    “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

    An interesting observation here is John’s own experience described in Revelation 1:10, John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet”, and later in 21:2, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” together with other evidences of the Kingdom confirms what Jesus has said in John 3. (We also find in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation the phrase (in this case Rev 2:7) “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”….how many churches are today listening to what the Spirit says?)

    In John 14:26, we have, “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things”.

    So, in a sense (and a very brief summary), just as the Spirit was “moving over the face of the waters” at creation and overshadowed Mary in the conception of Jesus and subsequently lead Jesus in His ministry is now ‘moving over’ and preparing the Church/Bride to the creational fulfilment of the plan of God from the beginning.

    The spiritual gifts are in some ways like a scaffold supporting a building under construction, so the gifts assist in the completion of the Church and are distributed according to the will of the Spirit to achieve this end.

    Therefore, any thought by a believer that in some way spiritual gifts can be used for personal advantage or pride as Greg and Dave have indicated becomes very trite as was evident in the Corinthian Church. However, when we can understand the role and purpose of the Holy Spirit (touched on here), the use of the gifts can be more fully appreciated.

  2. kathy d says:

    This sermon spoke to me as being much about the “essence” of prayer – it is living in such a way that we are “leaning into the Holy Spirit” (Greg’s words) as to hear Him, and then follow Him in what/how He may be directing us in our walk. It would make sense that this is a lot of what it means to make Him the “active” Lord of our lives. Though prayer can be something formal, that we designate time to do, that there is a place for this and it is necessary, it is also this daily, moment by moment walking that we do with our minds focused on the fact that He is walking with us, and, in order to be in concert with how He wants us to interact with the world around us, we need to be in tune with that small voice – “leaning into Him”, making space, listening for Him.

    A friend of mine recently said how she feels prayer seems like a waste of time. If we stop everything and spend hours in prayer, what is getting done then, how are we being His hands and feet in a world that needs us desperately to be such? Though there may be a place for hours spent in prayer (should when we lean we hear Him calling us to that), a large part of being affective hands and feet wise, the kind of prayer we need is this active walking and listening and leaning into Him kind of “prayer” I think. At least, it would make sense – as we are walking and talking and doing in our life, we are also listening and watching and moving in accordance to what the small voice seems to be leading and saying and doing and moving us to say/do.

    At least, this was my answer to her. Lord what is of you let it stick, what isn’t let it fall away.

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