Contributor: Akin Akande
Last week, we treated how we can tell whether it is our flesh or our spirit or the Holy Spirit instructing us to do something. Particularly, we saw that if your spirit is a new creature in Christ Jesus and old things have passed away and all things are become new, and your spirit has the life and nature of God in it and the Holy Spirit in it, and your spirit is in fellowship with God – it is not going to tell you to do something that is not right. Therefore listen to your spirit!
This week, we shall balance inward leading and/or leading via God’s word with spectacular experience for guidance. Essentially, we will attempt to answer the following questions: Does God guide through spectacular means? If yes, is it at believers’ request or at His prerogative? Should believers be seeking for such experiences? Are there examples in the New Testament church?
Early Church vs. Present Church
Sometimes many believers think that the early church is different from the present church. It is wrong! As a matter of fact, the present day church should experience what the early believers experienced since we have the same Holy Spirit as they had. Present day believers must not think that the early church had a lot more than we have. We only need the Person (Holy Spirit) behind all the great exploits that they enjoyed.
Spectacular: Beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way: striking, eye-catching, breathtaking, amazing, glorious, out of this world, etc
Guidance: Advice or information aimed at resolving a problem or difficulty, especially as given by someone in authority.
God does guide through spectacular means! (See examples during the early church in the next section). This might involve visions, dreams, through angels, etc. It is, however, important to note that such occurrences do not have to be every time. Infact, for many of the early believers, we only read about such phenomena once or twice in their lifetime. The primary means of God’s guidance for believers are through His word – the bible and the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit
Rom. 8:14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God
As believers, we should not be seeking for a vision or for an angle to appear to us to be guided. There are no scriptures which say that we should. We do have a right to claim what the Bible promises. If God wants to send an angel, fine. If He wants to give a vision, fine.
Examples of Spectacular Guidance in the Early Church
1. Peter: Cornelius’ house in Acts 10: 9-23.
2. Philip: An encounter with an angel Acts 8:26-29.
3. Paul: Before king Agrippa in Acts 26: 13-19 and regarding the man of Macedonia in Acts 16: 6-10.
One very important thing to note in all these experiences is the synergy between the spectacular means and the Holy Spirit.
1. Peter: In Acts 11:12 when Peter was explaining his action, he said “ the Holy Spirit told me … “
2. Philip: In Acts 8:29, the Holy Spirit spoke.
3. Paul: In Acts 16: 6-7, there had been a connection between Paul/his companions and the Holy Spirit before the vision.
Kenneth’s example: As a young minister he did the same thing most Christians have done in the babyhood stage of their Christianity. He had heard people talking about visions and angels, and he prayed something like that would happen to him. It never did. Then as he matured spiritually so that he never expected it to happen. He did not pray that it would happen. He did not expect it. Guess what? He had a number of such visions/revelations! But it is not at his prerogative but at God’s.
Ministering to the Lord
In Acts 13:1-2, the Holy Spirit spoke. It would be of interest, first of all, to notice under what conditions the Holy Ghost said something. "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said...." We need similar services in our present day church where we gather solely to minister to the Lord. Too often we just minister to one another. Bible studies are good; we need them. Special singing is fine. But too many times we are not singing to the Lord; we are singing to the congregation. Let's have some services where we minister to the Lord; where we wait on Him. In that kind of an atmosphere the Holy Ghost can speak to us.
It has been emphasized during our studies this year that God guides believers primarily via inner witness and His words. This does not exclude the fact that God can still guide through spectacular means, if He wishes to do so. He is God! The wrong attitude will be that while God is trying to bear witness with our spirit, trying to guide us the way He said He would in His Word, we refuse to listen because we want breathtaking experiences such as a vision or an angel to appear or any spectacular means. Such can open up such individual to demonic experiences (2 Cor. 11:14).